BloggingPro » WordPress Tips http://www.bloggingpro.com News, plugins and themes for blogging applications Tue, 26 Aug 2014 08:40:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 Tag Maintenance: How to Keep Your Blog’s Tags Meaningful http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/07/22/tag-maintenance-keep-blogs-tags-meaningful/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/07/22/tag-maintenance-keep-blogs-tags-meaningful/#comments Tue, 22 Jul 2014 12:00:15 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30627 If your blog is running on WordPress, you can organize your posts into two classifications: categories and tags. Categories are more subject based. For example, a cooking blog may sort posts by categories such as “Meat Dishes,” “Desserts” and “Breakfast Food.” It’s also useful for blogs with many different topics, such as an entertainment blog that may separate posts into categories like “Movies,” “Video Games” and “Music.” Categories typically have an impact on the structure and navigation of a site, especially since most WordPress themes automatically place links to a blog’s various categories on the header or sidebar.

On the other hand, if your blog offers an eclectic array of ever-changing content, then the more loosely defined — yet more flexible role of tags — may be most appealing. For example, a news blog that posts often about current events should use tags, since they allow for easy insertion of new topics that can appeal to readers and search engines alike. One example is BuzzFeed, which inserts a tag of a notable person’s name whenever they are mentioned in an article. Similar to hashtags on Twitter, tags are a great way for bloggers to benefit from the popularity of current events.

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If you opt to focus on tags, then it’s very important to link tags together and focus on creating tags based on keywords that matter most, such as names, locations, or specialized topics. Thousands of disassociated and cluttered tags can be a big detriment. Be sure to follow the tag maintenance tips below on how to keep your WordPress blog’s tags organized and effective:

Consider Your Blog’s Number of Authors

If you’re the only blogger on your blog, then feel free to choose whichever classification feels right. However, if your blog has several guest bloggers, then categories may be a better fit than tags since it will keep writers on track in writing for relevant topics. Forcing other writers to become familiar with tags may cause clutter, either in the form of irrelevant tags or simply too many of them. Ideally, a blog post only needs a few tags, but some writers may mistakenly put dozens in, falsely assuming the more the better.

Guest bloggers typically cannot add new categories to your blog, so they are preferable to tags for blogs with multiple authors, who can add tags at will.

Make Tags as Visible as Possible

Tags can be a great way for visitors to browse through a topic that interests them, but without the tags being visible on the page they’re useless and inaccessible. To increase the visibility of tags, consider using a plugin like Ultimate Tag Cloud Widget, which can display tags in a visual-friendly form in any desirable location on your blog. Many bloggers place widgets like these below a post or on the sidebar.

Realize That Blogs Help with Organization First and Foremost

Although some may feel that tags can have SEO benefits and raise awareness on search engines, the role of tags as duplicate data makes the benefits minor at best, at least according to SEO experts like John Saddington. However, certain WordPress SEO plugins – like Yoast – can transform tags from having little impact on SEO to potentially having quite a bit, mostly due to their indexing capabilities. Even with these plugins, it’s best to think of tags as a primary organizational tool for you and your readers alike, resulting in other benefits such as reduced bounce rates.

Choose Interesting Tags to Reduce Your Blog’s Bounce Rate

At the bare minimum regarding SEO, well-organized tags containing relevant content can reduce bounce rates, since visitors will be encouraged to dig deeper into a topic if they see the ability to do so. For example, a visitor of the HydroWorx blog may view a post that engages them in the topic of aquatic therapy. On that blog, a tag for “aquatic therapy” is very visible — above the blog post and to the right of the headline — so that visitor can explore more posts related to that topic in more detail with just one click, remaining on the blog instead of exiting to search the topic on Google.

Depending on a blog’s niche, number of authors and topical emphasis, tags can be an extremely effective way to provide more organization and engage visitors more actively than ever before. Both categories and tags are worth considering, but tags — with their flexibility and accommodating frequency — offer the most benefits for bloggers that know how to keep tags meaningful and organized.

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How to Determine When it’s Time to Use a CDN for your WordPress Blog http://www.blogherald.com/2014/05/14/content-delivery-network-wordpress/ http://www.blogherald.com/2014/05/14/content-delivery-network-wordpress/#comments Mon, 19 May 2014 12:00:01 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30335 Over the past few years, Content Delivery Networks (CDN) have become increasingly popular and affordable as websites owners seek new ways to increase speed and improve security. In as few words as possible, CDN’s help to distribute your website’s content across the globe to ensure that wherever your visitors may be, your website can be loaded from a data center fairly close to their location. The closer website data centers are to your users, the faster websites will load for them. Therefore, a user in Australia trying to access a website hosted in the UK will load slower than one hosted nearby within the same continent or region. CDN’s eliminate the distance issue.

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With all the hype and popularity that these systems have garnered, many site owners rushed to try out the many services on offer by providers on the web. Some experiences were great, some disappointing and others didn’t notice any differences in their site’s loading time. These mixed experiences are the result of a lack of information regarding one’s particular need of the service, how to implement it and what to expect.

Here’s what the average WordPress blogger should know before deciding to use a CDN.

What’s Your Content & Visitor Profile?

Think about the type of content you’re delivering via your blog. Do you use a lot of pictures in your articles, offer file downloads, selling a high demand product and host large and detailed articles with mission critical assets? If you’re delivering a vast amount of content on your blog then this means more information will need to be downloaded by your site visitors, meaning a greater use of network bandwidth. In this case you should consider using a CDN as the distributed networks will ensure that your heavy static data is delivered as efficiently as possible to all visitors from around the globe.

Your visitor profile

As your blog grows, you may notice visitors from various locations across the globe. Depending on your target market and your blog’s focus topics, you may realize that visitors are primarily from specific regions. For example, if your site is hosted in the US and you’re mainly attracting visitors from the UK or Africa, then those visitors will experience a particular speed boost through your CDN.

Also, are your visitors mainly accessing your site via mobile? Mobile users will experience slightly faster speeds than desktop users.

Note, however, a new lightweight blog with 10 basic pages may hold off a bit on acquiring the services of a CDN since there’s not much of an audience to deliver content to in the first place. You can grow into the service as your site becomes more popular and demands greater resources.

Your Web Host Isn’t Quite Top Tier

If you’re OK with using a lower-end web host for the sake of saving a few dollars or attached for some other reason then you could consider a CDN. Usually, low tier web hosts do not quite deliver great quality as it relates to speed, abundant bandwidth and reliability of their servers. So a CDN will give you an excellent boost and an extra layer of protection for your blog since most service providers host a backup copy of your site’s content in case of outages with your current host.

Don’t forget also that Google ranks faster loading sites better since it means a better user experience for its users.

Are You Serious About Security?

Whether you’re using a cheap lower tier web host or not, you need to be concerned about the security of your website. Thankfully, many CDN providers bundle their services and offer complete solutions that help to boost your website’s status for speed, availability and protection. Due to the fact that they have vast network resources dedicated to delivering high availability and up-time.

Fireblade, for instance, bundles their CDN offering with standard DDoS (Denial-of-service) protection, anti-spam and abuse protection to help mitigate threats to online properties. These services are miles ahead of what your typical hosting provider will be able to offer and are crucial in an age where websites are being hijacked without many owners even knowing.

To conclude, if you value your site visitor’s experiences, search engine performance and are serious about securing your WordPress blog, then a CDN is a worthwhile option for you. A small investment in your site’s health is a powerful preventative measure for future threats and is enough to give you a small edge over competitors.

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How to Easily Customize Your WordPress Blog CSS Design – For Beginners http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/07/customization-wordpress-blog-design-for-beginners/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/04/07/customization-wordpress-blog-design-for-beginners/#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 02:57:55 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=30075 As a followup to my previous article, 5 Powerful Drag & Drop Page & Layout Builder Plugins for WordPress, in which I discussed how non-developers could easily customize their WordPress blogs with easy to use drag and drop plugins, I’ve decided to delve just a little bit deeper into WordPress CSS customization. This will assist any WordPress blogger, and any other website owner for that matter, to achieve mastery overtime of basic web design.

wordpress blog customization

There comes a time in every webmaster’s work when a little tweak here and there becomes necessary to make your site look and feel just the way you want it. Coding can be a bit daunting for beginners, especially if you’re new to WordPress. However, here are some fool proof methods for customizing your site’s design.

Create a Child Theme & Backup Your Work

Best practice dictates that you always try to avoid making changes directly to your WordPress site’s theme files. Creating a child theme is one of the safest methods for updating your site design / theme, especially if you’re not 100% comfortable with code. If anything should go wrong with your new designs, you may easily revert to your original theme and CSS.

Note: Before editing any code whatsoever, always make a copy of the file you’re about to edit and store it on your local machine. I can attest, as experienced when I first started coding, that editing code can be tricky and many times you’ll add or delete content that completely throws off your entire design. Without even realizing what you did. So don’t learn that lesson the hard way. Make backups.

Create your Child Theme

Child themes inherit style and functionality of another theme, usually called the parent theme. So if you purchased or downloaded a free WordPress theme for your site, it would be the parent theme that gets activated. The use of the child theme allows you to maintain the state of the parent theme by bypassing it’s files when you’re customizing the site design. This is especially useful if your purchased theme has an automatic update feature, which will overwrite / erase any adjustments you make to the parent theme. The child theme is very handy here and will save you a lot of trouble.

Step 1 – Create a folder with the name of your child theme (for example, parentname-childname) and a file on your local computer named style.css within the folder. You can use any text editor like Notepad or Notepad++ to do this. Remember to add the .css suffix,

Step 2 –  Add and save the following code within your style.css file:

/*

Theme Name: My Child Theme
Theme URI: http://mysite.com/
Description: This is a custom child theme I have created.
Author: My Name
Author URI: http://mysite.com/
Template: parenttheme
Version: 1.0


*/

This is basic code that is used to correctly identify and activate your child theme.

Step 3 – The template name (Template: parenttheme) line needs to be changed to reflect the name of your parent theme your’re linking your child theme to.

Step 4 – Add the following line of code. This ensures that you assign the initial design of your parent theme to the child theme. The parenttheme text needs to match the name of the folder where your parent theme is stored.

@import url("../parenttheme/style.css");

Step 4 – Save your style.css file.

Step 5 – Upload the child theme folder you created to your WordPress installation at /wp-content/themes/. You can do this via FTP or a WordPress file manager plugin.

With the folder uploaded, you should then be able to see and activate the child theme in your Appearance >> Themes section of your WordPress admin dashboard. You can now edit the style.css theme of your child theme by going to Appearance >> Editor to make design tweaks while retaining the basic theme design from the parent theme.

Learn more about using child themes with WordPress here.

Identifying & Editing CSS

Before jumping deep into CSS, I would suggest taking Codecademy’s short course in CSS. It’s a free resource that is comprehensive enough to get you confident using CSS. You could spend a week on the course and at the end you’ll be ready to tackle any minor WordPress CSS customization.

