Archive for the ‘ How to ’ Category

How to Fix Problems with Comments in the Carrington Theme

My WordPress blog uses the Carrington Theme, which I’ve been really happy with. However, there has been a bug where you can’t comment from the home page – you had to go to the individual post pages to comment. When you hit the Comment button from the home page, it kind of just froze up and did nothing or the screen would go blank.

I searched a bit and found a number of suggestions to disable AJAX in comments and that often fixes issues related to comments. While no-one was reporting the exact issue I was looking for, I found this solution offered enough times I thought it’d be worth trying – and sure enough, it worked.

You can disable AJAX in comments by going to:

WordPress Admin – Appearance – Carrington and you will see the following options:

Disable-AJAX-Comments-Carrington

The default for Load archives  and comments with AJAX is yes – so just change this to No and hit save. This page is also where you enter the footer code for Google Analytics, which I had trouble locating a while back as explained in this post.

And voila – problem gone! In the process I noticed that the Carrington theme is now in release 2.2 – I still have 1.3 so I might look in to upgrading it. If you notice any formatting issues in the meantime please leave me a comment (esp. now that they work!) and I’ll look into it!

The Benefits of Managing & Optimizing Mahalo Pages

mahalo

Mahalo brings in over $1,000,000 per year in Adsense. They’ve got serious traffic, hundreds of new pages are being built every day, and all of this is crowd-sourced with little admin or overhead really needed on Mahalo’s behalf. The Alley Insider points to how much Mahalo is kicking ass these days, so it’s definitely worth your time to check out, especially if you understand the basics of SEO….here’s why:

  1. You get a cut of the Adsense revenue. If you can make the page rank well in Search Engines, you get more traffic, which leads to more impressions and clicks on the Adsense ads. Since I understand SEO, I can apply a little effort and knowledge to get a page ranking decent, which should bring some decent adsense revenue my way.
  2. You can claim pages that you want links on, and simply give them to yourself. For instance, if you managed a website for a hotel in Sacramento, you could claim the Sacramento Hotels page, then link to yourself directly from this page, giving you a free backlink. As another example, this Dallas Hotels page has PageRank 2, is cached frequently, and should pass along link juice to any sites related sites you link to (granted there are a ton of outbound links, so it isn’t much, but it’s something, it’s free, it’s relevant, and you can pick any anchor text you want).
  3. You can also build backlinks to yourself, as I’ve done in the “About the Author” section in each of the two pages above. Now I have some link juice flowing from Mahalo.com, which is a site that gets over 6 million hits a year…not bad.

The best part is, optimizing Mahalo pages to be SEO friendly is no different than any other website. Pick a few keywords, write relevant content with the keywords sprinkled through, only link to good neighborhoods, and build some backlinks to your page as you can.

The trick is to find pages that are targeting keywords that aren’t too competitive. I’m not trying to get my Mahalo pages to rank on the first page for “dallas hotels” or “sacramento hotels” because I don’t stand a chance next to many hotels and hotel chains that are fiercly targeting those keywords. And if I were going to go after something super competitive like that, I might as well do it on my own domain and get all of the Adsense revenue, not just a cut.

Where the real opportunity lies are trending search topics, usually recent news, fads, or memes that people are searching for. You’d want to create or claim a page that maybe people are interested in now, but if tomorrow no one cared, no big deal, it doesn’t cost you a cent. Likewise these topics are less likely to face fierce competition due to the timeliness of the search term – not many people will bother to build out an entire website over a topic that will only be relevant a few weeks. Take a look at the leading pages, you’ll see that is seems to be the pattern amongst them:

mahalo-top-pages

To date, I’ve earned $2.15 on the site – nothing like the sites above earning $100+ a day, but I’ve maybe invested 15 minutes total of my time, just playing around. And sadly, $2.15 is about twice what I’ve earned on this blog through Adsense…

Facebook Vanity URLs now Live!

