Browsing posts tagged "web development"

How to Build Authorship with rel=author and rel=me

April 9th, 2012 @ 9:06 am

In some of your recent Google searches you may have noticed certain entries that stand out because they have a mugshot of the author adjacent to the link, like so:

 As you can see the benefits of having this enabled are obvious- anything that makes your site stand out from the rest is going to increase CTR (click through rate) and help you rise in the rankings, so there’s no reason not to set up authorship, especially since it’s not an overly technical process.

First we need to understand how Google goes about verifying authorship, how does the algorithm know which pages belong to who? This process relies heavily on your Google+ profile, so if you haven’t already created one and fleshed it out, now would be a good time. Keep in mind that the avatar you use will be the one that shows up in the SERPs, so use a presentable one (yes, it should be a shot of your face).

Let’s go over how the ‘rel’ function works before diving into implementation. We can use rel=x when making links to specify what type of link it is and how it behaves, in our case rel=author ties our identity to the content and tells Google that a specific account is responsible for all pages linked to it, which gives us those more prominent search results. In order to use a rel tag, you can add ?rel=author to the end of a link- or if you have access to HTML you can use rel=”author” tag before the href part. By using a combination of rel=author and rel=me tags, we are telling Google to enable Authorship for certain sites and articles.

There is essentially 3 links involved in this process that Google uses to complete the handshake between your site/article and Google+ to verify that you are the owner of both. First, each article that you write must link to an author profile page on the same site using rel=author, which can be a page of your choosing but is most often either your profile page or the About page. This establishes a connection between your articles and your author profile page, but now that profile page needs to be connected to your Google+ page. To do this you should have a link to your Google+ profile from your author page using rel=me, and your Google+ profile should link back using the Contributor section.

So to summarize:

  • A link from your blog posts or articles to your author page using rel=author
  • A link from your author page to your Google+ profile using rel=me
  • A link from your Google+ profile to your author page in the Contributor section

This may seem a tad confusing if you aren’t technically inclined, but thankfully there are several options for those of you that want to make this a tad easier. Google has an alternate method using email addresses and a form that you can submit, but there are some reports of this taking longer to aggregate. There is also a WordPress Plugin called Authorsure that pretty much does all the work for you besides linking back from your Google+ account, it really streamlines everything and makes it very easy to implement properly.

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On-Page SEO in WordPress for Beginners

April 5th, 2012 @ 9:42 am

Search engine optimization is a multifaceted and complex pursuit, but it’s very easy for beginners to implement SEO best practices on their pages using WordPress because of the user friendly interface and myriad of helpful plugins- but of course these tools will do no good unless you know how to use them effectively. Today we are going to be running through the essentials of how to implement on-page SEO on your pages using WordPress and the best tools to do it with.

Basics of onpage SEO

Before we get into the specifics on optimizing pages in WordPress, we should do a quick rundown of the most important on-page factors that you should be paying attention to.

Your keyword should be present in the title, a few times in the content, and ideally in a subtitle or header as well. A lot of people overdo it and end up stuffing their keyword unnaturally, but this isn’t necessary and search engines are getting a lot smarter about this. Keyword density doesn’t have to be above %1 or so, anything above %2 is overkill. The best way to optimize for your keywords in the content is to make sure the writer is knowledgeable about the topic and uses industry terms- Google reads through your pages for certain words related to specific topics and niches and uses them to determine what your page is about. If your writer is using a lot of ‘fluff’ in their articles that isn’t on-topic or just doesn’t produce helpful content in general, you should consider getting a new one. When it comes to your money site, quality is much more important than quantity.

Choosing an SEO plugin

There is a monolithic selection of SEO WordPress plugins to choose from, but for a beginner it’s a good idea to choose one of the most trusted and reliable all in one packages that streamline the process. Here are few plugins that can serve as a complete on-page SEO solution for your web pages:

Yoast SEO – Yoast is one of the best choices for beginners because it makes the entire process very easy to understand. The presentation is very clear and it even gives you some very helpful metrics in real time as you compose your article (or paste it in) so you can constantly keep track of keyword density and whether you are following best practices (keyword in first paragraph, etc.)

All-in-One SEO – This is another full SEO solution for WordPress that many webmasters rely on- the layout is very simple and it’s easy to customize the parameters of each post individually. It also supports e-commerce sites and automatically generates META tags, it’s extremely customizable for advanced users but is still great right out of the box for beginners.

Keywords, Titles, Meta Description, and Density

Each article that you add to your website should be targeting a profitable keyword that you find during keyword research (using a service like Google Keyword Tool), preferably a long-tail that you can easily rank for. This keyword should appear in the title of your article, the URL, the Meta description, and throughout the article itself. This can be very easy or fairly tricky depending on the keyword, get creative but don’t make it obvious and force the keyword where it doesn’t seem natural. The Yoast plugin makes some great SEO suggestions under the ‘Page Analysis’ tab while it actively scans your article, which is very helpful if you aren’t perfectly clear on what search engines like to see.

If your keyword appears in all of these places and your article is authoritative and helpful, the on-page portion of your SEO is complete. Now your focus should be on link-building and outdoing your competition, try to offer your visitors something that the other pages are missing- Google pays attention to the pages that users most often click on and don’t bounce from.

