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Four Simple Traffic Strategies for a Post-Panda and -Penguin World

This guest post is by Lisa Angelettie.

For many years, there were bloggers who could follow a few basic SEO rules, publish a post, wait for Google to spider and rank it, and watch the traffic flow in.

In fact, many of these bloggers made a living primarily from the incoming traffic that Google sent them. All that rapidly and dramatically ended for many businesses after Google’s Panda and Penguin updates.

Did these bloggers commit an online business blunder? Absolutely. How many times have you heard that you should never depend on one source of traffic to your website? I know I’ve heard it about a million times over the years, but the reality is that a lot of bloggers don’t really know how to actively get traffic to their sites from other than the search engines.

Here are a few blog promotion essentials to get traffic flowing to your posts from a variety of sources and none of them have anything to do with search engines reliance.

1. Share posts on your social media networks

Bloggers have one big advantage that many business owners who started years ago don’t, and that’s the leverage of social media. After you’ve written and published your post, naturally, the very first thing you need to do is to announce that post to the folks in your social media networks. Remember, though, that if you write a post at 2am, you’ll want to wait to announce it to social media sites when your followers are most active.

The social sites that have been proven to generate traffic include: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest. Make sure that you have included social media sharing buttons on your blog, too—many bloggers still haven’t. WordPress now offers social media integration through their WordPress plugin Jetpack, you could use Wibiya’s social media sharing bar or try a variety of other free social media WordPress plugins available at WordPress.org.

One more note: I can’t talk about social media without talking about SEO. One can influence and improve the other.

Search engines like Google have been saying for a long time now that social signals matter when it comes to search rankings. So the more you build up your social influence with more tweets, more likes, more shares, and more pins of your content, the more likely Google is likely to view your content as authoritative and rank it accordingly. The Bing search engine now includes social influence ranking tool Klout in their social sidebar.

Bottom line: if you’ve been avoiding it or playing around with it, it’s time to get serious about becoming more social.

2. Announce posts to your circle of influence

This is a strategy that many bloggers avoid like the plague. One of the cool things about blogging is that you can write what you want, when you want, and try a lot of cool things on your blog without having to get anyone’s approval.

Unfortunately that “alone on an island” approach doesn’t work when it comes to getting actual readers to your blog. It takes a village to raise a blog!

Identify and build a circle of people who you can let know that your blog post is live and will share it with their lists and their social media communities. The circle doesn’t have to be big. Even if you only know two people, that will put your content in front of a lot more eyes than doing it all on your own. These could be friends who also blog, coaches you’ve worked with, or alliances you’ve made on social media.

To communicate with my circle of influence, I created a very small private group on Facebook, invited them to join, and now we announce each other’s articles there so we can easily share and link to them. There are also a few other more prominent bloggers who I send a personal email to and they share my content. One blogger recently mentioned me to his list which resulted in over 142 confirmed subscribers to my list over a 48 hour period. That’s great for one email!

Think of two people you could reach out to today and ask them would they be willing to enter a mutual blog promotion relationship. Most bloggers are going to say yes.

3. Promote posts on blogging communities

I use to think blogging communities were a waste of time. I was wrong. Many of the bloggers who are getting major traffic to their sites are very active in blogging communities and have been for a long time. These are the types of like-minded people that you want to meet and start building relationships with.

  • Promote their content on these communities.
  • Friend them on the communities.
  • Share their posts on social media.
  • Write guest posts for them.

When you do, you’ll begin to become a part of a “clique” of bloggers who support and champion each other.

Communities that are my favorites include BlogEngage.com, Bloggers.com, Inbound.org, FamousBloggers.net, Blokube.com and ViralContentBuzz.com.

4. Announce your posts to your list

The biggest ambassadors of my content are my email subscribers, but oddly enough, a lot of bloggers forget all about this. Some bloggers have tunnel vision and are only worried about “new traffic” coming to their sites, but an essential source of traffic to any blog is return visitors.

Return visitors clearly enjoy your content and are much more likely to give word-of-mouth referrals, share your content to their social networks, comment on your posts and act on any call to actions you may have included in your articles.

To get subscriber traffic, make sure that you offer ample opportunities and incentives for visitors to opt into your list: top of site, right sidebar, after posts, in guest posts, etc.

It’s also important to give subscribers more than one opportunity to read your posts. For example, I send out a newsletter that features one new article on my site at the top of the week, but then I send another email towards the end of the week giving a wrap up of all the articles that have been published on the blog in the last few days. This helps ensure that I get regular return visitor traffic to my site every week.

What are some of the blog promotion strategies you use to drive more traffic to your site? I’d love to hear about them in the comments.

Lisa Angelettie is a copywriting and content marketing strategist who teaches entrepreneurs how to make more money with web content. Download a copy of her free eBook Publishing Guide or visit her site for more tips like these.

A New Theme, Part 2: When Your New Theme Crashes Your Blog

This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

Yesterday, we talked about preparing your blog for a theme upgrade. You read it, worked through all the steps, and now you’re ready to go.

So you get up on Saturday morning and sit down to work, a breeze coming through the window. You turn on some music as you browse through potential new themes for your blog. You find one and click Install.

Excited that you’ve found the perfect match for your blog, you click Activate.

Then you see this message:

Fatal error: Call to undefined function wp_get_theme() in /home/colores/public_html/allcolores.com/wp-content/themes/path/library/functions/utility.php on line 119

You think to yourself, “Fatal error?! I better refresh the page!”

Then you discover that fatal means fatal. Not only do visitors have no ability to access your blog—you have no ability to access your dashboard!

Not even if you left an additional tab of it open. Moving backward in your browser might work, yet any other function you attempt takes you right back to the fatal error message. Is your blog lost for good?

Why would a site crash on theme installation?

Like houses, some themes are built better than others. Files in the theme might have been tempered with or coded incorrectly, or the theme might require a more updated WordPress version than you’re using.

As you browse through themes online and explore their demo sites, there is no way for you to guess which theme would cause your blog to crash. In fact, the tech support agent in the hosting company I use said there’s some chance that the same theme that crashed one site would work fine on another one.

Either way, unless you’re the one who created the theme, it’s likely not your fault that this happened.

The best times to crash your site

Let’s face it—there is never a good time to crash your site.

However, if it must happen, the least harmful times are:

1. When your largest audience is asleep

If you can experiment with your blog when it is night time or very early in the morning in the time zone of your largest audience, that would be best. This way, the majority of your visitors won’t be bothered by bizarre, constant changes to your blog, and the quality of their stay won’t be ruined. Moreover, these visitors might never know something had ever gone wrong with your theme upgrade.

