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Archive for June, 2006

Jeremy Wright Talks About Blog Networks

The interview over at Blog Herald is also about other things in regards to b5media, but I think the most interesting area of the interview is Jeremy Wright’s thoughts on the “death of blog networks”.

Jeremy Wright is the President of b5media, a very popular and large blog network.

Many are proclaiming the coming death of blog networks before the year’s out – what’s your thoughts about this?

While anything is possible, it’s certainly not something that we’re seeing. I’m not going to say where we’re at stats-wise, but it’s certainly at a healthy level.

Realistically, we’ve been saying for 4-6 months that there was consolidation, failure and innovation coming to the industry. There are still more than 100 blog networks out there. And there is a growing valley between the “haves” and “have-nots” in the blog network industry.

So, yes, lots of shakeups coming. Lots of consolidation. Lots of failures. Lots of new ideas.

That’s different than proclaiming the death of an industry. I think some watchers are seeing this coming change and calling it death, but really it’s just a healthy part of all cycles. All industries go wide, then the best players survive and thrive. Typically, though, there are only 2-5 “big” companies and a dozen small ones.

Playing as a small one can work, but the reality is that there simply isn’t enough space in any industry for hundreds of companies to succeed, survive and thrive.

Obviously we’d like b5media to be one of those companies that do survive and thrive, but ultimately it will be down to great strategy and kickass execution. So let’s see where the industry is at in a year, and see which strategy, and which execution style really works.

While I don’t think the President of a blogging network would ever say that their network is set up to fail, I do agree with much of the other things he said, and think that blog networks had better find ways to distinguish themselves before their networks end up part of the static in the background of the internet.

Categories: Blogging News

WordPress and SEO

Over at The Undersigned a nice tutorial was written up called WordPress and SEO. SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. In the tutorial, there are some tips, tricks, and plugins you can use to help search engines find you, and index your pages better.

There is a big bunch of resources on optimizing your blog for search engines. I have tried to collect the best tips and plugins in this article.

These tips won’t flood your blog with visitors – no SEO tips will. Use these tips to improve your site, and fight for a lot of backlinks and visitors by writing quality content and putting a lot of work into it. It has never been easy to run a website, and it for sure isn’t getting easier.

Check out the great list of tips and tricks, and use as many as you can. If nothing else, many of the tips will provide users with a better reader experience.

Categories: WordPress Tips

WordPress Plugin: WP Movie Ratings

If you are looking to give people a quick understanding of what you thought of a variety of movies, Paul Goscicki has the WordPress plugin for you.

WP Movie Ratings is a wordpress plugin that makes rating movies very easy. At its core is a Firefox bookmarklet, which combined with Internet Movie Database and a little bit of AJAX magic lets you rate movies with just 1 click. Also, there is no need to write the title of the movie as it is automatically fetched from imdb. Optionally, you can also write a short review for each movie. The output from this plugin is a list of recently watched movies, which you can put anywhere you want (it’s a matter of one simple function call from the template).

The published movie reviews are hReview compliant.

I love that it links to IMDB, but I think it still might need a bit of work. I almost wish it allowed me to make them posts like asides or whatnot, so that they did not have to be in their own little box, but instead part of my actual WordPress blog. Still, a great plugin, and very useful. I can think a few sites could really make use of this plugin.

Check it out at Paul Goscicki’s Project page.

Categories: WordPress Plugins

TalkXHTML Releases Theme Photoshop Files

One of my favourite things about Kubrick was the ability to get the PSD for the theme, and edit it to my hearts content, and I really wish that more theme developers would do the same thing. TalkXHTML has decided to do so after two of this themes have been picked up by WordPress.com and have been highly popular.

Our community has decided to release our three most famous WordPress themes for public use under the General Public License which you can read [here]. We want artists to pick up where we left off as well as to allow users complete and total customization over their theme through the best means. Below we have individually attached each theme’s core files and .PSD so that you may understand both the build process, and edit the original work as you wish.

I personally cannot wait to see what people do to our themes. I know there have been plenty of people that wanted wider versions, different colors, and so on and so forth. I feel releasing the original source files are the best way to accomplish that.

You have to be a member of the forum to be able to download the files, but I think you’ll agree that it is worth it as their are no other real requirements. They do ask for a link back to the community if you do something with the files, or redistribute the PSD’s. So if you liked Sweet Blossoms, Flower Power, or Lucky Blue, now is your chance to get the Photoshop files to make it easier to customize to your hearts content.

Categories: WordPress Themes

WordPress Theme: Neo-Sapien

WordPress Theme Neo-SapienMy favourite colour is red, and I love darker layouts, especially now that I am in the LCD monitor club, and black does not look as dark as it used to. Neo-Sapien is a great three column theme that uses red and black in a very nice way.

