Making your website mobile-friendly isn’t just a good idea – it’s a necessity. With more people accessing the Web via smartphones and tablets these says, any site administrators who haven’t “mobile-equipped” their online real estate are well behind the curve. In 2011, do you really want to miss out on a substantial chunk of traffic just because your site is hard to read on an iPhone?
Of course not. That’s why many sites direct mobile traffic to sub-domains (e.g. “example.com” becomes “mobile.example.com”), a workable solution if you have time to generate new versions of each page from scratch.
Luckily for WordPress users, mobile themes like WPTouch and WordPress Mobile Pack offer a better alternative to mobile sub-domains. Here are 3 reasons why:
Having a mobile sub-domain requires you to maintain multiple versions of each and every page – a laborious task if you don’t have a large staff.
Mobile themes, on the other hand, simply deliver all of your existing content in a mobile-friendly format. You can maintain your site as usual and rest assured that everything will display properly in mobile browsers.
When other sites link to your content, those links help you rank higher in the search engines. If you have multiple domains, all of which have different permalinks for each page, you forfeit your ability to rank well in the search listings.
Think of it this way: I post an update on my blog and get 10 links. 5 of those links are from desktop users, and they point to the post on my main domain. The other 5 links come from mobile users, all of whom were redirected from my main domain to a dedicated mobile sub-domain. Their links go to the mobile version of the post – the one they pulled up on their phones.
Instead of getting 10 links for my post, I really only got 5 for each version – a situation that leads to lower overall rankings for my content.
With a mobile WordPress theme, however, your content stays in one place. The page you serve to mobile visitors is the same one that exists on your main domain – everyone who links to it is linking to the same page.
Mobile sub-domains can also cause social media havoc.
Let’s say you tweet a link from your phone and your colleague clicks it on her desktop computer. She’ll get the mobile version of the site that you tweeted – a version that is probably all text, heavily compressed into a tiny column, and devoid of any navigational links to help her explore other corners of your site.
This is not good for the user, and it’s unlikely that she’ll share any of your content with others.
Again, your mobile WordPress theme can save the day here. With no separate link for anyone to share, you don’t risk serving the wrong version of your site to any visitors.
And since several mobile themes are free, there’s little reason to put off “mobilizing” your site any longer. Spend an afternoon setting up a mobile WordPress theme and stop missing out on all that great traffic.
A couple of weeks ago, I read a post on WPLift “Build A Plugin (Twitter Widget) into your WordPress Theme)“ which in turn was inspired by a post on WPCandy from a couple of months ago “How to create your own WordPress functionality plugin”.
The WPCandy post was advocating that theme designers should stop bundling WordPress plugins and other functionality which limits how easily users can switch themes, something which I feel is absolutely a good idea. But that’s not what I want to talk about in this post — I want to focus specifically on the issue raised in the WPLift post — building plugins directly into themes.
The post shows you how to add the DP Twitter Widget into your theme; it’s literally a case of copying a pasting the plugin’s code into your functions.php. In fact it’s so easy that there’s no reason not to build every single widget and plugin you can think of under the sun into your theme, right?
Unfortunately it’s a little more complicated than that and for the rest of this post I’ll set out exactly why that’s the case.
Firstly, the second you build a plugin into your theme, you’re assuming responsibility and are obliged to support the plugin, so if anything breaks in future updates, you’ll need to be able to fix it. Say the plugin used Ben’s timthumb and updating was an absolute necessity, the onus would then be on you to provide the update by offering an entire theme upgrade rather than just a simple plugin update independent of the theme.
Second, what’s the point? The functionality you’re providing already exists and unless you’re significantly changing the plugin, I’m struggling to see the point of just duplicating functionality. Sure, you get to brag about how your theme has thousands upon thousands of built in widgets and it makes everything really fun and it’ll do everything you’ve ever wanted, but by just adding a plugin that already exists into your theme, you’re just adding something I can do already by installing plugins. Plus, I’ll not lose everything in two years when I decide I need to overhaul the look of my site! And hey, there are sites like mine out there which show you how to do things like building a WordPress powered email newsletter without plugins anyway!
I’m not just wagging fingers from the rooftops — this was a mistake I made when I launched my ill fated theme site, WPShift nearly two years ago. At the time having a ton of functionality in a theme was the way to go and we made a decision that we would go down the route of essentially just bundling plugins with the theme.
I’m glad to say this isn’t all the range any more, so please don’t do it, it’s just making a mess in the long run.
According to the numbers, over the past 12 months, the number of referrals from social networking sites to blogs has doubled. Social traffic is becoming more important than search traffic according to some. How do WordPress users adjust to this reality and exploit it to your advantage? The core strategy should be to embrace and focus.
