Back in 2006 blogging was still in its infancy and I remember searching for a platform to launch my first blog. TypePad and Blogger were both big at that time, WordPress.com was around and growing, and Moveable Type, Joomla, Drupal, and WordPress.org were also good options. In fact there were so many good options that it was difficult to decide what foundation I would use for what I hoped to be my new job.
For my first few months of blogging I actually went with TypePad, but quickly found that it was very limited and wasn’t a good fit for my needs. I went back to the drawing board at that point and knew I needed something that was flexible and was also going to be around for the long haul. At that time open source was really starting to take off in the mainstream and WordPress.org was leading that charge in the blogging niche, so I decided to align myself with the WordPress community and re-launched my first blog. Between the WordPress plugins and both the free and premium WordPress themes available, I knew I had made the right choice and was able to quickly make a custom design with little work on my end. The flexibility and the excellent open source community was the key to creating a great experience for me, and many I talked to felt the same way.
Fast forward 7 years and WordPress continues to meet my needs and validate my early decision. One report I use to determine this is released annually by Royal Pingdom, which has done a study of the Top 100 blogs each year since 2009 and recently published their 2013 report. This report shows WordPress continues to grow as the top choice among the most prominent blogs. Initially back in 2009, WordPress was on 32% of the Top 100 blogs. Last year it was up to 48%. For 2013, WordPress is now on 52% of the Top 100 blogs, and I expect that percentage to continue to grow over the coming years thanks to its flexibility and the fact that it is very user friendly.
According to Wikipedia, WordPress is used by over 14.7% of the top 1 million websites and manages over 22% of all new websites created as of August 2011, boasting a total of over 60 million websites. Its hard to imagine what these numbers will look like next year or several years from now.
As a leading Content Management System for managing websites and especially for writing blogs, WordPress makes it extremely easy to back up your valuable content from the database and site files. There are a number of tools you can use that make life easy on website owners and bloggers, but don’t let the simplicity of backing up WordPress leave you with an inadequate back up plan. In fact, there are plenty of back up tools out there that don’t get the job done well enough. Here are five back up mistakes to avoid:
Only Backing up Your Posts
Your website has a lot more going on than just the posts on your blog. While losing your posts would be catastrophic, don’t forget that a true back up will include your pages, theme modifications, and WordPress plugins. These elements of your website make it functional, and losing them will be a major setback for your time.
A tool like Backup Buddy is designed to store all of your site’s information and to restore it all at once should any kind of loss occur. This means you won’t lose page views, advertising revenue, or potential customers when your site goes down. It will be up and running in no time.
Not Backing Up Frequently
If you only backup your website on a weekly basis, but you average about one post per day, you could cause yourself some major headaches if your blog goes down and you lose several blog posts. That means any inbound links, comments, or social media shares to those posts will land on your 404 page. While this may be a temporary setback, you will plant a seed of doubt in the minds of potential visitors about the quality and reliability of your website.
Relying on Manual Backups
There are plenty of online storage options from Amazon’s Cloud Drive to Dropbox, but managing the website backup process on your own is difficult to maintain for the long haul and can take up valuable time. Even if you’ve figured out a quick way to back up your website, it’s one more thing on your to do list that could be easily automated.
Backing Up Your Blog on Your Computer
If a hacker can access your website, there’s a good chance he may have already gotten into your computer and other files as well (For more about further protection from hackers, look at the services Passbook hast to offer). In addition, there’s no telling if the files on your computer have been corrupted with a virus when it’s time to restore your site. You could very well be uploading files with the same problems that took your site down in the first place. While you can use a service like Filezilla to back up your site on your own computer, it’s far safer to rely on an online backup site.
Never Testing Your Backups
A backup of your website is a safety net that will catch you when the worst case scenario happens on your website. However, what good is a safety net if it has a hole in it? By testing your backed up files, you’ll learn whether your website backup plan is adequate to meet your needs in a website emergency situation. Make sure you have the files you need in a format that you can easily access and restore to your site.