Once you’ve got your fill on CSS learning you’ll be ready to start adjusting your site’s layout, manipulating typography and colors, alter navigation styles and tons of other cool customization.

Identifying CSS selectors and properties

So it’s time to begin editing your theme, but where do you start? How do you know what to edit and how it’s currently working? Well, right clicking on any web page element will give you an option to Inspect Element. This allows you to view all HTML and CSS associated with your live site’s design as shown below.

Here’s a screenshot of Blogging Pro’s working code. Circled in red, you’ll see the article heading selector, h2.post-title a and a couple properties, color: #3c3c3c;. This is essentially giving you the code you will use to edit the main post heading. Therefore, if I wanted to change the color of that heading, I’d copy and edit the color property.

wordpress blog customization

Right clicking on any webpage element and inspecting will give you detailed information on the specific code that will need to be edited.

Spend some time experimenting with this. Make mistakes, try something new. The more you play with it the better you’ll get. Just a little bit of dedication will take you to a place where you can complete any design task you desire to make your WordPress blog beautiful, the way you like it. Saving you hundreds of dollars. I know it can be scary, especially if you’re new to WordPress. I suggest creating a subdomain or directory where you can host a private WordPress site for experimentation. This allows you to mess around as much as you like without any fear of destroying your live site’s theme. Nobody knows about that test site but you.

What has your WordPress customization journey been like? Let us know in the comments below.

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Back to Basics for WordPress Content Management http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/23/back-basics-wordpress-content-management/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2014/01/23/back-basics-wordpress-content-management/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 13:00:15 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29411 As a WordPress developer, I love to geek out when building client sites. Finding excuses to use shortcodes, leveraging page templates & custom fields to standardize design and imagining better data structure with custom post types are part of my daily joys.

wordpress-yesSource

My clients however couldn’t care less. In fact, most of them don’t even understand what I did to create the customized admin interface that they assume to be “standard WordPress” anyway. All they want is something that works well and is easy to use.

That’s good news for WordPress, which a great CMS solution: all about making things work, keeping content organized and providing edit tools that are intuitive.

A few months ago, I was working on a custom WooCommerce project that sold products so complex that the FAQ page became a rather important part of the puzzle. Their old site’s FAQ page was just a bunch of answered dumped onto a page. As a result, a large part of the owner’s time was wasted responding to inquiries already answered on the website. So I searched the repository for some cool FAQ plugins to use and what I found was very interesting.

All the popular FAQ plugins, such as WP Awesome FAQ Plugin and SP responsive wp-faq plugin, were highly-involving custom post-type based solutions. The philosophy behind them is that 1 question = 1 post so that the questions can be organized by taxonomies and displayed with templates.

Custom Post Types are too involving for some cases.

There is no doubt that these plugins are well engineered and that custom post types are an amazingly fun and powerful feature to use, but they have a strong short-coming. Anyone who has committed to a custom post-type driven plugin and decides to switch to a different solution knows what I am talking about: there isn’t an easy way to keep your data if the name of the post-type is different from one plugin to another. Savvy WordPress developers can attempt to edit the database manually; but for regular users it’s a nightmare of copy-pasting.

In fact, for something like FAQs where there are many small questions and answers that just creating such a large amount of posts can be a irritatingly repetitive task. Even when that’s done, there will be extra work teaching the client to use said system and explaining its value.

There has to be another way.

That’s what I told myself when thinking of the best solution possible to keep my client’s FAQ page simple and yet easily search-able.

I pondered that one of the core features behind the success of WordPress is that it provides a standardized way to format content. All posts, taxonomies, users and settings can be exported and maintained across installs, updates and themes. This is also why HTML itself works: all browsers expect the same tags and know how to display them.

Every page has headers.

In my search for the most obvious solution possible, I realized that just about every page online that is longer than a couple paragraphs makes use of HTML header tags. They structure the page visually, making it easier to browse and skip right to the content that sparks your interest.

So why not simply index those headers?

That’s exactly what I did. I wrote up some jQuery to browse the FAQ page for headers and generate a list of index links on the fly. Upon clicking one of those links, a user’s browser will scroll straight down to the header it indexes.

Problem solved!

Combined with a contextual search form for users who aren’t blessed with knowledge of the on-page search available with modern browsers; I had created an elegant solution to simplify searching through an entire FAQ. It was so simple to implement that I was literally able to copy-paste their old FAQ page from a non-WordPress site. As for my client they will never have to worry about managing dozens of posts or manually editing a list of anchor links.

the contextual search and index of links to headers

So came the Search & Index Page Content plugin.

I have released this solution in a simple, unobtrusive plugin format. Simply sliding a widget into the sidebar and wrapping a page’s content with a shortcode will reveal the search form and headers index links… for that page only. Search & Index Page Content works for any WP 3.6+ install, as long as your post or page to index contains headers.

download Search & Index Page Content

So next time you are over-engineering a solution to a basic web design problem using WordPress, try to ask yourself: “isn’t there a simpler way?”.

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Adal Bermann is a full-time WordPress developer based in San Francisco. Follow him on Google+ and at ADALDESIGN.com

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Commonly Asked Questions About Free Web Hosting http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/12/26/commonly-asked-questions-free-web-hosting/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/12/26/commonly-asked-questions-free-web-hosting/#comments Thu, 26 Dec 2013 12:24:53 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29320 When people know that they can get something for free that will benefit them as a website owner, they are all over it. For instance, the availability of free web hosting is something that a lot of people would most definitely take advantage of, especially those who are just starting out with creating a new website.

However, as many people know, when something is free, it does not mean that it is the best option to go with. Free can mean that there are some things that are comprised like the best features or the best tools that are available to be used. When there is something available for free like the use of free web hosting, people are going to have questions that they want answered before they decide to go with the free hosting. They have an understanding that just because it is free that there are some things that they will possibly have to go without since they are not paying for it. In other words, free can go hand-in-hand with cheap.

There are plenty of questions that a website owner might want to ask. Many of the questions that you will read more about are common questions that people have before they decide to dive into the free web hosting.

Can Hosting Stability Troubles Affect My SEO?

Wondering about the stability of a hosting service, especially if it is free is quite common. One thing that many people think about is that they are being offered a service for free which in return registers to them that they cant really complain if something is going wrong because they are not paying for it. Web hosting companies; often those that have services that they are offering for free, can shut down at any given time, because there is not as much effort being put into them as the hosting services that people are paying their hard earned money for.

Some website owners can experience their website going down for an entire day because there are issues with the host provider. If you have a serious, popular business, then that means that you can miss out on a lot of earned income from your site being down. Is it really worth the risk of dealing with a free web host? Or should you settle for a company that you are actually paying for better service? The truth is that it really all depends upon your priorities and how popular your online company is. Many people are also concerned about whether or not their rankings are affected by an unreliable dedicated server hosting company that is offering free services. You can find more about dedicated servers here.

Which Company is best to go with?

There are many factors that might determine which company would be better for you to choose when you are aiming to get free web hosting services. Now, there are  very few companies that offer this option, but for those who do, you’ll want to take a closer look at so that you can know which one will offer you the best quality service, considering it being free.

This is something that is even more so important if you are seeking to have a free dedicated server. Dedicated servers are the most expensive type of server since they are customized to the exact needs of the website owner. You can take a look here to learn more about what you should look for in a web hosting company that will offer you the options and features that you need for your website.

How will free web hosting service affect my bare metal server?

There are some people who already know what bare metal servers are all about, but for those of you who don’t, it is basically a server that is able to recover any data that might have been lost whenever a site shuts down. It uses a process known as disk imaging. Basically you would benefit off of having this type of server if you are using free hosting, because if your website ever crashed (which is common to happen with free web hosting), then your web data would not be lost.

When going with a free hosting company you should look into whether or not they offer bare metal software for your website so that you don’t lose data in case your site was to ever shut down.

Is WordPress is a reliable free web hosting site?

WordPress is quite popular, and very reliable amongst all websites that are known for free hosting. In fact, many people use it with little to no issues, besides the fact that it can be slow at loading pages at times. For the most part, if you want to go with something that is free, to start out, you just might want to choose WordPress. In case you might be second guessing WordPress to host your website, you might want to take a look at some of the benefits that you can take advantage of. WordPress has come a long ways, and has been a great advantage to those who run blogs, news sites, and more online.

Would free web hosting be beneficial for affiliate marketing?

Once again, with free web hosting, you can expect for there to be some sort of limitations because you aren’t paying for anything. Now, free hosting services have come a long way from what they used to be, but you still cannot expect to get the absolute best when you are paying nothing for the service.

Basically you can really benefit from free web hosting if you are marketing a product that has lots of competition. It would be good to start out, just to get your foot in the door to see just how successful you would be at marketing the product. Generally, you can only go so far with very little to work with, so you might need to step it up a notch and purchase a hosting service if you aren’t having success with the free web hosting service.

Richard Myers is an app developer, tech buff and an overall geek. Years of working with servers of all kinds has endowed him with the knowledge that he now likes sharing with anyone who needs his help.

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Writing Your NaNoWriMo Novel On WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/11/21/writing-nanowrimo-novel-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/11/21/writing-nanowrimo-novel-wordpress/#comments Thu, 21 Nov 2013 12:00:55 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=29149 nanowrimo

Source

As a guy who does a lot of writing, I’m constantly aware of my predilection for procrastination (and alliteration). If I can put off writing something, I will. It’s not because I don’t love writing; it’s just that putting a dent into a blank page can be a significant psychological barrier (can a nonexistent dent be a barrier?) I’ve never written a novel, but if I were to venture into the higher literary realms and give it a go, I know I’d need a lot of encouragement and support.

In part, that’s what the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is about. A community gathers in November with the aim of supporting each other through the process of banging out 50,000 words. It’s a great idea, and if you throw in a bit of WordPress magic, it can be even better.

In fact, with a WordPress blog, you can take your public book writing beyond the confines of cold November and built a community that will comment on, support, and critique your efforts throughout the year.

A few weeks ago we published an article about blogging a book. That article was aimed more at companies that use ebooks as marketing material, rather than novelists, so today I’d like to take a look at book blogging from another perspective.

If you check out the earlier article, you’ll notice that I talk about first publication rights, which is something to bear in mind if you intend to have your novel published through a traditional publisher. But, if you’re writing for fun and to share your work with the wider world, then that isn’t an issue. It’s also not a concern if you intend to self-publish.

So, what does it take to change WordPress into the perfect novel writing and publishing platform? – not much, actually. Out of the box, WordPress does a great job of managing your content and with the new 2013 theme, it looks pretty damn good too. But, the main strength of WordPress is its flexibility and extensibility, so we’re not going to settle for almost perfect. There are a few rough edges we can knock off before we get writing.

Markdown

Writers should think thankful thoughts about John Gruber before they go to bed at night, for it was he who originally developed the marvel that is Markdown.

Markdown is a simple markup language for text that makes it easy to concentrate on the writing and not on how it looks. No more futzing with fonts and the sizes of headers – just straightforward textual productivity. Markdown is very easy to learn. Check out this comprehensive guide to writing in Markdown.