Embracing the Social Trend
Some bloggers have shut down their blogs and moved to Facebook fan pages. Others have kept their blog and complemented with fan pages as stop-gap measure. Either way, there is a perceived threat that you are losing traffic to Facebook. It could very well be a real threat unless you embrace the trend and make it work for you.
Focus Your Social Media Efforts
In an effort to please all readers and maximize reach into social networks, bloggers are integrating a plethora of social tools. One favorite is the AddThis plugin which offers some 100+ options for sharing. In my opinion this approach will clutter your site and distract the user. Pick a winner instead. All indicators are that Facebook is becoming the de-facto standard for social syndication.
After their launch of Open Graph in April this year, Facebook has grown from 15% to 35% of all social networking referrals. This assumes that Gawker Media is a good reflection of the industry average. My personal choice will therefore have to be Facebook, however StumbleUpon is another good candidate. Twitter is already prevalent but it is a typically a disappointment in terms of referrals. There are two reasons:
- Twitter is undoubtedly the noisiest channel on the web.
- People in general are not spending any significant time on Twitter.
What are my Tools?
With Facebook, you have some excellent tools. You also have some great plugins for WordPress integration. Most likely you already use several of these tools today. The key is how you use them and how you combine them.
The Facebook Fan Page
The fan page is a great tool for dialog and brand promotion (yes, you are a brand and you should cultivate it):
- Do use the fan page as a personal relationship tool by engaging your audience in discussion and dialog around the topics you are focused on. Use it as a place to share news about you, your brand and your site. The purpose is to create an “exclusive” community where your dedicated followers get the inside scoop on everything you.
- Do not use the fan page to push your RSS feed and manage relationships at the same time. First, your relationship efforts will drown in your content updates. Second, you are creating an intermediate (proxy) between your audience and your blog. Thirdly, the updates are indiscriminatory, lowering relevance which results in fewer revisits to your fan page and web site. Instead use a Like button for your feed (see below)
- Do one or the other of the above.
Get a Like Button for your WordPress Site
In its basic form, the Like button provides a one-time sharing function. There are tools that connect the Like button with your RSS feed, thereby providing a way to connect directly between your site and the Facebook News Feed (no Fan Page intermediary). Explain to the user that you want to connect for updates in conjunction with the Like button. Use a text widget to insert the button HTML on your site. If you want to connect your RSS feed to your fan page instead, Pheedo offers a solution with Dlvr.it.
Get a Like Plugin for my Posts
Let people “Like” your posts. There are WordPress plugins that allow you to automate the insertion of Like buttons. The Like button offers a one-time sharing event. It can also connect with the user for ongoing updates related to the topic of the particular post (a.k.a “Like for Tags“).
We recently did a case study on CNN.com. If they implemented these strategies, they would see 25%-40% increase in page views over time. CNN is already a user of Facebook social plugins but they are currently not using them as described in this article. The increase in page views is significant from a revenue perspective, most likely seven figures.
Note: This article includes opinions of the author based on working with the blogging community to develop social syndication tools. Your reactions to these opinions are greatly appreciated.
This article was contributed by Rikard Kjellberg, a Silicon Valley blogger and co-founder of IngBoo, who works on social syndication solutions for publishers. Rikard also writes on his personal blog (scandihuvians) and on IngBoo’s corporate blog.
For years now SEO has been one of those buzzwords which incites discussion and debate, whether you live by it or cringe upon seeing it. Whether webmasters want to admit it or not, however, search engine optimization works if done correctly. As a webmaster it falls upon you to maximize search engine optimization (SEO) on your website or blog. Just a few years ago this wasn’t particularly fun or easy for webmasters, but that has changed with things like new software and of course WordPress plugins.
For the past week I’ve had the opportunity to try out a new SEO service called ScribeSEO, a web-based SEO service from a team which includes Brian Clark (known in the WordPress community for CopyBlogger and the Thesis theme). ScribeSEO offers a web-based SEO software service, a WordPress plugin, and now also offers Joomla and Drupal integration. As most of my websites use WordPress in some way, I’ve primarily focused my attention on trying out the WordPress plugin. Here is what I’ve found:
Once installed, the ScribeSEO WordPress plugin adds a window to your post pages called the Scribe Content Optimizer. Here you can run an evaluation prior to publishing your post which will tell you how to best optimize your post!
In order to test out the plugin I decided to try it out on this post. After my initial evaluation, I was given the following feedback:
As you can see from the screen shot above the initial draft of this post received a 68%. Recommended improvements include to move primary keywords towards the front of the meta description, to increase the word count to above 300 words, and to add a few hyperlinks towards the beginning of the post.
