Archive | Tutorials

How to Approach WordPress Updates

wordpress-589121_1280Software developers love to update software. Once an initial set of code has been released the developer either needs a new project and/or sets out to make improvements.

In the online world updates are valuable as they serve two key purposes.

First, updates bring new features. Version 1 of anything is rarely very good and never as good as version 2. Who doesn’t want stuff to be more awesome?

Second, updates are made to close potential security gaps. Developers are in a constant game of chess with hackers in which the hacker attempts to find vulnerabilities in the code and the developer tries to close those vulnerabilities before too much damage can be done.

With that said there is huge danger because updating WordPress plugins occasionally can cause havoc if a combination of plugins has a compatibility issue they didn’t have previously. Version 2 of your theme along with Version 1 of Plugin A and Version 3.2 of Plugin B may live in harmony together but updating any of them might disrupt the harmony. When this happens the site owner seeks to find a 3rd party solution to force harmony or has to replace the offending plugin with a competing piece of software that is more compatible.

To minimize this issues and to make the troubleshooting as painless as possible follow these recommendations when running WordPress updates.

Update 1 plugin at a time… generally 1 per day. If daily sounds extreme you could do it more often or less often but the key is to allow enough time to go by to be able to determine if any issue has arisen. The more traffic your site gets the more likely you are to be alerted by site visitors quickly when an issue arises. If you only update a single plugin at a time solving or at very least identifying the culprit is much easier.

Keep a change log for the site. Every time you update a plugin or install something new put that in your internal change log. This history of changes will also help you identify where to troubleshoot first.

Update plugins later in the evening when traffic volume is lower. After you run an update do some basic testing of the site yourself. Should the update cause an immediate error you have the maximum amount of time to address it before high traffic returns.

If you have high levels of risk or liability if the site does experience issues you should setup a dev version of your site on a different server or host. Run all updates on the dev install first to monitor and test for any issues before making the changes live on your actual website.

Cheers,

Jacob

The Online Content Creation Formula For Success

top blogging strategyToday I had a quick conversation with a member of our team that is going to start contributing content to our website. I was explaining our general internal process for producing awesome content on our sites and it occurred to me I’ve never published an article on my own site about how to write awesome articles.

First the Disclaimer: The site you are on right now… jacobspaulsen.com is where I rant and share about my life of marketing and personal development. Don’t hold me accountable to doing all the stuff I preach on this site. The lessons I share here are things I apply on my businesses and the websites where I actually generate revenue… not here on my hobby/journal site.

Here is our process start to finish:

  1. Identify a topic worth producing content around
  2. Use Google and the Google Adwords Keyword tool to determine the top search phrases for that content topic. For example if I want to write an article about how to select the best toilet paper at the grocery store I might find out that the top related search phrase is actually: “Best Rated Toilet Paper.” The top search phrase should be a massive consideration in your articles headline.
  3. Finalize the article’s headline considering both the top search phrase as well as what would actually be enticing to readers. It needs to have shock value or create significant curiosity to the relevant audience.
  4. Find the following three competitors:
    1. The #1 ranked content piece for your target search phrase
    2. The #1 top quality (based on your own opinion) article on the topic
    3. The #1 top quality or most popular YouTube video on the topic
  5. Ask yourself how are you going to improve on the three competitors outlined above. What can you add or better explain to make it better?
  6. Formulate an outline for your own content by first just listing out key points that you want to make. This generally just looks like a list of bullet points at first.
  7. Organize your list of key points into the best chronological order so as to help the reader flow through the content is such a way that is logical, emotional, or brings them to the conclusion you are trying to recommend.
  8. Ask one other person who is also very familiar with the topic to look at your outline and point out anything you have missed.
  9. Turn the key points into section headers and repeat step 3 for each section header to make sure those section titles keep the reader reading.
  10. Fill in the content for each section
  11. Review the content and work on gathering or creating the best supporting images or videos to accompany the content. You probably need more than you think.
  12. Have another person read through your final draft.

There is our full process that we try (try is a keyword here) to follow. When we do, it always leads to a source of strong and ongoing traffic.

Cheers,

Jacob

Three WordPress SEO Tricks You Are Likely Neglecting

You have a WordPress based website and you pride yourself on knowing the SEO basics but are you forgetting to do a few simple things that could make a big difference?

