Posts Tagged ‘ Blogging

A New Blog – NicksCarBlog – Powered by Posterous

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Part of what I’ve learned through SEO is the importance of relevancy – if you have a blog about SEO & tech (like this one) – you should keep your posts related to that topic. Not that you can’t have fun and post off-topic every once in a while – but you don’t want to be a schizophreniac and post on a different topic every time either…and this isn’t just for the sake of search engine relevancy – your readers subscribe to your blog because they are interested in X topic. If you start jabbering about Y topic too much, you’re going to turn off your readers who feel they were duped into reading a blog that wasn’t about what they thought.

With that in mind, I’m a HUGE car freak. I’ve found myself wanting to tweet and post about my modified Audi A4 and cars in general a lot – but my followers on twitter and my (very few) regular readers on this blog probably wouldn’t appreciate that or at least find it wierd.

I’ve also been wanting to try new platforms and I’ve heard a lot of people that are vocal fans of Posterous. Since I don’t want to put too much effort into a second blog (its hard enough updating this one 1x per week), Posterous seems like a good choice. Here’s how it works:

  • There is no web form to post – you simply send an email to post@posterous.com with your latest post and it uploads within a few seconds. It even converts images to galleries, embeds videos, and does everything for you. Since I have a BlackBerry, I can pretty much post anywhere, at any time.
  • It’s pretty common for posts to be short. I don’t need well thought-out articles or anything – I can basically say “oh look, a cool car [pic]” and that’s sufficient
  • It integrates with Twitter, Facebook, etc. and can automatically feed into these streams when you post something new. I setup twitter.com/nickscarblog and it is updated whenever I post letting my followers know there is a new post to check out.
  • It gives you 1 GB of free storage and is super easy to setup
  • You can use your own domains

I registered my domain through GoDaddy using a Coupon Code I found on SlickDeals that gave me an awesome discount with free private registration, so this whole project set me back about $20 bucks for a 3 yr registration.

So if you’re interested in cars, or seeing a Posterous blog in action – go check it out at http://nickscarblog.com

Joe Wilson Learns The Power of the Viral Web – Epic Fundraising Fail

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President Obama’s ability to leverage the web and social media to build his 2008 Presidential campaign and rake in mega campaign cash was unprecedented in success, and will stand as the benchmark for future political campaigns.

But this wasn’t a one-time phenomenon – and it doesn’t always work to a candidates advantage. Case in point – Joe Wilson.

At yesterday’s joint Congressional Address on Health Care Reform, an immature 10 year old boy Joe Wilson started heckling the President, yelling “You lie!” Historically, Joint Congressional Addresses are a time when the President is allowed to speak, and Congress is supposed to listen. This kind of behavior is unusual and shameful, and Mr. Wilson has been widely lambasted for it. But that’s not what is noteworthy – look further into the web and you’ll see.

Exhibit A: Microsites like http://www.joewilsonisyourpreexistingcondition.com/ have been sprouting up all over the place, a Public Relations embarassment to the Representative and calling viewers to donate to his 2010 challenger, Rob Miller.

Exhibit B: Liberal power-house “Act Blue” has seen many grass-roots campaigns to raise money for Rob Miller to challenge Joe Wilson, with names such as “Defeating the man who yelled “liar” at Obama: Goodbye Rep Joe Wilson” to “Californians against Joe “The Jerk” Wilson” (note he is a Rep. of South Carolina…). On ActBlue alone, Rob Miller has raked in over $200,000 and counting in donations IN THE PAST 24 HOURS!

Exhibit C: The influx in traffic and attention has caused Joe Wilson’s House of Representatives website to crash and his followers on Twitter to triple (note the conspicious lack of updates since the event).

The viral web continues to spread, experiencing compounding network effects through Twitter (a trending topic for the past 12 hours!), press coverage of Rob Miller’s fundraising abilites on major networks like CNN, and now e-mail blasts from MoveOn.Org and other liberal PACs. While still to be determined how much of this momentum will be translated into fund raising for Joe Wilson’s opponents, the early numbers are already in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and likely to increase for the next few days.

