Top Seven WordPress Plugins For Your Blog

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Many bloggers are using WordPress and with good reason. It is the most popular blogging software in use today and one of the largest reasons is the ability to add functionality through the use of plugins. Plugins can turn your run-of-the-mill blog into a high powered online tool capable of bringing traffic and profit to your site. Consider using the top WordPress plugins on your current WordPress blog or on a future blog. You will not be disappointed. Happy Blogging.

7. Page Mash

This is a simple WordPress page management plugin. The Ajax interface allows you to drag-and-drop the pages into the order you like, modify the page structure by dragging a page to become a child or parent and toggle the page to be hidden from output. You can also see the id of the page which is often helpful for theme developers. If you have a WordPress site with more than just a handful of pages, PageMash is extremely helpful.

6. All in One SEO Pack

The All in One SEO Pack plugin automatically optimizes your WordPress blog for Search Engine by allowing you to fine tune things like your page title and meta tags. This plugin is extremely easy to use as it works great straight out of the box. If you are an advanced user, you can customize everything. And if you are a developer, this plugin has an API so your themes can access and extend the functionality of the plugin.

5. Google XML Sitemaps

Perhaps the most downloaded WordPress plugin, the Google XML Sitemaps plugin not only automatically creates a site map linking to all your pages and posts, it also notifies Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Ask.com when you make changes to you site. If you want to include pages that are part of your site but not part of you WordPress managed content, you can do that to.

4. WP Super Cache

If you have a popular WordPress website you should seriously consider running WordPress Super Cache to improve the performance of your website. If you are not caching your pages, then every time a visitor comes to your site, WordPress has to pull together various pieces of information out of a database to put your page together. If you have a high traffic site, this is can really become a problem. WP Super Cache will store a copy of each of the pages on your website so that after the page has been assembled from the database once, WordPress can rest and just keep serving the static html copy of the page. This may be a bit techie, but the idea is you can dramatically speed up your site and reduce the load on your server by using WP Super Cache. If for no other reason, use this plugin so you do not have to panic when your friend says, "I just Dugg your site."

3. NextGEN Image Gallery

If you want to display a photo gallery, show a series of product images, or just publish a slide show from your most recent vacation, the NextGEN image gallery is the plugin for you. NextGEN Gallery is a full integrated Image Gallery plugin for WordPress with a Flash slideshow option. Among the many features, NextGEN Gallery includes a thumbnail generator, sortable albums, and a water mark function.

2. cformsII Form Plugin

If your looking for a free form management plugin, cformsII is an extremely powerful plugin for setting up contact forms on your WordPress site. You do not need to know any PHP or write any code. You can visually build forms in the WordPress admin panel. Then, navigate to the page or post where you want to use the form and there is a button in the WYSIWYG editor that you click and up pops a list of forms that you have made. Simply click on the one you want and your form is inserted into your page. Update your page and you the form is live. You can specify required fields, default values, and there are plenty of styles to make your form blend in perfectly with your site.

1. Gravity Forms

If you want the best forms plugin WordPress has to offer, you need Gravity Forms. Gravity Forms is an amazing plugin for managing online forms. Some of the incredibly useful features include conditional form fields which means you can show or hide a field or entity sections of the form based on a value selected in another field. You can pre-populate form fields using querystring, shortcut, function or hooks.You can even schedule when forms are available by assigning a start date and end date for when your form is live on your site. Supposed you want to run a contest where the first 50 people that fill out the form win a prize. Gravity Forms lets you set a limit on the number of entries a form can receive. Pretty much anything you ever wanted a form to do, Gravity Forms can do it.

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Source by Lee Blue

Should You Use WordPress As Your CMS – The Pros and the Cons

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Since WordPress is popularly known as a great blogging platform, CMS enthusiasts often talk about its use as a content management system. Using the right plugins, WordPress can also be used as a great CMS. The following list is meant for those who like to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of a particular CMS:

Pros of WordPress When Used as a CMS:

WordPress is known for being simple to use. It includes pre-installed design options that let users create a template-based blog with plug-ins for CMS, by simply clicking a number of buttons. Moreover, you do not need to know HTML to use the website. When it comes to the blogosphere, WordPress is the choice of platform.

WordPress offers enticing choices of menu, which makes the website more attractive and simple to navigate as compared to Joomla or Drupal. It is easy to rearrange menus and pages to best suit your business needs.