1: Category descriptions. Visit the Categories sub-menu under the Posts menu. Does it look like this?

category desctiptions seo

Its time to add descriptions for each category. Each category has it’s own stand alone page called the category archive. Like any other page, you ideally want to have META title, description, and keyword tags on that page. You can find that page here www.yourdomain.com/category/categoryslug. Adding the description for these categories in WordPress will translate to the Description Meta tag on the archive page. Depending on your theme the description may also display at the top of the page.

2: Page specific Meta Tags. It isn’t uncommon for me to sit down in a SEO consultation with someone who tells me they have worked long and hard to write awesome META tags for their website. I go deeper into an internal page and BAM… no meta tags at all. Are you so focused on the home page you forgot to write tags for all the internal pages and posts?

3: Bold, Underline, Italics. Another sometimes down played technique of SEO is to use Bold, Underline, and Italics to emphasize certain keywords on your website. Some SEO experts disagree on how effective this is but I’ve never heard anyone suggest it would hurt. Don’t go over board but on each page/post be sure to emphasize at least one keyword you want the search engines to notice.

How To Make Your Blog Post Good Enough for Wikipedia

In a previous blog post I wrote about the process, value, and best practices of becoming a Wikipedia contributor. Today’s post is focused on best practices to write blog posts that are most likely to be referenced in Wikipedia pages. When an editor or contributor adds content or changes content to Wikipedia they are encouraged to give a reference for the information to ensure it’s credibility. You want to be that source.

wikipedia for marketers

The value of a link to your website from Wikipedia is very high. The page score and domain authority of Wikipedia is very high and search engines and users trust it as a non-bias source of content. In many ways this is the coveted inbound link of the internet. Instead of trying to game the system and start adding your links to Wikipedia pages (which is against their policy) you might go to the harder effort, but far more valuable process of just creating awesome content that is likely to get Wikipedia love.

What Type of Content Do Wikipedia Authors and Contributors Look For

Tutorials

Tutorials about how to do something go hand in hand with Wikipedia content.

Histories and Timelines

A good article about the history of something is going to make it super easy for a Wikipedia author to get all the relevant dates and facts they need.

Breaking News

Being the first person to update or publish a new Wikipedia page about something breaking is a coveted position to be in. If you can feed them the facts they will reward you with a reference link.

Insider Accounts

Wikipedia content is based on fact, research, and credible sources. If you have the insider scoop on something or someone you may find a Wikipedia contributor grateful for your contribution.

In Depth and Detailed Reports

Posts that start with “Everything You Need to Know About” tend to provide great insights about key events, companies, services, and other topics. Compile all the best information about a topic and publish it as a detailed report.

What Are Common Attributes Of Good Wikipedia References

Non-Biased Editorial

If you drop any clues, hints, or outright clear statements about your feelings on the subject you call all your content into question. For Wikipedia targeted content think like a news journalist whose job it is to give the facts.

Recency

Old content is no longer trusted or relevant. When you write make sure you include dates to clarify the recency of the information. Also if you have an awesome piece of content that is starting to date itself publish a new and updated piece of content to tell everyone what has changed and what hasn’t.

First Party Accounts or Sourced Data

Opinions aren’t facts. When you write, clarify if the data is first person (you were directly a witness of the facts) or give your source for the facts you are posting.

Unique and Hard to Find Information

Perhaps it goes without saying but if you are the only one who published the information then what choice would a Wikipedia contributor have but to link back to your content as a reference.

Optimized for Search

If a Wikipedia author or contributor is looking for a piece of information or a source for information they already have your piece of content had better be easy to find in search engines. Without a strong search strategy your Wikipedia game plan becomes really empty.

In summary I do think that Wikipedia Loved content is hard work. It isn’t likely to be that blog post that you quickly penned on Saturday afternoon. Identify the opportunities you have to go a little further into the content to produce quality instead of quantity and before you know it you will see Wikipedia on your traffic reports!

 

Becoming a Wikipedia Editor and Contributor

Anyone can contribute to the content on Wikipedia. Marketers have a particular interest in the site since a relevant backlink to one’s site from Wikipedia can be very valuable. Naturally then it would make sense for any web marketer to become familiar with Wikipedia and where possible try to leverage it (within the Wikipdia guidelines) as a tool to drive awareness and traffic.

wikipedia for marketers

Relevant Wikipedia Guidelines:

As an author or editor it is prohibited to use Wikipedia to promote yourself, your website, or your organization. These are all considered conflicts of interest and are to be avoided.