2. When your second-largest audience is enjoying a weekend

A weekend in one country might not fall at the same time as a weekend in another country. Weekend days in the United States, for example, are Saturday and Sunday. In Israel, on the other hand, the weekend starts on Friday evening and ends on Saturday evening. Folks get up early and go to work on Sundays.

If you plan to do any kind of work on your site and you can’t work on everyone’s night time—or anyone’s night time, for that matter—make sure you do your blog changes on a weekend. Some people, though not all, spend less time on their computer on weekends. Instead, they hang out with other people who have the day or two off … leaving you to take care of your blog.

Now that you’ve picked a good time to flip the switch, let’s see what you can do to minimize downtime that arises if your installation goes wrong.

If it all goes wrong

If your site crashes after you installed or activated a theme, there are a few things you can do.

Option #1. Put on the tech hat

Since the theme caused your website to crash, you need to erase the theme from your dashboard.

However, if you’ve lost access to your dashboard, you need to log in to your control panel on the hosting company’s website and erase it there.

Following that, reactivate WordPress’s basic theme—the one that showed up when you first installed WordPress. It’s either Twenty Ten or Twenty Eleven.

You data is usually safe in this case—the fatal error turns out not to be so fatal after all. Once you switch back to the basic theme, you’ll be able to log in both to your blog and your dashboard. Switch back to the theme you had earlier, before you tried changing it, and everything will be back to normal.

This process will undoubtedly require you to delve into technical tasks. If you are not tech-oriented and fear you might cause a truly fatal error, check out option #2.

Option #2. Contact your hosting company’s tech support team

The challenge you’re facing was caused due to a WordPress theme. Therefore, it might make sense to contact the theme’s creator or WordPress.org. It might—but contact your hosting company’s tech support anyway.

It took only ten minutes for my theme issue to be resolved once I started an online chat with a representative from my web host.

Note that you might need to provide your billing email address and password for security verification purposes. Then, the agent will do what was specified in the previous section—she or he will remove the malfunctioning theme from your system and reactivate the basic WordPress theme that came with your blog when you first launched it.

Make sure to ask the person assisting you to stay on the line while you verify that returning to your previously-regular theme causes no issues, and then go off on your merry way.

Fatal doesn’t always mean fatal

The most important part of this process is, of course, to breathe. Remember that there are plenty of sources to get information and support. Blogs like ProBlogger, WordPress message boards, Facebook and LinkedIn groups for bloggers, good ol’ Google and your hosting company are just a few examples.

Mishaps happen. Hopefully, a little quick research and asking for help will help you resolve them in no time—and you might even gain new knowledge and tools along the way.

And once the issue at hand is resolved, don’t forget to do a happy dance.

Has a theme ever crashed your blog? What did you do to fix the problem? Share your tips with us in the comments.

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic freelance writer, blogger and screenwriter. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinaire joys of life on her travel blog, All Colores. Get her free report, 48 Must-Live Israeli Experiences, and connect with her on Twitter.

10 Essential WordPress Security Plugins For 2013

This guest post is by of The WordPress Security Checklist.

Now that we have left 2012 behind, we can start planning 2013. And there is no better time to review the security plugins you use on your WordPress site.

Last year important new security plugins were released, and some of the existing plugins were updated.

The great challenge when it comes to WordPress Security Plugins is to find the magic combination which gives you optimal cover without conflicts or overlapping functionality.

Here we bring you the winning combination for a prosperous (and safe) 2013.

Let the party begin!

Make sure only invited guests pop in

When you throw a big party, you’d best think about who you let in. Otherwise the party might get out of hand.

These clever little plugins are your broad-shouldered bouncers. And they mean business!

WP Login Security 2

This is a personal favorite of mine. It’s very clever.

If an unknown guest arrives at your party your bouncer will ask for ID, but you can walk straight in.

Similarly, the plugin will send a verification email to the registered email address of the user if he tries to log in from an unknown IP address. Only if he validates the IP address by clicking on a link in the email will he be allowed in.

This is a very effective way of stopping brute force attacks. Even if someone does guess your userid and password, they still can’t get in.

If, on the other hand, you log in from a known IP address, you are let in straight away.

Resources:

Semisecure Login Reimagined

At your party, the bouncer will make sure no one eavesdrops when you whisper the secret password in his ear.

Ideally you would want to send your login information over SSL when you access your WordPress administration panel. However, there is a cost involved in obtaining a SSL certificate and if you are on a shared server you would also need a dedicated IP address.

This plugin is the next best thing for those of us who’d rather spend our money on party hats.

It will automatically encrypt your login information so it is much more difficult for an outsider to steal your credentials.

Resources:

Login Security Solution

This is the mother of all bouncers. He will only accept photo ID, he can check the expiry date and you can tell him that library cards are no longer accepted. He can even throw out people who fall asleep on the premises.

Or, in technical terms: with this plugin, password strength is enforced, password aging is an option, and password resets for all users can be forced. And you can even log out idle sessions automatically.

Another clever feature of this plugin: instead of locking out IP addresses of brute force attackers it will slow down the response times gradually. This means that you can get your own password wrong without being locked out, and it will still make brute force attacks almost impossible.

Resources:

WordPress Firewall 2

This is the wall around your house that makes sure no one sneaks in through your backdoor or a window, bypassing your bouncers. It’s very important.

Windows Firewall 2 inspects all incoming traffic to identify if anyone sends you malicious requests or tries to inject data into your database.

Resources:

Block Bad Queries

This plugin is like the barbed wire or the broken glass on top of the wall. Yes, the internet is really a bad neighborhood!

BBQ extends your firewall and helps filter incoming traffic to stop known bad guys.

Resources:

Keeping tabs on what goes on in your house

Once your party is going you want to keep an eye on what is happening. If someone breaks your TV you’d like to know who’s responsible and how much damage was caused.

These plugins are your eyes and your ears. And they are awake!

WordPress File Monitor Plus

This is like having surveillance cameras in every room of your house and taping all the action. If anything goes down you can see exactly what happened.

WordPress File Monitor Plus tracks changes to your file system. If any files are added, removed, or changed you will be notified by email. Neat. Could be an invaluable help in cleaning up after you have had visitors!

Resources:

WP Security Scan

Although you love opening up your house for the big party, there are still some rooms you do want to keep away from your guests. Locking a few doors will make sure the cats can only play where you want them to.

WP Security Scan checks your file and folder permissions and a few other things to make sure everything that should be locked down is locked down.

Resources:

Curing the hangover

Depending on the success of your party you might end up with a bit of a hangover the day after. But we’ve got the cure for you.

