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November 7, 2007

Amping Up Your WordPress Blog

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These sessions are flying by today. Probably because they’re about blogging and are oh-so-awesome. Up next are Brian Layman and Mark Jaquith to talk about amping up your WordPress blog aka "Taking WordPress to 11." Sexy.

Brian starts off by saying that we’re here to talk about Word Perfect. Word Perfect? Yeah, he means Word Press.

Brian calls search engine optimization the key to getting your blog found. Huzzah for SEO! He advises to call a duck a duck. Don’t just make your site look great, make sure it’s doing the job of telling Google what is important on your site and that it’s driving the right kind of traffic to your articles. Make sure that your headers are all labeled with <h1> (and <h2>, <h3>, etc, as appropriate). Google is going to use your HTML as a clue to tell them what each page is about. Use a Google Sitemap to allow Google to come into your site and quickly find how your site is organized and what your site is about. Use the SEO Title plugin.

Brian talks about Matt Cutt’s WordCamp 2007 presentation and the duplicate content issues associated with WordPress blogs. To get around this, use a noindex, nofollow tag. Tris chimes in to say that the SEO Title Plugin actually does this for you. Good to know.

Mark says another great way to attract users is to create unique content. Sprinkle relevant keywords while you’re writing your posts. That doesn’t mean spamming it. Ask yourself: If you were trying to find your own content, what terms would you be searching for? Integrate those words into your content.

General Performance Issues

WP-Cache Plugin – Will help your server performance by caching all the pages it is serving out to your readers. This will increase response time.

If you have a lot of static files, it helps if you host them on another domain and on another machine. This helps performance-wise so that one machine is not trying to do both at the same time. It also helps because browsers are limited by the number of concurrent requests they can make to the same domain.

CSS <link />ed in the head section. Don’t use style tags. Just stick it in a single CSS file so that your browser can cache it and only request it once.

Put JavaScript at the end of the body since JavaScript can’t be loaded concurrently. If it’s in the middle, the page will half generate, pause, and then continue. By putting the JavaScript at the end, it allows the content to load first. People perceive this to be faster, which is important.

Optimize your blog for a better user experience, not server experience. Get a stopwatch. Start it, hit the site and stop it as soon as you can start reading the content. If you’re dong optimization and it’s not changing that number, what’s the benefit?

Most Common WordPress Plugins

  • Subscribe to comments: Allows readers to really join the community of your blog. Whenever they add a comment to your site, there’s a check box they can click so that they’ll get an email any time someone else leaves a comment on that post. It’s a great to bring users back to your site.
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  • Clutter Free: Lets you take out sections of your blog that you don’t use (hence, removing the clutter). This includes fields like trackbacks. By just unchecking the box you can strip your interface down to the bare essentials.
  • Akismet: Helps with comment spam. Every time a comment or pingback comes in, it gets submitted to the service, which then looks at IP addresses and other stuff, to decide if its spam or not spam.
  • Spam Karma 2
  • Bad Behavior: Ideally should be used with either Akismet or Spam Karma 2. It stops bad robots from accessing your site.

Spam Management

Even if you are using a spam plug-in, you should still use the greylist (moderation list) to help limit the amount of spam getting through. Be careful using the blacklist. Don’t just put keywords in there. Yes, 99 percent of comments mentioning "cialis" are spam, but sometimes people are just saying they’re a "specialist" and their comment is getting deleted. Heh, I heart Mark.

Wrap Up

Tris is sitting in the audience and comments on Defensio, a new spam plug-in that was just launched into public beta. He’s been playing with it for awhile and recommends it. He says its catches things better than Akismet. It rates the percentage of likelihood that its spam (80 percent, 90 percent). You can opt not to see things that are X percent likely to be spam.

Firefox has a great plugin called Firebug. It shows you exactly how your site is loading, how long it takes, at how the images are being loaded, how the CSS is formatted, etc. Brian calls it an "essential tool", especially if you’re doing other Web design work.

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One response to “Amping Up Your WordPress Blog”

  1. Adam Taylor writes:

    Hmm. Seems like a bit of a basic session. Are there more advanced ones?



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