At the top of the evaluation there is also a menu with additional analysis available. When switching to the keyword analysis tab I was greeted with the following:
This shows that after analyzing my post the search engines will think this post is primarily about the keyword “wordpress plugin”, then “SEO”, etc. You’ll even get keyword density percentages!
Next, I went to the Alternate Keywords tab to get an idea of keyword suggestions based upon relative search frequency:
This is a great way for you to find high traffic search terms that you may have forgotten in your initial draft.
Lastly, under the Tags tab, you’ll see a list of keywords found within your post which are recommended to be used as tags for your post.
After gathering all the feedback provided and updating my posts I was able to improve my posts score all the way to 99%:
If you run a professional revenue generating blog or build a lot of niche websites, I think that ScribeSEO is a perfect fit and well worth the price.
If you’d like to learn more about ScribeSEO or get a copy for yourself you can find everything you need here!
Over the last couple weeks I’ve been focusing on traffic building, link building and SEO on my WordPress blog. All three of these website strategies go hand in hand and all build on each other. In this post I will discussing how to make sure your WordPress blog is running efficiently.
WordPress does a lot of cool things in the background to make your website run smoothly. Have you ever noticed that when you change a blog post from one category to another, somehow, someway, you always arrive at the new location? That’s WordPress doing it’s magic! Unfortunately, Humans interact with a blog differently than search engine spiders, so while your permalinks might look nice and organized, the search engine spiders might see problems.
The best place to start is with a blog audit. If your WordPress blog is not using Google Webmaster Tools, this is a great place to start. Google Webmaster tools will not only show you how Google sees your website, but also recommend tips to improve the crawling of your site.
I just did a blog audit and found a couple problems. My sitemap was not getting generated anymore due to permission problems. Even worse the old sitemap had many bad links. Using webmaster tools I could see that Google received 80 posts from me, but only indexed 4. OUCH! Of course I have many more links in Google from other websites. The sitemap is only a recommendation to Google, but I highly recommend keeping up to date. I used the the Google XML Sitemap plugin.
I also had a duplicate content problem. To me, this is really frustrating, because again, as a human, I see my blog a certain way and it looks fine. Then looking at my website from the search engine spider’s point of view, I see many of my posts repeated as many as 5 times.
You might think that is great… 1 post, 5 entries in Google. Well, it’s not because instead of having one powerful link to your website, you have 5 at 20% power. Try cooking a potato at 20% power, it’s a waste of time.
How does this happen? I was using All-in-One SEO plugin and that is suppose to have canonical links, but I still have duplicate content.
So like any hacker, I built a simple Googlebot tracker to see how Google spiders my site… Wow, not what I expected. There is so much I’m learning from the Googlebot tracker, I will have many posts on this little bot, but for now let’s just say, I bet you are wasting Google’s time with your WordPress blog!
The Googlebot doesn’t just come into your website and spider all your content. In my case it comes and grabs one page and leaves. It’s doing this every couple minutes for a total of about 200-300 per day. Webmaster tools will show you how many times you get spidered, but will not show you what pages get indexed.
I was horrified to see that I was wasting Google juice on tags and categories. If Google is only going to hit your website 100 times a day, you better try to give Google 100 different blog posts. If you have 10 tags per post, you might be giving Google 1 blog post with 10 different links. Google then has to choose which page is the highest priority. You can see how 100 blog posts, can easily turn to 10 blog posts because we all love to tag our stuff.
How do you solve this. First of all it takes time. you have many links in Google and the Googlebot will continue to follow them, which isn’t bad… Don’t try to shut off the Googlebot, just make changes for the future of your website.
- Make sure you have canonical link set up. This tells Google where the main blog post, and that all the links from categories and tags really are just pointers to the main blog post.
- Make sure you nofollow internal links to categories, tags, archive, sitemap, etc… Your goal is to drive search engine spiders to your blog posts, not to a category page full of links. There are a few plugins that do this, but I manually did it to my menu and sidebar widgets.
- If you change you permalinks, make sure you provide Google with 301 redirect messages pointing to the new link. For this I use permalink redirect plugin.
- Make sure you sitemap is up-to-date. Not only does the Google XML sitemap plugin update your sitemap, but it also pings Google, Bing, Yahoo and Ask every time you post.
- Audit your website often. Use Google Webmaster Tools to find mistakes and keep you blog running smoothly.
- Use analytic software to track visitors to your site. A free service like Google Analytics will do this well.
Please don’t just read this post as another SEO article. Put these tips into action and start with an SEO audit… If you see anything funny, post a comment below and we’ll see if we can help!
This article was contributed by Matt of MattDunlap.org, where he writes about how to increase your conversion rates with a smarter blog.