Be neutral. This is not a place to get on your soap box. It is a play to play the role of non-bias editorial, confirmed, relevant, and valuable informational writer.

While I do not endorse trying to game the system or break the rules I do think you should consider the following:

Setup an Actual Profile

Anyone without a user account can make anonymous edits to Wikipedia pages but those edits are poorly trusted and impossible to followup on or track as the contributor. Setup an actual user account and work hard to build your reputation by following the below tips.

The More You Contribute The More You Are Trusted By Others

If you are a very active member of Wikipedia it shows in your profile. Editors and contributors are very weary of a new user who starts adding links to an external website. Red flag right? On the other hand if you truly work to benefit the website, content, and community everything you do is likely to be taken in good faith.

Legitimately Try to Add Value

If you focus on how you can create more value for others and less on how Wikipedia can create value for you, in the long run the relationship will be very strong and mutually beneficial. Don’t look to articles where you would like to have a link back and work hard to find a way to incorporate it. Instead ask yourself if you have content that can truly add to the readers experience and knowledge. If so add it and do it in a way that will add value to the reader.

Take it Slow – Learn The System

Wikipedia is a unique community with it’s own coding language, guidelines, and policies. Don’t rush in and start making tons of changes, edits, and additions. It won’t help you or the readers. Take it slow. Look for small edits you can make to truly improve content in areas where you have expertise or resources. Get familiar with and comfortable with the processes.

Document What You Do

Every time you make an edit to a page you will have the change to explain your changes and add any other relevant change notes to the “talk” page for other editors and contributors to see what you did and why you did it. If you are really adding value to readers you should have no reason not to be transparent and clear about the edits you have made. It will help your reputation and will also make it easier for you to track past contributions you have made.

Savvy Business and High Level Performance Reading Curriculum

Traditional education and I are not good friends. I attempted to get a 4 year degree in business with an emphasis on entrepreneurship and it didn’t work out. I don’t have good study skills and I have a chip on my shoulder as it relates to homework (which I think is just busy work). Add to that the cost of tuition and books and I’ve sworn it off forever. I do however think of myself as an educated person. In addition to the education I have derived from real life experience (which of course has no equal) I am an avid reader (or listener if you think listening to books doesn’t count as reading). Naturally, since learning by reading is something I am passionate about I’m always recommending books to people based on what they are looking to do/learn/change. Yesterday I was accused of “having a book for everything.”

On occasion I do run into people who ask more broadly for a book list that I would recommend. I have developed this book list for individuals who I am mentoring and I thought it would be appropriate to share it here. Since I’m always reading new books and discovering older books that are really awesome I will return to this post to update it when I find a new golden nugget I think has to be on this MUST READ list. (Click here for my article on how you can double the number of books you read)

Lastly, before I give you the list, let me disclaim that I’m listing these books in an order that I think naturally builds on itself. If you are looking for books about a specific subject you may want to jump around. Also, if you are looking for a good book list based on specific business or personal development categories you may want to check Josh Kaufman’s 99 Best Books List. He originally built the book as a curriculum he calls the Personal MBA. Since then he has written his own book which summarizes all the principles (listed below).

  1. Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
  2. Richest Man in Babylon by George S. Clason
  3. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey
  4. Good to Great by Jim Collins
  5. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill
  6. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Cargnegie
  7. The Greatest Salesman in the World by Og Mandino
  8. 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership by John C. Maxwell
  9. Secrets of the Millionaire Mind by T. Harv Eker
  10. Automatic Millionaire by David Bach
  11. The Four Hour Workweek by Timothy Ferris
  12. Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
  13. Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi
  14. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  15. Leadership and Self Deception by the Arbinger Institute
  16. The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni
  17. Start With Why by Simon Sinek
  18. The ONE Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan
  19. Tribes by Seth Godin
  20. What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith
  21. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  22. The Personal MBA by Josh Kaufman
  23. The Speed of Trust by Stephen M.R. Covey
  24. Built to Last by Jim Collins
  25. The E-Myth Revisited by Michael E. Gerber
  26. First Break All the Rules by Marcus Buckingham
  27. To Sell is Human by Dan Pink
  28. Raving Fans by Ken Blanchard
  29. The Millionaire Next Door – Thomas Stanley & William Danko

Making Voicemail a Tool of Productivity [Script]

IMG_1123I don’t seem to get a ton of questions from friends or clients about how they should manage voicemail until they call me and hear my voicemail greetings. Voicemail is one more inbox that has to be managed in the scope of our productivity. In this article I’m going to share my feelings about how to manage voicemail along with my own scripts I currently use to help drive the right actions.