Mr. Joe Wilson is learning just how powerful the web can be for fundraising…just not in the direction he’d prefer.

Further testament to the power of the viral web, and in my opinion, a healthy landscape for Democracy to florish – with greater accountability for politicians who do the right thing, or sometimes those that don’t…

Note: Although my political preferences may be clear from the tone of the article above, I respect the Right and don’t find it characteristic of the party as a whole. This post is merely about how an inappropriate outburst can go viral and cause deterimental damage to a Politicians career, literally overnight. It could and has happened to Democrats (i.e. Blagojevich, Spitzer, etc.) or Independents as well.

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!

Setting Up Google Analytics for WordPress – A Wealth of Data for Free

Google-Analytics

Wow, I don’t know what I was thinking for the first 3 months when I using the basic “Awstats” program on my server as my only software to track traffic, visits, incoming search keywords, and all of the other vital information about visitors to my website.

Google Analytics is free, provides an almost overwhelming amount of data, and is super easy to integrate with WordPress. If you are running a WordPress blog and haven’t upgraded your analytics software, I suggest you hop over to Google Analytics now and get started. This should take 5, maybe 10 minutes tops to get setup (full disclosure, it took me about an hour, haha), and whether you are a data geek or not, you’ll find out some cool stuff about your visitors that will help you connect with your audience better, so it’s good to check out no matter what your background is.

You can use your existing Google account and within a minute or two Google will give you a 10 digit ID number like UA-0000000-1, which you’ll need for the next step.

Next, you’ll want to install the Google Analytics for WordPress plugin, which you can do by clicking the link in the last sentence or by going to your WordPress Site Admin – Plugins – Add New and search for “Google Analytics.”

Once installed and activated, all the plugin requires is your analytics ID (i.e. UA-0000000-1 in the previous example), which can be found right next to your URL in the Analytics dashboard. The plugin will then automatically insert the necessary code in the footer of each page.

One caveat (and why it took me ~1hr to get all of this going): some WordPress themes take control of the footer, including the theme I’m using called “Carrington.” If the code isn’t being automatically inserted into your footer due to your custom WordPress theme (the Google Analytics dashboard will have a ! sign instead of a green check in the Status column), it may require you to go into Site Admin – Appearance – Editor – default footer and entering the code yourself, or in the case of Carrington you can go to Site Admin – Appearance – Carrington and there is a custom field there that reads “Footer code (for analytics, etc.).”

Anyway, what does this get you? A lot. And it’s free. Some sample statistics & screenshots:

Top-Traffic-Sources Top traffic sources show where my visitors are coming from. It’s kind of neat to see such a high amount of natural search traffic coming from Google, but also interesting that my twitter account has generated a decent amount of traffic, as well as my flickr account and a few blog comments I left over at at Agency Spy on MediaBistro.com. I guess this shows why it’s important to promote your website holistically through a number of channels, not simply relying on just one media channel (i.e. twitter) to generate traffic. I’m getting traffic from places I’m not even intentionally soliciting it from (like the blog comments).

Keywords-Driving-TrafficAnother good one is the keywords driving traffic to my site through Google. You can tell that they are relating around three very recent blog posts I had on Google’s Treatment of NoFollow and how it will impact blogs, A Social Media WordPress Plugin I recommend, and my tips and advice for the new Facebook Vanity URLs that rolled out earlier this month. This reinforces the core truth about blogging, SEO, and internet media in general: fresh, timely, and relevant content will get you more visitors and well-written, useful, informative or otherwise enjoyable content will keep them coming back.

Browser-Statistics Browser statistics shows what internet browsers people are viewing my site on. It makes me so happy to see MS Internet Explorer at the bottom. To me, this tells me my viewers are more tech saavy and don’t use IE just because it was the default browser and they upgraded to a browser that doesn’t completely drag ass and generally suck at the internet.

There’s tons more information in here, but you’ll have to set this up to find out. You’ll notice in both screenshots above there is an option to view a detailed report on each data point, showing just the level of detail you can drill down to.

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.

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

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/