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.
Google introduced its author information initative a while back. It’s a way for content writers to explicitly mark themselves as the author of a piece of work – it’s more than just putting “By Steve Claridge” next to your post, it’s about tagging your work with a machine-readable attribute that uniquely identifies you.
This is a very hot topic in SEO and Marketing circles at the moment but a lot of people are only looking at the short-term win of using this tag to increase click-throughs to your posts from search results. The author tag is going to be way more important than that.
What is it anyway?
rel=author is actually an HTML attribute that can be used on link tags to signify that the person referenced in the link is the author of the webpage. It’s not a Google invention, they are just using it in a very smart and useful way. This means that if, for example, you are blogging and you have “By Joe Snow” above all of your articles you can modify that line slightly to make the ”Joe Snow” part a link to your Google+ page and Google will then know that everything on that blog with “By Joe Snow” and the link on it was written by you. Not just written by a person called Joe Snow, but specifically by you.
Why Google and why Google+?
Identifying authors has always been a problem and the web has made it a much bigger one. Do a search for your name and it’s likely you will come up with thousands of different people; many of those results will be articles about people and many will be articles written by those people but which of those articles are written by Bob Duncan from Michigan, which are by Bob from Oxford and which are yours? You might be able to
tell by looking but how’s a machine supposed to know? Wouldn’t it be nice if you read a great article by Bob from Oxford and you wanted to see what else he’d written on the entire Web? If everything he had written was marked with his unique rel=authorattribute then that would be easy.
Google are in a unique place to make this happen. They basically are the Web for many people, they are already indexing most of pages on it and they hold a power over most site owners: if they say “jump” then we say ”how high?”. If anyone is going to pull off a global author identification scheme then it’s Google.
But why Google+ for the author information when we could just point all our articles to our own site’s About Me page? Well, obviously Google has a strong interest in making sure Google+ succeeds so locking us into that is a smart move for them.
It’s been nearly four years since I discovered WPHacks – or Hack WordPress as it was called back then – and it was here Kyle was kind enough to offer me the chance to have my very first blog post published. At the time I was using WordPress to power a small video games review site I ran with some friends, but when I found Hack WordPress and by extension the whole WordPress community, I was immediately hooked. This was where I wanted to be.
After a couple of posts here I decided to create my own “WordPress tutorials” site, which I called WPShout. Since founding the site in March 2009, I’ve nurtured the site into a 3000 strong community for WordPress enthusiasts. And in that time, whilst building that community, I’ve learned a thing or two about blogging. I’ve been on a journey, if you will, and that journey started right here.
So I thought it’d be fitting to come back here once more just to let you know that I’ve recently published a 45 page free eBook on WPShout and you should totally download it right now.
Those forty five pages of The WordPress Blogging Guide contain six thousand words of content, which are broken down into three sections:
- Blogging essentials
- Social & Analytics
The book’s release post tells you more, should you wish for a more detailed synopsis.
That’s all from me. I just want to thank Kyle again for starting me off on my blogging journey and graciously allowing me to return to publish this short piece. And of course don’t forget to download the eBook. It’s free!
WordPress has become a favorite platform for many ecommerce sites: it’s easy to set up a sale button for an ebook or any other file in a matter of minutes. But while WordPress can be a decent ecommerce platform out of the box, there are ways to transform it into a great platform with some relatively simple tweaks.
Update Your WordPress — And Keep It Updated
The downside to using a well-known content management system for your site is that more people will be looking for security flaws to exploit. On the other hand, there are also more people working to resolve any security issues. Provided you keep your WordPress installation current, adding each new update as soon as it rolls out, there’s significantly less risk of something happening to your site. Considering that it only takes one malware issue to destroy any trust you’ve built with potential buyers — no one wants to run the risk of putting their payment information into a compromised site — keeping your site up to date and preventing potential security issues has to be a priority.
You can also prevent security issues by carefully vetting any plugins or themes you add to your site. Even if you aren’t able to evaluate the code on a line-by-line basis, do some research into the problems others may have encountered with anything you’re considering adding to your site. Personally, I have a preference for using premium themes and plugins that are well-known for the simple reason that I’m more likely to have support available.
Set Up Clear Permalinks
Built into the core WordPress settings are options to manage your permalinks. Make sure that you’re using links that aren’t just a bunch of numbers or dates, especially if you’re going to be sharing direct links to your sales page online anywhere. Direct links look more trustworthy to buyers, and they also help eliminate problems when people retype a link into their browser. During a longer sales process, you may be surprised by how many times exactly that will happen. In fact, it can be a good idea to have an individual domain that goes directly to your sales page, particularly if you have a lot of other content on your site.
Make Your Shopping Cart, Payment Processor and Everything Else Match
Depending on the themes and plugins you might use to set up different ecommerce elements on your site, you can wind up with a site that sends people off to far-flung parts of the internet to complete the sale. Even if they stay on your site, pages can wind up looking very different.
With only a few exceptions, though, you can make sure that each step of the purchasing process looks identical. Most payment processors will, at least, allow you to add your own logo to the page, if not add CSS styles or other elements to make offsite pages look the same as those that are actually on your site. The more times you ask a buyer to trust an entirely different website (particularly in terms of visual cues) the more likely that buyer is to stop the purchase process and close the window. You need to prevent that as much as possible.
There’s nothing worse than spending a considerable amount of time creating a website or blog, only to realize that hardly any web users are visiting your creation. While good content can get you far online, it’s rare that your good content will be enough to get you discovered. The best and fastest way to increase your site’s online visibility is to employ SEO techniques. Without SEO, it’s very difficult to attract large numbers of people to a site or make money off of a site. If you want to get the most ROI from your WordPress efforts, consider checking out these SEO training classes:
1. Search Engine College
Search Engine College’s SEO courses will prepare you to aggressively market your WordPress site in Google’s SERPs. The SEO Starter Course offered by this online education program is an excellent resource for beginners, particularly those who want to learn everything there is to know about important things like keyword research. If you really want to become an SEO guru, however, you should check out the SEO Advanced Course, which will help you figure out how to get the most ROI from your SEO efforts. Each of these courses will cost you $395, and you have options to pay a bit more for SEO certification as well.
2. SEO Book
If you’re truly dedicated to monetizing your WordPress site, SEO Book is a solid option. For $300 a month, you get access to 100 training modules, numerous training videos, and personalized advice from SEO gurus. Since SEO Books is one of the priciest and most comprehensive options out there, it’s ideal for business owners who want to start making profits from their sites and blogs. Everyday WordPress users may not need all the frills that SEO Book has to offer or may benefit from using it for just a few months.
3. Yoast’s WordPress SEO
Yoast’s WordPress SEO tutorials are a free option you should consider if you just want to learn the basics of search engine marketing and optimization. Since Yoast’s educational materials are WordPress-specific, you may prefer this option, especially because it focuses on how you can use WordPress tools to increase your rankings. Yoast is fairly comprehensive, considering it’s free, and it’s definitely a great starting point.
4. SEO Gold Tutorials
This is another free educational resource. It only covers the essentials of what you need to know about keywords and link building. It will take you less than an hour to read everything SEO Gold has to offer. So, if you don’t have much time to learn about SEO before you dive right in, this may be one of your best options. On the other hand, if you want to truly learn all the tricks of the trade, you’ll most likely need to explore more thorough and detailed resources, such as the ones listed above.
Ultimately, your success online as a WordPress user depends on the quality of your content and whether or not you’re using effective SEO strategies. So, keep perfecting your content, and use the classes, trainings, and tutorials listed above to learn how to attract more search engine traffic.