Voicemail Productivity Thoughts

  • Phone calls are generally speaking distractions. They interrupt you in the middle of highly focused activity. In an ideal world you want to limit distractions and while you can’t always influence the time when others call you, you can choose to let it go to voicemail so as not to cause a distraction when you are in the middle of a high priority task
  • When I send someone to voicemail I need to train that caller to work based on my system of productivity. This is good for the caller since they want a response as quickly as possible and good for me since I can choose how/when I’m going to respond to various inquiries
  • People always inflate the urgency or priority of their own requests. Most people who call me always think that whatever they are calling about is urgent and important. By giving them a good voicemail greeting I can force them to re-evaluate how urgent it really is.
  • I ALWAYS ask people to be descriptive in their message/email/text. This will avoid emails that say “call me when you can.” I hate those.
  • I always prefer an email or text to a voicemail because they imply that I can and should reply via email or text. Voicemails imply that one should respond with a phone call. Perhaps I’m not as social as I should be but the truth is I like the flexibility and it better plays to my schedule and timeline of availability and productivity.

Script for my Office Phone:

You have reached the phone of %Insert name% with %Insert Company name%. I check (or don’t check) my voicemail often but the fastest way to get a response from me is to send me an email at %insert email%. Please be descriptive in your email so I can support you in the most effective way possible. If this is an emergency please call my cell phone at %insert cell number%. Thank you.

When I’m Traveling:

You have reached the phone of %Insert name% with %Insert Company name%. I’m traveling and may not check my voicemail often until my return. The fastest way to get a response from me is to send me an email at %insert email%. Please be descriptive in your email so I can support you in the most effective way possible. If this is an emergency please call my cell phone at %insert cell number%. Thank you.

Script for my Cell Phone:

You have reached the phone of %insert name%. Please send me an email. I really don’t get to my voicemails very often but if you email me I’ll reply in short order. If you don’t have my email address send me a text to this number and I’ll gladly reply with my email address. If this is an emergency send me a text message with the details so I can respond accordingly. Thank you.

SEO Rank Reporter WordPress Plugin Review

One of the frustrating thing of any SEO strategy is trying to measure your progress. There are a large number of great services and products in the market that you can buy or subscribe to but some are cost prohibitive for the small online publisher. A solution I’ve recently stumbled upon for publishers with a WordPress site is a no cost plugin called SEO Rank Reporter.

SEO Rank Reporter allows the user to input as many phrases and keyword queries as desired to track how any given URL ranks on Google for that query. The plugin refreshes data every 3 hours which and shows if you are trending down or up. This is represented in a line graph and in a matrix style report that makes it easy to see how your site or page(s) is performing over time for specific phrases.

SEO Rank Reporter - Line Graph

One of the awesome things about this plugin is that you can report on any phrase for any URL. So this allows you to track internal pages as they relate to keywords or phrases. You could also track external sites such as competitors to see how their own SEO is trending.

You can also use a configuration page to see what potential keywords or phrases that the plugin recommends you add and start tracking.

You can set email alert notifications to be sent when any given ranking changes by a certain number of positions. This is an especially powerful feature.

The Visits/rank report shows the actual amount of traffic that you are getting to your site for any given phrase you are tracking. This gives you greater clarity as to the value of a high or low ranking for any given search phrase or query.

I’ve been using this plugin for about 4 months now and I’m impressed all around at how effective it is considering its a no-cost WordPress plugin. Enjoy!

Rules For Successful Blog Posting on WordPress

I have previously recorded a tutorial video about how to publish blog posts on WordPress but I have neglected to really cover all the necessary elements of a successful blog post… both technical and strategic.

A Compelling Title

Your title is a headline. It alone will generally determine who will read your content. Sell your blog with the title. Leave out symbols like the &, %, “, #, @, etc. These generally convert to code when syndicated to places like Twitter.

