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The Care and Feeding of Your WordPress Site

You can’t just publish your WordPress website and forget about it for weeks, months, or years as you could for HTML-based pages. (See more on how WordPress sites are different in our previous post.)

A WordPress site needs:

  • Updating of its modules to plug security holes that have been discovered.
  • Monitoring of visitor comments.  You’ll want to respond to questions or complaints, and you will want to encourage people’s comments.
  • Watching for fake spam comments that are loaded with links to scammy sites.
  • Regular, intentional back-ups.
Word Press Dashboard

Dashboard Showing 1 Update Pending

Fortunately, regular maintenance is neither difficult nor time consuming.

Here’s what we suggest.

  • Sign on to your site administration account at least once a week. Pick Mondays at noon or another regular time
    • Review the WordPress Dashboard.  Any pressing tasks will be highlighted in red and also the number of tasks will be shown on the header line at the top.  In the example at right, there is 1 Plug-In Update pending.  If there were comments needing review or theme updates waiting, there would be a red number by those menu items.
    • Click on the lines with red numbers showing, and follow the instructions.  This process will bring your site up to the latest version of its software.
    • Click on the “Comments” menu item and see the new comments have been posted site-wide.  Click on ones you want to respond to.
  • If your site allows any comments,  install the Akismet plug-in to block spam comments automatically.  The service is free for personal sites and $5/month for commercial sites.
  • Set up an unattended backup so that you will have access to a copy of your live system in case something unexpected happens to your hosting service or software.
    • We use Updraft for the sites we create.  The full-featured version allows us to stage a site, show it to a client, and then migrate it to the client’s live URL.  For your website, if you don’t need any special functionality, you maybe able to use Updraft’s free version.  Or, buy your own license for $60/year.
    • You, or your web developer, can install the backup program when your site goes live.  Establish a regular schedule for the backups and test the procedures.

Because WordPress sites are dynamic and can be updated from different locations, your maintenance activity is critical, if not terribly time consuming.  Besides,  although this post is written saying that YOU, the website owner, have maintenance tasks waiting for you with a WordPress site, you can delegate your responsibility.  Ozdachs will do regular or ad hoc maintenance on your WordPress site.  Or, you can assign the routine work to a techy in your organization.

Want more information? Leave your questions here, or call us at 415.347.6479 for a private response.

By |2014-02-09T13:35:10+00:00February 9th, 2014|Blogging, Wordpress|0 Comments

When Algorithms Fail

Least you doubt that companies rely too much on technology to provide automated content on the Internet, consider this screen scrape from today’s Daily Beast:

What the Daily Beast Calls Related Stories

Press releases on natural menopause relief and Rebekah Brooks and news stories on Cathie Black and a new Ambassador to Egypt appear to me to have only one thing in common:  photos of women.

Really?  In 2011 it’s okay to lump together any mention of women into a related category?

Obviously, the Daily Beast doesn’t care if the stories it suggests you click on are related. They are simply shoving more material at you in the hopes that you’ll see something — anything — you like and click.  Perhaps their model includes getting money if you click on one of the “Paid Distribution” articles.  I assumed that “paid distribution” meant that the writer published the story through PRWeb or other press release service, but maybe the payment to the Beast is more direct.

Whatever the reason, the Daily Beast sure cheapens its brand in my opinion.  Employing bad algorithms to trick your readers — whether by intention or by sloppy quality control — says bad things about you.  If you cut corners in your content display, how about in your reporting?

Two final snaps:

  • If your refresh the page, you get different related stories, but they are equally awful.  My second visit:
    Related Stories at The Daily Beast my second visit
    The memory-loss woman’s photo is particularly gruesome, IMHO!
  • The “Related Stories” appeared at the bottom of a news article I found through Google news.  The topic and headline of the master story that these women are supposedly related to:  “Former Joint Chiefs Chairman Dies” on the passing of General John Shalikashvili.
By |2011-07-24T07:14:30+00:00July 24th, 2011|Blogging|0 Comments

We’re Joining the Technorati

The blog directory 52XTAUWXSQA9 blog central site Technorati is periodically re-recommended in industry publications as a place you MUST sign up for. Their sign up process is cumbersome, and we haven’t seen any difference in traffic results based on our status. But, we’re trying it again.

