Handy SEO/SMO WordPress Plugins

By Richard V. Burckhardt

WordPress plugins offer great tools for your blog's SEO and Social Media implementation.

WordPress plugins offer great tools for your blog's SEO and Social Media implementation and overall productivity.

It’s been a while since my last post about WordPress plugins, so it’s about time to update some of the top ones on my current list. I haven’t had a chance to test all of these on WordPress 3.0, but all work fine in 2.92.

WPing.fm - This plugin, as you can probably figure out, works with Ping.fm. Every time you edit or publish a post (you decide to do one or both) it is sent to Ping.fm, which sends it to Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, MySpace and a ton of other social sites (again, you set all of these up). Great for pushing out new posts across the social world.

Raw HTML in WordPress - For those of us blogging about SEO, web design or development, this plugin solves a world of headache. Since WordPress won’t allow you to display raw code in a post without totally borking it, this plugin wraps itself around the HTML so that it displays as, well, raw code in your post. For example, take a look at my post Top 10 SEO Must Do Tips and you’ll see this plugin in action in tip #4.

Page Links To - This one is a must for any blogger’s toolkit. This plugin allows you to redirect a page or post somewhere else. For instance, let’s say you want to create a link to an external site in your main menu where your pages are listed. You can create the page, name it what you like and have this plugin redirect the link to that off site location. The link in your main menu will have whatever text you set up for the page, but when clicked on, the link will 301 redirect to the URL of your choice rather than open the page (a 302 redirect is available, too, for those rare times it is needed).
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SEO 101: Need an SEO Friendly Site? Think Blog!

By Richard V. Burckhardt

Make WordPress your site's home baseWhen I started out in web development way back in the dark ages (1998), I was doing web design for an in-house agency. Primarily, we did sites for the publications that the parent publishing company produced, but we also took on local Palm Springs area clients and built web sites for them.

It went something like this. For a certain amount of money, like $500, we’d build a ten page static web site. We’d do the design work, but the client provided images and text. We’d do the SEO as it existed in those days (title, meta tags, submit to the search engines/directories) and then there would be a monthly hosting/maintenance fee (about $50). Quarterly changes (pictures and text) were part of the fee, anything else cost extra.

Of course, the client was sort of at our mercy as they had no way to make changes themselves. They had to go through us. This could get frustrating for clients who needed frequent changes to their sites, like real estate agents or those with products that needed changing constantly.

Fast forward to today. Yes, if you really need a complicated site with a web designer, programmer and so forth, that option is definitely available more than ever. But, if what you want is a smaller site that you have complete control over and won’t cost a fortune, it can be had quickly and inexpensively. Continue reading

SEO Tools & Tips

SEO toolboxIn my day to day SEO for my clients and for myself, I’ve come across a number of tools of the trade, some really good, some, well, not so good. Here are a few items in my geek toobox that I use daily and highly recommend.

1. Keyword Tool - I have tried them all and this is the one I always go back to for my keyword research. Not only does it give you variations on the keyword phrase you are searching for, but also provides the WordTracker count and daily estimated searches on Google, Yahoo and MSN along with shortcuts to various tools like Google Trends, Keyword Discovery and several other online tools. And, you can export the thing as a CSV file. Way to go Aaron!

2. Check Server Headers ToolQuick and easy way to check on whether your URL is being seen and followed properly by the spiders. For instance, I recently installed a WordPress plugin which appeared to work fine in a browser, but when I checked the page URLs that it produced here, I found that those pages were producing 404 errors, meaning the web surfer could see the pages, but the spiders couldn’t. Naturally, I ditched the plugin. The site also includes a batch URL processing capability (up to 25 URLs at once).

3. Web Page Analyzer – This online tool checks the speed of your site and lets you know what the download time would be at various connection speeds. Granted, most folks have broadband these days but you still don’t want a page to take several minutes to load on a 56k dial up connection. The test gives you suggestions on ways to speed up your site for visitors and spiders. Both will go away if your site is too slow.

4. Yahoo Site Explorer -Yes, Google gives you some information on sites that link to you, but not like Yahoo’s Site Explorer, which is easy to use and just requires a Yahoo login. You can filter inbound links to see internal or external linking, number of pages Yahoo sees and more.

