Jetpack: Supercharge Your Self Hosted WordPress Site!

Ever notice how many features the standard installation of WordPress lacks? YouTube embedding, stats, and even a specialized Twitter widget? Well, if you have a self hosted blog at WordPress.com, these features are all given to you. In fact, many of these features are forced upon you by the sponsoring company, Automattic. Wanna learn how to get all of that “cloud-power” for your WordPress site?

If you are one of the people who would love to have these features at your disposal and already has a WordPress.com account, keep reading. Otherwise, you’re losing out on a great plugin for self-hosted WordPress sites!

Keep reading to find out more

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  • Automatically Tweet WordPress Posts with WordTwit

    Twitter has exploded in popularity over the past year as many mainstream media sources have been using the service to communicate with their readers/viewers, but did you know that bloggers can now use Twitter to promote their content as well?

    While searching for a WordPress plugin that could automatically publish my blog posts on Twitter, I was thrilled to discover the WordTwit WordPress plugin.    With this plugin, simply upload and activate, then enter the Twitter login information for the account you want the tweets to appear under.   Once done, all your WordPress posts will start to appear on your Twitter account (almost instantly from my experience).

    [Download the WordTwit WordPress Plugin]

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  • Optimize Your WordPress Database with Optimize DB WordPress Plugin

    If your WordPress blog has been around for awhile, chances are there is some clutter in your MySQL database.   For these situations, Joost De Valk of Yoast.com has an easy to use WordPress plugin called Optimize Database.

    This free WordPress plugin simply needs activated, then whenever you click Optimize Now, the plugin runs an optimize table command on your WordPress tables, effectively defragmenting it. This is very useful for tables that are frequently updated. If you’d like to learn more about why this WordPress plugin might be necessary, you can read more information on this post.

    Great plugin Joost!

    [Download the Optimize Database Plugin]

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  • How To: Integrate Twitter into Your WordPress Blog

    Although I personally am not a major Twitter user, I do see the value in the service and have made several attempts to use it more often.   For many others, it has become an addiction and possibly even a major time sink.

    One trend we are starting to see more often lately is Twitter being integrated into WordPress blogs.  In the past we’ve featured a couple methods to integrate Twitter into your blog such as How to Add a “Tweet This” Link To Your Blog and How to Display Most Recent Twitter Entry.   Even more recently there have been some WordPress plugins released to further integrate Twitter into your WordPress blog:

    1. Tweetbacks – This recent plugin by our friend Joost De Valk displays any “tweets” about your blog post below that post in the same way trackbacks/pingbacks are often displayed on WordPress blogs.   You can read more information about the plugin and how to install it here.  A similar plugin called TweetSuite was released recently as well.
    2. Twitter Comments – Works similar to Gravatars, but displays the comment author’s Twitter avatar instead.  If a Twitter avatar is not available, it will then attempt to locate a Gravatar to use instead.

    Due to the popularity of WordPress, I would imagine this is only the tip of the iceberg and many more Twitter WordPress plugins will follow over the coming months/years.   Out of curiosity, for those of you that are heavy Twitter users, what have you done to integrate Twitter into your WordPress blog?

    Update: I just ran across this post over at Profit Blogger which shares more than 20 Twitter WordPress plugins that already exist.

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  • Increase Earnings with the PHPBay Premium WordPress Plugin

    Are you looking for another way to monetize your WordPress blog?   Back in November 2008, I wrote about a new premium WordPress plugin called Auction Thumbs.   After that post was published, there seemed to be a lot of interest in this type of product.  This seems to be because people are quickly discovering they can make a lot of money online by doing nothing more than simply sending traffic over to eBay for relevant auctions!  In this post I will be discussing a similar WordPress plugin which has actually been around for over two years now called PHP Bay Pro.

    PHP Bay is an eBay affiliate script that comes in two forms.   The first is a stand-alone API version which allows non-WordPress PHP based websites to quickly and easily add eBay keyword based content advertisements to their website.  The second version is the one which will apply to our readers, and that is the easy to use PHP Bay WordPress plugin.