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Setting up and hosting a Forum – It’s Easier than you Think

March 12th, 2012 @ 11:20 am

Many people are intimidated by the idea of starting a web forum because it seems like a daunting task that requires a lot of attention and resources- and while it is a very big project to undertake the process of actually setting it up and hosting it is pretty simple. The real work begins when it comes time to populate your forum and turn it into a lively discussion board that drives traffic, but you’ll never make it to that stage if you don’t take the first step and learn how to set up and host a forum.

Choosing and installing forum software

Web scripts make it extremely easy to set up a functioning website, without them web development would be a nightmare. So, considering how easy it is to set up a blog using a foundation like WordPress, it should be just as simple to set up a forum using the right script.

However, not all forum templates are created equal. You should learn about their varying functionality and extendibility to see which one best suits your purposes before installing anything. The main contenders in the world of forums are Phpbb3, MyBB, bbPress, Simple Machines, and a few others. Most of these should be available from your QuickInstall or Fantastico menu depending on your hosting, but you can also download them from their official websites and install them yourself.

Here’s a quick overview of the two forum scripts usually recommended for beginners so you have a general idea of what they’re best for, make sure to do your own research and check out the features of each one.

phpBB3

PhpBB is an open source platform (like many forum packages) that’s been in development since 2000, it boasts one of the most complete feature sets of any forum software and it’s very flexible with a lot of room for customization. This emphasis on micro management can be a hurdle for beginners, but the streamlined GUI makes it easy to digest. The community is large and very active, they are more than happy to help people out with technical issues and they have created a cornucopia of different extensions and modifications. This is one of the most commonly used and reliable platforms and it’s suitable for almost every situation due to its extendibility.

MyBB

MyBB was once considered an outsider when it comes to forum software, but it’s proven itself to be one of the most intuitive and easy to use solutions around. It’s open source which is always a plus, there is a huge community behind it and the development team gives it a lot of love with frequent updates. One of the most attractive parts about it is the streamlined administration panel, everything is laid out in a way that makes sense and even a beginner can figure out how to manage their forum just by clicking around on their own. Don’t let its ease of use fool you, MyBB is very powerful and extendible and some of the largest boards on the net run it. The library of plugins and themes is mammoth and with version 2.0 on the horizon it shows no signs of slowing down.

Choosing a hosting plan

Forums are a different beast than the average website or blog, the content is created entirely by the users which means that interactivity is a big factor- it’s much more difficult for a server to load a page worth of dynamic forum posts than a regular static article, the information is coming from a variety of sources. The database will be much more complex because it needs to store everything about the users and what they’re doing, which means the more they interact with the site and each other the more power you need from your host.

A shared plan from one of the bargain hosts isn’t going to cut it, sure they claim to give you ‘unlimited’ resources in a lot of areas but that simply isn’t true- it’s called shared hosting for a reason and those resources are being allocated to other sites as well. It may be fine to start out with a shared plan for testing purposes, but once (if) you start getting traffic you will need to invest in either VPS hosting or reseller hosting at some point to handle the load if you haven’t already.

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WordPress Security – Protecting your WordPress Installation

February 3rd, 2012 @ 11:46 am

WordPress is one of the most popular and easy to use blogging platforms around, it allows users to create any kind of site imaginable without the need to learn a coding language or get bogged down with technical details. It’s open source software that’s constantly being audited and analyzed by the community, but security holes are always bound to open up with web-based platforms which present a threat to your site and its data. The absolute best way to protect your site from malicious activity is to be prepared before it happens, but luckily it’s as easy to secure your WordPress site as it was to install it.

Always stay updated

One of the easiest and most effective ways of keeping WordPress safe from attackers is to keep it updated as new versions are released. Every piece of software, especially those exposed to the internet, are always vulnerable to bugs and exploits if they are not routinely updated to patch up holes in their security. Web technologies are constantly evolving and hackers are always finding new ways to trick your software into trusting them when it shouldn’t, but WordPress is a very closely monitored system and any time a major security exploit is found the developers are very quick to release an update to fix it. The moral of the story is that being lazy and holding off on a WordPress update can cost you dearly, it’s a matter of clicking on button on your WP backend and it’s a real lifesaver.

However, your WordPress installation isn’t the only thing that needs to be kept up to date. You’re probably using a variety of different plugins and a theme as well, and outdated components can also present security risks. Always keep every part of your site up to date and beware of plugins and themes that seem unprofessional or were poorly made, they often make your site less secure by implementing faulty code.

Use secret keys in your WP-config file

The WP-config file contains all the information someone would need to access the database associated with your WordPress site, so you’ll want to do everything in your power to secure that file and make sure no one can access that sensitive information.

One of the best ways to do this is to use secret keys in the config file. Doing this is very easy, just head over to api.wordpress.org/secret-key/1.1/ and paste that information into WP-config, read through the file and find the area that says Authentication Unique Keys and replace the four lines you see there.

Use a security plugin

There are a lot of little things to worry about in terms of WP security like file permissions, htaccess settings, and a variety of other little factors that hackers can take advantage of. Instead of staying on top of it all yourself, you can try using a trusted plugin solution that gives you a simple GUI where you can keep everything secure without the headache of traversing an FTP.

One of the best complete solutions is Bulletproof Security which keeps track of almost every possible security hold that your installation might have and offers one-click solutions to all of them, it’s very user friendly and a great way to sleep well at night knowing your site is more secure than most.

Another great plugin to use is WP Plugin Security Check. Some of the most insecure parts of any WordPress site are the third party plugins installed for a variety of different purposes, and this plugin checks through all of them to make sure there aren’t any obvious holes or inadequate coding.

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