Update Notifications

This good old trick could save you from getting a hangover in the first place: take a couple of headache tablets before you go to bed.

By using Update Notifications you’re stopping the headaches before they begin. Keep your WordPress site updated at all times and you won’t see the bulk part of the threats circulating the net. This plugin automatically sends you an email when there is an update for your plugins, themes, or core WordPress files.

Resources:

Wordfence

If you are not feeling well, knowing why can make the difference between recovering quickly or suffering for a long time. If you know you are dehydrated you can drink some water. If you know you have got an infection, penicillin might be the remedy you need.

Wordfence is one of the newer security plugins. However it has matured very quickly. One of the great features of Wordfence is that it will compare the plugin, theme, and WordPress core files on your installation with the official version in the WordPress repository. If there are any discrepancies, the plugin will send you an email.

It will also scan your site for known malware, phishing, backdoors, and virus infections.

Resources:

Sucuri WordPress Security Plugin

If you are really out of luck, you might pick up some kind of disease at your party. This is the risk of mingling with many people. In this case, you might have to go to the doctor.

Sucuri is more than just a security plugin. In fact, their WordPress plugin is probably one of their least-known products.

Sucuri is a company that specializes in cleaning up infected websites. If your luck is out and your site is infected, they will clean it for less than it would cost you in coffee if you wanted to figure it out on your own—provided you know what you are doing. And they will keep your site clean for a year after that.

The WordPress plugin adds a web application firewall and malware file scanning. The web application firewall will communicate with Sucuri servers, so if one site is under attack from certain IP addresses they can be blocked across the network immediately.

Resources:

Enjoy 2013!

With a little bit of preparation, you will be able to throw fantastic parties in 2013, and you and your guests can amuse themselves without worrying about accidents or bad guys ruining everything.

Make sure your WordPress site is in good shape and ready to bring you a very prosperous 2013!

Check out ’s free WordPress Security Checklist, which is all about protecting your WordPress assets properly and sleeping well at night.

Keep Your New Year’s Resolution: Set up a Social, Search-optimized WordPress Blog … Today

This guest post is by Marcela De Vivo of Gryffin.co.

Recently ProBlogger discussed how to brand your blog, how to find your voice, and how to build your authority.

Mouse

Image courtesy stock.xchng user panoramadi

These articles are powerful, but often I find myself speaking with people who don’t have a blog yet, or are using Blogger or custom made, cumbersome platforms. Just this week alone I went through these steps with four different people who want to jump on the blogging bandwagon.

In this article we will go back to basics for those who haven’t started their blog yet, or who are on platforms that are hindering their progress.

If one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to improve your blogging presence—or start a new one—read on!

We’ll go through a step-by-step process, including tools and resources for each step, to set up a WordPress blog that is optimized for social and search marketing success.

Setting up your WordPress blog

WordPress is currently the most popular content management platform.  It can be used for static pages or as a blog.  You can add plugins for a shopping cart, image galleries, and much more.

Here’s how to set it up.

  1. Register your domain with sites like Register.com, Godaddy.com, or Enom.com
  2. Create a hosting account with sites like BlueHost.com, WPEngine, or HostGator.  If you would like to do more research on hosting companies, check out WhoIsHostingThis.
  3. Select a WordPress theme. I personally love using StudioPress as the themes are clean, functional, and easy to work with. Search for a responsive theme so your blog will be accessible to mobile users.
  4. Is your site running on a different CMS or platform? Consider using a blog migration service, such as BlogWranglers, to move your current site over to WordPress. Hundreds of thousands have done it, with no regrets.
  5. Upload WordPress to your hosting account, and customize with your relevant theme.  If you are not a techie, this is the part where you’ll need some help.  Check out Elance.com, Freelancer.com, or a site like Craiglist.org to find someone who can help you set up and customize your template.
  6. Install WordPress plugins.

Let’s take a deeper look at the plugins you’ll need.

Setting up your plugins

Social media

These are the social media plugins I recommend you consider.

SEO plugins

My favorite SEO plugins include these ones.

Usability

Usability plugins can be a huge help. Consider these:

Doing keyword research

To gain exposure from search engines, you need to have your blog focused on a theme. Select a primary keyword within this general theme for each page of the site.  You can read more about keyword research in this ProBlogger article.

Select keywords by identifying low-competition and high-search terms for your industry from Google’s Keyword tool.

Other tools you can use include:

.

Prepare content for your static pages and images

While a designer/programmer is working on setting up your site, you can start by writing and preparing content for your site.

A well-optimized page includes the primary keywords in the Title of the page, Meta Description tag, H1 tag, once or twice in the body, and in an outbound link.

As you’re preparing your content, remember these elements of an excellent blog post:

        • Post title: creative and compelling
        • Social share icons: make sharing your content easy
        • Image: an image speaks louder than words
        • Opening paragraph: include keywords in a teaser into the introduction
        • Body copy: use headers and bold words
        • Lists: make your content easy to scan
        • Conclusion: include a teaser for your next article
        • Related posts: give them more content to consume
        • Comment section: Always respond to comments

Read Darren’s compilation from earlier this year for more information on each element in The Anatomy of a Better Blog Post.

Connect your site for optimum findability

By this point you should have a WordPress blog with a range of enhancements made possible by plugins and other customizations.  You will have SEO plugins to improve your on-page SEO, page load times, keyword density, site maps, and other relevant SEO features.

You will also have a selection of social plugins so that you can encourage social shares from your site. You will have other features such as contact forms, tracking, reporting, and an email signup box to build your email list.

Incorporating keyword research will help you to deliver the content that people are looking for in a way that lets it be found.  You can write articles based on long-tail terms, answer questions that your audience may have, and target hundreds of keywords by writing articles specific to each one.

So what are you waiting for? Make your New Year’s Resolution a reality and start your new blog today. And if you have any suggestions of plugins, tools, or services to add to this list, please do share!

Marcela De Vivo is a freelance writer who writes about blogging, SEO and social media at Gryffin.co/blog.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 2

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

Yesterday, we started our tour of new features added to WordPress in version 3.4.

Today we continue the tour with a look at helpful new features available in version 3.5.

New features added to WordPress 3.5

Released late last year, WordPress 3.5 was the second and final major WordPress release of 2012.

This was the first release to include the new default design Twenty Twelve. It comes with a cool new feature that lets you install plugins you marked as a favorite on WordPress.org directly from your dashboard. However, many bloggers were surprised that the link manager has been removed from the default version of WordPress (though most agree removing this was a good decision).

Let’s take a look at the features.