    PHP Bay Pro lets you take advantage of the 80 million auctions on eBay by adding relevant auctions to your WordPress blog.   When users click on the auctions, they are taken to that auction on eBay.   Then once people buy ANY item on eBay, you earn a commission, even if it wasn’t what you referred them for.  In fact, you get commission for any auctions won over the next 7 days by that person.   If that wasn’t enough, if someone signs up for an eBay account within 7 days of clicking on your eBay auction link, you also get a very nice commission (can be as high as $40.00 I believe, but usually around $15.00 each).

    Here is the feature list you get with PHP Bay:

    • Earn revenue through the Ebay Partner Network or other popular programs like PepperJam, Mediaplex, TradeDoubler or Affilinet!
    • Add keyword rich Ebay items to your php based web site that encourage impulsive buys!
    • Easily Integrate into any New or Existing WordPress Blog!
    • Thousands of free WordPress templates available across the web to create virtually any type of site!
    • Not Javascript based! Auction listings are 100% pure html based creating additional targeted content for your site!
    • List auction items regionally from 17 different countries!
    • List items by postal code (zip code) for localized results.
    • List items from specific Ebay categories.
    • Listings displayed in language and currency of selected country.
    • Listings displayed in rows or specified number of columns for a Web 2.0 look and feel!
    • Access to our active members only forum that offers a tremendous value in how to get more out of phpBay Pro, strategies, tips and tricks and much more!
    • Use on as many sites as you own! phpBay Pro is not limited to one domain. It can be used on one, or hundreds of sites with one license!
    • Comprehensive user manual with illustrations, in PDF format, for both the WordPress version and the API version, that will walk you through, step-by-step, to install and get working quickly with phpBay Pro!
    • Upgrades are free for the life of the product! phpBay Pro is nearly two years old with three major upgrades made with suggestions from our user base!

    If you are considering buying this WordPress plugin, make sure the topic your WordPress blog(s) covers will convert well on eBay.  Product based websites which cover something that is often bought on eBay seems to convert the best (electronics, pictures, etc.).   If your blog covers free products or some sort of service, chances are using a WordPress plugin like this won’t be worth your effort and will annoy your readers.

    If you decide you’re interested in PHP Bay Pro, it looks like it is currently available for $79.00.  I believe they used to have a free version as well, but I’ve not been able to track that down so they may have removed it since I bought my copy of this plugin last year.

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  • Which Plugins Do You Want to See Built into WordPress?

    It seems like every time WordPress gets close to a new release, I praise the WordPress team for integrating popular WordPress plugins into the WordPress software and I get several of the same responses…”If it already exists a WordPress plugin, why waste time installing it into the software?”

    Unfortunately, just because a WordPress plugin exists, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t better off having it built into WordPress.  Here are a few reasons:

    • Security Vulnerabilities – Improperly coded WordPress plugins can cause security vulnerabilities.   Now, this can obviously happen with the WordPress software, but it is more likely to be coded correctly or caught and fixed quickly when it is integrated into the WordPress software.
    • Wasting Database Resources – Poorly coded WordPress plugins can waste a lot of database resources.   Unneeded database queries can cause slow loading times, etc.
    • Everyone Has Access – Although we all know about WordPress plugins, I’m sure there are a number of users who don’t understand what they are, how they work, how to install them, etc.  Having it built into WordPress ensures that everyone has access to these features.

    It is with this thought process that I always try to use as few WordPress plugins as possible on my websites, and I rejoice every time popular WordPress plugins are built directly into WordPress.

    With WordPress 2.7 coming out soon, we’ll be getting a bunch of new plugins built into WordPress.  What plugins would you like to see built into WordPress next?  Keep in mind that the plugin would need to be something that would benefit most (if not all) WordPress users in order to be considered (not situational plugins).