The color scheme is red, black, and white. The header image is a small piece of Casshern’s movie cover. I’m about 15 hours and 34 minutes late on releasing this theme because I was up until 5 am working on skinning it. Right after, I had to sleep. So, here I am releasing it now.

Although it has not been widgetized and there is no running widget version of this theme, if you wanted to, you could easily widgetize the sidebar. I coded it that way despite that I didn’t add the codes for it to work with the Widget plugin. I think I’ll come back to this theme later to create an extended version for that plugin.

Check it out at WPDesigner

Categories: WordPress Themes

Being Ranked #1 on Google

Darren Rowse at Problogger.net talks about a recent post by Chris Smith about being number one for a keyword on Google. In the article he makes mention of the difference between being in first and being in second on Google for a keyword and says the difference in traffic can be as much as 60%!

I can tell you that our site receives approximately 30k of visits on average per day from Google, just from keyword searches for Term X. There’s typically one or two Sponsored Links just above us on the SERP, and a few Sponsored Links on the right side column, too.

When we dropped to second slot on the SERP for Term X, we lost approx 18k of visits per day. So, there it is: the difference between the number one slot and the number two slot for a major keyword term comes to about a 60% change in visits!

I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the problem of being number one on Google, so to read such an article is actually amusing, and interesting. If you knew you would have to work twice as hard to get to number one, but it would bring you almost double your normal traffic, would you do it?

Categories: Blogging Sense

WordPress 2.1 Include File Reorganization

Ryan Boren, from Automattic, is working on WordPress, and has recently mentioned a major shift in how include files are going to be in the 2.1 development cycle.

we’ve been tidying up our includes. They had gotten rather messy, with a bazillion functions being piled into the functions.php catch-all. Go take a look at trunk and see how things have changed. functions.php is much slimmer, and we have a few more files. We tried to separate the presentation from the backend logic a little better. For example, comment functions that perform DB operations go in comment.php. Comment functions that spit out markup go in comment-template.php. Pretty straightforward. All of the “big query” and “post loop” related functions are gathered in query.php. Rewrite functions are in rewrite.php, plugin functions are in plugin.php, and so on. This is nothing that end-users care about, but I feel cleaner.

It is always nice to have include files for things so that code is easier to find and easier to manage. I can hear the happy cheers of developers and other people that love to mess around with WordPress code.

Categories: WordPress News

My WordPress Install Process

One of the things I get asked most often by people looking to set up their first WordPress site, is how to do it. WordPress has one of the easiest set-up processes you can ask for, but it does take a fair bit of computer knowledge to get through it the first time. You have to interact with a database, edit a configuration file, use an FTP client to upload the software, and then run through its quick online install process, before modifying WordPress to suit your needs.

In this short guide, I am going to walk you through my install process, as I go through the starting steps, to which plugins I use to help my workflow and keep comment spam to a minimum.

I am going to assume a few things in this article, like that you have already downloaded WordPress from WordPress.org, and that you know a little bit on setting up a database and FTP’ing files. If you don’t know how to deal with adding a database to your host, you should check out their Frequently Asked Questions, as I know Dreamhost was a bit odd to me, due to the way they handle databases and their control panel. If you have problems FTP’ing files up onto your account, you will want to contact your web host, or check their Frequently Asked Questions, as they usually have some great tips, tricks and tutorials on how to upload files quickly and easily.

Setting up the Database

All of my web hosting accounts allow me to use cPanel, an easy to use interface that allows you to quickly get to the important control areas of your website. It allows me to easily add a database as well as a user for the database so that WordPress can run properly. The steps you need to take in cPanel is to click on mySQL Databases link, or icon, depending on your host, and then adding a new database, adding a new user, and making sure you add the user to the database, giving the user full permission to add and remove records and whatnot.

Adding a Database

WordPress stores all its information, and your blog posts in the database, and so it has to be able to connect to the database with full permissions.

Editing the Config File
To tell WordPress which database to use, you have to edit a file that comes with WordPress. They give you what is a wp-config-sample.php. You have to rename this to wp-config.php and change a few lines. They have commented the code really nicely, so understanding what to change is relatively easy. You can use pretty much any text editor to change the file, but I use Crimson Editor.

define('DB_NAME', 'dbname'); // The name of the database
define('DB_USER', 'dbusername'); // Your MySQL username
define('DB_PASSWORD', 'dbpassword'); // ...and password
define('DB_HOST', 'localhost'); // 99% chance you won't need to change this value

// You can have multiple installations in one database if you give each a unique prefix
$table_prefix = 'wp_'; // Only numbers, letters, and underscores please!

