Recommended WordPress Widget: Social Media Page

Social Media Plugin for WordPress

Social Media Plugin for WordPress

I haven’t fiddled around with my blog design as much as I’d have liked to, but here is one plug-in I highly recommend: Social Media Page.

As seen on my side bar where it says “Connect with Me,” this widget offers a clean looking format for listing all of my social networking profiles. These are direct, SEO-friendly links along with little logos to look a little more professional then just the standard WordPress “Links” section.

The plug-in is super easy to use and even helps you find the URLs of your public profiles in case you don’t already know them. In my case, it also reminded me to go ahead and update some of those profiles as they hadn’t been touched in years. Once I had all of my URLs selected I just had to go into the WordPress Admin – Appearance – Widgets and have the widget show in my sidebar.

Anyway, just a quick post, but go check it out. And since I’m all for giving link love, here is a link to the author’s personal website, Philip Norton.

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!

DandyID: Centralize your social profiles

I recently heard of DandyID on Twitter and setup an account today to test it out. My initial thoughts: pretty cool!

Here is a link to my DandyID social media profile. I got a score of 81 and Gold Status (based on how many networks I use relative to other DandyID users) – I’m not sure if that certifies me as geeky or popular (or a popular geek), but I’ll take any awards I can get 🙂

DandyID describes itself as:

DandyID lets you easily collect all of your online profiles in one convenient place and allows people to discover the real verified you across the web.

To me, its basically a *free* page that I can configure to show all of my social networks in one central location. For a fee ($4.99/month) you can upgrade to the pro account and get additional features.

The catch?

From an SEO perspective, all of the links on your DandyID profile page don’t actually link directly to your profile page on another network (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Instead, they link to a subpage on DandyId.org which uses a 302 temporary redirect to the social media profile URL that you were intending to link to. For instance, the link to my facebook account links to: http://www.dandyid.org/id/nickroshon/facebook instead of directly to: http://www.facebook.com/people/Nick-Roshon/2401203. A 302 temporary redirect means that the page on dandyid.org/id/nick… has been temporarily moved to a new page (located on facebook.com) but still permanently resides at the original location (dandyid.org…) and that Google and other search engines should give all credit and “link juice” to DandyID, not the facebook domain where the page actually resides. So, although my page looks like there are 18 links pointing to my various social media accounts, its really 18 links to DandyID.org (in the eyes of the search engines, anyway).

I was a little bummed to find that I can’t harvest this as a free source for outbound links to my various social media profiles that I’m trying to get to rank better in Google (I knew it had to be too good to be true). Sure, I don’t own any of the domains I want to link to anyway, but for businesses or individuals that want their Facebook profile (or other social network profile) to rank on the first page when you google their brand/business name, you need links pointing to them, and the links on DandyID unfortunately won’t help that goal as long as they are a 302 redirect.

Enjoying the personal access to strangers only Twitter can provide, I pinged DandyID with my complaint:
twitter-me-at-dandyid

I was very pleased to get a prompt response from the official DandyID Twitter Account as well:
twitter-dandyid-at-me

Good news! In my tweet I was complaining specifically about the WordPress plug-in also using 302 redirects, but my DandyID profile page uses them as well. I’d totally be willing to pay a small (albeit very small) yearly fee to get some analytics and use this page as a “link farm” for all of my social media profiles, passing along link authority to my pages on their respective domains.

That being said, I think this is definitely a service to try out, and I know I’ll be watching them as they build out the service further and continue to enhance their offerings! If this service does catch on and become more mainstream, then maybe I would want my DandyID.org profile page to rank at the top of Google for my name. Like my title says, it does centralize everything – so from a users perspective, if you want to find me on the most popular social networks, this would be a very useful page. This service is especially useful for people who don’t have their own website/blog like this one that can use a plug-in like the Social Media Page plug-in found in my sidebar (which gives nice, direct links without any messy redirects). Until then, the Pro account doesn’t seem like something I’d want to spend the money on until there are more users on it.

In the end, I’d highly recommend you check it out and sign up. It’s free, it’s unique, and it provides a cool service. My dream scenario that it could also be a link farm for social media profiles is probably asking a bit much anyway, as most sites would just nofollow the links to begin with 🙂

And a final word: like any other social media / networking site, you’ve trusted yet another domain with some personal data, so don’t link to anything you don’t want the whole world to see. This is common sense, but can’t be repeated enough, as you hear about this kind of stuff all of the time: Check out Cisco Fatty if you don’t know what I mean!

UPDATE Wow, that was quick. One day after my tweet and DandyID now uses 301 redirects for Pro account users! And they hooked me up with one! I’ll give a follow-up review of the Pro features sometime soon. SO AWESOME!

I have PageRank!