5. Spider Simulator – Just one of many free online tools offered by this site, I jump here when I need a quick look at what the spiders are seeing. A more comprehensive spider simulator report is available in the iBusinessPromoter client software on my PC, but this online utility serves my purpose most of the time.

6. Tweetscan - These days keeping up with what is said about you and your clients is a must. I use Tweetscan to search for references to me or my clients in Twitter for reputation management, goodwill and networking opportunities.

7. SearchStatus - This is a Firefox plugin that, among other things, allows you to highlight and see nofollow links. This comes in real handy when checking backlinks or sculpting the links on your own site. The plugin includes utilities to check backlinks, Alexa rankings and so forth, but I primarily use the nofollow highlight feature.

8. MyBlogLog - Although the community aspects of the social site are free, I do use one paid service that this Yahoo owned site offers – statistics. For about $25 per year, I can get almost real time traffic stats coming off of web sites. I can see my site traffic nearly as it happens, where surfers are coming from and where they are going. From this, I can see if there is a trend or if something is wrong on a site now, not tomorrow when my Google Analytics stats are refreshed. I mentioned this service in my post on Web Analytics. This is the only non-free tool I mention in this list, but it’s such a bargain, I had to include it.

9. Google Chrome - Though not technically a tool, Google’s first attempt at a web browser has one feature that keeps it open on one of my monitors all day – the ability to log into different Google accounts in different tabs. I keep my domain e-mail, which is hosted through Google Apps, in one tab and Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics for my work accounts in other tabs. Now, if Chrome would just pick up some cool plugins!

10. Google Webmaster Tools - For something that I paid little attention to when first released, Google Webmaster Tools is now also open on one of my monitors all day. It just keeps getting better. From tracking down dead URLs on my sites to testing a robots.txt file, I can locate site issues that I wouldn’t otherwise know about. Though far from perfect, it’s just about the most valuable online tool I use these days.

Yet Another SEO WordPress Plugins Post

Yep. That’s exactly what this is. Yet another cool WordPress plugins post pointing out some of the freebie plugins used on The Web Optimist blog. Of course, most of these are used with SEO in mind. Might as well jump right in.

1. BT Active Discussions – This neat utility allows you to give your blog comments a forum-like BT Active Discussions gives your blog comments a forum-like interfaceinterface. This makes it easy for site visitors to zero in on discussions they want to check out and go right to the post to read and submit their own comment. I’ve tried a couple of actual forum plugins for WordPress in the past and never could get them to work properly. This one was a breeze. Check out my search engine optimization discussions.

2. WordPress Link Directory – Create your own directory. This plugin gives you the choice of accepting only reciprocal links or any links. You can create categories and sub-categories and even check for dropped reciprocal links. I recently installed this plugin on my blog as a fledgling resource directory.

3. Spread The Love Link Builder – This plugin tracks pages you link to in your blog and sends an e-mail to the site owner notifying them of the link and encouraging them to link back.

4. Dagon Design Sitemap Generator – Need I say more? This plugin creates a spider and user friendly index of all posts by category with the number of comments for each. You install the plugin, create a page, paste some code and you’re off and running. See it in action at The Web Optimist sitemap.

5. Link To Me Text Box – This plugin will set up a “link to me textbox” with HTML code in your blog posts. Simplicity at its best. You can find examples of this plugin in action at the bottom of any post on this blog. For instance, take a look at Free eBook: 65 Quick S E O Tips Even Your Mother Would Love and you’ll find the link box just above the “Leave A Comment” section.

6. Ask Me – I don’t know if this plugin is even supported currently, but used it for an “Ask Me about SEO” section until I switched hosting companies and couldn’t get it to work again. It basically extends the comment function into a Q&A format perfect for any question and answer oriented page.

7. Khanh’s Quick Feeds – Want to add a page of news feeds to your WordPress blog? This is your plugin and it’s AJAX powered! Take a look at my own Search Engine Optimization News Feeds page for an example. I didn’t just create this page for my users, but for me, too!

8. Random Quotes – This plugin is perfect for randomly displaying any type of text on your blog pages. I use it for my S E O Quick Tip box found on the right navigation of every page on the site. A different tip is displayed each time a page loads. The plugin has a really nice, easy to use interface.

9. Redirection – Makes page redirects simple. Easy to use interface, logging options, tracking of redirects and simple drop down redirect options made this a life saver when my former hosting company imploded and I had to recreate recent posts and redirect the old URLs to the new ones.