We’ll let you know when this blog is accepted and if we see any interesting traffic results.

By |2011-06-07T08:27:45+00:00June 7th, 2011|Blogging|0 Comments

Who’s Reading Your Blog

A client was puzzled because her business was tanking but it seemed like everyone was reading her blogs. She was getting a lot of comments encouraging her to keep up the good work and telling her how valuable her insights were.

Why weren’t those happy readers calling her for her services?

Sad to say, when I looked at her blog I discovered that it was mostly a spam magnet.  She was getting phony comments from automated programs who were carefully linking back to their own site.  Her blog was being used as a way to deceive Google into thinking that the spammers had a popular web site of their own.

If you’re running a blog, you need two tools:

  1. A spam application that catches suspicious comments and holds them for your approval before publishing them
  2. A comment mechanism that instructs Google not to follow links in comments.

The first tool is essential.  This blog uses a spam filter that catches 100’s of attempts by automated bots to link back to their site.

The second tool is now industry standard for blogging programs like WordPress.  It makes your blog less attractive to smart spammers by robbing them of the Google boost IF any of their spammy comments should get through.  This precaution may make you feel better should the anti-spam program slip up and allow a malicious comment to be published.  However, it generally doesn’t lessen the amount of spam on your blog because most spammers use a shotgun approach and don’t investigate to see if their spam is really going to help them.

Your blog can be helpful to your business and your reputation. Blogging is fun, too!

However, practice safe blogging.  It’ll help you collect realistic statistics, and by robbing spammers of their links you’ll be doing your part to fight slimy Internet practices.

 

By |2011-04-28T18:27:21+00:00May 7th, 2011|Blogging|0 Comments

Let Me Spell it Out for You

Want to hire me as an SEO expert to make your business show up high on SERPs?

Say what?

I’m asking if you want to use my Search Engine Optimization skills to get your web site to display at the top of the list of Google’s Search Engine Result Pages.

Oh.

I write and edit a lot of copy for clients, and about half of them send me material that starts off reading like a cryptographer’s training manual.

My church seems particularly addicted to using arcane acronyms when publicizing its events.  Invitations are written like: “Come to UUSF’s SCW luncheon in the MLK with PCD delegates.” Sounds like something you want to do, right?

The addiction to alphabet soup acronyms  and jargon isn’t always accidental.  When I have replaced “UU’s welcome you…” with “Unitarian Universalists welcome you…” I have gotten told off by some of the original authors.  “‘Unitarian Universalist’ is too wordy,” I have been instructed.

Yes, “Unitarian Universalist” is indeed a mouthful. If the organization’s name is too long, then perhaps a catchier name should be adopted. But, announcement writers shouldn’t adopt in-group shorthand in their work. Non-Unitarian Universalists may not have a clue what a “UU” is. Once readers have been introduced to the full term, the abbreviation can be specified and used later on.  “Unitarian Universalists (UUs) welcome you to the UU picnic.”  Or, something more exciting, but along the same lines.

Similarly, when I rewrite messages about services from professionals like lawyers and accountants, I am questioned if my straight-forward, non-jargon language sounds educated enough.  It’s like a potential client won’t hire the firm if the attorney’s web site uses English sentences instead of Latin-infused contract terminology.

Here’s the truth: visitors will click away from your web site if you speak to them in code.  Unless you are the National Aeronautic and Space Administration, NASA-like acronyms make you sound cultish and not open to newcomers.  And, using industry jargon — whether it is educated jargon or just simple convenient jargon — puts distance between you and your potential client.

Remember who you are writing for and leave both abbreviations and in-terms out of your writing.

By |2010-08-28T15:35:36+00:00August 28th, 2010|Blogging, Marketing, Web Design|0 Comments