Your website has information that is far too valuable to leave your back up files in a state of uncertainty. If you don’t know about the security, scope, and viability of your website backups, it’s time to look into a reliable, automated WordPress back up option or to carefully test which back up plugin is right for you.
In today’s world, many people make use of WordPress for hosting a successful and useful site. However, depending on WordPress is just the beginning. You need to build a site that will actually work for readers or you will not keep those readers for very long. One of the mistakes that many people make is creating a site that has low or poor performance. This happens simply because they are making wrong choices when they build their site. Have you noticed that your own WordPress site seems to be slow to load, frustrating, and just plain hard to use? If so, then you need to go through a few steps to improve the performance of it.
Limit the Plugins
It may be your first reaction to choose a wide variety of plugins to a site simply because they can be useful, eye catching, and fun. However, as with anything else, too much of a good thing can be bad. When you use too many plugins, then you can actually slow your site down to the point that it can be slow loading and difficult to load. In order to improve the performance of your WordPress site, be sure that you are limiting your plugins on each of the pages. Some of the plugin options that can be major culprits in a slow site would include the following:
- Requiring HTML to resize images instead of resizing them by hand
Choose the Right Theme
One of the best ways to build a WordPress site that is high performing, fast loading, and easy to use is to choose from Premium WordPress templates that are designed to be streamlined. These themes are designed specifically for both performance and attractiveness of the site. Choose a theme that will help you limit the chances for performance busting features from the very beginning.
Google offers a content delivery network that can work with the JQuery library. This means that if users find your site through Google, their computer will most likely already have that JQuery information on their computer. This leads to a faster loading site. If you want your site to be high performance, then choose to use JQuery that comes from the Google content library.
WordPress is a very handy tool for website creation when you use it wisely. By taking the right steps and avoiding the right things, then you will be able to build a site that is higher in performance.
One of the most popular blogging platforms out there is WordPress — and for good reason. WordPress offers a flexible platform that is easy to use. You can get started blogging with a few minutes, and be well on your way to blogging success.
If you are trying to figure out which blogging platform is right for you, here are 7 benefits to blogging with WordPress:
1. It’s Cost-Efficient
One of the great things about WordPress is how cost-efficient it is. You can start blogging for free. WordPress is a free, open source platform that allows you to reach your audience free of charge. Additionally, there are paid upgrades that you can use to increase the attractiveness and customizability of your blog. However, even the paid features of WordPress are reasonably priced, meaning that you can get a high quality platform without paying a premium price.
2. Integrate with Your Website
WordPress is also easy to integrate with your website. WordPress is compatible with a number of control panels, and you can add a blog to almost any site with the help of WordPress. Blogging with WordPress is easy to start, and it’s easy to ensure that your blog is fully integrated with your brand and your website.
Sellout….It is the ugliest word that’s routinely hurled at creative individuals of all types. This goes for writers, artists, musicians and anyone else who makes a living (in part or in whole) on the back of their creative endeavors.
That being said, money and art have to mix at some point. You need your money to support your art, whatever it may be, and that is equally true for bloggers and other authors online.
So how do you make money from your WordPress blog without selling your soul? There are many different ways you do that, but it’s important to find the right model that works for you, your niche and your site.
1. Advertising and Sponsorships
For many, advertising is a foul word. However, it doesn’t have to be if done well. Advertising that isn’t intrusive and doesn’t get mixed in with the content can be a very simple and safe way to earn money from your site. However, this means keeping your ads away from your editorial content physically and figuratively, ensuring a total separation of the paid message from your creative one.
This can be tricky if you find yourself writing about the companies that advertise on your site (it might be wise to favor sponsorships as you can control who advertises better), but with proper disclosure this doesn’t have to be a major problem.
All in all, if you don’t intrude on your readers needlessly and don’t let your advertisers influence your work, you can host ads on your site without worrying sacrificing your integrity. [Continue Reading…]
I’ve been coding with WordPress for a long time now. All the way back to when there was a my-hacks.php file. Shortly thereafter WordPress introduced plugins and widgets. Over all these years I find myself going back to a few key WordPress concepts that make blogs really functional.