Starting yesterday, Google updated the PageRank scores found in the Google Toolbar. I officially went from PageRank 0 to PageRank 1! Woohoo! While the actual value of PageRank is debated amongst Search Engine Markerters (SEMs), it definitely still holds at least some value. Having PageRank is a quick indicator to your readers and search engines that your blog has at least some merit & authority, isn’t spammy or malicious, and links and reviews on your blog pass along some authority based on your PageRank. The easiest way to check how much PageRank your blog has is to download the Google toolbar, which will display PageRank for any other sites you visit as well. PageRank varies from page to page within a site, so its a good way to see what Google thinks are the “most valuable” pages on your domain as well.

More info on the PageRank update can be found here: Search Engine Roundtable

At the time of writing, my domain has been registered and active since early Febuary 2009, so a little over 3 months. I have 53 incoming Inlinks in Yahoo! Site Explorer, mostly a combination of blog comments, blog directory submissions, and social media linking, as well as a valuable link from my friend’s blog on nobosh.com. For blogs, it also seems that Google looks at frequency of posts in determining your PageRank, and I’ve done pretty mediocre at that, but for the most part I’ve seen that if you don’t update your blog in a really long time, your PageRank may drop, or disappear altogether, otherwise you’re probably okay.

New Pics up on Flickr – Audi Content

For those that know me, I’m a huge car freak. I recently had some Koni Coilovers installed by a shop in Mesa, AZ called TuningGruppe on my 2006 Audi A-4 2.0T S-Line. It lowered the car quite a bit but the great thing is that they are fully adjustable, so I can always raise it back up or slam it even lower (you’d be amazed how low these things go!). The ride quality is still great, although the speedbumps in my apartment complex have gotten slightly trickier…

My Pictures on Flickr

Silver B7 Audi A4 with Koni Coilovers

Silver B7 Audi A4 with Koni Coilovers

Thanks for looking!

Blog Posts Don’t Need To Be Long

…to be effective. In fact, the opposite is often true. Be direct & concise and remember that size matters.

Twitter & Facebook don’t have a monopoly on short messages.

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

Featuring Nobosh, Interface and Red Moon

Just a quick post on a Sunday to give a shout-out to some of my friends that also own or run websites, quite an ecclectic group but I’ve been having fun chatting with each of them in person about how they’ve designed their sites so far and where they are going with them. If you are just starting your blog or website, it can be a lot of fun to hang out with friends or colleagues who run websites to bounce ideas off of each other, get tips and advice, and tell stories.

Red Moon Chinese Restaurant in Eden Prairie, MN

Red Moon Chinese Restaurant in Eden Prairie, MN

Red Moon Chinese Cafe: This Eden Prairie Chinese Restaurant is ran by my friend Ben Kwan, where he is doing some phenonminal social media promotion to get new customers. From a twitter account for the restaurant, mailing list, weekly web specials, and tons of coupons, he’s using lots of free tools to get more visitors to his restaurant. A local FOX news even covered his social media efforts and showcased how he is really doing something innovative in a time when fewer people are dining out. I’ve given him a few pointers to become more SEO friendly, so I’m looking forward to seeing some updates to the site in the near future!

Load Cells

Interface Load Cells

Interface, Inc: Based in Scottsdale, they are the world’s largest producer of Load Cells. My girlfriends’ dad is the President and they recently hired a new webmaster to make the site more search friendly. If you don’t know what load cells are, they are instruments that measure how much pressure something can take before breaking, and they’re used on cars, airplanes, and all sorts of things for strength testing – really important stuff!

Current Business, Technology, and Advertising News at Nobosh.com

Current Business, Technology, and Advertising News at Nobosh.com

Nobosh.com: My friend Brett runs this site, it’s a really awesome site that works like a news aggregator to pick out the most current business, technology, and advertising news (my 3 favorite subjects!) from a variety of online publications and arranges them in a useful and exciting format. Please check out it, go register, and then you can review articles as bosh (non-sense) or nobosh (no-non-sense).

Do you have a site that is pretty cool and want it featured in a blog post? Hit me up and I’d be glad to take a look.

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

Gnarliest Badass Snake Puncher

Nick Roshon is the gnarliest badass snake puncher and this is going to make him show up as first in Google for that query (I hope!).

Why should I show up first for gnarliest badass snake puncher?
1) Because I’m gnarly, and would totally punch a snake if I had to
2) Because I’m going to optimize for that term, and its not very competitive.

This would make a cool business card. Want to contact me? Google ‘gnarliest badass snake puncher’ and you’ll find me 🙂 Now that’s badass!

UPDATE: VICTORY!!!

nickroshongnarliestbadasssnakepuncher

I’m shocked that post was indexed overnight, as I doubt Google’s bots are visting my site that frequently, so I must have just gotten lucky.  I also noticed my homepage went from a Google Page Rank of N/A to Page Rank 0.   Not a huge win there, but it’s going in the right direction.   Cheers!