The things in bold are the ones you can change. For the first three items, you will input the information you used when creating your database. The last item, asks you what you want the tables in the database to be prefixed with. This allows you to install more than one WordPress blog in one database, as you can change the prefix to different things. I always change mine to better identify which blog the tables refer to, though you can keep it as its default.

Uploading WordPress
Next you have to get your blog onto your web host. You need to upload the files to where you want to install WordPress. Most people put it in one of two places, either in the root directory, so it is the first thing people see when they come to your site or in a sub-directory, a folder like “blog”.

For uploading my files, I either use Explorer or WS_FTP LE. I input my details and connect. I then drag and drop all the files and folders and upload them to my hosting account.

Installing WordPress
WordPress Install Page OneOnce all the files are uploaded you only need to browse to where you put WordPress and go to /wp-admin/install.php. So if you installed it in your root directory, you would go to www.somedomain.com/wp-admin/install.php and it would bring you to WordPress’ install page.

You then click on First Step, and it will bring you to a page asking you what you want your blog title to be as well as your current e-mail address. Once you click submit, it will bring you to the last page in the install process where it shows you your temporary password. You will want to write this down so you can log into your WordPress blog. I also recommend changing it as soon as you are logged in, via the Users tab.

Anti-Spam Plugin Akismet
For WordPress 2.0.x and above, Akismet is one of the plugins that comes with the software by default. A plugin is an additional tool or feature that not every user needs, but can expand WordPress far beyond its original intensions. Akismet is a plugin that is one that I think should just be integrated into WordPress’ core, as it is to combat comment spam, and honestly, who doesn’t want to combat comment spam?

To activate it, you only need to go to the plugins page, click enable, and it will say that it can’t enable all the way without an API key. This key is easy to get though. If you sign up for an account at WordPress.com you can get an Akismet API key. Another route you can take is to purchase one from Akismet.com.

Changes I Make
I don’t like the visual rich editor, and so I uncheck that box once WordPress is installed. I also make sure to give a proper tagline to my blog under Options -> General, as none of the blogs I launch, are “just another WordPress blog”. I also check over all of the other options to make sure everything looks right, and then I mess with my Permalinks. I don’t recommend playing with the permalinks unless you have some idea of what you are doing, or atleast know someone that does. While WordPress makes it extremely easy to use, you can still run into problems that while easy to fix, could be very annoying until you find the resource to fix them.

Conclusion
There are many other plugins, themes and whatnot that I won’t talk about here, as that is getting a little advanced for this post, but most of them are as easy to use as Akismet. You just upload them to the correct place, enable them, and change a few small details here or there to make them work correctly on your blog. Once you have installed WordPress more than once, you will find your own workflow being created that allows you to install, add plugins, and customize WordPress for your needs in a timely manner.

For those of you out there that already have a workflow for installing WordPress, I’d love to hear about it, so if you have a blog, post about your install process and link to this post. It should add your post to the trackbacks here. I would be very interested to see how other’s do it, as I have heard some very interesting ways to install, update, and modify WordPress.

Categories: Blogging: How To, WordPress Tips

Blog Herald Gets New Look

The Blog Herald, one of the sites I used to frequent quite often, has got a new, more spiffy look. Their old look had an almost Kubrick style to it, and the new one looks much more like a newspaper. I think it is a little too white for me, but we will have to wait and see how it progresses.

As you can see, our new design by Chris Pearson is in the process of being implemented.

You’ll see a few changes over the next several hours as Chris tweaks a few things around and we settle the design down into its new home.

In the meantime, enjoy the chaos.

Update: 10:18pm CST And no, not all of that whitespace is remaining. We have some other blocks to add and move around before things are finalized. And we’ll likely tweak a few things here and there in the days to come…

Chris Pearson is the one who recently posted about how much it costs to have him work on a blog design for a site. I wonder if BlogMedia.biz, the people that run Blog Herald now, paid him his $3000 USD for a “pimped out blog”?

Categories: Blogging News

New WordPress Theme Viewer

For those of you that were beginning to wonder if Themes.WordPress.net was ever coming back, you don’t need to wonder any longer as it is back live, and looking rather nice.

It has more ways of searching for the themes you want, as well as commenting and other great features. It feels very much updated from what it was, and hopefully the community will continue to suppport it and make it better, as it is one of the best places to grab a new theme for your WordPress blog.

The new WordPress theme viewer has launched. After many hours of work and a lot of coding it is finally ready, all packed with new and great features:

  • Theme rating
  • User theme upload
  • Theme commenting
  • All tagged
  • Download counter
  • Fantastic sorting options
  • Automatic theme snapshotting
  • Live test run

Categories: WordPress Themes