    The five I would like to see built into WordPress next:

    1. All-in-One SEO Pack (or at least some parts of it) – This is very basic stuff and everyone who uses WordPress would benefit.
    2. Google XML Sitemaps – This is one of the most popular WordPress plugins and for good reason.  A sitemap.xml file should come standard with any blogging software.
    3. No Self Pings – Why does WordPress send pingbacks internally?  I think this one would be easy to integrate and people would love it.
    4. Popularity Contest – We have recent posts, recent comments, etc.  Who wouldn’t want this as an option on their WordPress theme?
    5. Database Manager – It would be nice if there was a way that you could easily backup and restore your database without the use of a WordPress plugin.

    Share your five most wanted in the comments!

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  • Code: Displaying Your WordPress Feedburner Count

    You’ve probably noticed that with our last redesign of this site, we switched from displaying the Feedburner widget to instead displaying our actual Feedburner feed count.

    Back in May of 2008 I wrote about the FeedCount plugin, which is a WordPress plugin which allows you to easily display your WordPress feed count to your readers.  Basically you just activate the feedcount option in your Feedburner feed and activate the Awareness API, then upload and activate the Feedcount WordPress plugin, and then enter your feed information into the dashboard option panel and you are done.

    If you’d prefer to instead build the code directly into your WordPress theme, Joost De Valk of Yoast.com recently published a great post providing the code you need to show off your Feedburner count. The code is incredibly easy to integrate into your theme and also includes caching so you won’t overload the Feedburner API.

    When Should You Display Your Feedburner Count?

    This is a question that doesn’t really have a correct answer, but I’ve always found it interesting to hear others thoughts on this topic.  I personally have always felt a good round number is 500 and I’ve had several people tell me that when they are considering subscribing to a feed, 500 is the number that they look for as a mark of a good blogger.   500+ subscribers generally shows that people like your content.

    Do you look at a blog’s feed count before subscribing to a feed?

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  • Yet Another Related Posts WordPress Plugin

    This will be my second post in as many weeks about related posts plugins, but after reviewing the related posts by category plugin last week, another plugin was brought to my attention.

    This plugin is called the Yet Another Related Posts Plugin, but it is much more than that.  I mentioned in my last post that my favorite related posts plugin has not been updated in several years and doesn’t contain features like adding related posts to your feed.  YARRP separates itself from the rest with their advanced features, including:

    • Improved algorithm for finding related posts that also takes into consideration categories and tags
    • The ability to set a threshold on the relevancy of the posts that you want to show
    • The ability to display the related posts in your RSS feed
    • The automatic integration of the related links below your posts

    As with any good plugin, you get a number of options which you can control from the WordPress dashboard:

    I’m currently experimenting with this WordPress plugin on one of my low traffic sites and if I’m impressed, I will probably use this on all of my WordPress installations.    Do any of you use this plugin?   Are you pleased with it or do you prefer a classic like Related Entries?

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  • Integrating Forums Into a WordPress Blog

    Integrating forums into a WordPress blog is a topic I covered in great detail in the Hack WordPress eBook, Finding Success with WordPress, but I just realized it hasn’t really been discussed much here on this site.  Therefore, I decided to write up this post to kind of bridge that gap.

    Before I get into what you need to add a forum to your WordPress blog, I first want to share my opinion on forums in general.   Though you’ll often see WordPress bloggers adding a forum on a directory or subdomain of their established blog, I personally recommend anyone considering building a forum to do so on a separate domain (even if it is just your blogs name with the word forum/forums after it).

    If you look around at the most popular forums, an overwhelming percentage (probably 90%+) are hosted on their own domain name.  This is because forums rely heavily on direct traffic, rather than on search engines and other sources.   If you go this route, you’ll want to try to integrate the two sites in other ways.  Here are a few ideas:

    • Branding – Use the same logo as your blog (with the forums domain name) or a similar logo on your forums to help readers to know the two sites are associated.
    • Link Integration – Add a link to your forums from your established blog and add a link to your blog from your forums to show association.
    • Forum Theme – If you have the technical knowledge or use the method I will cover below, you can create a similar theme for your new forums.   This will also help readers to know that the blog and forums are affiliated with each other.