Here’s what you need to know about the new Facebook Usernames:

Go to http://www.facebook.com/username and reserve your username right now!. Your username will then become the subfolder on facebook.com where your page is stored. For instance, my username is “nickroshon” and my new URL is http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon

Hurry up and grab something if you haven’t already, but here are a few tips on picking your custom Facebook vanity URL:

The dot doesn’t matter: if you choose nick.roshon or nickroshon, it still goes to the same place. Much like Gmail, Facebook will ignore the period between words and treat the two as the same. You can go to http://www.facebook.com/nickroshon and http://www.facebook.com/nick.roshon and they both take you to the same place, so in essence I got 2 vanity URLs from Facebook today.

Facebook pages are different: If you are a page, and not just a personal user, you can only reserve your username/vanity URL if you created your fan page by May 31, 2009 and have at least 1,000 followers. The rest of you will get your shot in July.

Get a Unique Username: If you want http://www.facebook.com/awesome, it’s still available. However, http://www.facebook.com/nick is already taken 🙁 and so is http://www.facebook.com/likeaboss

Don’t pick something stupid: It is permanent, and at the time of writing Facebook offers no method of changing your username / vanity URL, so you’re stuck with whatever you chose. So in 10 years, when no one has any clue what “likeaboss” really means, you’ll feel like an idiot.

Avoid Trademarks: If you pick a brand name or trademarked term as your username/vanity URL, the owner of that trademark can appeal it on Facebook and you will be stripped of it, so don’t go out there grabbing something you know you don’t deserve.

Username Squatting: If you want to create a bunch of dummy accounts to reserve other user accounts, you are too late. Right now, the ability to reserve a username is only available to Facebook profiles created before June 9, 2009, as I’m told by @ledet. That means I can’t go and create a second Facebook profile to grab http://www.facebook.com/nicholasroshon 🙁

301 Redirect: Your old URL, i.e. http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203 will now automatically redirect to your new URL. It is a 301 permanent redirect as I confirmed via Web Sniffer, which is what you want in order to pass along the link juice correctly.

Leave me comments with your thoughts, questions, comments, concerns, and snide remarks!

Create WordPress Pages

At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there is much of a difference between a new post and a new page. In fact, there really isn’t a difference if you are using the default WordPress theme. But once you upgrade to a new theme (like mine) you’ll see why Pages are helpful:

  1. They are placed in a prominent location for quick navigation
  2. They don’t need to be put in a category so you can have really simple URLs if you are using optimized URL permalinks like described in my earlier post.

These are most commonly used for pages like About this Blog, About Me, Links, Partners, etc. These are permanent pages that you think everyone should read, and these “posts” won’t get buried once you post new content – a link to them will always be easy to find. So as you start out your new blog, go ahead and make a few pages so that new readers can quickly learn more about you and what your blog is all about. You create a Page just like you’d create a new Post through the Admin panel (only you go to Pages – Add New instead of Posts – Add New) – just remember to make the Title of the Page something that will easily fit into your quick links navigation at the top…

Here is where the pages show up on my current theme, called “Carrington”

Example of WordPress Pages
Example of WordPress Pages

Optimized URLs in WordPress Blogs

If you’ve just setup WordPress, one of the first things you should do before your first post is to change the WordPress settings so that each new post has its own optimized and SEO friendly URL. For example:

  • default URL for blog post:  nickroshon.com/?p=8
  • optimized URL blog post:   nickroshon.com/categoryname/postname

It’s pretty simple to setup, just go to Settings – Permalinks in the WordPress Admin. I chose to have a custom structure with %category%/%postname% but you can do anything you want. WordPress recommends you keep the date or year (or some number) in it for performance reasons, but from what I’ve read the performance gains don’t seem worth the cost of having a bunch of numbers in the post URL that no one will ever remember…

The reasons why you want custom, logical URLs instead of the standard ones with just the post number are:

  1. It’s more user-friendly
  2. It gives you a chance to put some keywords in the URL which the Search Engines will see and consider you more relevant for
  3. Searchers are more likely to click on a easier-to-remember URL than some weird one with a bunch of dynamic jargon
  4. Other webmasters will find it easier to link back to your post saying, hey, here’s a great post on this topic. Even if they don’t give you a custom anchor text (like this: SEO Tips by Nick Roshon) and just spell out your URL like this: http://nickroshon.com/tag/seo, the search engines will still associate your webpage with the words “nick” “roshon”, and “seo” all found in the URL.