WordPress doesn’t support Markdown natively, so were going to have to install the WP Markdown plugin. It will allow us to write our content in Markdown and then convert it to the HTML that WordPress understands.

Minimal Mode

No one ever accused the WordPress interface of being pleasant to work in, but it gets a lot better if you click into the minimal distraction free interface, which will remove all the clutter around the text entry box and leave you alone with your words.

Grammar And Spelling

There are a fair few grammar and spelling checkers for WordPress, but I’ve not found better than the one included as part of the JetPack Plugin. Install that and head to the menu item that appears in the main menu to configure it.

MagPress

MagPress isn’t for writing exactly, but it can help you do something with your work after your magnum opus is complete. MagPress is a WordPress plugin that will allow you to turn a selection of WordPress posts into an ebook. MagPress has an intuitive interface for choosing and ordering posts and can output into most popular ebook formats, including PDF, ePub and .Mobi. It’s not free, but if you plan to sell your books, it may well be worth the price.

With these components in place, WordPress becomes an excellent platform for writing a novel that will take you from initial ideas through to publication.

About Graeme Caldwell — Graeme works as an inbound marketer for Nexcess, a leading provider of Magento and WordPress hosting. Follow Nexcess on Twitter at @nexcess, Like them on Facebook and check out their tech/hosting blog, http://blog.nexcess.net/.

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Overcoming 7 Common Problems With WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/10/10/overcoming-7-common-problems-with-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/10/10/overcoming-7-common-problems-with-wordpress/#comments Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:00:04 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28922 common problems with WordPress

Less than a decade ago the cost of a new website was several thousands of dollars and the process would easily take a couple of months. Today, however, the least experienced user can be up and running with a functional website in a couple of hours and an investment of less than $50. This dramatic transformation of the market is largely the result of a new approach to website building and the availability of such things as CMS website building tools.

At the forefront of this revolution in website creation is the WordPress community. An entire mini-industry exists because of this powerful and popular method of constructing and maintaining websites of all types and configurations. The basic WordPress framework is at the heart of millions of existing sites and thousands are added daily.

Because WordPress users range in expertise from the newest of newbies to very sophisticated and experienced programmers, there are a variety of issues that arise in the use of WordPress. Some of these problems are trivial to anyone with even a minimal level of experience; other issues require in-depth programming skills.

In either case, the solutions to most concerns are readily addressed because of the huge community of users and support resources. Below are seven of the problems that are encountered when using WordPress, from the simple to the fairly complex.

 

Problem No. 1: Sites that are hacked.

With its popularity, the many WordPress sites are natural targets for the black hat community. The damage they can cause ranges from redirecting links to adding obscene content to disabling the site.

Solution: There are extensive tools available to enhance WP security. Many problems arise because users ignore the basic steps that need to be taken. Many of these issues are resolved if you use the right hosting service. Key items to address include:

  • All of your files and database should be backed up regularly
  • Always update your site to the latest WP version
  • Maintain the file permissions of the website
  • Regularly run WP-security-scan, a recommended plugin
  • There is an excellent article by WordPress.org dealing with security you should read.

 

Problem No 2: Getting a “500 Internal Server Error” message.

This is often caused by a conflicting plugin or a corrupt .htaccess file.

Solution: You have to walk through each possible cause of the message, starting with the most likely, an .htaccess file that is corrupted. You solve this by using the root directory of the WP installation to locate the file. Then you rename the file and reload your website. If this is the problem, go to Settings, Permalinks in the WP admin pane and resave the settings. If this doesn’t quickly solve the problem, do a search for the appropriate WP Codex for this error message and follow the steps it provides.

 

Problem No. 3: Hosting issues or questions

Thinking about changing web host or about becoming self-hosted, but not knowing where to start. Self-hosting means that you have ultimate control over your site rather than WordPress.

Solution: Check recommendations. If you’ve not got friends or colleagues who can recommend a host to you, try looking at user reviews. WhoIsHostingThis.com has a section dedicated to WordPress hosts that’ll help you find one to suit your needs.

 

Problem No. 4: Use of the admin account for adding content.

Many users fail to set up editor accounts after installation and this creates a number of potential problems, starting with security issues. When anyone logs onto your site, you want them to use separate editor accounts.

Solution: Set up separate editor accounts for each user. Easy as that.

 

Problem No. 5: Spam.
common problems with WordPress
It’s a fact of life that you will get hundreds of useless comments on your site if you don’t proactively try to solve spam issues. When you have the right hosting service for your site, they control a great deal of normal spam. However, you have to take WordPress-specific steps to stop the problem on your particular website.

Solution: The simplest way to deal with this annoying problem is to add one of the many plugins that focus on the issue. Searching the options at WordPress.org will give you a number of options for adding a captcha-type plugin. Akismet.com offer an anti-spam plug in that would prove useful here.

 

Problem No. 6: Error message “404 Not Found.”

This problem is often caused when themes are changed or when you run the WP update function. It normally means that WP can’t find the right URL for your site.

Solution: This is a simple fix if it is related to plugins or the updates. You simply go to the admin page and Go to Settings and select Permalinks. You then select Post Name and click Save. Even if this was already selected, go ahead and use the save function and do a save.

 

Problem No. 7: Breaks in sliders, styling or toggles.

Many themes use jQuery elements that add nice features such as toggles and sliders. However, when certain plugins are added to your theme, they can easily break and cause problems. This is primarily because plugins try to add a second use of jQuery and the program doesn’t allow that without causing problems. Also, if the plugin uses any code that is not compliant with WP standards, the same situation can arise.

Solution: You first disable your plugins and reload the page. Assuming that it returns to working mode, you then add each plugin back, one at a time. Reload the site each time you add back a plugin. This should identify the problem plugin and you can then focus on that as the issue to work on.

WordPress is a fantastic CMS, but as with everything – there are issues that come with the territory. Although some technical issues can be fixed relatively easily following the solutions outlined here, if you need further assistance in resolving your WordPress problems, WordPress do have their own support page here.

Image credits: John Fischer, Premasagar

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5 Useful WordPress Plugins & Methods to Make Your Website Faster http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/26/5-useful-wordpress-plugins-methods-to-make-your-website-faster/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/08/26/5-useful-wordpress-plugins-methods-to-make-your-website-faster/#comments Mon, 26 Aug 2013 12:00:59 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28519 wordpress plugins
Got a slow website? I know how frustrating it can be to open your website only to wait 3 minutes until it fully loads. If your website garners many daily visitors, I can only imagine the sheer panic you may feel when you open your website only to see that it’s not loading at all. “How many visitors am I losing this very moment?” you may wonder. Did you know that your website conversion rate decreases by a whopping 7% for every second your website loading speed is delayed?

There could be two reasons as to why your website is always painfully slow:

-       Your website is using more resources than available (too much content)

-       Your web hosting service is terrible

All is not lost, though. There are many different WordPress plugins and tricks to make your website faster without the need to remove content or switch web hosting services (only if it’s not too bad). Let us clue you in on 5 of them:

Smush.it

wordpress plugins

Created by Yahoo, this plugin comes in especially useful for image-based websites. It speeds up your website by optimizing images. The plugin does it in several different ways:

-       Stripping meta data from JPEGs

-       Optimizing JPEG compression

-       Converting GIFs to indexed PNGs

-       Stripping the unused colors from indexed images

Whenever you add an image to a page or post, Smush.it automatically optimizes it without you having to do anything. If you want a quick fix to your website’s slow speed, you can use the plugin to “smush” your existing images via your media library.

W3 Total Cache

wordpress plugins

Advertised as the only WordPress Performance Optimization framework that actually works, W3 Total Cache improves your website speed by compressing CSS and JavaScript in memory, caching feeds, search result, database, and objects in memory or on disk, grouping javaScript by template with embed location control, and minifying all the unnecessary codes in posts, pages, feeds, JavaScript, and CSS. In other words, W3 Total Cache does all the dirty work for you. This plugin especially comes in useful if you don’t trust yourself to get your hands dirty with coding.

According to the developers of this excellent plugin, you can “improve the user experience for your readers without having to change WordPress, your theme, your plugins, or how you produce your content.” Definitely at the top of the list of WordPress plugins.

WP Database Optimizer

wordpress plugins

You know how sometimes you need to defragment your hard drive? Well, you need to do the same with your WordPress site. It’s because your database is constantly changing and you need to clean it up. WP Database Optimizer is an excellent plugin that automatically optimizes your database on a schedule. It clears all your deleted posts and plugins out of the database.

Using a content delivery network

A content delivery network is a system of servers with multiple data centers all over the Internet that pays ISPS, carriers, and network operators to host servers with them. The sole purpose of a content delivery network is to deliver content in the fastest way possible. This comes in especially useful if you have visitors from other countries. Did you know that someone in the U.K. usually has to wait longer for your website to load than if he had been in the U.S.A.? Because most reputable content delivery networks have servers in multiple countries, visitors from all over the world will be able to access your site much quicker.

MaxCDN is a great content delivery network to use.

Tweaking your .htaccess file

If you’re confident enough to take the matter into your own hands, you can try several different manual solutions, including tweaking your .htaccess file. To do this, you need to take the following steps:

Properly cache your content by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:

ExpiresActive On
ExpiresByType text/html “access plus 20 seconds”
ExpiresByType text/css “access plus 3 weeks”
ExpiresByType text/javascript “access plus 3 weeks”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”

This helps your server set decent rules for caching your content. Add an extra line for every file type you want to cache.

Compress some text files by inserting the following code into your .htaccess file:

# Compress some text file types
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html text/css text/xml application/x-javascript

# Deactivate compression for buggy browsers
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4 gzip-only-text/html
BrowserMatch ^Mozilla/4\.0[678] no-gzip
BrowserMatch \bMSIE !no-gzip !gzip-only-text/html

# Set header information for proxies
Header append Vary User-Agent

Feel free to tweak the code to suit your preferences. You can add more lines to compress more types of text files you want to compress. This code allows your server to decrease download time, reduce your bandwidth, and deliver content much faster.

Do you have any website performance-increasing tricks up your sleeve? If so, please share them with us!

This guest article was provided by Simon, who is working for Jangomail, a mass e-mail service provider.  You can check out more of Simon’s work at his blogs at: http://simonsblogpark.com/.

Lead image via Ana Felix Garjan

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6 Quick And Simple WordPress Security Tips http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/06/07/6-quick-and-simple-wordpress-security-tips/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/06/07/6-quick-and-simple-wordpress-security-tips/#comments Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:37:52 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=28103 wordpress

Is your website or blog built on the popular open source content management platform called WordPress? There’s a good chance you are running WordPress in fact according to Wikipedia, 22% of all active websites on the Internet today are running WordPress as their core. This is because of the several tools and pure “awesomeness” WordPress delivers. But there are some downsides to WordPress being the #1 most widely used CMS.