Wordpress blog tutorialAlways Include An Image

Images not only make the content more presentable and professional but they also help your content to stick out when you share it on sites like Facebook. It gives Pinterest lovers something to pin and many WordPress themes will look to your images to create thumbnails for your home page layout or mobile blog layout. Along those lines be sure to always add a featured image (this can be the same image you use inside the blog post content).

In Content SEO Tricks

It is important to try to include some of the keywords within the text body of your blog post. Try to specifically include some of those keywords in Headings, Bold, Underline, Italic, Image Alternate Text, and Titles. These are the ways to draw extra attention to those words when the search bots read the page.

Always use the Excerpt

The built in WordPress Excerpt field is your place to build extra sizzle. This is the text that will show up directly under the title if the page displays in search results on Google or the like. It is also the text that is used on social networks like Facebook when the link is shared. The Excerpt should include some of those same keywords but most importantly needs to sell the content and make a compelling case as to why someone should proceed to read the full blog post.

Using Categories Correctly

Categories within WordPress serve two important purposes. The first is to help site visitors navigate your site content and find what they are looking for. The second purpose is to further help the search engine bots to index your content. Don’t have more than 12 categories and try to post content evenly across all of them.

Using WordPress Tags

By default the tags you list for the blog post act as the Meta Tag keywords read by search engines and they also act as a deeper navigation tool for site visitors. Depending on your WordPress theme, your selected tags may appear below your blog post content to help readers find other similar relevant content. Don’t stuff too much here either; using between 5 and 15 tags is a best practice.

Linking to Your Own Content

Another best practice is to cite old blog posts in new content. Linking to other content within your own site does remind search engines to index that old content anew. This doesn’t need to be a part of every blog post but on occasion, and as appropriate, don’t miss those opportunities.

I hope these simple rules can serve as a guide to help you craft powerful and compelling blog post content!

Global Content Blocks: Embedding HTML, Iframes, PHP, or Scripts into WordPress

code sphereI have always been a huge advocate for WordPress. Today I want to add another WordPress Tutorial by discussing issues with embedding advanced code into WordPress pages and posts. Have you ever copied a string of code from another site or tool and tried to paste it into the “text” editor of your WordPress page or post only to find that it refused to render correctly on the front end? When you toggle between Visual or Text editor mode the code is someone mysteriously modified? I know the feeling.

Let me introduce you to a great no-cost WordPress plugin that solves these issues and facilitates the inserting of specific forms or other frames into multiple places on your website.

Global Content Blocks (VIDEO AT BOTTOM OF POST)

This plugin allows  you to create “blocks” of code within the plugin management area that can then later be inserted into any page or plugin. You can create an unlimited number of “blocks” within the plugin dashboard and save them with a title that makes them easier to find later.

How Do I Use This?

If you have a string of code that you suspect (or have found) won’t render properly with the WordPress text editor then you first need to install the plugin. Do a search via the plugin add screen for “global content blocks” and find the plugin developed by Ben Magrill. After you install and activate the plugin you can find the settings page/management for the plugin under the Settings menu.

Click on “Add Content Block” and give your piece of content a title. The description is optional but could be helpful if you are going to be adding a lot of content blocks in the future. Select the type of code you will be inserting: HTML, Iframe, PHP, etc and then insert the code below in the text editor. You can of course still use the visual editor if you want to add ancillary images or text around your code block. Click save and your code block is saved.

Open the page/post to which you want to add the code block and click the “Global Content Blocks” button shown in the visual editor menu. It looks like three different blocks stacked on each other (red, blue, green). When you click on the button it will open a popup window from which you can select the block of code you want to insert. BAM, that’s it!

What Are The Applications?

YouTube videos have always been difficult to embed in WordPress content. Now with the recent change to iframes to embed Youtube videos, it becomes critical to use a plugin like this to embed videos or playlists from Youtube in WordPress.

Your Email Marketing software likely provides you a HTML code to embed your subscription forms on your site. Often those code strings are broken in WordPress. This type of plugin solves that issue and makes it easy to add/remove the subscription form wherever you need it.

Often when you are doing custom work with WordPress you need to embed PHP code in the middle of a page or post. That cannot be done without a plugin like this one to keep the code intact.

While this is probably not the best solution, some people use this plugin to insert Adsense code or other ad code into the middle of pages and posts.

 Here is the Tutorial Video

In Summary, I don’t know that many people who work with WordPress who don’t have a need for a plugin like this one. It could solve a lot of your frustrations and issues!