Posts Tagged ‘WordPress Tips’
As online marketing processes have evolved, the number and sophistication of software tools to support specific functions has exploded. Every discipline within marketing and PR has its own tools, among them:
SEO: backlink tools (Backlink Watch, SEOmoz, Majestic), keyword research tools, page optimization tools, SEO plugins.
Social media: social media monitoring (Radian6, Sysomos, SM2), social media management (HootSuite, SocialOomph, Buffer), Twitter tools, etc.
Web analytics: Omniture, WebTrends, Google Analytics, Clicky, and more.
All are very helpful, even essential, but most are designed for practitioners, that is: they help a specialist in a particular discipline do his or her job more effectively. Not only are they tactical, each focuses on supporting one functional silo or another. Not surprising, since this is how digital marketing is managed today—as a set of largely disconnected specialties. So much so, companies utilize different tools, resources, and in some cases, even different agencies to manage web visibility for brand, SEO, social media, PR, and paid advertising.
And of course, search has evolved—it’s no longer just 10 blue links. Today, web presence goes way beyond a company’s website. News and social links are as vital as are other points of visibility. What’s missing is the larger strategic picture needed for top-level decision-making and for managing digital marketing and PR in a coordinated manner. We’re all missing this because there aren’t tools to help us do it. Or are there?
A “Eureka” Moment
A couple of weeks ago, we blogged about the web presence optimization (WPO) framework. This model (evolved from a 2010 post) came about from KC Associates’ (KCA) client consulting projects. Operating as a cross-functional team, each consultant knew that a framework for optimization is useless unless there’s a way to track and measure gaiting factors that can be adjusted in order to move the optimization needle. So the group took a long, hard look at the tactical tools each consultant uses with a more creative mind of how they might be repurposed for WPO.
For example, SEO backlink tools can provide detailed lists of the precise backlinks to a competitor’s website. This can be quite valuable to an SEO consultant, but it’s mind-numbing overkill for a VP of marketing.
However, a graphical comparison of the type and quantity of backlinks pointing to the firm’s website and the sites of close competitors may be very enlightening (e.g., discovering that competitor A has twice as many media links and three times as many social links pointing to them)—particularly if these measures have changed significantly in a short period of time.
This simple change in thinking was truly eye-opening.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention
First and foremost, the WPO framework provides the strategic and structural approach to the unified management of web visibility. And WPO metrics that support this framework provide the critical measurement necessary to enable the overall coordination of these disciplines to improve presence optimization and performance.
The set of 100+ WPO metrics that the group developed for KCA clients is driven by data collected by a host of off-the-shelf tools as well as some custom developed sources. As a collection, the attributes of these metrics differ from what most other tracking and measurement tools are set up to provide in six distinct ways:
- • Focus on management, not execution. WPO metrics are designed to support management decision-making (e.g., where should we devote more resources) rather than tweaks to specific tactics. Put another way, they are about the “what” rather than the “how.”
- • Provide a unified view of results. They provide leaders and team members with an overall picture of press (media outlets), social, website (organic search), industry (e.g. associations, research organizations) and paid web presence. The tactical tools available tend to focus on one or two of these areas.
- • Include competitor metrics. An organization’s digital marketing results don’t exist in a vacuum; it’s critical to be able to view results in the context of competitive activities. Competitive benchmarking is vital to developing strategy and allocating resources.
- • Reflect the value of owned, earned and paid presence, not just the company website. What customers, analysts, journalists, bloggers, and others have to say about you is sometimes more important than your own content. WPO metrics show the value of all of your points of web presence, whether it’s your content or something produced by a third party.
- • Are actionable and NOT “everything but kitchen sink.” Too many tools try to report every possible detail, rather than just what’s important. The result is data overload and analysis paralysis. It’s confusing and too much to absorb, and therefore doesn’t get acted upon. Best-practice WPO metrics focus only on measures that support concrete action.
- • Identify clear priorities. While WPO metrics cover a lot of ground, not every measure matters all the time. For example, if your media share-of-voice remains about the same from one month to the next, but your AdWords conversion rate drops by half, WPO metrics focus on the latter result.
WPO metrics won’t replace tactical, execution-level tools, but they will help guide decisions about which functional tools to use and how to coordinate the tasks of different disciplines for a larger purpose. They fill a critical gap by giving marketing executives, and everyone on digital marketing and PR teams, a unified view of web presence that reflects a more integrated optimization effort.