The main downside is security. Because WordPress is so commonly used these days, it has become a target of hackers as of late. And will most likely continue to be for the foreseeable future. Hackers love to exploit over-exposed WordPress run sites and hacks are being reported at alarming and record-breaking rates. So if you run WordPress than this blog post is for you… to learn how to better protect your site from malicious hackers.

1. Move Your wp-config File

Did you know that you can move your wp-config.php file up one directory and your site will still work perfectly fine? Most webhosting companies support this functionality and it’s a very important step for security. It makes it harder for a hacker to access and/or find your wp-config file which is the most important file in WordPress.

2. Remove WordPress Version Number from the Public

Do a simple Google search for “remove wordpress version number” and you’ll come across several dozen tutorials on how to do this. It’s very simple to do and involves editing your theme’s functions.php file. This way hackers can’t know what version of WordPress your site is currently running.

3. Protect WP-Includes Files With .htaccess

Using your site’s .htaccess file you can actually protect all the core files that inside your wp-includes directory. Do a google search on this one as well to find the instructions. These wp-includes files are usually the first to get hacked.

4. .htaccess Double Protect Your WP-Admin Folder

Doing this will allow you to create a password before the login page, essentially creating a double-login. This will defeat most spammers who try to brute-force attack your login page.

5. Delete the “Admin” User

Most hackers know that most WordPress configured sites still have the default user called “admin.” Delete this user and assign a more unique username as the site’s overall administrator.

6. Keep WordPress Updated

And last but not least… keep your WordPress core and all plugin files updated at all times. This is still the major reason for most hacks within WordPress.

There are many more things that you can do to further “harden” your code, server, and WordPress site. This is really just a quick action list of items to take care of to greatly minimize your risk with WordPress. I highly recommend after following these 6 steps, learning more about WordPress security and finding new ways to improve.

It’s important to note that all the improvements in the world to WordPress cannot save your site if you don’t have a secure webserver. LAMP security and/or Linux server security is beyond the purpose of this article. If you’re not a server geek like I am, you’ll want to make sure you purchase the right web hosting service that can help create a server environment for you that’s highly protected. Services such as MediaTemple, Rackspace, and Linode are very popular services that get the job done right.

 

Solomon Thimothy is a writer for ONEims, a web development Chicago company that can help you create an image that will truly represent your company.

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5 Lessons from the Recent WordPress Attack http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/04/24/5-lessons-from-the-recent-wordpress-attack/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/04/24/5-lessons-from-the-recent-wordpress-attack/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 16:22:13 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=27461 WordPress LogoEarlier this month, WordPress users across the world (as well as users on other platforms) fell victim to a massive brute-force attack on their sites.

The hack, or attempted hack, used a large botnet (a network of compromised computers doing the bidding of someone else) to repeatedly try and guess passwords on WordPress sites to gain administrative access to them. From there, the botnets would take over the sites and attempt to integrate them into a new bothnet, one made up of high-powered servers with better connections to the Web.

For most sites, the hacking attempt was pretty harmless. If you don’t use the original “admin” account and have a password that is easily guessed, you were most likely safe from the attack. Rather, the attack was an attempt to cast a broad net in hopes of finding the low-hanging fruit, sites that can be trivially broken into.

But while your site is probably fine as long as you took even the most basic precautions, there were still repercussions. The weight of thousands of attempts to login put a strain on many people’s servers, especially if the server had many different WordPress sites. This resulted in websites slowing to a crawl and even shutting down, including ones not directly affected.

But while the worst seems to have passed for now, there are still some lessons to be learned from it and it’s important to grasp them before the next wave hits.

Because if there’s one thing that’s for certain, there is another wave coming.

1. No More “Admin”

The first lesson to glean is that, if your WordPress installation still has a working administrator account with the name “admin”, it’s time to get rid of it.

Your username is, quite literally, your first line of defense. If it is easily guesses, then all someone has to do is figure out your password and they’re in. Don’t make it easier on hackers than it has to be.

With this attack, even if your password had been “12345″ (the kind of thing an idiot would have on his luggage), if your username were not “Admin” you’d still be safe.

Make your username something unique to you and something that can’t be easily guessed. Your site will be much more secure and it only takes a few seconds.

2. The Need for Good Hosting

Many WordPress users tend to “cheap out” on hosting, paying only a few dollars per month for a shared hosting account. This works great as long as traffic is low and the site is relatively simple. But if more than a few dozen people come knocking at once trouble can arise, especially if your site isn’t using good caching.

This attack shows that you never know when a traffic spike might strike. Though this hardly had the weight of a traditional DDOS attack, for many sites on low-quality hosts, it had much the same effect.

If your server folded under the weight of this botnet, how is it going to handle a traffic spike from Reddit or a viral post? It probably won’t be able to.

3. The Usefulness of CDNs

One of the first sources to talk about the botnet attack was Cloudflare, a content delivery network that also works to filter out bad bots.

Though many are skeptical of Cloudflare after its over-the-top warnings on the Spamhous DDOS attack, the point remains that services like Cloudflare and Distil, which filter out bad bots, can provide a useful service for mitigating such attacks.

If you aren’t using one of these services, it may be worth taking the time to see if they are right for you.

4. WordPress Itself is Secure

To be clear, WordPress can and from time to time does have security vulnerabilities. However, they are usually patched quickly after discovery. Plugins are much more common sources of traditional vulnerabilities.

However, this wasn’t an attack against WordPress itself. The attackers weren’t exploiting a vulnerability in WordPress’ core. Instead, they were simply knocking on doors hoping to find one unlocked.

If the hackers had found an exploit in WordPress, it’s reasonably safe to say that they would have done so and the attack would have been much worse. However, they didn’t have one and, as a result, they were forced to spend a lot of energy to try and pick of the low-hanging fruit of poorly-secured sites.

5. This Won’t Be the Last Attack

Though this attack was breathtaking in its size, it was not the first attack of its type and it will not be the last.

Inevitably, someone else is going to try and launch a similar offensive, possibly with a larger botnet, using more passwords and creating bigger headaches.

There’s an old samurai saying says, “When the battle is over, tighten your chin strap.” The battle may be over for now, but the next one is just on the horizon. Now is the time to plan.

Bottom Line

To be clear, the attack was bad. However, it could have been a great deal worse.

The attackers weren’t really interested in hacking every WordPress site and, instead, were just trying to find easy targets. It’s akin to having thousands of people fan out in a city to try to find unlocked cars with the keys still inside.

The attack only targeted WordPress because it is so common and used by so many people that are inexperienced with security. It had nothing to do with a vulnerability within WordPress itself or any particular plugin.

Since it has passed, now is a great time to be thinking about security of your site and how you’ll protect yourself against the next one, which will likely be bigger and better organized.

Fortunately, the precautions that are most important aren’t that difficult to take. Ditching your “admin” account, if you have one, and setting a good password only takes a few seconds and is probably the most important thing you can do.

If you can do that and keep your installation/plugins up to date, you’ll probably be head and shoulders over many who use WordPress and will be much more likely to get caught in the next wave of hacking attempts.

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The Importance of Caching in WordPress http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/09/the-importance-of-caching-in-wordpress/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2013/01/09/the-importance-of-caching-in-wordpress/#comments Wed, 09 Jan 2013 15:52:41 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26752 W3 Total Cache LogoI had a pretty rough night last month.

After relaxing for a bit with my wife, I checked my site only to find that it wasn’t there at all. Instead, I was greeted with an error message saying that WordPress could not connect to the database.

I logged into my server’s control panel and noticed that the server load was unfathomably high, much more than it could ever take. I’d been dealing with a weird CPU issue for a while so I restarted the server, expecting it to correct itself.

But when my server eventually restarted, the site came back but only for a second, it quickly went down again. Whatever was causing it wasn’t just a temporary issue.

I contacted my host, which told me that they were seeing very high levels of traffic to the server, more than it could handle. It turns out the article I had written about a recent plagiarism case on Reddit was getting some attention both via Reddit itself and Google searches. The volume just seemed too high.

But then I looked at the sample level of traffic that I managed to snag when the site came back up briefly. It was high, many times my normal level, but nothing the server shouldn’t be able to take easily. It had, in the past, handled spiked much bigger than this.

My host agreed and we worked together to keep the site offline but give me access. Once in, I realized that I had made a terrible mistake.

The week before, I had to, in an emergency, create a new theme for my site. As part of that I had disabled W3 Total Cache. While a great move at the time, when I was done I had forgotten to reenable it and the site was without any kind of caching.

I reenabled the plugin, checked that it was working and then opened the site back up to the rest of the world. Sure enough, though the load was high and the server was straining some, it was nowhere near buckling. The highly-elevated traffic remained for several days and, through it all, there wasn’t as much as a glitch or a hiccup.

If I had remembered to reenable W3 Total Cache, or any caching plugin, I probably wouldn’t have noticed the traffic spike until I checked the stats the next day and I certainly wouldn’t have people on Reddit commenting about how quickly my site went down.

It was an embarrassment that ended up being minor, but it serves as a reminder to every WordPress user: Make sure you are using a caching plugin.

Why Caching is Important

Most people don’t think about what happens behind the scenes every time someone visits a page, but your server does.

If you use WordPress, or any other similar content management system that doesn’t have caching, there are a series of steps that your server has to complete to go from page requested to page delivered.

Basically, without caching, when a visitor tried to load a page, the page itself doesn’t exist. Instead, the server receives the request, WordPress queries the database for the content that’s supposed to be in the page and builds the page on the fly before delivery. Once that visitor is gone or goes to another page, the page disappears and the process starts over again.

While this is an over-simplification, the main issue is that the server has to create the page every time someone looks at it. While this is great in that rapidly-changing pages are updated for each visitor, it’s a lot of work for a server and even a decent VPS, such as my own, can struggle under that if there are a lot of visitors coming at once.

A caching plugin, ont he other hand, keeps WordPress from having to create a new page every time. The page is created once and held onto (or cached) for a period of time, usually a few hours. Subsequent visitors to that page get the cached version, which prevents the server from having to check the database and assemble the page from scratch.

To the visitor, this is much faster and to the server, this is much easier.

To use a personal computer example. Imagine, if instead of using copy and paste, you had to retype a paragraph into a new document every time you wanted to repeat the text. Though retyping it lets you make changes to it as you go, copying and pasting is much easier and faster for you.

But as great as caching is, it’s something that’s frightfully easy to forget and the reason is very simple.

Why Caching is Easy to Forget

A lot of bloggers don’t see the need or importance of caching and it’s easy to see why. Caching is most useful when a lot of people are trying to load the same content. Most blogs don’t see the kind of traffic level where caching has a major impact one way or another.

For example, if a page your site only gets a visitor once or twice a day, then it probably is being loaded dynamically every visit, caching or no. The reason is that the cache, most likely, expires between visitors, forcing the creation of a new page.

On low-to-medium traffic sites, there are probably only a few pages that get enough traffic to regularly deliver cached content and, even then, it’s probably doesn’t adversely impact the server. A well-optimized server can serve a decent number of dynamic pages without a problem.