New feature: Install favorite plugins

Now you can install your favorite plugins directly from your WordPress dashboard.

If you are logged in at WordPress.org, you will see a new option to favorite a plugin. You simply need to click on the link in order to add a plugin to your favorites.

favorite-plugin-1

As you can see, a new link for favorites has been added to the WordPress plugin area.

favorite-plugin-2

After you enter your WordPress.org username, you will see a list of all the plugins you have added as favorites. You can then install your chosen plugin easily.

favorite-plugin-3

Most WordPress users tend to use the same plugins on each of their WordPress websites. In the past, most people would bookmark their favorite plugins or keep a list of useful plugins so that they didn’t forget them. Saving important plugins at WordPress.org will allow you to quickly install frequently used plugins on every website you own very easily.

The way this new feature is set up, you don’t have to log in to your WordPress.org account on your blog, you only need to enter your username. This means you can see which plugins have been marked as favorites by any user on WordPress. You can share your favorites list with friends simply by telling them your username.

Also, if you know the WordPress username a website owner uses, you could enter their username into the plugin area to get a sneaky look into their favorite plugins (though there is no guarantee they are using a certain plugin on any given website).

New feature: Link manager removed

The Link Manager is no longer part of the core WordPress install.

The WordPress link manager, more commonly known as the Blogroll, was once one of the most popular features with bloggers and was used to display links on millions of blog sidebars. Thankfully, WordPress isn’t too sentimental—they know that the link manager is now only used by a small percentage of users.

The removal of the link manager follows the policy to remove non-essential items from the WordPress core to make the default version of WordPress quicker and leave additional functionality to plugins and themes.

links-new

Those who upgrade to WordPress 3.5 will no longer see the link manager in the WordPress menu if you haven’t used it before.

links-old

If you used your blogroll before you upgrade, the links manager will not be removed. It’s only removed on installations where no links were added (i.e. only the default links to WordPress-related websites were in your database). The link manager is available via an official plugin for anyone who wants to add the functionality back to their WordPress website.

New feature: New default design Twenty Twelve

The default design for WordPress has been released with this new version.

Twenty Twelve was originally planned to be part of WordPress 3.4 but was delayed. It was later released in the official WordPress theme directory in between the release of 3.4 and 3.5.

WordPress 3.5 is the first official release that includes this new theme (Twenty Ten and Twenty Eleven are included, too).

Some WordPress users have voiced their disappointment in Twenty Twelve’s minimal design, however most WordPress designers have been pleased with the evolutionary steps in this new official theme. The theme was clearly made with child themes in mind, and with the inclusion of child themes being introduced six months before, I imagine we are going to see a lot of varied designs being created from this base.

twenty-twelve-screenshot

As before, the design can be modified using the theme customizer. Small differences are apparent—no header image is set by default, and no sidebar is shown if no sidebar widgets are present. In addition to the sidebar widget, the static home page also comes with two widget areas (each takes up 50% of the screen width). This makes creating a corporate-style home page very straightforward.

twenty-twelve-widgets

Like Twenty Eleven, Twenty Twelve supports post formats. Each of the additional post formats have a different design to distinguish them from other formats.

post-formats

You’ll find that there isn’t much difference in styling between some post formats. There’s a content template for each one, so these designs can easily be changed with just a few small edits.

asides

Twenty Twelve has a responsive design, so it looks the same on any browser and any device. It has beautiful typography too which makes reading a joy. If you know a little coding, you should be able to design some interesting websites using Twenty Twelve.

New feature: New Welcome screen

WordPress have improved the Welcome screen in 3.5.

Previously, the Welcome screen had an introduction and three columns of links.

welcome-screen-old

The new Welcome screen looks much cleaner. The introductory description is gone, as is the description for each section. There are fewer links to choose from, and the link fonts have increased in size too. It’s much easier to use because of these changes.

welcome-screen

New feature: New color picker

Slight improvements have been made to the color picker.

The color picker for the built-in theme customizer has had a small visual improvement. Previously WordPress used the popular color wheel.

color-picker-old

The new color picker looks much more modern. Common colors are displayed at the bottom and there is a new Default button which lets you return to the default color for the property instantly.

color-picker

New feature: Media interface improved

The WordPress media interface has been vastly improved.

The media interface has had a much-needed overhaul. The old Upload/Insert text above your TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor has been replaced with a more prominent Add media button.

media-interface-1

Clicking on the Add media button will bring up the new media interface. The old interface used to appear in an overlay that covered approximately 40% of the page (centered). The new overlay covers around 95% of the page. The same three options are available as before: Upload Files, Media Library and Embed from URL.

The media library not only looks better, it works better too. All items are shown in the center panel, with details of any selected item being shown on the right panel. Previously, items were shown vertically using a list and you had to click a Show link in order to see more details.

You can show all items, items uploaded to the post you are modifying, images, audio, and video. You can enter search terms to filter results, too.

media-interface-2

Multiple items can now be selected at once. Not only can you modify details of uploaded items more quickly, you can now insert multiple images, audio files, and videos directly into posts. This saves you a huge amount of time. The days of bloggers inserting dozens of images into blog posts one by one are over.

media-interface-3

If you select more than one item, you will have the option of inserting them into a post together. You will also see an option to Create a new gallery. In the past, media items were always grouped together with the post or page they were uploaded from. This new system means you can group items together at any time and insert them anywhere you want.

media-interface-4

The new media interface is arguably the most important new feature for WordPress bloggers. Images, videos, and audio are so important to us. The new interface really speeds up the process of inserting these assets into your blog posts.

New feature: XML-RPC enabled by default

XML-RPC is now enabled by default.

XML-RPC needs to be enabled in WordPress so that external applications can connect to WordPress. Historically, this setting has always been disabled by default.

ios-wordpress

When XML-RPC is enabled, WordPress can be used through a host of different mobile applications and you can use third-party blog editors such as Windows Live Writer, BlogDesk and Post2Blog.

New feature: Dashboard now supports all-HiDPI

The WordPress dashboard now supports retina display,

Those who have shiny new high-resolution retina display devices will be pleased to know that the WordPress dashboard is fully compatible with HiDPI.

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Below is a list of some of the other features that were added to WordPress 3.5:

  • improved support for keyboard navigation and screen reading
  • search for comments of a particular status
  • external libraries for scripts such as TinyMCE, SimplePie, jQuery 1.8.2 and jQuery UI have all been updated. Backbone and Underscore have also been added.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.5 can be found in the WordPress codex.

WordPress for the future

Each year the WordPress platform evolves and 2012 was no different. Features such as the theme customizer, live preview, and favorite plugins install option have made using WordPress easier for both beginners and veterans.