Cost and ease of use are certainly factors, but one of the important reasons is its extensibility through plugins. These add-ons make it easy to add an incredible variety of functionality to the platform, from contact forms and photo galleries to social sharing and ecommerce capabilities.
How did WordPress emerge as the leading blog platform? What are some techniques, beyond the obvious, for search-optimizing WordPress content? Which plugins are the most popular / useful / vital? Get the answers to those questions and more here in a dozen of the best posts and articles about WordPress from the past year.
WordPress Guides and Commentary
How did WordPress win? by majordojo
***** 5 STARS
Byrne Reese—former Product Manager of Movable Type and TypePad and employee at Six Apart, now a Partner at Endevver, a Movable Type and Melody consulting company—dissects the strategy used by WordPress to become the dominant blogging platform, in order to “see what lessons can be learned from WordPress so that others seeking to build a successful product can learn from it.” This brilliant article delves into the technological, economic, cultural and environmental factors behind the success of WordPress, and inspired more than 70 comments.
John McElhenney provides helpful reviews of three simple and free alternatives to Google Analytics for tracking WordPress site metrics: JetPack Site Stats, Wassup Plug-in and Widget (which provides real-time stats including how many visitors are on your site or blog at any given moment) and Gaug.es (another real-time tool, which works on any website).
WordPress SEO – 10 Essential Actions by WP Blog Talk
WordPress Plugin Compilations and Reviews
90+ WordPress CMS Themes and Plugins by Tripwire Magazine
Contending that “It’s actually pretty easy to turn WordPress into a CMS if you are using the right WordPress CMS Themes,” Dustin Betonio showcases a huge collection of “the best plugins and (premium WordPress) themes to turn WordPress into a CMS and build a professional website fast.”
Pam Moore reviews 50 of her favorite WordPress plugins, divided into categories for social sharing & engagement, design and image enhancements, search engine optimization, and development (e.g., the Flexi-Pages widget for adding sub-menu navigation and Mass Edit Pages for WordPress for making small changes to a large number of pages at once).
14 WordPress Plugins Worth Considering by JT Pedersen
JT Pedersen provides a short list of his favorite plugins for personal and corporate (non-ecommerce) blogs, including both popular favorites (the AddThis Social Bookmarking Widget, BackUpWordPress) and some interesting but lesser-known add-ons (Twitter Mentions as Comments, and WP Smush.it to improve load times).
11 WordPress Plugins You’ve Gotta Have by Social Media Today
Writing that he gets the opportunity to work with a lot of different plugins, and that “Every once in a while I’ll come across a new one that is just amazing and I wonder how I ever blogged without it,” Zubin Kutar shares his favorites including Google XML Sitemaps (also on my list of must-haves) and Contact Form 7 (“Probably the easiest to use contact form available” according to Zubin).
8 Excellent WordPress SEO Plugins by Six Revisions
Matt Krautstrunk offers list of “top-notch WordPress plugins for SEO to improve your WordPress site’s search engine rankings,” among them SEO Rank Reporter, All in One SEO Pack (another of my personal favorites), SEO Friendly Image (automatically updates images with alt and title attributes) and SEO Smart Links.
33 WordPress Plugins To Power Up Your Comment Section by 1stwebdesigner
Dainis Graveris presents 33 plugins to “power up and evolve comment form possibilities and security,” including Disqus, WP Ajax Edit Comments, Comment Rating and Twitter Avatars in Comments. The English is a little rough but the list is fantastic.
20 Great WordPress Plugins by Online Income Teacher
***** 5 STARS
Once you get past the spammy blog title and the annoying pop-up, Matt Smith has put together an outstanding list of plugins to perform a wide variety of tasks, from the Ackuna Language Translation Plugin (which, as the name implies, allows readers to translate your posts into many different languages) to Google Analytics Dashboard (which lets you quickly check on your GA stats without logging into GA) to Sharebar, a plugin that keeps social sharing buttons visible while visitors scroll down through your content.
15 Essential WordPress Plugins (Presentation) by Mykl Roventine
In the presentation from the Minnesota Blogger Conference, Mykl Roventine (one of the smartest WordPress gurus I know personally) presents 15 of the best WordPress plugins that meet his strict criteria: he’s used it (or someone he trusts has0: it solves a specific problem; it doesn’t hog resources and degrade performance; it’s supported; easy to use and configure; and free (in most cases).
