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Updating Themes and Site Improvements

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After a week of work the dust is finally settling and some semblance of order is being restored here on Writingfourmylife*. Although I’m not quite ready to lift martial law just yet, I’ve determined that it is safe to once again post and allow visitors to peruse through the rubble. Please make sure your tetanus shots are up to date and avoid the rest rooms if possible. The footer area is still in flux and there may be some exposed wiring in the sidebar, so keep an eye on those areas if you choose to enter. Oh, and there are a couple empty rooms like the Samples page; I’m still getting all the furniture moved in you see.

As you can probably tell, I’ve done some restructuring and a complete theme change. While some of the purists may find it annoying, I’ve decided to include advertizing spots. Nothing serious, just some banners, and I’ve no intention of selling out and turning every post into a promotion for the latest and greatest money making ploy. Besides, in order to be a sellout I’d have to be getting paid, and at this point in time getting paid is a rare animal indeed. No,my status as paid shill is still relegated to writing honest copy so you can relax.

With all the changes I’ve been making it occurred to me that there’s a post to be had from all this confusion. Most of us see only the pretty face put on the blogs we visit and rarely get to glimpse the greasy machinery and rusty gears churning in the background making everything grind along so smoothly. With that in mind, I’ve decided to shill, er, reveal some of the plugins I’ve been using for the past 6 months or so that I think you readers may find of use on your own blogs. I’m sticking with listing what has been working and demonstrating effectiveness, so if you decide to give any of them a try it’s a fairly safe bet you’ll get the desired results if you’ve done everything correctly.

Perhaps one of the best and least obvious plugins I have been using is the All in One SEO Pack. This nifty little gadget is great for the blogger who isn’t interested in a lot of manual SEO work and would like an edge they don’t have to think too much about. With this plugin you can easily set your blog title to hold your blog name and a few important keywords with it, just don’t be silly and load it with gibberish.

You can also set your blogs meta description which although not a lot of help with SEO per se, is good for enticing those finding your site in the search results to click on your link. It also has some features that can keep things like archives and categories from appearing to search engines as duplicate content which although arguable in importance, is probably at the least a sensible idea. You can also set it to automatically generate keywords from post content and existing tags, a plus when you’re pressed for time.

Here is one serious All In One Pack tip for those less familiar with manipulating your content for SEO purposes. This plugin has an option at the bottom of each add/edit post page in your admin area for adding keywords and titles. This can be quite effective for getting the pages you really want to push to rank well for specific keywords. The All in One SEO Pack is a very good plugin, but it does require you to change a few of its settings to get the most benefit from it. An excellent tutorial can be found here and I highly recommend reading it before making any changes to the plugin’s settings.

The Easy Contact plugin does pretty much what it says with a minimum of hassle, which if you’re like me and easily hassled due to having only one heavily frayed nerve left, is a blessing. Some of you are loathe to put your e-mail address on your site thanks to spammers (see above and “frayed nerve”) and others of us believe that it simply cannot hurt to have as many forms of contact on our site as possible. Easy Contact simply adds a very clean form to your site that allows visitors to contact you without the need to send e-mail or leave the site. All you need to do is download the plugin, create a new page called “Contact”, add the easy-contact short-code to the page and then any text you want to include below it. Voila, instant contact form. You can see it in action here on my site if you’d like.

One last plugin I use that some of you may like is WP-Ban. This nifty little gadget is great for those days when the poopheads just can’t seem to have anything nice to say to you and you’re tired of that one spammer who insists on leaving 125 spam comments every day. Simply install the plugin and activate it, go to your dashboard and record the ip numbers of the offending or offensive parties to be kicked out of the party, then go to the plugin settings and add their ip# to the ban list and update. In addition to being of some help in reducing spam, it also provides some feeling of satisfaction in knowing that you’ve managed to slam the virtual door shut in the face of those who have maligned you for the last time. BTW, if you’re feeling really frisky this plugin allows you to create a custom message for the banned party to read when they try leaving their usual offal at your blogs door. Just sayin is all.

Each one of these plug ins has been a great addition to my WP based blog and proven its worth. All In One SEO in particular I highly recommend, especially if you’re not that well versed in SEO and need all the help you can get. I hope they prove as useful on your own blogs as well.

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This article has 13 comments

  1. Rose 11/11/2010, 5:51 am:

    I love what you have done with the place. I almost left. lol Thought I was at the wrong blog.

    • paul novak 11/12/2010, 4:43 pm:

      Thanks Rose. Still not finished but getting there.

  2. Rosanne Dingli 11/11/2010, 1:56 pm:

    Wow – what a refurbishment! I can even use html in here. The blue 3-D tags on the side are neat. I’ll be back Paul, to read the hints in this when I don’t have a hundred jobs waiting.

    • paul novak 11/12/2010, 4:44 pm:

      I liked em too Rosanne. I think the place has a little more character with some color!

  3. Keyuri Joshi 11/11/2010, 4:31 pm:

    Christmas came early! Thanks for sharing some of your fave plugins. I already have Gregs high performance plugin. Can I have two? Is one better than the other? If I do switch, the tutorial you linked will be a help. I didn’t understand what I needed to do with “all in one” the last time I tried.
    I’m tempted to spam you just to see what your message to me would be!
    Lastly, your site looks great!

    • paul novak 11/12/2010, 4:45 pm:

      Well, not sure using two SEO geared plugins would be a good idea Keyuri. Lots of potential for conflicts. Gregs is good as well, but has a lot the I don’t feel is necessary and can confuse some people.

  4. Catarina Alexon 11/11/2010, 6:50 pm:

    You are doing a good job Paul! Already use All in One SEO Pack and Easy Contact. However, have downloaded the tutorial and will find out what more I can do with it.

    • paul novak 11/12/2010, 4:47 pm:

      Good for you Catarina. All in One works best when you take the time to learn a bit about it before making your settings.

  5. Susan Oakes 11/11/2010, 8:02 pm:

    Love the new site Paul. The SEO plugin is good, although since I switched to Headway it has it built which makes it so easy to optimise.

    I haven’t used WP Ban so will check it out.

  6. paul novak 11/12/2010, 4:48 pm:

    Thanks Susan. Hope the place looks a little more lively.

  7. Sherryl Perry 11/14/2010, 3:35 pm:

    Paul, I love your new design! Your hard work is starting to pay off. Thanks for the tip on WP-Ban. It’s just what I need for my blog.

  8. Rick LaPoint @ Internet Marketing 12/03/2010, 1:51 am:

    Hey Paul,

    It wasn’t my intention to comment here, but wow! Like others, I thought I landed at the wrong address.

    Nice :-)

    Rick

    • Paul Novak 12/03/2010, 3:04 pm:

      Thanks Rick, glad ya like it. Little pressed for time these days, but at least the layout is 95% there.

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