    I know many people would still prefer to build their forums into their existing domain name, so here is some information that will hopefully help.

    How to Integrate Forums Into Your WordPress Blog

    Setting up a forum for your blog is as simple as finding the right WordPress plugin or software to install.  Here are the primary three I recommend depending on your situation and needs:

    1. BBPress – This is a free and lightweight open source forum software that was designed specifically for WordPress users.  It is also currently owned and supported by the WordPress team (Automattic).   In order to use this software, you simply need to download the software, place it on your server where you want your new forums to be, then go to that website and use the installer to finish getting setup.  It comes with an admin panel so you can customize your forums to look and work the way you want them to.
    2. PhpBB – PhpBB is another free open source forum software that is known for its customizability.  The newest version, version 3.0, offers a great forum look for your website.  PhpBB also has a skins folder (themes) and many premium WordPress theme authors offer free forum skins if you buy their themes.  Examples of this include Brian’s Revolution themes and the popular WP Remix theme.  If you go this route, you can simply upload the skin and activate it within your forums control panel to make your PhpBB forums match the look of your theme!  If you’d like to get an idea of what a WordPress forum might look like when integrated with a blog, check out this post over at Profit Blogger.   It includes some information as well as screenshots of integrated WordPress forums, using the Revolution themes mentioned above as examples.
    3. VBulletin – This is by far your best option, and probably the forum software you see being used on most of the popular forums you visit regularly.  Unfortunately, though, you will have to purchase a license to use this software.  At last check, you can either lease your license or own a license.  Leasing is roughly $100.00 a year, but you can own the software for that domain for $180.00 (with a years support).   They also offer installation services and support for an additional fee.

    Once you’ve picked out your forum software, simply activate the plugin or run the install script that comes with the software.   Each option comes with its own admin/control panel, so you can set it up to look and function the way you want it to.

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  • How To: Add Breadcrumbs to Your WordPress Blog

    Over the past couple of years, breadcrumbs have really taken off around the internet and it seems like all sorts of major websites are now using them.   Unfortunately blogs in general, and WordPress in particular, haven’t really adopted the use of breadcrumbs, which is a huge shame in my opinion.   Breadcrumbs are great for improving both reader navigation of your website while at the same time assisting the search engines with determining the structure of your website.   In other words, breadcrumbs are super sexy and great SEO for your blog.

    So, does your WordPress theme have breadcrumbs built into it?   Whenever I’m picking a new WordPress theme to start designing a new site with, breadcrumbs are one of the first things I always look for.  With the exception of Brian’s Revolution themes, I’ve found that there really aren’t many (if any) other premium themes that come with breadcrumbs built into them (directly or via a WordPress plugin).  I also have yet to find any free WordPress themes that come with breadcrumbs built into them.

    How to Add Breadcrumbs to Your WordPress Blog

    Fortunately many WordPress plugin authors have come to our rescue.   For those of us that want breadcrumbs in our themes, there are now a number of WordPress plugins out there that you can use to easily accomplish this.   Probably the most popular is the Breadcrumb Navigation XT WordPress plugin, but I just noticed today that a new WordPress plugin was released by Joost de Valk called the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin.    Joost has a great reputation as a plugin developer, so I have a feeling this plugin will work great as well.

    If you decide to go with the Yoast Breadcrumbs plugin, you just need to upload and activate it, then place the following code where you want the breadcrumbs to display (usually above your post title or the content hook):

    <?php if ( function_exists('yoast_breadcrumb') ) { yoast_breadcrumb('<p id="breadcrumbs">','</p>');
    } ?>

    Then you can use the plugin settings to get the breadcrumbs to behave how you wanted it to.

    Call to Theme Designers

    Where is the breadcrumbs love?   If you are working on a new free or premium WordPress theme, why not take a few seconds to build breadcrumbs into your theme?

    If you’d like to see breadcrumbs built into more WordPress themes by default, leave a comment below so designers know there is a demand for it!

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