The first step in optimizing your online presence is making sure you have a website worth optimizing. That means creating a site that your target visitors will be glad they found once they arrive, and will spend some time with because the site provides the information they need in an easy-to-find manner.
It’s like planning a large event or party in your home. If you had a noisy furnace, an unfinished bathroom, or paint peeling on your eaves, you’d want to take care of those issues before you send out invitations. Your website similarly has to be in great shape before you “invite” visitors to it through optimization.
Four key elements of designing an effective business website are:
- • Technology (Platform)
- • Graphic Design
- • Information Architecture
- • Content
The first decision is the technology, or platform, the site will be built on. The options are almost endless, from custom code, to a development environment such as Adobe DreamWeaver, to hosted content management systems (CMS) options, to free platforms like WordPress. Among the key considerations to keep in mind when selecting a platform are:
Capabilities—will the platform support the sophistication of your design? Do you need extra features, like a built-in CRM system, the ability to easily integrate with external systems, create secure areas of the site, or manage ecommerce transactions?
Usability—does the platform make it easy for non-technical users to add or update content? Is it easy to add new pages and even entire new sections to the site?
Search engine friendliness—does the platform or tool produce clean, W3C-vaild underlying code? Is it easy to add meta tags and customize page URLs? Most modern CMS systems are relatively search-friendly, but this is a critical component for optimization, so do some investigation to make sure the platform you select is strong in this area. One way to check is to run the URLs of some other sites built on the tool through a tool like Website Grader to see how well they score (though keep in mind that factors other than just code quality can affect these scores).
Scalability—will the platform chosen support the planned size and complexity of your website, as well as providing room for growth?
Mobility—though website visits from smart phones and tablets currently accounts for only seven percent of online traffic worldwide, that figure is expected to grow rapidly. Make sure your chosen platform can serve up an optimized experience on both desktop and mobile devices (and automatically detect the visitor’s device) without a separate mobile development effort.
Make this decision carefully as you will be essentially “stuck” with your chosen platform until you reach a point where you need to redesign your site—depending on your industry and growth rate, generally two to five years. Avoid obscure platforms that force you to rely on a single consultant or agency for support.
Though design considerations are often subjective, two key questions to ask when developing the overall look and feel of your website (fonts, colors, images and other design elements) are:
- • Does the design reflect the “personality” of our brand (e.g. bold, conservative, leading-edge, safe, sophisticated, intelligent, friendly)?
- • Will the design appeal to our target audience?
Special effects such as texture, transparency, typography and motion can enhance a design and provide a distinctive look—but these should be used carefully to enhance the user experience, not simply to “dress up” the site in ways that don’t help the user, or worse, that make the site seem complex and confusing.
Possibly the most critical element of website design, this is the “map” of your site: what information will be included, where, and how different areas of information be connected. And the single most important consideration in developing your information architecture is your audiences: your website shouldn’t be about what information you want to provide, but rather about what information your key audiences want and need in order to engage with you.
The primary audience for most business websites is sales prospects. To determine their needs, first identify them as precisely as possible by title, role, industry and other attributes. Then put yourself in their shoes: why are they looking for information? What are their burning issues? What information do they need when they come to your site—at different stages in their buying process? How can you help move them through that process, and convert them into identifiable leads?
Secondary audiences may include existing customers, prospective employment candidates, investors, analysts (industry or financial), partners, and the media. Most of these groups are likely to have some information needs in common with your sales prospects, as well as some unique needs. Make sure your site meets the information needs of these audiences without detracting from the prospective buyer experience.
The output of this stage of the design process is an information architecture map, which may look something like this:
This information architecture map also serves as a guide for scoping out the work required to create the new site; establishing priorities; collecting any required images or website assets; and assigning content to writers.
Content should be developed using two primary guides: the information architecture map (what to write), and keyword research (how to write it). Keyword research helps to identify the specific phrases your prospects most commonly use when searching for your types of products and/or services, as well to determine which terms have the best potential for optimization.
Knowing the keywords and topics, writers should be able to develop content that answers the five key questions every business website needs to address:
- • Who are you?
- • What do you sell?
- • Who do you sell to?
- • Why are you the best?
- • How do I buy from you?
Once you’ve designed and developed a site that uses a search-friendly platform, is designed and written with your key audiences in mind, and answers the questions and potential concerns of your sales prospects , you have a site truly worth optimizing as the core of your web presence.