So while caching probably has at least some speed benefit, it’s usually one that’s difficult to notice, especially to the naked eye.

This prompts many bloggers to skip on caching or, in my case, forget to check if it’s working, because everything functions fine without it.

However, as my case showed, it can be a road to disaster.

When Caching Matters

One of the strange things about the Internet is that it has a way of quickly giving a lot of attention to something that had very little of it previously. Between social media such as Facebook and Twitter as well as social news sites like Reddit, a tidal wave of traffic can hit any site at any time.

These types of moments are what bloggers work for, an opportunity to reach a large audience and a chance to capitalize and maybe grow your reach long-term. However, you can’t do that if your site is down.

But it doesn’t make sense to buy and pay for hosting strong enough to survive those waves when 99% of the time you will only need a fraction of it. It’s like buying a huge bathtub to hold a glass of water, expensive and wasteful.

Instead, the best thing you can do is make sure your site is as efficient as possible so it can survive waves of traffic visiting the same page without trouble. Caching is the best way to do that.

So, if you don’t cache, you’re severely limiting the number of visitors your site can receive. While that may be fine most of the time, it basically shuts the door in the face of potential visitors who are coming to see you at your most popular.

Bottom Line

In the end, WordPress is a great CMS for many sites but its lack of caching means that it can easily overpower even decent servers quickly. Fortunately, a decent caching system is never more than a plugin away.

Truth be told, my reminder was not a particularly painful one, it could have been much worse. An hour or sporadic downtime could have turned into much longer since the site wasn’t “down” in a sense that my monitors would detect. It could have gone until the next morning before returning to normal.

However, I’m not going to let dumb luck be what helps me get my site back up. I’m going to make sure to always run a caching program and, though I’m certain I’ll have to disable it from time to time to do work, I’m going to make double sure to reenable it when done.

I don’t want to risk another Reddit wave shutting me down…

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How I Created a New WordPress Theme in 5 Hours http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/12/12/how-i-created-a-new-wordpress-theme-in-5-hours/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/12/12/how-i-created-a-new-wordpress-theme-in-5-hours/#comments Wed, 12 Dec 2012 17:26:00 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26755 WordPress LogoLast month I found myself with my back against the wall: My theme was falling apart.

In June of 2011 I had switched my site to the Headway Theme Framework, version 2.X. The changeover, initially, went very well. The theme was wonderful on the test site and, despite a hiccup or two in transferring it to the new main site, things were up and running quickly.

But problems slowly began to arise. The theme would occasionally have errors where the settings would change or elements would be added, causing sections of my pages to be repeated many times over. Most of the time the problems were minor and easily fixed, but they were annoying. However, over time the problems began to escalate.

After setting up the theme, I was at a major plagiarism conference in the UK when my site broke completely and became unreadable. The smaller errors started to become more common and it began to feel as if I was doing patch jobs on the theme weekly or more regularly.

I tried addressing the issue with both my host and with Headway’s support but none of the changes, including increasing the memory in my VPS, seemed to help. The people at Headway encouraged me to upgrade to the 3.X branch, saying it was much more stable and resource-friendly. However, there’s no upgrade path to go from 2.X to 3.X, meaning that doing so would require starting from scratch. In my mind, I didn’t have the time to set up a new theme and the patches, while annoying, were not time-consuming.

But then things went from bad to worse. In one day the theme went down three times and, the last time, temporarily took the entire database with you. Though I have good backups of my database, nothing causes a moment of panic quite like realizing that 8 years of hard work may have just been erased.

Fortunately it wasn’t, but with errors now as frequent as coffee breaks, I knew something had to be done quickly. So, that evening, I set out on one of my most ambitious WordPress-related tasks, creating an entire new theme in one night.

Picking My Battles

Headway LogoSensing that there might be a much more serious collapse on the horizon, the most important thing was to get my site stable. Unfortunately, that meant making some sacrifices.

Specifically, there were three points I had to surrender on before I started:

  1. Using Headyway 3: Though my experience with Headway 2 was definitely not the best and I certainly wouldn’t be opposed to using a new theme, I knew the theme framework well and Headway is designed for speedy development above all else. If I was going to do it in one night, I couldn’t take the time to learn something new.
  2. Duplication, Not Reinvention: While I could tweak my theme and change a few things around, I couldn’t reinvent the wheel either. By trying to copy what I had, I was sticking with a look that seems to be working for me and avoiding a lot of time-consuming testing.
  3. Complexity: My original theme had many nuanced elements that could not be easily replicated with Headway 3. Rather than getting bogged down in minutia, it was better to find easier ways to get the features working and then add the polish later.

With the limitations in mind, I ended up with the very unambitious goal of recreating my existing site in Headway 3, but with the very ambitious time frame of that evening.

The Process

To start the process, I installed Theme Test Drive so that I could work on the new theme while visitors would still visit the old. With two computers side-by-side, I left myself logged out of one so that I could feed myself information from my existing site and plug it into the new theme.

From there, I knew I had to make three separate layouts for the theme to work:

  1. Home Page Layout: The home page of my site.
  2. Single Page Layout: The page for all posts and all pages.
  3. Archive Layout: The page for tags, authors and all other layouts that list multiple posts.

Fortunately, Headway makes it very easy to get started with a new theme as you actually draw layout in a grid. I quickly sketched out the home page layout, mimicking closely my existing website but adding about 100px to the width. After setting up each of the sections of the layout, within about 30 minutes I had a pretty good replication of the home page of my site with a few problems.

First, the way Headway 3 handles excerpts is much more limited than Headway 2. I could not recreate the two-column look easily with Headway 3. Second, my slider would need adjustment to fit to the wider site. Everything else, however, translated pretty well other than styling tweaks.

I set about trying to fix the excerpt problem and realized that the only practical solution, short of coding it myself, was to pick up the paid Excerpts+ leaf. While it’s a great plugin and a nice addition, it seemed a bit like building a sandcastle with a bulldozer.

Though it started out as a reluctant purchase, it ended up working well as I was able to get the excerpts I wanted quickly.

From there, I set my sights on the other pages and followed a similar pattern. However, there I was able to start with the home page layout and just eliminate and add what was needed. Pretty quickly I had all three pages working, though almost none of the styling was done and there were many elements to add.

This was where the two computers came in handy. On the non-logged in machine I looked up the CSS elements I had and recreated them one by one in the new template. Piece by piece, the new template came together.

Now, after just a few hours, the new theme looked almost identical to the old but the devil was in the details.

Finishing Up

There were two problems still preventing me from going live. One was that my slider still did not look right and the second was that the search function wasn’t in the correct place.

Unfortunately, neither of these problems were going to be crackable that night. The slider I use would not let me adjust the width of the right hand side. Though there was an option for it, the highlight (which displays when the post is in the main window) would not update with it, making it look broken. Though I felt it would look best with the right-hand buttons extended at least some, I had to put all of the additional width into the main image.

The search box, previously, was a part of the navigation bar but the hooks feature that made that possible in Headway 2 is not available in Headway three and workarounds resulted in ugly results. I decided to just move the search bar to the top of the page and be done with it.

With the help of my wife, we began to test the site, loading up a variety of pages in the new theme and fixing any errors we saw. Fortunately, there wasn’t much to address but we did notice some minor CSS bugs, such as some links not showing up red and linked subheads displaying oddly.

When it was ready, about 5 hours later, I pushed the new theme live and asked others via Twitter to let me know if they saw any issues. No further problems crept up. Though I noticed and squashed a few other minor bugs over the next few days, for the most part, the theme has held up well.

The Epilogue So far

It’s now been about a month since I did that frantic bit of development. The new theme has held up well and few people even noticed the change (or noticed it enough to mention it). The new theme has also not had any problems and, bit by bit, I’ve been adding back in some of the spit and polish of the original theme.

I’m honestly not sure how long I’m going to keep it though. Given the problems I had with Headway 2 and the franticness that went into this more-or-less forced upgrade, I’d like to switch to a different framework when it comes time to do a full overhaul.

In the meantime though, Headway 3 seems to be working well enough. There have been no issues that have caused the theme to break, even when other server issues arose, and the theme even took a major traffic spike on the chin without an issue.

The main thing, right now, is that the danger has passed and I can now take my time deciding what my next move should be.

In the end, my only real regret is that I didn’t take this action sooner. I held out for an upgrade path between Headway 2.X and 3.X while I found myself patching my site regularly. It was a stupid decision.

If I had only done this a year ago, I would have saved myself a lot of headache and panic.

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The 5 Best Features in WordPress JetPack http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/11/29/the-5-best-features-in-wordpress-jetpack/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/11/29/the-5-best-features-in-wordpress-jetpack/#comments Thu, 29 Nov 2012 21:28:39 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26688 If you haven’t been following WordPress development closely this past year, you haven’t missed much. The last major version of WordPress, 3.4, was released On June 13th and the next, 3.5, is scheduled to be released on December 5th.

Neither version added what could be considered major user-facing features, especially to bloggers who are already working on the platform. Version 3.4 introduced greater theme controls and improved localization while 3.5 will introduce a new default theme and revamp the upload/insert workflow.

While all of these are great features and important to have, they don’t exactly set the world on fire with new functionality either. They’re incremental improvements and not sexy new features that get bloggers excited about new releases. However, cautious updates make sense given that it’s important for the WordPress core to be stable and consistent for the many corporate applications it sees these days

However, that doesn’t mean WordPress is being left to stagnate. Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com and primary driver behind developing the WordPress platform, has been dishing out a bevy of new features and tools, but they haven’t been baking it into the WordPress core. Instead, they’ve been taking advantage of WordPress’ plugin architecture and have built a plugin of plugins, named Jetpack, to incorporate new features they don’t want to code into WordPress itself.

While the reception of Jetpack was somewhat cool at first, it’s grown to incorporate a wide number of features, many of which have been widely requested by bloggers for some time.

So, keeping in mind that Jetpack is being rapidly updated, what are some of the best features it adds? Here are of the best to consider.

1. Jetpack Comments

If you’ve liked the comments that are on WordPress.com but have been disappointed that they haven’t been brought over for self-hosted users to use, wait no more. Jetpack Comments not only offers an attractive comment form, but allows your visitors to login using Facebook, Twitter and WordPress credentials.

It may not be a replacement for a more robust system like Disqus, Livefyre or even Automatic-owned Intense Debate, but it’s powerful, attractive and, for most sites, a big improvement over the default WordPress comment system.

2. Photon

This is one of the newer Jetpack offerings and one of the more important ones.

Caching and site acceleration are big issues for WordPress blogs. Though Jetpack doesn’t have a full caching system such as W3 Total Cache or WP Super Cache, it does have Photon, a service that will host and serve your images off the WordPress.com content delivery network.

The advantages of this are legion. Your images will load quicker, coming from WordPress.com’s global network of servers, it will reduce the bandwidth your spend on your server and, overall, your site will be faster. Best of all, it’s free and only takes a single click.