Whilst WordPress has moved beyond its humble blogging roots somewhat, it is still the best blogging platform available. The Link Manager has been downgraded, however new features such as inserting multiple media items, Twitter embeds and continued support for micro blogging post formats such as asides, quotes, and links, have ensured that WordPress remains number one in the blogging world.

WordPress have ensured they are keeping up with user habits, too. The Admin interface supports retina display, the new default design is responsive and they continue to improve their mobile applications. In short, WordPress is a mobile-friendly platform.

I hope you have enjoyed this review of the new features introduced to WordPress in 2012. Let us know what your favorite new feature is and why!

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com.

WordPress Feature Review: New Features You Missed in 2012, Part 1

This guest post is by Michael Scott of WPHub.com.

One of the great things about WordPress is that it never stands still. The platform is constantly evolving beyond its blogging roots, with more great features being added every year.

WordPress used to release small updates frequently, but at the end of 2009 they changed this policy. They now aim to release three major updates every year, with small infrequent updates in between to address security issues.

The three major releases in 2011 were 3.1 (February 2011) and 3.2 (July 2011) and 3.3 (December 2011).

Today I’d like to walk you through the new features which were introduced in 2012, in WordPress 3.4 and 3.5.

I’ll be focusing on the features that are most relevant to bloggers and explaining how they can help you.

New features in WordPress 3.4

Released in June, WordPress 3.4 was a solid release that is best remembered for introducing the new theme customizer.

It also included a lot of other great new features such as Twitter embedding, HTML in captions, and flexible header images.

New feature: Live preview

Live preview enables you to preview themes before they are activated on your blog.

Browsing and installing themes and plugins directly from the WordPress admin area is one of WordPress’s greatest strengths. It’s amazing that you can modify your blog so much without even leaving your blog’s Admin area.

In the past, clicking on the Preview link for a theme would load up an overlay which displayed the theme over the current page.

live-preview-old

But the process of browsing WordPress designs changed in WordPress 3.4. In the past, the design was listed with Install and Preview links, and a full description.

Descriptions are now hidden by default, though you can view the description of a theme by clicking on the new Description link. This may seem like a small change, but it made browsing for designs within the Admin area much more user friendly.

live-preview-1

Themes are now previewed on their own dedicated Preview page. The page shows the theme on the right-hand side. On the left side, the theme name, thumbnail, rating and description are shown. To save you from having to click the Back button, themes can now be installed via this new Preview area.

live-preview-2

Once a theme has been installed on your WordPress blog, the Preview option becomes much more useful as it loads up the new theme customizer and lets you see how this design will look on your live website. This enables you to preview the theme using your menus, posts, pages and more.

live-preview-3

Being able to see how themes will look with your existing content has greatly improved the process of installing WordPress designs via your Admin area, and changed the way bloggers choose their themes.

New feature: Theme customizer

This feature allows you to configure your theme via a user-friendly Options area.

The WordPress customizer allows users to configure many different areas of their design, such as the header, background and navigation via a dedicated Options area. Older WordPress themes do not support the customizer but can be modified appropriately with a few simple edits to the theme functions.php file.

The Customize link can be found via the Themes link in the Appearance menu of your WordPress Admin area. Clicking on the link will take you directly to the theme customizer Options area.

theme-customizer-1

The options available to you in the customizer will depend on the theme itself. The default WordPress themes only had five or six different options, however over the last six months we have seen WordPress designers incorporate other options in their designs. Common options include site title and tagline, colors, background image, navigation menus, and whether posts or a static page were displayed on your home page.

theme-customizer-2

One of the reasons the theme customizer was so well received within the WordPress community was because changes can be seen in real time. Whenever you change your site name or adjust some colors, these are reflected in the theme preview. The changes are, however, only applied to your website after you have clicked the Save & Publish button.

theme-customizer-3

The theme customizer has made it possible for beginners to modify how their website looks without editing any templates. It’s very straightforward to use and since the release of WordPress 3.4, many designers have made sure their themes are compatible with it.

New feature: Twitter embedding

Now you can embed Twitter statuses directly into your blog posts and pages by simply entering the Twitter status URL.

Twitter is one of the most powerful tools available to bloggers. In addition to self promotion and networking, many bloggers use Twitter as a source of inspiration for their articles. The new Twitter embedding feature makes quoting Twitter statues simple and removes the need for taking screenshots or installing plugins to display a quote.

For example, simply enter this within your blog post:

https://twitter.com/problogger/status/271764815607898112

The corresponding Twitter status will be displayed:

twitter-embeds

The beauty of this new feature is its simplicity. There are no shortcodes to remember or buttons to click: you simply enter the URL of the Twitter status to embed it.

New feature: HTML in captions

This feature lets you add HTML directly to your image captions.

Captions have always been a great way of describing photographs and images to your readers. Being able to add HTML to captions has improved this considerably as you can now include links to photo credits, relevant articles, and websites directly inside the caption.

html-captions

Those who are using old WordPress themes may find that the new way WordPress adds captions has broken older image captions on your website. Upgrading to a new theme is recommended, though you could fix these issues manually by searching for posts with captions through your WordPress post area and updating the code.

New feature: Improved features for international users

Improved support is now offered for international WordPress users so that many locale-specific configurations can be modified from the core WordPress files.

As a native English speaker, localization is not something I ever have to deal with, so it’s easy to forget that around 44% of all websites are written in a language other than English.

WordPress 3.4 focused heavily on making WordPress more international. Some of the most important new features introduced for non-English users include:

  • Localizing commas: Many Asian and Middle Eastern languages do not use the comma (,). This causes a lot of problems for those users, as WordPress uses the comma as a delimiter for tags, quick edits and bulk edits. From 3.4, the comma can be translated to another character for languages where a comma isn’t used.
  • Translatable spellchecker language: The TinyMCE WYSIWYG editor can now be translated into any language.
  • Specify default time zone: Previously, the default timezone for all WordPress installations was set to GMT. This can now be modified so that the timezone does not have to be adjusted during the installation process.
  • Feed language: The language of your feed can now be set using the bloginfo_rss template tag.
  • Specifying start of week: You can now easily define the day the week starts.

If you don’t blog in English, many of these new features should make it easier for you to use WordPress in your native language.

New feature: Flexible header images

Header images are now responsive.

Custom headers were added to WordPress way back in 2007 (version 2.1). Previously WordPress allowed you to set the width and height of a header image, but all header images which were uploaded had to be cropped to fit these dimensions.

Now all images will resize dynamically to match the width of your header.