What’s the best web content management system (CMS) for your small business? Should you look at something beyond a CMS—a web marketing system (WMS), that provides additional functions like customer relationship management (CRM) and email? There’s no shortage of options, and the decision is an important one: you’ll be “married” to the platform you choose for as long as your current site is up.
Content management systems are valuable tools for small businesses that 1) don’t want to make a big investment in IT infrastructure, 2) don’t have web development (HTML, CSS etc.) expertise on staff, and 3) want to be able to maintain their own web content (adding new pages, text and images) over time, without needing to learn web coding skills.
“Free” CMS options such as WordPress, Joomla and Drupal have an obvious appeal (price) to small businesses, but none are cost-free. All require some level of technical expertise, and Joomla and Drupal particularly have steep learning curves. Low-cost, fee-based tools are generally more user-friendly, provide more features, and most importantly come bundled with support. For businesses looking beyond “free” tools, here are six CMS and WMS options that can help you get more sales and marketing productivity out of your website, while being easy on your web content contributors.
Keep in mind that all of these tools impose some design limitations; if you need a truly custom look and feel like these sites, your only option is to hire a professional web design and development firm. But if you can live within a template (and most of these tools do offer a respectable array of options), you can save thousands of dollars on design and coding costs.
These platforms offer website building and content management tools with hosting, but no “extras.” If you are just looking to get a site up on the web and already have systems in place for CRM and marketing automation, these tools are worthy of consideration.
Pricing: $150-$600 per year ($12-$50 per month)
Squarespace is a generally well-regarded tool with reasonable design functionality for building natively search-optimized websites and blogs. It offers a solid set of features including site search, multiple permission levels for different types of contributors, a form-builder, and built-in analytics. The learning curve is far less daunting than most free CMS alternatives, and a strength of the tool is its mobile support. For anyone looking for an inexpensive, easy-to-use, basic website building and management tool,
Squarespace is definitely worth consideration.
UPDATE: After closer examination, SquareSpace is not worthy of consideration, due to weaknesses in search engine optimization, specifically:
- • Custom meta title tags for high-level pages are limited to 50 characters (even the most conservative SEOs recommend 65 characters for the title tag).
- • Meta title tags inside a section (e.g., “blog”) will always begin with the section name. You can customize the section name, but you can’t override the fact the all-important first few characters of every page title in that section will contain it.
- • You can’t create custom meta description tags (!) which are essential in “selling the click.”
- • The people behind SquareSpace seem to lack understanding of how SEO works. True, manipulative tactics don’t work, but solid, white hat SEO is essential to getting a website ranked highly. Their information is both inaccurate and offensive to legitimate SEO professionals.
$240-$1200/year ($20-$100 per month)
Like the other tools listed here, LightCMS is low-cost, easy to use, search-optimized and provides tools like a forms builder. What sets it apart is better design flexibility than most of the alternatives, calendar tools and built-in ecommerce functionality. For developers and agencies, LightCMS also offers one of the most attractive partner programs. Considering all of its features, LightCMS is another shortlist-worthy tool for basic website creation, particularly for smaller B2C companies who want an easy-to-manage online store.
$300 per year ($25 per month)
Another website building option that includes extras like ecommerce functionality with credit card processing, and nightly backups. The site is a bit cheesy, but the functionality of the tool is solid. Solution Toolbox provides their own comparison of their system to Squarespace and LightCMS, but take it with a grain of salt; it’s biased in their favor of course and some of the specifics are out of date (for example, Squarespace now includes a forms-builder). Still, for smaller consumer marketers who want to run an online store in addition to their basic website, this is worth a look.
Web Marketing Platforms
These suites combine CMS functionality with additional web marketing applications to provide more than just a website, but a complete online marketing software system.
$480 per year ($40 per month)
Business Catalyst combines the features of the products above—a CMS, forms builder, and ecommerce tools—with email marketing functionality and a basic CRM system. It provides respectable design flexibility and support for mobile devices. Though the product had issues in its original incarnation, Adobe has fixed many of these issues since acquiring it in late 2009 and continues to invest in product development. The catch? Business Catalyst isn’t sold directly to users, only through web developers and agencies (though there are ways around this).