10. WP Sticky – Got something you want to stay at the top of your blog for a while like an announcement or notice? WP Sticky is kind of like a yellow sticky. It sticks to the top of the main blog page until you pull it off.

These are just a few of the neat plugins I am currently using. Naturally, there are a zillion out there, which is what makes WordPress so great. If you need something for your blog, chances are there’s already a plugin for it or close enough to work with.



Submit your search marketing, web development or technology site or blog to The Web Optimist’s new S E O Resource Directory.

Social Media & SEO: I Want My MTV!

MTV as exciting when first introduces, like social media is todayRemember MTV? Not the also-ran cable channel we have now with its bad reality shows, made for TV movies and music documentaries. I’m talking about MTV when it really was Music Television. When MTV debuted in 1981 it featured 24-hour a day music videos with a VJ (short for video jockey) who introduced the videos, talked to the musicians and segued into commercials.

It was magic. It was innovative. It was fun.

It had power! Thousands of musical artists and acts got their careers started with music videos and a lot of forgotten acts were rediscovered. For example, a simple weekend marathon of the old Monkees TV show resulted in the once trashed group getting together for what turned out to be the biggest summer tour of the year 1986. New records by the group, more reruns and the rebirth of a made-for-TV band followed.

But most of all, MTV was exciting!

That’s where I see social media today. Like MTV in the beginning, social media is all of the above with innovative features being rolled out right and left and the ability to connect with folks around the world 24 hours per day. It’s like magic!

But, again, most of all, it’s exciting!

And, it’s now a part of SEO, which some have also likened to magic.

Unlike MTV, which was one-way, social media is about interaction. You connect with folks who connect with other folks and everyone provides user generated content and links that help bolster your SEO, traffic and conversion goals. You do this through photo or video sharing, news and networking sites as well as blogs.

There’s the power!

And, like the young MTV viewers of the 1980s, social media users tend to be cutting edge, comfortable about innovation and technology. Using sites like YouTube, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg and del.icio.us, etc. just comes naturally.

So how do you tie your SEO efforts into all of this excitement and power?

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Yahoo! Open Search Platform

For the first time in front of a public group, Yahoo! presented its new Open Search Platform at a special presentation at SMX West 2008 in Santa Clara. Basically a way for users and site owners to customize search results, the Open Search Platform will allow use of plugins for personalization.

For instance, a site owner can create a plugin with information relevant to the site including images, phone numbers, links and other data such as reviews. A user can load the plugin from a gallery so that when the site comes up in a search result, the link will not just be a link to the site, but sort of a blended result with an image and additional links similar to what Google now serves up as One Box results.

Sort of personalized universal search results.

Yahoo! Open Search Platform will focus on “completing tasks” rather than dishing out results. Users can share results with others, add or remove enhancements or even report sites as abusers of trust.

According to Yahoo!, it’s “All about users choice.”

Site owners can add buttons, galleries and marketing info to create a richer experience for visitors. The new service, which is free, will be open to all sites by way of an API or feed upload.

More information, including example images can be found at http://tools.search.yahoo.com/open . Also see the Yahoo blog for updates.

Evoca releases new voice comment plugins

I just got an e-mail from Evoca.com, a voice publishing site, announcing new plugins for WordPress, TypePad and eBlogger. It’s really neat. You can either download the plugin for your blog or place some javascript on your page to use a nifty recorder that people can use to leave comments, suggestions, etc. on your blog or site. See the bottom of any page on this blog to check it out. I opted for the javascript because the recorder is just too wide for my sidebar and it pushed everything out of place.

Once you retrieve your recorded comments, Evoca gives you HTML code that you can use to put the recording in your blog if you think it’s worthy of blogspace. I’m still playing with that function. So far, unless I paste the code in a separate comment, my header, footer and sidebar disappear. I’ll keep working on that.

One thing I’d like to see them implement – the ability to resize the recorder. I also think that it’s a bit awkward to have to hit the “Send” button after the recording is made. The way the box is organized, it looks like the “Send” is for sending a note by e-mail. The first time I tried recording, I didn’t know I had to “Send” it. Minor things. You do have to open a free account with Evoca, but hey, it’s free.

So, got comments on SEO or my balding head? Jump down to the bottom of this page and give it a shot.