With so many people viewing blogs on mobile devices, flexible headers have made it easier for designs to accommodate any resolution. Check out Creating a responsive header in WordPress 3.4 at WebmasterDepot for a complete walkthrough of this new feature.

New feature: Login shortcodes

WordPress now offers more user-friendly login URLs.

WordPress users can log in using www.yoursite.com/wp-login.php and access the Admin area via www.yoursite.com/wp-admin/. Since version 3.4, you can log in using the more user-friendly URL www.yoursite.com/login. The Admin area can also be viewed by entering www.yoursite.com/admin or www.yoursite.com/dashboard.

There’s no denying that this is a small addition to WordPress, but I always welcome small things like this that make daily tasks such as logging in quicker and easier.

New feature: Comment via the post editor

Comments can now be added via the Post and Page editor pages.

For years the Post editing page has shown all the comments that were left on a post or page. In addition to viewing comments, there is now an option to leave a comment directly on a post from the post editor area. This saves you from having to load up the article in order to leave a comment.

add-comment-post-screen

New feature: Improved touch support

WordPress now offers vastly improved touch support in the user interface.

WordPress aimed to improve site usability on tablet devices such as the Apple iPad and Kindle Fire. Specifically, they added support for drag-and-drop functionality. This allows you to more easily customize the mobile user interface simply by moving things around.

New feature: Child themes added to the theme repository

The official WordPress themes directory now accepts child themes of WordPress themes that are already listed within the directory.

Child themes will be accepted within the theme directory if they can demonstrate sufficient difference from the parent theme to warrant inclusion.

I was particularly pleased with this feature, as it allows designers to take existing designs and modify them for different users. For example, designers will now be able to take a magazine-based theme and make it more blog-orientated, or remove features from designs that are too bloated.

child-themes

The theme installer supports child themes too. The great thing about this is that WordPress will automatically install a child theme’s parent theme if it isn’t already installed.

New feature: Scroll to top of Admin bar

Now, we can scroll to the top of the page by simply clicking the Admin bar.

This simple feature was missed by a lot of bloggers but it’s something that I’ve found myself using every day. Since WordPress 3.4, you can scroll to the top of the page by clicking in the empty area in the Admin bar. Simple but effective!

scroll-to-top

Other features added to WordPress 3.4

Since we’re short on space, here are some of the other great features that were added to WordPress 3.4:

  • The dashboard is now ready for high-resolution displays such as Apple’s retina display.
  • Multi-site improvements were made, such as auto-complete for adding new users and an increase in the default upload limit from 10mb to 100mb.
  • The Recent Comments widget had some small improvements.
  • Custom post types can now use the Distraction-free Editing mode (also known as Zen mode).
  • XML-RPC was improved to let WordPress interact with other applications more easily.

A full list of features added to WordPress in version 3.4 can be found in the WordPress codex.

That’s it for WordPress 3.4! Which of these features are you using, and which are your favorites? Let us know in the comments … and don’t miss Part 2 in this series, where I explain the handy new features available in WordPress 3.5.

Michael Scott has been working with WordPress themes and websites in varying capacities since 2007. It was mainly as a project manager where he quickly developed a love for their simplicity and scalability. As a strong advocate of all things WordPress, he enjoys any opportunity to promote its use across the Interweb and on WPHub.com .

Stop Socializing! Auto-Share Social Media Updates and Get Back to Blogging

This guest post is by Fred Perrotta of Tortuga Backpacks.

As a blogger, you should be spending at least 80% of your time creating killer content.

The problem is that that leaves just 20% of your time to split between time-intensive (but important) activities like social networking, ad sales, new product creation, and marketing.

In this post, you’ll learn how to automatically share your blog posts to your social networks.

You’ll set up your system once and then never worry about manually sharing your posts again.

Now you can spend your time connecting with likeminded bloggers, responding to comments, and making money instead of copying and pasting the same update all over the web.

Your new best friend: IFTTT

Your auto-sharing system will use online connections service IFTTT (If This, Then That).

You may have heard of IFTTT from previous stories on Problogger, which showed how to use it for content curation and posting to WordPress by email.

IFTTT (pronounced like “lift” without the “l”) is a service that creates connections between your social networks, RSS feeds, and even email.

With IFTTT, you connect a “trigger” (like a new post in your RSS feed) with an “action” (like posting to Twitter) to create a “recipe”. IFTTT feed trigger

Read on to learn how to use existing IFTTT recipes to automate your social sharing.

Automatically share on Twitter

Use this RSS to Twitter recipe to automatically tweet new blog posts.

Note that you’ll need to customize this template to use your RSS feed.

You can also customize the tweet itself using plain text and “ingredients” like the post title and URL.

IFTT action tweet

Automatically share on Tumblr

IFTTT is even customizable enough to handle Tumblr’s multiple post types.

Use this feed to Tumblr link recipe to share a link to your latest blog post on Tumblr.

Sharing a link, rather than the full post, is good for your SEO and will prevent duplicate content issues.

Run an image-heavy photo blog? Use this RSS to Tumblr photo recipe to create a photo post.

Using the templates linked above, you’ll be able to customize the body of your Tumblr post, the source URL, and the tags. Even though you’re not posting directly from Tumblr, you can still utilize all of its functionality.

Automatically share on LinkedIn

LinkedIn sharing works much the same way as Twitter and Tumblr.

Use this RSS to LinkedIn recipe to share your next blog post on your LinkedIn profile.

Sharing on LinkedIn is highly recommended for B2B bloggers.

Why you can’t auto-share on Google+ or Pinterest (yet)

Unfortunately, neither Google+ nor Pinterest have a public write API, so IFTTT doesn’t have recipes for posting to either site.

For now, you can post updates manually or skip them altogether. Make your own decision based on the importance of these networks to your business and the relevance of their audiences to your blog.

The problem with Facebook…

Facebook is the hardest network to automate because its EdgeRank algorithm demotes posts made from third-party sites like IFTTT.

That’s right: if you’re not creating your posts on Facebook, your fans probably aren’t seeing them.

Even when you’re posting on Facebook, only 16% of fans see a given post. Don’t let this number slip even lower!

For Facebook, you have two options:

  1. Use Facebook’s new WordPress plugin to create a Facebook link post from within WordPress. You can even tag people and pages from within the widget, which is shown in your sidebar when you’re writing a new post. Since this is an official Facebook plugin, you don’t have to worry about your posts being penalized.
  2. Post to Facebook manually. Yes, this seems to go against the point of this post, but you can set up the rest of your sharing so that this is the only manual post you’ll have to make.

