It may seem an odd question to some but one of the most frequent questions I answer from people new to their own domain is, “What should I write about?” The question is valid, and deserves a solid answer. In order to properly answer the question, especially for business purposes rather than personal use, it is imperative to know a little more about the business, the site owner, the target audience, and the expect results. With this knowledge in hand it will be much easier to determine a set of topics for the blogger, or site owner to address. Keeping in mind the need for the answers to these questions let’s take a look at how I may advise a client in a coaching session.
What does your business offer to your clients?
Once we know what your business offers we can establish a mile-high view of what you should begin writing about. Other than the obvious, I am a real estate agent, or I am a used auto broker, there are details within your particular niche. In online marketing or search engine marketing we call these “long tails” although I prefer the old school word “highly targeted market segment”. Long tail is an abstract which is supposed to demonstrate the small end of the funnel by using the image of a brontosaurus to draw a parallel. That’s okay, I don’t really get that either.
Using the example of a real estate agent who writes for her own blog let’s look at some tip of the funnel ideas to help draw readership and encourage interaction from the site visitors. First off the term real estate, as of the writing of this article, returns about 1,300,000,000 results. In words that is over one billion search results. If one were looking for a haystack in which to hide a needle this would be an amazing place to begin. Let’s add the name of a mid-sized state like Georgia. By adding the name of the state, Georgia, the search results are trimmed all the way down to 1,200 on Google. However, this is not necessarily the direction we want to go. First we want to make sure that the search volume is high enough to make it worth our time blogging about “real estate in Georgia”.
Finding the number of searches for a particular keyword or keyphrase is simple if you have a Google AdWords account. Anyone can get one, and they are free. Making use of the Google Keywords Tool is quite simple, and I have included a short video hear to demonstrate.
Photo by dan freedigitalphotos.net
Someone just emailed a very valid question. It seems they were wanting to trim back their WordPress database to only the virgin install state and wanted to make sure they backed up only the data tables they needed to accomplish this. There could be arguments that not all of the virgin install data tables need to be restored but the question, verbatim, was, “how many data tables does WordPress use when you first install it?”
How do you block spam comments in WordPress?
First let me remind and inform there are two WordPress methods. First there is WordPress.com where you create a “free” website using WordPress and it is hosted on the Automattic servers. You own nothing and control only part. Then there is WordPress.org which you either download and install on your server or if you are using a good WordPress web host you simply click a button and install. While you still never “own” the software you can control it to a much greater degree and your content resides on your server under your control.
It is not uncommon for vulnerabilities to turn up in new releases of software and applications as well as web code. WordPress is a large collection of code files and as such is as vulnerable as anything else to exploits. It is owed to the global network of developers who use WordPress that vulnerabilities are quickly discovered and cured. For this reason there is no need for panick but an updated version of WP 3.3, actually version 3.3.1, is now available for installation.
For most people this is a simple fix but it does beg the question, how well is your WordPress installation functioning and how secure is it?
While you may not think security is an issue because you “just use WordPress for personal stuff and blogging” nothing could be more untrue. What exploits can often do is take over your WordPress and your hosting account and start blasting out millions of emails or use your account as a launch pad for a greater attack. So here is what I recommend, let me do the WordPress Evaluation and Tune-Up for you. It only takes a few hours and is only $69 to help you make sure all of your plugins are playing nicely, that you don’t have any blatant security holes, and that your’re using WP to the best of its ability.
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.
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.
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.
There are plenty of things to be thankful for which we North Americans tend to reflect upon this time of year. Small business owners have a mixed bag of things to be thankful for and one of those is a little content management system called WordPress. For those of us who have been using and developing solutions for WordPress since it separated from B2 we have been ever interested in the evolution. No pun intended for those who got it.
What WordPress is
WordPress is a web content management system. It’s also almost fool proof … er, caveman proof.
For the casual user and professional user alike WordPress can be a tremendous saver of time and expenses. While it does have several limiting factors for those on a budget these are easy enough to live with. True customization of WordPress can be quite spendy when the site owner is looking for more than just aesthetic changes so we’ll leave that for another article on another day. For the next few hundred words let’s look at free (as in the site owner investing their own valuable time) and inexpensive solutions. (Word: there are multiple solutions to every challenge – we do not have time nor interest in examining every possible solution for WordPress for small business owners in this article.)
Two types of WordPress
WordPress gets a little confusing out of the gate because there are “two” WordPresses. The first one is WordPress.com where you get a free WordPress account on their server. This is the more limiting type of installation so if you really want control of your site you’ll need a professional WordPress solution. There are several available and the one I recommend (and use) is Professional WordPress Hosting. I use it for many reasons too numerous to list the advantages here.
As an ongoing part of my day job, my consulting job and my Blog Talk Radio gig I try a lot of services and a lot of products. In fact it is not rare when someone asks if I have ever heard of a service and when I go to try it I see I already have an account there … from months or years prior. It happens.
Having been involved in the WordPress project since inception I try hundreds (and hundreds) of plugins for ideas to create my own or to make sure they work with themes or other reasons. Sometime in the recent past I tried a plugin called Feed For Text Links by Dennis Hoppe. Now Dennis is a young, European capitalist so I don’t want to be too harsh on him but I do want to give him a reality check on what is acceptable, even in the quasi-capitalist union of the States.
Taking over a large percentage of real estate is not a good idea. (See screen capture.)
Because WordPress is so simple to install and make minor changes to like header graphics, home page class, color scheme, and plugins used there are literally hundreds of people claiming to install “custom WordPress sites”. In reality they are doing nothing, or very little, any untrained person cannot do. It’s point and click for the most part.
Here’s the really sad bit: since they are usually not developers but may be “designers lite” they don’t know how to listen to what you, as a client, really need. Furthermore if you told them what you want they likely would have no idea how to create it so they simply sell you on WordPress. Don’t get me wrong, I love WordPress. It’s a robust, out of the box solution for a lot of purposes and it is easily customized. It is, however, still an out of the box solution which means it comes with a lot of limitations and quite often a tremendous amount of overkill for many projects.
What makes WordPress attractive?
- WordPress is easy to use by anyone who can send an email. Like with anything there is a learning curve but within a few uses almost anyone can be zinging with WordPress.
- WordPress is free. People charge anywhere from $100 to thousands of dollars for “customization” but the application is free. In fact it comes free with many WordPress web hosting accounts.
- WordPress is widely supported by an enormous community of developers of which I am proud to be a small part.
- WordPress is constantly updated to close security holes, add new functionality and permit new ways of interacting with the core.
Like I said, I like WordPress … it just is not always the right solution as some would have you believe. If you are somewhat technically savvy in that you actually understand how functions interact with the loop, how theme elements control the presentation, how to create at least simple widgets and plugins then WordPress may be great for you even if you just want to do some small, non-blog tasks.