Warning! SEO Plugins for WordPress Kill Your SEO

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Play the audio introduction

Actually your SEO is probably already suffering with an out of the box install of WordPress (your self hosted version) but what usually happens is a user installs an SEO plugin and either they simply do not use it (thinking it will somehow magically do all the work for them) or/and they fail to go back and use the plugin on existing posts.

If you do not use one of these plugins you should. Otherwise how are you controlling your SEO? Do this experiment. Go to your WordPress site and find any single post then view the source. Then search for “<meta name=”description” and see if you find one. Chances are you will not. So how are search engines supposed to call your site “search engine friendly”? Search engine friendly, by the way, means human reader friendly.

The title of this article is actually a little sensation but it’s also a warning to you that neither All-In-One nor Yoast make SEO an automated event. You still need to work with them. I recently consulted with a prospect who insisted they were okay in SEO because they had one of these plugins installed. When we did an SEO evaluation on a couple of single posts they thought I was somehow faking the results. What we were looking at was a still blank description meta tag.

The nice feature of Yoast is it allows you to setup a template. The downside to this is your descriptions are all the same and your pages surely contain variations on your topic.

Many people assume the description meta tag has no bearing on Page Rank and that may well be true. We know keywords has no bearing but even if description has no bearing on the Page Rank it does, most certainly, have an effect on the human reader. If you do not include a description the search engine will choose its own snippet from your page and display that in the search results to the searcher.

Another thing both of these SEO plugins do well is to override the post name as the page title. Title, as Matt Cutts has told us many times, is very important to the search. If you are writing about spinach recipes and the title of your blog post is “Grandma’s remedy for the blues” do you think you’re going to rank well for “spinach recipes”?

This post is a warning to USE the plugins not just install them. Without them you’re on your own. With them installed and you not using them on every post, including going back in time to your pre-installation posts, you are simply doing yourself a disservice.

If you have too much to do I offer a service where an admin can go in and make the changes for you on an hourly or per post basis. Just contact me and I’ll get you a quote and turn time estimate.

WordPress like button plugins – Facebook, Google+ and Twitter

WordPress Plugin: Simple Like Buttons

Here’s a WordPress plugin many people can use. The situation is that I had separate Facebook, Twitter and Google+ buttons scattered at the top of my posts. While I wanted them at the top I would prefer for them to all be aligned in a single row. I searched a bit in the WordPress plugins directory for Facebook Like, Twitter tweet and Google Plus 1 but was finding only individual plugins for each social media site.

Just as I was about to give up on the search and code my own I found Simple LikeButtons (Facebook, Google+, Twitter). In the image it appears the buttons are at the top of the post, and they are, but “out of the box” this plugin places the buttons at the bottom of the posts where I happen to have a lot of other things going on. Unfortunately the plugin also does not have a way through their built in options to do anything other than select which buttons are displayed.

Since WordPress works around something called “the loop” and this plugin was very simply coded (some plugins are packed with code but this one relies on much third party coding so it is much smaller and simpler) I knew it would be pretty easy to find the location in the script which handled the location task and modify it. I suppose I could have modified the admin options script but if I did that I would like re-code the entire script and submit it to the repository myself.

The “fix” is so easy that anyone even without any PHP or JavaScript or even HTML to do it. You can watch the short video for a visual instruction. If you need me to do it for you I can and will. Just contact me and I’ll get it done … $25 for this. Enjoy!

File uploads for small business websites

Recently a prospect contacted me with a need for their clientele to be able to upload a few different types of files via the website. The company requires documents from their clients and wanted to move away from the fax machine and allow customers to upload files directly from their computer to the site. The files needed were PDF, DOC, TXT, and ZIP.

Since the company already had an existing WordPress installed for their Content Management System (CMS) they needed a solution their WordPress guy had no idea how to create but needed it to work with their theme he had customized. This mean it had to be created in such a way that when their existing guy quit handling it and new updates were made the application would not break.

Web Development

The coding of the file upload application was identical to any that would be created for any stand alone site not encumbered by a CMS like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Since the maximum file sizes would be around 3 to 4 megabytes we simply used a PHP upload function and stored the files in a non-web accessible directory above the root. This was done for security purpose. We then created a simple way to inject the application into the loop on WordPress using a shortcode so that wherever ##UPLOAD## is found the application is inserted into that location on the page or a sidebar.

There are options, too, if you do not have PHP on your hosting account or if you want to go above the limit for PHP uploads. One option is to split larger files into smaller files and rejoin them on the server using PHP. The other is to use Perl to upload any size file (based on server limitations). Either way the solution is there and cost is based on how it is used.

For the WordPress plugin solution the simple configuration for the clients was under 3 hours of work at roughly $180 total including installation on their behalf. The good news? They can use it over and over on as many WordPress sites as they have need for that plugin solution.

Awesome Screenshot – my choice for quick and easy

For those of you still stuck in the archaic maze of Windows Explorer it’s time to switch. For those of you who use Firefox, Safari or Chrome here is a fast, simple screenshot extension you’re probably going to love. Having tried several I have come to use this on the most. Oh I use Jing, Evernote, and have tried a dozen or so extensions but this one is the first choice out of my tool box for 95% of my screen capture needs.

What I like about it

Unlike some extensions or third party apps it loads almost immediately. Click the icon, it asks if I want the visible page, a selected area or the full page. (Note for https it’s visible or full only, not selected area.) Once I have made my choice and performed any necessary tasks it opens in the editing window where I can crop, label, blur, draw shapes, lines, and choose how I want to save the file. I can save locally, online temporarily or online permanently. See Figure 2.

Figure 1

Figure 2

Figure 3

What I wish it had

It’s a short wish list and rather personal. If the color selector for the font included all RGB that would be nice but what would be even better is to be able to select font family, style and size. Additionally I would like to be able to capture short videos like in Camstudio but without the need to capture audio.

Where to get it

You get find it in your browser’s extension store or you can download it directly from the creator’s website at http://awesomescreenshot.com/

What is WordPress?

This is a question most WordPress developers, hosts and pundits usually skip past. When moving WP into a new market, like real estate agents and small business people, it is a question which must me answered and really should be presented with “Why You Need A WordPress Site”.

WordPress is, for all practical purposes, a web based application which allows anyone who can type and send an email with an attachment to run a robust website.

You were expecting a more detailed answer? How about a video instead …

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q7YyRspWfW4

Great plugin for managing page/menu order

Page Order Plugin

Page Order Plugin

While many WordPress themes have built in capabilities for managing the order of your menu (pages) some barebones ones do not. There are word arounds, certainly, and it’s not too complicated for the advanced user to create an add_action script. Even then you may not end up with something as simple to use as a plugin by Jake Goldman called Simple Page Order.

Jake has really made it simple by employing AJAX to allow the admin to simply drag and drop pages in the dashboard to the order they need to appear. No more looking up unique page ID numbers. No more assigning an order number to the page. Simply display your pages, he even included an option to show up to 100 page entries on a page, and drag them to where you want them to be displayed in your menu order.

Thanks Jake! My clients thank you, too. Jakes website and the plugin page are located at Oomph.