While it’s not a robust Content Delivery Network, such as Cloudflare or Distil, meaning that it won’t cache other static content such as your JavaScript, CSS or other files, it’s a good start and may be all that some sites, in particular image-heavy ones, need.

3. Notifications

If you run more than a couple of WordPress blogs, keeping track of all of them can be a chore, especially the comments. Notifications allows you to register all of your blogs with WordPress.com, through Jetpack, and get notifications of comments for all of your sites in your admin bar.

This means, even when you’re reading or working on Site A, you’ll get a notification of a comment on Site B in your admin bar and you can also quickly hit the drop down and see comments for all of your sites.

If you combine this with the new feature to get mobile notifications on your iOS device (iPhone, iPad, etc.) then you can always be aware of new comments when they are posted, without checking your email.

4. Publicize

While its controversial to automate your social media efforts, especially on Facebook where posting from connected apps can severely hurt the number of people who see your post, for many it’s a necessity and the Publicize feature makes it easy, directly connecting your WordPress installation with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr and more so that you can instantly promote anything you publish.

Best of all, you can make changes to your posts, adding @replies, hash tags and other information before sending them out.

All in all, it’s a simple but powerful tool for promoting your posts via social media.

5. WordPress.com Stats

This was one of the first features put into Jetpack and the plugin for this predates Jetpack by a good bit. However, there’s no doubt that the WordPress.com Stats feature remains one of Jetpack’s highlights.

While the stats aren’t as robust as Google Analytics or other statistics platforms, they are immediate, available in your WordPress admin area and can give you a critical overview as to what’s happening on your site today.

While you certainly don’t want it to be your only statistics package, but it’s the one that many WordPress users look at the most.

Bottom Line

Whether you agree or disagree with the approach Automattic is taking with WordPress development, the end result is that, if you want the latest and greatest WordPress features, you’re going to need to get Jetpack.

While many of the features in Jetpack aren’t particularly interesting or are aimed at a niche audience, such as the Beautiful Math feature and Gravator Hovercards, many of the features are very important and, most likely, major feature releases in the future will be done through Jetpack rather than the WordPress core.

So, while you will have to wait until at least December 5th for a new official version of WordPress, which even then will not have much in the way of new user-facing features, there’s plenty of new “official” features you can append to your WordPress right now with Jetpack.

Just be careful to disable the features you won’t be using. While it most likely won’t impact your site’s speed, as with any plugin, there are security risks and the less you have active, the better off you are.

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The 5 Most Underused WordPress Features http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/22/5-most-underused-wordpress-freatures/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/08/22/5-most-underused-wordpress-freatures/#comments Wed, 22 Aug 2012 20:37:51 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=26016 WordPress LogoWhen it comes to blogging, you need to know how to use your tools to their maximum potential. Whether they’re for researching, writing, publishing or promotion, knowing how to use the tools of your trade is vital to your success.

However, of all of those tools, none is more important than your blogging platform as it’s the only one that can be useful for every single stage of the writing process. For more and more bloggers, that tool of choice is WordPress.

But while WordPress has earned its popularity by being a robust blogging platform that almost anyone can pick up and use, there are many features of the platform that many of its users either aren’t aware of or simply don’t take adequate advantage of.

While the total number of such features is too great too count, a few features stand out as being drastically underused. Here are five of those features and why they don’t get the love they deserve.

Post Slug

The post slug feature is one that doesn’t seem to get a great deal of love. Though it’s incredibly useful for SEO and was optimized in version 2.5 of WordPress to be easier to use, some thought it had been removed.

Basically, the post slug feature allows you to edit the URL for the post or page you are working on. WordPress automatically generates your slug based upon your title but if you want to make sure that it has the desired keywords for SEO, you can easily add them in or you can remove unnecessary words. Also, if you want to write your own, click on “Screen Options” and click the “Post Slug” box, which will give you a text box to write yours from scratch.

It’s a powerful tool, especially if you want a posts URL to be different than its title, but it’s a feature that many WordPress users are aware of or know how to use.

Featured Image

WordPress Featured Image tool, simply put, allows you to associate an image with a post.

What exactly this does depends on the theme though most default WordPress themes, including those on WordPress.com, use featured images in one way or another. Often it’s to change the header image of the site for that post/page though, other themes, especially magazine layouts, use it to choose what image is associated with the post on the front page.

But even on sites where the featured image isn’t built to use the featured image that way, it can still be used to select which image is displayed in the Facebook thumbnail.

In short, it can give you much greater control over how your image is displayed in social media and may be worth adding even if your theme doesn’t use it directly.

Scheduled Posting

Say that you’re going away for a week, finally taking that vacation you deserve, but what happens to your blog? Does it just idle for a week or do you log in every so often to post new things?

With schedules posts, you don’t have to do either.

Basically, every WordPress post lets you change the date and time of publication. You can easily set it into the past if you don’t want it to appear at the top or, more usefully, you can set it into the future so that it will appear online automatically.

This is much easier than the alternative of saving drafts and then posting them by hand later as its easy to forget to follow through when the time comes.

In short, this lets your WordPress site take care of itself while you’re gone and make it as if you never left at all.

Media Library

If you run a large blog and use images routinely in your posts, you probably upload the same image or the same type of image pretty regularly. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could simply find the old images you used rather than finding it on your computer and uploading a duplicate or a near-duplicate to your server?

With Media Library you can do just that.

When writing a post, click the “Add Media” button as you normally do and, rather than simply dropping in your files or hitting the “Select Files” button, click the “Media Library” button at the top and you’ll be presented with a searchable and date-filterable list of your previously uploaded images.

If you correctly set your image information as you went and/or set your file names well, you can easily find what you’re looking for and reuse your past work rather than starting over.

Custom (Static) Home Page

WordPress is best known as a blogging platform but, in truth, it’s actually a fairly robust CMS that can be used to manage a large variety of site types.

One of the most important features is the ability to set a custom or static front page for your site. Located in your reading settings, which in turn is under your settings menu, you can select a created page to be the home page of your site.

Though will have to designate a different page for your posts, usually a blank page called “Blog” or something to the like, this feature makes WordPress useful out of the box for managing non-blog websites.

Bottom Line

All in all, WordPress is an extremely powerful and robust blogging platform/CMS. But even though it’s well-known for being easy to pick up, install and use, much of the power is buried underneath the surface.

If all you use WordPress for is setting up a site and posting new content to it, you’re likely missing out on a great deal of it’s best features.

However, these are just a sampling of some of WordPress’ most underused features. There are many others out there and probably several that apply to your use of WordPress.

So take some time to explore your WordPress administration area and read through the Codex. You’ll likely find plenty of other things that you didn’t know WordPress can do that can help you in your day-to-day blogging.

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5 Killer Tips to Make Your WordPress Blogs SEO Friendly http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/06/5-killer-tips-make-wordpress-blogs-seo-friendly/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2012/06/06/5-killer-tips-make-wordpress-blogs-seo-friendly/#comments Wed, 06 Jun 2012 10:16:31 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=25367 It’s really hard to get readers on your blog keeping in mind the fact that there are millions of blog on internets already. If you believe on facts, WordPress 3.0 version was downloading 65 million times by August 2011. So you can analyse the kind of completion you will need to face to get your blog on first page of Google and other search engines for its targeted terms. So how you go about doing SEO for your blog and how you will make sure you will be able to get lots of targeted traffic on your blog in today’s web world which is too competitive.

There are some measures you can actually take to make your WordPress blogs more SEO friendly and as a result will be able to compete with the top guns in your niche. So here is the ultimate list of 5 killer tips that will help you make your blog a perfect paradise for search engines:

SEO Optimized URL Structure

Although WordPress is considered as a SEO friendly CMS, but still there are some extra steps you can take to get an edge over other bloggers in your industry. By default, WordPress URL structure does not seem to be SEO friendly. Default URL structure in WordPress at post level will look like http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=140 type. This URL structure is not SEO friendly by any mean. It’s not only bad URL structure as far as ideal SEO practices for your blog are concerned, but it’s also not doing any good for your blog readers as these kind of URL’s structure will not make any sense to them. You cannot make decisions about the kind of content that will be delivered to you before opening them. To make your URL structure search engine friendly, you need to fix it from Permalinks section under Settings in your WordPress blog.  Permalink URL for a page or post should contain targeted keywords for that page.

SEO Friendly Titles and Meta Descriptions

Next thing you need to do is create SEO friendly Titles and meta descriptions for all targeted pages and posts on your blog including its home page. You need to make sure title and meta descriptions for each page should be unique and should restrict them to 65 and 160 characters respectively including spaces. Although meta keyword tag does not look effective on Google these days but still there are some search engines that are still giving weightage to meta keyword tag. So it you can add meta keywords as well with different kind of contents on your blog with the aim to drive some traffic from other search engines. Since you are blogging on WordPress, you can use All In One SEO Pack type of plugin to manage your blog contents title and meta data in a better way.

Optimizing Your Blog Post

Now let’s talk a bit about optimizing your blog posts. You are supposed to have SEO friendly titles, URL’s, Meta keywords and meta descriptions mentioned for your blog posts. Apart from this, you should aim at using your targeted keywords on few occasions in your blog posts naturally. You could think of adding your targeted keywords once in first and last paragraph of your blog post. It is advised to add an image at least with your blog posts mentioning targeted keyword in its name and its alternative text. You should use headings, sub-headings, bolds, italics and strong etc. to show headlines and important words and points in your blog posts. Managing all of these Onpage SEO activities manually can be a bit difficult for you especially if you are new to blogging things. You could use Easy WP SEO Plugin which is a premium plugin for WordPress blogs. This plugin will help you in taking care of all On-page SEO aspects for your blog posts and pages etc. You can know more in detail about Easy WP SEO plugin, its features and the kind of customization you can do after installing this premium plugin on your WordPress blog here.

Create XML Sitemaps and submit them to Search Engines

We need XML sitemaps for faster indexing of our blog contents in search engines. XML Sitemaps are must for fresh new websites and blogs especially as we are able to inform search engines about the existence of new pages on our blog through XML sitemaps. If you have a very popular blog, you would not much problem related to indexing and all as in that case Google bots used to visit your blog quite frequently. They will instantly index those pages from your blog that are not available in their databases. But in case of fresh new blogs, Google bots don’t visit them quite frequently. We need to request them about indexing of new contents on our blog through XML sitemap files. For standard websites, we can use xml-sitemaps.com kind of websites for creating XML sitemaps for free. But in that case we need to download it to our computer and then upload to our website server using a FTP client. But for WordPress blogs, there are much easier solutions available.  You can use Google XML Sitemaps type of plugins to get your XML sitemaps generated and uploaded on your blog server automatically.

Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

Page Speed was one of several factors that Google included in its search algorithm recently. And since then a race has started between the website owners and bloggers to optimize their websites and blogs speed to great extent. But since you are blogging on WordPress, there are lots of plugins you can actually use to improve the performance of your WordPress blogs. You can use the WP Smush.it plugin to reduce the size of images that are published on your blog. WP Super Cache is a must have plugin for page caching. You can use the Plugin Performance Profiler (P3) to keep track of load time for all of plugins that are installed into your WordPress plugin directory. You should use this plugin to delete those plugins that take too much time in loading or look at better alternatives for such plugins. You should also deactivate those plugins that you are no more using on your blog.

Apart from these Onpage SEO activities, you need to look at different ways to build some quality backlinks for your blog. Guest blogging and blog commenting kind of activities can help in generating some quick and trusted backlinks for your blog. You should look at building a strong presence for your blog on popular social media websites and start sharing some of interesting stories from your blog on popular social bookmarking websites.

With this, it’s come to the end of this special guest post sharing SEO Tips for WordPress blog owners. I hope you will have more SEO Optimized WordPress blog after implementing the techniques shared above. Do you have any other killer idea that can help us in making our blog SEO friendly, please share in the comments section?

Author Bio

Anil Agarwal is the man behind BloggersPassion blog, where be blogs on variety of topics related to blogging tips, seo tips, web hosting comparisons, social media networks and affiliate marketing.

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New Trends In Analytics: Tag Management http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/10/10/new-trends-in-analytics-tag-management/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/10/10/new-trends-in-analytics-tag-management/#comments Mon, 10 Oct 2011 10:56:43 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=23391 As organizations look to continue pushing their online presence, their websites are likely to see an influx of page tags. These tags can vary from affiliate marketing to web analytics. As the tags stockpile on the site, marketing teams may experience some difficulty keeping up. A tag management system can be used to resolve this issue.

A tag management system helps a company turn the managing of tags over to the marketing team. These systems allow for a managing interface which allows a marketing team to easily keep their obligations fulfilled. As the market grows, there are a number of different organizations offering varying styles of tagging systems. This growing market is allowing companies to choose the right systems for their organization, whether they are large scale or better for the small business approach.

There are some great features that marketing teams and companies want to take into account during the time when they are deciding on a type of tagging system to take on. They will want to review the customization, structure, architecture and the site hosting.

Looking at different forms of architecture within tag management systems, it’s important to analyze the build up and exactly how tags are loaded. A client side model means that the performance is sped up by using caches with the tag management server. On a server side model, every new page view will bring on a new server request, with much more dependency on the actual server. Both models have their own level of benefits, but for the most part, organizations tend to go with the performance that comes with a client side model.

When it comes to the structure of a TMS, it’s important to review types of tags that are going to be used; including web analytics, basic tags and complex tags. It’s also important for a company to look at the amount of possible customization with each TMS option. Because the method of using TMS is still relatively new, developers are continuing to come up with great new ideas and applications. Discussing the customization opportunities with each vendor will allow an organization to realize the possibilities of growth with each option on the table.

Finally, it’s important to review the site’s hosting within each TMS. There is likely to be a decision between on premise hosting and on demand hosting. On premise hosting is common with high volume sites and allows the process to be mostly internally run. An on demand hosting environment is overseen by the provider of the services, taking away the possibility

Even though these are just a few of the indicators to look for during the TMS process, taking them into account can be crucial. All four of these indicators may hold different values to different companies and what they’re looking for. At the end of the day, tag management system options continue to grow along with development.  In the end, it’s crucial that each organization look for what properly matches the needs and environment of the company and site.

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Change WordPress 3.2 Editor Font http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/07/07/change-wordpress-3-2-editor-font/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/07/07/change-wordpress-3-2-editor-font/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2011 07:39:02 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=22818 With the launch of WordPress 3.2 a new monospace was introduced for the editor. Not everyone likes monospaced fonts though. Justin Tadlock explains how to change the editor font, via a simple addition to your theme’s functions.php.

After applying Justin’s tip, your editor will look like this:

Change Font WordPress 3.2 Editor

WordPress 3.2 editor with different font

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The Art Of Live Blogging: Tips For Guru’s And New Comers http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/03/24/the-art-of-live-blogging-tips-for-gurus-and-new-comers/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/03/24/the-art-of-live-blogging-tips-for-gurus-and-new-comers/#comments Thu, 24 Mar 2011 20:55:11 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21872 Whenever a major event occurs (such as Apple unveiling the latest iPad or a natural disaster), many bloggers on site set up “live blogs” in order to provide real time coverage (minus the lengthy and formal blog postings of course).

While everyone has their own preference as to how one should setup a live blog, here are a few tips (as well as a couple of tools) for those of you seeking a way to update your readers in real time without using external tools (like Twitter and Cover It Live).

Do It Live Upon Another Blog?

In order to avoid confusing your readers, it’s always wise to use a separate blog underneath a sub domain or upon a new domain.

This avoids flooding your current readers (subscribed via email, SMS or RSS) with short snippets which can potentially overwhelm them.

Using a separate blog can also help you break free from the art of writing formal posts, as the purpose of live blogging is to provide informal updates as quickly as possible.

Note: As a bonus, if your live blog becomes “too popular” and ends up crashing it will not take out your main site (the latter which you can use to post live updates following the tip below).

Do It Live Within A Post

For those of you loathing to establish a second blog (whether under a subdomain or a new domain), you can also live blog under your current post.

WordPress fans can use a plugin called Live Blogging which can turn a single post into a live blog, with the ability to push out updates towards Twitter (which you can easily setup within the plugin).

Bloggers choosing this route should make sure their post is prominently featured upon the home page (so your readers can see it) as well as provide an explanation near the top of the post to enlighten new readers on your blog.

Note: If you are live blogging upon a single post, make sure your site is able to sustain traffic spikes as well as higher percentage of commenters (the latter which can sink your blog).

Automatic Updates Are Key

Make sure the blog you are using can automatically display updates to your readers without auto refreshing the browser (which is annoying).

You should also make sure comments are automatically updated as well, something third party commenting systems like Disqus can easily provide.

One of the best ways to do this is by choosing a theme similar to P2 which can make it easier for your readers to see the latest update, as well as view new comments from readers in real time.

Why Not Use Cover It Live Or Twitter?

Although tools like Cover It Live and Twitter are also excellent tools to use for live blogging, the only problem with these platforms is they either lack permalinks or you lack control of the platform (especially if it goes down).

Have you ever launched a live blog? If so, what other advice would you give to bloggers seeking to launch their first live blog?

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How to Move From WordPress.com to WordPress.org http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/30/how-to-move-from-wordpress-com-to-wordpress-org/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/30/how-to-move-from-wordpress-com-to-wordpress-org/#comments Sun, 30 Jan 2011 10:21:21 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21385 WordPress.com is a hosted service, which allows you to set up multiple blogs for free, however there are optional paid options which add functionality to your blog. WordPress.com is perfect for a beginner blogger, however many bloggers find that it is to restrictive and looks unprofessional. In this Conor P. explains how to move from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, with the help of some video tutorials.

Visit the tutorial here.

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Tutorial: Show All WordPress Image Sizes http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/30/tutorial-show-all-wordpress-image-sizes/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/30/tutorial-show-all-wordpress-image-sizes/#comments Sun, 30 Jan 2011 02:31:35 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21368 Justin Tadlock, of Theme Hybrid fame, has published a new entry describing how to display links to all images sizes within WordPress (or on your attachment pages). The attachment page often is a forgotten area in many a WordPress design.

At Splashpress Media we also made sure to pay extra attention to the attachment page in our redesigns and all our newly designed pages also include an ‘Attachment gallery’ as can be seen in this ForeverGeek post. Click any image in that post or just visit an attachment page:

Justin’s entry explains how to include links to every image size in your designs.

Links to all image sizes in WordPress

Read Justin’s tutorial here

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Maintain WordPress Coding Standards with Coda and TextWrangler Editor http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/19/maintain-wordpress-coding-standards-with-coda-and-textwranglereditor/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/19/maintain-wordpress-coding-standards-with-coda-and-textwranglereditor/#comments Wed, 19 Jan 2011 08:59:47 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21251 One of the most popular text and code editors for Mac OS X certainly is Panic’s Coda. Sadly Coda isn’t 100% compliant with the WordPress coding standards and neither is TextWrangler.

Luckily not much is needed to make both editors compliant with the WordPress coding standards and in an entry over at Magp.ie Eoin Gallagher, Polldaddy developer, explains how to configure Coda – and TextWrangler – to meet the WordPress coding standards.

Discover how here.

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3 WordPress Habits That Make Hackers Happy http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/18/3-wordpress-habits-that-make-hackers-happy/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/18/3-wordpress-habits-that-make-hackers-happy/#comments Tue, 18 Jan 2011 23:32:05 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21244 Despite rumors proclaiming the contrary, WordPress is actually a very secure CMS platform utilized by millions of users around the world.

Unfortunately its immense popularity makes the software a prime target for hackers, similar to how Facebook and Twitter are prime targets since “everyone” is using them.

While there are more advanced measures that users should take when securing your WordPress site, here are the 3 most common habits I see practiced by some WordPress users that may set ones blog up to be hacked.

WordPress Updates Are For Losers

If I had a dollar for every excuse I heard for NOT upgrading one’s WordPress blog to the latest update, I’d probably have enough money to retire from blogging (not that I’d ever consider doing that).

Most of the excuses I hear for not updating resolve around concerns that it will break ones theme, various plugins, or (the worst scenario) they don’t see the value in a 3.0.x update (despite the fact that some of them are critical).

Truth be told the vast majority of WordPress sites that I have seen hacked are because the owner declined to keep their blog updated to the latest version.

If clicking upon the “easy update” button is too difficult, then users should consider asking their host to ensure that their blog is always updated to the latest version.

Note: For those paranoid about a WP update breaking your blog’s theme or a specific plugin, you should consider creating a test site in order to resolve any issues before an update goes live.

Keep Passwords Simple

WordPress SecurityJust as it would be silly to have an easy password for one’s online bank account, so it is foolish to use simple passwords for your WordPress site.

WordPress users should always utilize complex passwords for their account, utilizing numbers, letters and symbols in order to make guessing the correct password nearly impossible for a hacker.

As an extra precaution, WordPress lovers should also consider installing a plugin called Login Lockdown which will block the IP of anyone trying to access your site after numerous failed attempts.

Note: There is also another plugin called Better WP Security that is similar to Login Lockdown and looks promising, although it’s currently in beta testing right now.

It Doesn’t Matter Who You Host With

When it comes to hosting ones blog, many WordPress users choose the cheapest host around without taking a hard look at the company’s security record.

Unfortunately keeping your blog updated and creating complex passwords is not enough nowadays, as hackers may still be able to access your blog due to your neighbor not remaining vigilant (i.e. not keeping their site secure).

WordPress bloggers should only host with companies taking the security of their server as well as your site seriously (the latter which is sadly neglected by many general hosts).

Users seeking more secure options should also check out WordPress specialized hosting, who from past experience are usually more vigilant when it comes to ensuring that your site avoids being hacked.

Any Other Tips?