- Popularity of Posts – The plugin I use, and hack often, is Alex King’s popularity plugin. If you download it from wordpress.org, it works great, but if you really want to make some cool features, you are going to have to hack it.The popularity plugin displays the most popular posts based on time frame, or category in a list (<li>)by default. I’ve hacked it to get the the raw posts, so I can do my own formatting. You can see an example in my “hot list”.
- Related Content – Notice how I didn’t say related posts. Finding related content goes much deeper then posts or pages.Related content is a must to build loyal readers (repeat visitors). You have to guide your readers and help them find content THEY are interested in. Remember, most people will find your content from Google, so feed them some related content and grow your user base. Related posts are easy to get, you simple have to a fulltext index to your database. You can then match terms to keywords.
- Categories – WordPress is nothing more then a way to organize your content, hence the term CMS (Content Management System). 80% of my traffic from Google comes from a relation to WordPress categories. Either trying to display top level categories without children, or trying to build a top menu/submenu navigation menu.Working with categories in WordPress can be pretty frustrating. I wish there was better information. Luckily there are a lot of help from the WordPress Community.
- Images – Magazine themes are the most popular style of theme on the Internet. It’s all about the cool graphics and images to get reader to click on posts. Content sliders and featured content sections with large graphics can be a pain to manually update, which is why you need to learn how to manipulate the images from your posts.
There you have it. If you want to be a WordPress hacker and make killer websites, you gotta have a good working knowledge of those four topics. Thanks for reading my post, and as always, don’t be scared to ask me for help.
Last week I announced the Hack WordPress anniversary contest, and with the announcement, also mentioned a redesign of Hack WordPress. The thing that I think made this redesign unique and interesting is that it was built upon the old design, with only some stylesheet changes, different images, and a bunch of added functionality.
So, why did I decide to go with a redesign instead of a completely custom new design? In a recent post over at Pro Blog Design I think Michael pretty much summed it up best when he explained how to redesign and still win.
When a reader visits a blog day after day, they get used to it. They know how the home page is going to look, they know what they will find in the sidebar and they know what decorations to expect around their comments.
The familiarity does wonders in helping them get around your site quickly, but there are no surprises for them. There’s none of the spark and interest you get when you come across a great looking new site.
It only takes one change to break the monotonous familiarity.
Though Michael’s example is focusing on changing one part of your blog (only the sidebar, header section, comment section, etc.), I think the general idea holds true to our situation. At some point your blogs growth stalls, and sometimes changes need to take place in order to spark interest and hopefully see that growth continue.
If you find that your blog has stalled a little bit, why not make a change to your design (no matter how small)? Even something as simple as redoing your logo, revamping your website’s header section, or making some changes to the sidebar can go a long way.
Improving the navigation in your blog means visitors will find MORE of your content, and return MORE often. Even with the best content and lots of traffic – the most important thing is that people can QUICKLY find what they were looking for from the first moment they enter your blog!
I’m going to give you 10 different ways you can improve the navigation in your blog that anyone can (and should) implement for better usability when you have a WordPress powered blog. You will be surprised how much easier it will be to find content by using these techniques.
10 Steps to Improved WordPress Navigation
- Add Breadcrumbs: This is a very easy fix, and one I don’t see on many blogs. Breadcrumbs are the simple link trail on the top of a web page like this: “Home -> Page -> SubPage”. It’s easy to add breadcrumbs, just use a 2.6+ compatible plugin like “Breadcrumb NavXT.
- Get rid of Ugly Next and Previous Links: Every WordPress homepage, and any page that has lists of blog posts (search, archive), has simple “next” and “previous” links to navigate older posts. I have witnessed (countless times) visitors thinking that all the posts you had to offer were listed on the homepage and that was it (mainly people not familiar with WordPress). You should have a linked list of pages (like google) that says “this is page 1 of…” and links to “2, 3, 4, 5, etc”. It’s easy to fix this with plugins like WP-PageNavi or WP-Page Numbers.
- Bold Pagination on Single Pages: You can’t use the last trick on single pages, but every single (post) page has links at the bottom to view the next and previous page as well. I edit my “single.php” file to change that text to something like “Post before this one” and “Post after this one”, and align them left and right (bolded). You can style them any way you want – the point is to make them stand out. Visitors often come from SERP’s to a single post page, make it easy for them to view other ones as well.