If Facebook drives a significant amount of traffic to your blog, manual posting is worthwhile.

The other advantage is that you can post a picture (with a link in the text) rather than just a link. Pictures are prioritized over links (which the plugin above would create), so more of your fans will see a picture post than a link post.

Darren himself had 18x better results from posting a picture rather than just a link.

Problogger Facebook image post

Have you automated your social sharing yet?

Using the strategies in this post, you can free up most of the time you used to spend sharing every post you published. Even for low-volume blogs, this is huge.

Have you automated your social sharing yet? If so, how are you spending your new free time?

Fred Perrotta is the co-founder of Tortuga Backpacks and a freelance marketing consultant.

Beat Your Fear of Technology, and Grow Your Blog

This guest post is by Ayelet Weisz of All Colores.

As Matt Setter recently pointed out here on ProBlogger, pretty much anyone can set up a blog these days without worrying about technical mumbo-jumbo.

Yet as I learned when I transferred my blog from WordPress.com to WordPress.org, sometimes the technical mambo-jumbo will haunt you regardless, and your choices will be to learn its language, to pay highly for others to handle it, or to give up.

Did you, like me, turn to a free platform such as WordPress.com because you didn’t want to deal with technical set up? Are you holding back on transferring to your own domain because you’re afraid it will cost you a fortune to hire a webmaster, or wear your nerves if you do it on your own? Is WordPress refusing to create space between lines no matter how many times you log in, log out, save?

Fearing the dive into the world of technical activities makes sense.

If every past encounter with technical challenges left you feeling frozen, or was easily resolved by someone else in your office or home, it makes sense that you won’t necessarily feel comfortable in this area just because you’re now a blogger. If you’re not used to dealing with technicalities, fear will show up to remind you you’re doing something new.

Give yourself a pat on the shoulder to congratulate yourself for sailing off to a life of online entrepreneurship, then commit to stepping out of that comfort zone to a place where opportunities await. You must be willing to practice feeling more comfortable in the technical platform on which you base your business.

Here are a few easy ways to do just that.

Count to 10 before asking for help

Asking for help is a valuable skill to posses and can help you a lot in life. You will learn things faster this way, and perhaps save yourself some heartache.

Yet if you’re used to running to someone else any time a technical challenge arises, you’re not giving yourself the opportunity to test the waters yourself. Did a keyboard button detach? Is your phone acting crazy when you need to make an important call?

These days, information is more available than ever before. Take a moment to Google the problem, or do a search on YouTube and see if you can find a tutorial. Start with small projects—many times they’ll be easier to resolve than you expect.

Overcoming these problems yourself won’t only save you the money you would have paid the technician, or the time you would have waited for a sibling to come from another city—it will give you proof that you can learn new things. And it will give you courage to keep learning about more aspects of your blogging business—SEO or social marketing, for example.

Take a class

Be it online or off, a class enables you to learn from an expert and get feedback on your work. It will usually involve homework, “obligating” you to face your fear and practice feeling comfortable. You can find classes in colleges and universities, at community learning centers and, of course, online.

Real-world classes usually take place at set times, enabling you to pick the one that best fits your schedule. Alternatively, many online classes allow you to tune in to the lessons’ recordings whenever it’s convenient for you. Some of these provide message boards where you can get feedback, even though you won’t meet your teachers and classmates face to face.

Classes don’t always come with an exam at the end, so don’t be intimidated. Focus on the process and the opportunity to grow beyond your past limits.

Hire a private teacher

If you feel you need more personal support, hire someone to work with you one on one. If it’s a friend or a relative, you can meet at home. If it’s someone from your community, you can meet at your local library. In today’s world, you can hire someone from the other side of the world and make a new, long-distance friend while you’re learning.

If you hire someone to work only with you, it will be easier to share your concerns and discomforts. Make sure to tell your teacher why you’re hiring her or him (for example: you’re a blogger, you want to set up a blog, or you want to make changes to your blog’s design), so that the teacher can provide you with the information you really need.

Hiring a private teacher won’t necessarily be expensive. Email the computer science department in your city’s college to find a student who’s more skilled than you—or hire someone for a quick, $5 session on Fiverr.

Work for a tech support department

Many times, you can get into a tech support department with little or no experience in the area. This is easier to achieve if you find a general customer service department that also provides tech support.

In these departments, there are usually supervisors available for serious technical challenges, while the everyday challenges—those that can be solved relatively easily—are handled by the general staff. The department will usually teach you everything you need to know before you start attending to customers’ needs.

Note that “relatively easily” doesn’t mean it will be easy for you right away. When you go in for your training, it might all sound like Chinese (unless you’re already in China, in which case it might sound like Icelandic). When you go through your first call, you might politely put the customer on hold to get support from your supervisors and fellow employees.

Yet pretty soon you’ll find yourself helping people who are even less tech savvy than you are, and you’ll start to realize you can handle bigger tech projects than you could ever have imagined.

Many tech support positions enable you to work part-time, leaving you plenty of time for your blogging or other, better-paying job. If you find a company that specializes in your niche, working for them could provide you with priceless industry information and connections. Perhaps you can even pitch that company your blogging services after a while, or create some other collaboration between this company and your blog.

Create a learning group … and network while you’re at it

You might think you’re the only one who’s scared, and that others have it easier, but I guarantee you there are many more people—even bloggers—who are just as terrified or uncomfortable as you are at the thought of becoming even a bit tech savvy.

As a group, you can set goals. You can search for information online, look up tutorials on YouTube, consult with one another, and hold each other accountable. You can do all this by yourself, yet if you’re a ProBlogger reader, you know you can’t make it on the blogsphere on your own. Networking is key. Why not create a learning group and invite bloggers in your niche to participate?

You’ll be able to check two goals off your list at once.

Leverage what you’ve learned—and learn even more

Once you know the information, you can use it to grow your business. If you document your process, you’ll be able to know what worked and what didn’t, and what you learned along the way. You’ll also be able to look back and acknowledge how far you’ve travelled along the technical road.

Then, you’ll be able to teach it. Teaching others strengthens your confidence in what you’ve learned and encourages you to keep on learning. Knowing you’ll be sharing your experience or knowledge will give you the courage to keep moving forward.

To leverage what you learned, you don’t have to a class, though you could. You could also create a blog to document your progress and improve your learning process. You’ll attract people just like you, who are interested in the value you can now provide. Heck, maybe they can even teach you a thing or two by commenting on your posts!

Of course, leveraging your knowledge can be as simple as creating one single post and submitting it to a big blog as a guest post. Maybe even the blog you’re reading right now? Facing my fears of technical mumbo jumbo got me published on ProBlogger twice—three times if you count the post you’re reading now.