$2,400/year ($200 per month)
Genoo is a solid, easy to use tool, very strong on email marketing / marketing automation. It offers some of the best built-in SEO tools of any of these packages. Genoo doesn’t provide native CRM functionality, but does have a pre-built integration to Salesforce.com. This is ideal for midsized companies with at least moderately sophisticated internal marketing resources who are already using a separate CRM system and are ready to graduate from hosted email marketing services. Genoo’s offering includes training on how to use its lead-nurturing capabilities.
$1,800/year ($150 per month)
This is a complete web marketing package for smaller, non-ecommerce businesses. It provides a robust CMS for a website and blog along with native CRM, email marketing, and forms-building tools, as well as comprehensive strategy guidance for making all of the pieces work together. The ePROneur package uniquely combines hosting, software, services and strategy to help companies with limited resources effectively generate leads and revenue online. The web marketing resources section of the company’s website also offers a wealth of free strategic and tactical web marketing information.
Any of the alternatives above can help small to midsize companies cost-effectively build and manage their web presence with no IT infrastructure and limited technical expertise. The key from there is to choose a platform whose strengths match up with your business type and needs. And also to investigate multiple options to determine which tool, and company, you are most comfortable working with.
FTC Disclosure: Webbiquity has no affiliate relationships with any of the vendors in this review.
WordPress is no longer just the leading blog platform, but is now the most popular open-source CMS (content management system) as well. Among the many reasons for the popularity of WordPress: it’s affordable, search engine-friendly, reasonably easy to use, and extensible through an incredible array of plugins.
Discover some great sources for free and reasonably-priced themes, essential plugins you may not be aware of, SEO tips, and other interesting techniques and hacks here in a dozen of the best WordPress guides of last year.
WordPress Themes and Plugins
20 Excellent Free WordPress 3.0 Themes by Blogfreakz
Another excellent selection of free themes, including Heliumified which has a nice Apple-like look and feel.
10 Free WordPress Themes for Small Businesses by American Express OPEN Forum
Zachary Sniderman highlights 10 interesting free themes, along with recommendations on how each could be used and optimized.
32 Essential WordPress Plugins I Use…And You Don’t! by Andy Beal
An outstanding list of useful WordPress plugins from Andy Beal, author of Radically Transparent: Monitoring and Managing Reputations Online and the brain behind the Trackur social media monitoring tool.
25 Top WordPress Plugins You Should Know About by Ask WordPress Girl
Angela Bowman shares her “clean and simple list of the plugins I use most often on my WordPress sites” for SEO, feeds, forms, security, Twitter and more.
Helpful guidelines on plugins, post titles, pages, permalinks and pinging improve the search engine rank of and increase search traffic to your WordPress blog.
Robyn-Dale Samuda offers guidance on navigation setup, image tagging, sitemaps, permalinks, plugins and more for search-optimizing a WordPress site or blog.
WordPress Tips, Techniques and Hacks
How I Create and Manage A WordPress Website by Graywolf’s SEO Blog
Michael Wolf likes to use WordPress to create “magazine or newspaper style site(s)…(because) it’s easier to administer, easier to get writers to upload and format their own content, and it has RSS and other social tools built in or that can be integrated very easily with plugins,” and in this post explains his process for setting up a WordPress site from keyword research and “evergreen” content to design and backups.
The Comprehensive Guide for a Powerful CMS using WordPress – Part one: 101 Techniques for a Powerful CMS using WordPress by Noupe Design Blog
***** 5 Stars
A nicely crafted and illustrated reference to how to do a variety of things with WordPress from setting up a static home page and custom navigation bar to adding breadcrumbs and widgetizing a theme, footer and page menu.
5 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do with WordPress by Let’s Do It!
Zeke Camusio shows that WordPress isn’t just for blogging; it can also be used to build an e-commerce site, social network site, image gallery, email auto-responder system or message board.
Code to Create Custom Share Buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn & Delicious by B2B Online Marketing
If you want to make it easy for readers to share your blog posts socially—but find social media sharing tools such as ShareThis overkill because of the overwhelming number of options they present—here are simple code snippets to create custom sharing buttons for the most popular social networking sites.
Ever wondered how to insert some standard text after each post? Automatically display each post’s word count? Number your comments, or make author comments stand out? Learn how to do all of that and more in this outstanding list of WordPress tricks, categorized into Post Hacks, Comment Hacks, Tags,categories and Archives hacks, Search hacks and Other General Hacks.