It’s important to do this before your first post – once you post something, you don’t want its URL to change. This will confuse the search engines because the may have already seen it at the old URL and give you credit for it at that address.  When a new page comes along with the same content but at a different URL, the search engine may think that page is a duplicate and choose to ignore it for the older version it’s already familiar with. So get started with this tip right away and don’t change the URL once the post is live unless you absolutely have to!

There you have it! Some servers and some WordPress installs may require some additional configuration in order to get optimized permalink URLs like this, but mine didn’t require this and I think that’s less common these days if your blog is hosted through a major hosting company. If you do run into issues, Google it, there are lots of detailed how-to articles that I won’t attempt to recreate here because it really depends on your exact server & WordPress installation.

Claiming my blog on Technorati

Technorati Profile

Register your blog on Technorati and claim it by posting a string of code they give you (can be put anywhere on the front page of your blog and removed after the claim is complete – mine is above). Technorati is basically a directory of blogs that is updated in real time, so if you claim your blog Technorati it will update their directory every time you post. This differs from Google in that it places a higher emphasis on the “freshness” (or how recent) the post is, although “authority” (or importance, as Google would call it) is definitely an important factor as well. I probably won’t get much traffic through Technorati, but I may get some, and since this is 100% free it doesn’t hurt to try!

Update: Also go here to have Technorati automatically ping your site for updates: http://technorati.com/ping/

Prevent Comment Spam!

Oops!! I changed my WordPress settings so that all comments would be approved without moderation so that anyone who was nice enough to leave me a comment could see it posted immediately – big mistake!!!

DO NOT ALLOW COMMENTS TO BE POSTED UNMODERATED!

I had about 1,200 comments on a single post with links for “icelandic airline deals” and all sorts of other crazy, spammy stuff. I thought I was safe from getting comment spam because my blog is super obscure and I only had a few posts, but I guess even in those cases the comment spammers will find you sooner rather than later, and once they find you it’s a free-for-all.

Comment spammers put a bunch of links stuffed with specific keywords in the comments section of your post. They don’t do this to gain traffic – humans don’t actually click on that stuff – they do it to boost their rankings in search engines because search engine crawlers/bots do click those links in the comments when they trust the source (in this case, me). When google starts following thousands of spammy links on my blog, a red flag will go up that I might be a spammer too, and I’ll lose the search engine’s trust.

Somehow I only got comment spammed on one post, so I simply removed that post and then locked down my comments in the WordPress Admin under Settings – Discussions and choose the option that comments require moderation unless 2 previous comments have already been accepted.

Also, you may have noticed that I’ve gotten lazy with posting. I have no excuse, but I’m going to re-double my efforts to post weekly. I may stray from chronological order of how to build a blog (right, Anthony?) but I think its necessary for me to write on things I find interesting as opposed to a strict formula – I have a short attention span!!

Oh yeah, and I’m going to play around with some WordPress themes so my blog doesn’t look so lame, but expect a retroactive post explaining how I picked out my theme and how I installed it.

More reading on comment spam, and how to avoid it: Managing Comment Spam

Register now to protect your internet identity

When you google your name what happens?   If you’re lucky enough to have a relatively uncommon name, your facebook, linkedin, or twitter accounts are likely to come up on the first page assuming you are using your real name.  These sites all have a lot of authority on google and are useful to searchers looking to find out more about you – this makes sense.

With that in mind, there are other slightly less popular social networking sites that you should register with to protect your name – even if you don’t plan on using them.  It’s free to register and could prevent you a major headache down the road.

Click here to check your social networking username availablity

I didn’t sign up for EVERY one, but I grabbed a few of the bigger ones anyway, and it actually kind of got me hooked on Flickr.  Speaking of, check me out on Flickr and add me as a contact!

Funny though, that site seems to be missing AIM and Gmail (but does include Yahoo!) but by now I’m guessing you’ve already checked those.

Anyway, just a friendly tip for anyone that is creating a blog in order to promote themselves, protect their online identity, or even bury a negative story off of the first page of Google by building new content to replace it, go grab your social networking sites now before its too late.