- More Links and Excerpts: This is personal preference really, but I prefer to have post excerpts on pages instead of the entire post, because I feel it clutters up pages and makes everything run together (on most blogs). I like to encourage people to visit the single post page to read the entire thing. There are a couple ways to change a running post page (like search results, archives, index.php) to show excerpts. On your homepage, you can use the Homepage excerpts plugin to achieve this. On all other pages, just the “the loop” and change the_content to the_excerpt.
- Multi-Paged Navigation: If you ramble on like I do, some of your posts can be dreadfully long. Break them up into multi-pages posts using a plugin like Multi-Page Toolkit. It’s not only better usability, but it creates multiple post pages so you can get more indexed in the search engines.
- Related Posts: What better way to get people to stay on your blog than by recommending to them “related posts” that you’ve written?! All it takes is a plugin like Related Posts.
- Most Viewed Posts: Like an MVP of the game – you should be showing your visitors your most valuable content! Lester Chan has a great plugin called WP Post Views that has a sidebar widget than can display your most viewed posts! This is a great way to showcase your best posts and keep people on your blog.
- Most Popular Posts: Alex King has a plugin called Popularity Contest that displays how popular posts are.
- Category Images: Having your categories a post is assigned to listed and linked is a great way to get visitors to view everything else you have posted in that category, but sometimes (like “ad blindness) readers are blinded to post meta info. Solve that by assigning images to your categories, so that they stand out prominently! All you need is the Category Icons plugin.
- Sidebar Navigation: There are a bazillion options for pimping out your sidebar, and most bloggers seem to just list categories, archives, and a blogroll. Check out all of the WordPress Widgets available, the WordPress Codex page for “Customizing Your Sidebar”, the List Authors widget, and Parent Pages widget.
By following these 10 steps to better navigation, your visitors will STAY LONGER and READ MORE each and every time they visit your blog.
I think there are a number of things we bloggers all have in common, and for the readers of this website, I hope that a love for WordPress is probably the biggest one. Have you ever wondered what you can do to help WordPress grow?
Here are a few ideas of things that just about anyone can do to help:
- WordPress Plugin – This one requires you to be pretty fluent with PHP. If you know coding well, though, this is probably the best thing you can do to improve WordPress.
- WordPress Theme – Releasing a theme for the WordPress community to use is another great thing most people can do for WordPress. If you look around, many of the more popular themes are fairly simplistic and don’t require an advanced design or a lot of features to be popular.
- WordPress Blog – Building a WordPress niche blog seems to be the popular thing to do these days. It is a lot of hard work, but if your passion runs deep the interaction with the WordPress community can be very rewarding.
- WordPress Forums - Lorelle recently wrote a great post over at Blog Herald about helping out at the WordPress forums and how rewarding this can be. If you don’t want to do any of the three above, give this one a shot. I can quickly become addictive!
Anything else you would add to the list?
I talked a couple of weeks ago about the importance of always upgrading your WordPress install, as old WordPress installations are often vulnerable. One thing I don’t think people realize is that a hacker can easily find vulnerable WordPress blogs because most standard WordPress themes will actually tell them what version you are using.
If you open up the header.php file of your theme, you should notice some code that looks something like this:
<meta name="generator" content="WordPress <?php bloginfo('version'); ?>" /><!-- leave this for stats -->
In order to protect your WordPress installation, I recommend people completely remove this code from their header.php file for all of their WordPress blogs.
Now, this obviously isn’t going to make your WordPress blog hack proof, but what it will do is make it so hackers can’t easily locate your blog if it is using a vulnerable WordPress installation.
Update: Thanks to a tip from Leland, it looks like WordPress 2.5+ now generates the meta link anyway via the wp_head hook, which is something you can’t remove. With that said, if you care about your security, you can still remove the meta generator. It looks like Ian of ThemeShaper has provided a couple methods, including a WordPress plugin to remove the meta generator information from your WordPress blog.