The result? Not only does Google love me more (aww, Google!), but the feedback I received for the tutorial series I published here earlier this year encourages me to keep challenging myself, and make this technical mumbo jumbo a little more Ayelet-friendly.

If I can do it, you can do it! Do you know any other ways to overcome tech fears? Tell us in the comments.

Ayelet Weisz is an enthusiastic freelance writer, blogger and screenwriter. She celebrates the everyday and extraordinary joys of life on her travel blog, All Colores. Be sure to stop by and connect with her on Twitter.

The Only SEO Your Blog Posts Need

This guest post is by The Blogger.

Okay, I know you’ve read posts about SEO, PageRank, and other things we bloggers should all know about.

This stuff is helpful, but it has come to overshadow some of blogging’s golden rules, like that original content is king. I doubt this fantastic blogger ever focused on “Search Engine Optimization,” yet her fan page is bigger than yours or mine will ever be.

All you really need to know about SEO are three relatively simple things and how they relate to each other. I’m talking about Keywords, PageRank, and backlinks. In this post, I’d like to explain how these three things come into play when you publish a new blog post. If you learn something by the end of this, post a comment and tell me.

1. Find popular keywords

To discuss keywords, we’ll began after your post is written, but before you hit Publish. I’m not here to tell you how to write posts. Everyone writes in their own beautiful way and you may be onto some new way of writing that is totally revolutionary and perfect on its own.

Keywords do two things, they describe your post and they make it popular. By popular I mean people are search these keywords in Google Search.

So here’s an example: You write a blog post on vacation spots in the Caribbean. Potential keyword phrases include “vacation spots Caribbean,” “cheap Caribbean vacations,” “best places to vacation Caribbean,” and anything else you’d imagine people are currently searching in Google. You need a way of knowing which keyword phrase is best and I’ve got just the tool for you.

The best keyword tool

Good news, you don’t need to imagine because Google lets you know for sure. Head over to the free Google Adwords Keyword Tool and try out some searches. Just plug in some short, two- to four-word phrases and see which are popular.

You have to try out a few searches to get the hang of this thing, so don’t get frustrated if your initial searches produce low results.

The Adwords Keywords Tool is totally amazing. It shows search term volumes and competition levels. Ideally, you want keywords phrases with low competition and ridiculously high search volume. This can be tough. Some phrases, like “cheap car insurance” or “purchase blog hosting,” are already totally bought out. Some phrases that aren’t popular at all are bought out. Weird huh? Google makes too much money.

But you’re not paying a cent here. Hooray!

Here’s an example of how I used the Adwords Tool: I just published a blog post on About Me pages and found “About Me page” to be a good keyword phrase for it. 246,000 people were searching that and competition was low—which is good enough for me! Some phrases get searched as much as 151 million times a month though. Impressive, huh?

Notes: Disregard one word phrases, those won’t help you here. Also disregard the website and category fields as you don’t need them for these searches.

Once you’ve found a good phrase, we’ll work on putting those keywords in your post title.

2. Put the keywords inside your post titles

WordPress.com estimates that 500,000 new posts enter their blogosphere each day. That’s just the .com. Factor in other platforms and we’re talking a couple hundred million.

But about 95% of these posts are mistitled. The post authors slap careless titles on their posts that prevent the posts from ever being found. Why would you want a blog post to not be found?

Now I know I talked about titling posts in my previous post—but I’m not some title guru, okay? Just bear with me.

Titles broken down, again

A blog post title consists of two parts: what you see, and what Google sees. What you see is the actual title! What Google sees is the permalink. You want those keywords you just chose inside the permalink. This tells Google crawlers what your post is all about.

One way to accomplish this on a WordPress blog is by going to Settings—Permalinks in your blog’s admin panel then selecting Post Name. You can also download the Custom Permalinks plugin, which gives you a bit more control.

Either way, take that post you wrote on “vacation places in the Caribbean” and put your keywords in the title right after .com/ or .org/ or .net/ or whatever. Separate them with a dash and be as simple as possible. Google loves simple.

Now, your blog post is keyword-specific. Sure, you can also put those keywords in the post body text itself—if you’re doing it right, they should already be in there! Don’t ever try to trick Google by mistitling posts, that’ll surely get your penalized. The point I’m making though is a lot more people will see your post if the permalink is done right.

3. Build PageRank through links

PageRank is your blog’s, or any webpage’s, relative importance on the web. It is measured by incoming links, which Google sees as “votes” for your content. That’s the simple part. It’s the recursive nature of PageRank that makes it so confusing. (Click through that link for a super-techy Wikipedia post.)

Building your rank

You build PageRank by getting links from websites or blogs that have high PageRanks themselves. Ideally this happens because folks just want to mention you!

What PageRank gives you is much, much more complex though. It allows your blog posts to rank well in Google and usually results in a lot more traffic. Perhaps most importantly opens new doors for how you can make money with a blog.

So of course, people manipulate PageRank. In the bad old days of blogging, you could setup a niche site with three articles on it, get some good backlinks from already-established sites, and your traffic would soar. You’d be on Google’s top ten for whatever Keyword phrase you focused on! Not anymore. Yet backlinks are still very important.

Best PR tips I can give you

So you’ve written your post, you’ve found great keywords to describe it and to put in your permalink, and you’ve titled that bad boy. The post is done.

Here’s what you can do with your blog post to build PageRank effectively:

  • Get it linked from a news site: I was fortunate and got my first blog mentioned in the Huffington Post early on in my blogging career. This brought tons of new folks in, and the link itself was a huge Google-vote for my site.
  • Get your post in link round-ups: Lots of blogs do weekly features where they recommend five or ten article links for their fans. Ask a site manager to get on their round-up and offer the same in return.
  • Use link-text wherever you can: A raw link in a blog post is good for SEO but a link on good anchor text is better.( Anchor text just means the words you place a link on.)
  • Focus on one or two posts: A couple of posts can bring massive traffic that will then view other posts. Instead of getting every article linked, try to get your best two posts linked several times.

PageRank is a bit odd. Once you have it, you don’t need to focus as much on it because your articles should already rank well in Google, and chances are people are linking to your organically. But before you reach this point, it’s work, work, work.

What are your thoughts?

Do you think SEO has gone too far? Do you even bother making SEO tweaks anymore? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

The Blogger is a 25 year old guy from New York who answers about 150 blog questions over his first coffee of the day. Read his full story here. You can find him on Twittersubscribe to the club, or ask him a question at his blog and he will answer right away.