If someone new to WordPress came up to you asking how they could secure their site, what tips would you recommend?

Feel free to share your wisdom in the comment section below!

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Is Blogetery A WordPress Blogger’s Best Friend? http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/11/is-blogetery-a-wordpress-bloggers-best-friend/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/11/is-blogetery-a-wordpress-bloggers-best-friend/#comments Tue, 11 Jan 2011 21:19:49 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21204 When it comes to choosing a WordPress host, many users select freemium hosting companies like WordPress.com (by Automattic) or Blog.com due to low risk (at least financially speaking).

While WP.com and Blog.com are great ways to experience WordPress without putting a hole in your wallet, they are also very restrictive on what features (think plugins) you can install upon your site.

For those of you seeking a more flexible solution to WordPress blogging, they may want to check out Blogetery who provides users with the conviences of WP.com without sacrificing too many freedoms.

Plugins Galore

Although Blogetery does restrict which plugins users can install, the company offers a much larger inventory than either Blog.com or WP.com combined.

Users can install plugins to enhance their sidebar or insert social buttons upon their posts. As a bonus users can also activate Twitter Tools which will allow them to backup their tweets upon their blog in order to have a hard copy in the even that Twitter is subdued by the fail whale.

A few plugins (like the advanced Facebook like button) do require a premium upgrade, although Blogetery’s prices are competitive (as shown below).

The Price Is Right?

Instead of charging users various fees based upon features like space upgrades, removing ads (or inserting your own) and the ability to create custom themes via CSS, Blogetery only charges users a basic rate in order to unlock all of these features.

Users can pay an annual rate of $42/year or $5/month, making the site affordable for the aspiring blogging pro who wants to test out WordPress without breaking the bank.

As an added bonus, Blogetery allows users to setup a custom domain upon their site for free, which means users can setup a professional looking blog without having to become a professional when it comes to hosting lingo.

CDN And Backups FTW

For those of you worried about your blog disappearing again (note: it’s a long story), Blogetery has taken steps to ensure that every blog is backed up upon Amazon’s servers in real time, giving users a VaultPress like backup experience without paying an extra dime.

On top of the free backup, Blogetery also provides users with a free Content Delivery Network (aka CDN) courtesy of Amazon, helping to speed up your blog’s loading time, enabling you to focus more on content than blog optimization.

No Room For Big Blogs (Plus: AdSense Only?)

Despite offering the same features as their rivals without charging enormous fees, Blogetery does have one major disadvantage and that has to deal with space.

Unlike WP.com and Blog.com who offer users 3 GB and 2 GB of free space, respectively, Blogetery only offers users a paltry 250 mb of space for free.

Although users can upgrade to a pro account in order to receive an additional 5 GB of space, there doesn’t seem to be any way to expand beyond the 5 GB limit which may deter heavy media bloggers (i.e. those who use video, audio and lots of images) from signing up.

Blogetery also only allows users to use AdSense for advertising, which is great for most people although if you want to utilize other advertising networks you could be out of luck.

CAPTCHA Logins?!!

Although Blogetery wisely allows users to install Akismet upon their blogs (something Blog.com does not allow), for some strange reason users logging in from their computers have type in CAPTCHA’s in order to access your admin page.

While Blogetery’s use of CAPTCHA’s is understandable (as they do not want any spammers on their servers), the companies good intentions are in vain due to the fact that spammers are hiring people in third world companies to bypass automated defense systems.

Hopefully the company will consider switching to Login Lockdown (or another less obstructive measure) instead, as it’s not only a wiser solution but it would allow those who are visually disabled to log in as well.

Should You Blog On Blogetery?

While I would easily recommend Blogetery over Blog.com (mainly because they provide anti-spam defenses via Akismet), those of you with blogs over 5 GB should probably consider WP.com or self hosting.

Have you tried using Blogetery? If so, what are your thoughts using the service?

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Which WordPress Host Is Right For You? http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/04/which-wordpress-host-is-right-for-you/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2011/01/04/which-wordpress-host-is-right-for-you/#comments Tue, 04 Jan 2011 23:42:21 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21163 If you were to survey the vast majority of WordPress compatible hosting companies, you would find that most (if not all) of them could be classified into one of four different categories.

While each category has its own advantages and disadvantages, users should careful to choose the host that best fits their needs (whether those be financial, security, freedom, etc.) before launching your blog to the world.

Although everyone has their own bias (including yours truly!) over which option is the best, here is a “brief” guide to help those of you new to the world of WordPress, as well as for the many considering adopting it as your preferred platform.

Urban Cities (Generic Hosting)

Often known for their generous offers of unlimited hosting, generic hosts can be an excellent way to test out WordPress without sacrificing a large sum of money.

Aside from price one major advantage of generic hosts is their size, as the hosting company’s embrace of other software platforms (like Joomla, Drupal, various forums, etc.) helps ensure that the company won’t disappear overnight due to lack of paying clients.

While generic hosts tend to have a longer record of existence when compared against the latter 3 types, they also tend to care more about keeping their server up than your blog’s performance.

Security can also be a major issue as hackers may upload corrupted software to the server in order to hijack their neighbors blog (which unfortunately could be you).

While many generic hosts have beefed up their security recently, users desiring more support may want to consider the latter alternatives.

Gated Communities (WordPress SaaS)

Although technically still considered “generic hosting,” WordPress SaaS (Software as a Service) companies use the resources of a generic host and then customize the servers in order to help make them WordPress friendly.

Companies like BlogOnCloud9 and Page.ly fall under this category as they depend upon resources of RackSpace and Fire Host, respectively, instead of running the entire hosting experience themselves.

While they tend to be much more expensive than generic hosts, the advantage of using WordPress SaaS is that you benefit from the stability of a large host coupled with the specialized service that every WordPress user needs.

The only disadvantage of using a WordPress SaaS is that your blog is potentially vulnerable to the same security problems of a generic host (note: so make sure you research the hosting company behind them!).

However if your blog is down via a hack or nefarious plugin, the WordPress Saas should be able to help you restore your blog very quickly.

WordPress Suburbia (WordPress Only Hosts)

Unlike generic hosts or WordPress SaaS companies, WordPress only hosting companies only allow WordPress sites to run upon their servers.

Companies like HostCo and PressHarbor are excellent examples of WordPress only hosting companies, with many more popping up later this year.

These companies tend to be much more expensive than either generic hosting or WordPress SaaS, although blogs hosted upon their servers tend to run much faster than their rivals (at least from my tests) making them perfect homes for high trafficked sites.

While security upon WP only companies is top notch, most WP only companies do not boast a long record in the hosting industry, potentially making them riskier bets than a decade old generic host.

Thus far many of these companies seem to be either profitable or backed by venture capital (so they shouldn’t disappear overnight), although you should consider researching their profitability before launching a blog upon their servers.

WordPress “Free Hosters”

Unlike the previous three types of WP hosts, WordPress “free hosters” allow users to host their blogs for free, but only if one is willing to surrender a large amount of control regarding their site.

WordPress free hosters are great for users who would rather not be bothered with upgrades, maintenance, backups, etc. and who just want to focus on creating content.

The best examples of a WordPress “free hosters,”  are Blog.com and WordPress.com (the latter which is run by Automattic) which like a land lord handle all the technical details behind the scenes as long as users are willing to abide by their rules.

Although WP free hosters offer users the ability to customize their sites appearance and even use a custom domain, most charge users a small fee for the privilege of customizing a theme (via CSS) or using in house media tools for video and audio.

Despite being much more restrictive on what features are allowed to be used by their users, WordPress free hosters are much more secure than the previous 3 types mentioned earlier, due to their strict control over what runs upon your site.

Which WordPress Host Do You Prefer?

Although I would personally recommend a WordPress SaaS or WordPress only host for your blog, it is always wise to do your own research before picking a host.

For those of you who blog upon WordPress, which hosting type did you select for your blogs and why?

Image Credits: Tokyo via Wikimedia foundation, Parihav, Suburb by David Shankbone and Apartment building by Deepak.

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3 Things I Learned About WordPress In 2010 http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2010/12/28/3-things-i-learned-about-wordpress-in-2010/ http://www.bloggingpro.com/archives/2010/12/28/3-things-i-learned-about-wordpress-in-2010/#comments Tue, 28 Dec 2010 22:07:58 +0000 http://www.bloggingpro.com/?p=21119 With 2010 coming to a close and many bloggers reflecting on their top 10 lists, I thought it would be nice to share 4 things I learned about WordPress this year that I wish I knew in 2009.

Granted some of these services didn’t exist in 2009 (as you’ll see below), however many of their alternatives did.

Although there were numerous other things I learned about WordPress ranging from security to various SEO tips, here are the top 3 things that stood out this year to me in 2010.

Offsite Backups Are Very Important

It wasn’t until the US government took down 73,000 blogs without notifying the company that I realized the importance of offsite backup systems.

While my previous host provided backups for the blog (via Mozy), it was not exactly catered towards the WordPress platform.

Fortunately I was able to sign up for a ticket for VaultPress (by Automattic, the company behind WP.com) which was able to backup 4 of my blogs without me having to delve into the world of WordPress backups and instead focus my attention elsewhere.

Regardless of whether one thinks highly of VaultPress’s service or prefers a less expensive alternative, backing up your blog is something I wished I utilized at the beginning of the year, especially when my previous host started experiencing “problems” (as explained below).

Hosting Matters

If you told me in January that I needed to ditch my current host I would have laughed at you since (at the time) the only things I cared about when it came to hosting was bandwidth/data transfer, how much space I had on the server and last (but not least), how much money I had to pay for it.

As some of you may have guessed, I ended up picking unlimited hosting with a reputable company whose service was okay until my blogs were placed in “throttling purgatory” for using too many system resources upon the server.

This led to a search for a better host, and after reviewing companies like HostCo, BlogOnCloud9, PressHarbor and Page.ly (the latter which I ended up using) I quickly realized that most general hosting companies are more concerned with keeping their servers online than how well your blog is doing.

While switching away from them was seamless thanks to VaultPress, it’s something that I wish I would have done in the beginning of the year.

Spammers Hate Advanced Commenting Systems

Believe it or not I almost decided to shut down my commenting system across all of my blogs due to the influx of human spam that was slipping past Akismet’s defenses.

It wasn’t until I installed IntenseDebate (a commenting service by Automattic) that I discovered the best defense against a community of spammers is a community of readers.

Services like IntenseDebate and Disqus allowed readers to flag spammy comments, allowing the community to hide or even send those comments to the moderation section for review.

This made fighting spam comments a lot easier, and while there have been some false positives, thanks to IntenseDebate I can spend more time on creating content rather than moderating comments.

Note: The only side effect of advanced commenting systems is that I’ve noticed that many human spammers are now reading the posts and responding with semi-intelligent comments.

What Did You Learn?

While there are numerous other things I learned in 2010 about WordPress, these 3 items top the list as far as 2010 goes.

What about you? What did you learn about WordPress this year that you didn’t know the previous one? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below!

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