Since WordPress has a lot of no-cost themes, you can certainly find a template that is associated with your business. There is an option for users to pay for a premium account using a business credit card to make your site look more professional.

WordPress has the ability to improve search engine rankings. Your site can end up being on the first page of reputable search engine results like Google or Yahoo if you carefully use relevant keywords.

As of the moment, WordPress has almost 13,000 free plugins on its open source platform. WordPress has been recognized as a CMS tool due to this quantity of plugins.

With the use of custom-built fields, users can expand way past blogging, categorizing to use WorPress as a dependent CMS tool. Custom fields such as "Flutter" make it easy to build a CMS, even for those who have no experience.

The Pods CMS plugin lets users create different kinds of content even without any custom-built CMS buttons.

Cons of WordPress When Used as a CMS

WordPress has many attractive templates. However, some users like to design their own unique theme. To do this, they need to be equipped with a defect knowledge of CSS jargons. Those who know about this may think of using something more robust, like Drupal.

To have CMS design capabilities similar to Joomla or Drupal, WordPress needs lots of plugins. Although these plugins are found on the site, using a lot of them can slow down page load times. Before choosing WordPress as your CMS tool, think about the number of plugins needed as well as how this will affect the functionality of the site.

Since WordPress updates its functionality every now and then, it may not be the best choice for those who go for a more consistent platform, like those who plan on building a CMS on the site.

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Source by Karina Popa

Custom WordPress Themes – Are They Really Better?

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Theme Consistency

All WordPress themes are unique and built by different developers using various approaches. Although the core pages are common to every theme, there is little consistency when it comes to the way themes are coded and structured.

There is a huge difference in terms of CSS mark-up, HTML structure, PHP code and naming conventions to functions. So, it can be time-consuming to perform simple tasks like tweaking column widths and styling comments.

For this reason, it is about time to develop custom themes.

Come Up With a Unique Theme

Even if you have the coolest blog or most useful website out there, it will get lost among the crowds if it looks like hundreds of thousands of other websites.

WordPress dominates almost 20% of the online world and surely, a lot of people will be able to identify the default "twenty" themes from a distance. When your site lacks individuality, people are less likely to be impressed. There is a greater chance that they would not link to you and would probably not come back. Custom themes allow you to create something unique and come up with what you really like.

Faster development

Once you have your first WordPress theme, you will surely want to make your own framework. You need a set of files, functions, styles and structure to use as a foundation for your WordPress project. This will depend on the coding methodologies as well as preferences you are familiar with, which you will not need to make out. Updates, changes or inclusions to your WordPress themes will be a lot easier.

Boost speed

Know how optimized your off-the-shelf theme is. While it is possibly good, it is not impressive enough and, probably, you want it to look as impressive as possible. Your theme could still be using older functions like query_posts () rather than get_posts (). While these two querying functions basically work the same way, the first one is more database intensive. When you are in the driver's seat, you will be able to handle inquiries, optimize your code and if you want to, do the fine tweaking. This way you can let your theme work to your best advantage.

Better Handle on the SEO

While there are a number of decent plugins in the market for this, you would certainly like to have full control over aspects relating to SEO on your site. SEO is essential to every stage of web development, such as how the website is coded and structured. With custom theme development, getting an on-page SEO from the very beginning is definitely easier as compared to changing the code or structure on an off-the-shelf theme by the end of a project. For instance, when you want to come up with custom excerpts to be used for Meta descriptions or tweak the Meta titles using the page type, a custom theme makes it a lot easier.

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Source by Karina Popa

How to Technically Optimise Your WordPress Site

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There are many issues that need to be addressed when it comes to technically optimising your WordPress site for SEO. All of which contain more specific things that need to be targeted to help your website towards ranking well on a search engine. These issues can be discovered by using online auditor tools or purchasing your own audit tools, to save you the time of going through every single page on your website and manually finding these issues. It is vital to carry out your on-site optimisation so that Google sees your site in the best manner possible.

Pages missing a page title

A page title is a very simple and very easy way to include your target keywords for the page, and is therefore important to include on all pages you are targeting, and the rest of them for good measure. To set a page title on a page using WordPress first you should be on the page that you want to set a title for. On the WordPress toolbar, there will be a button to ‘edit page’. Once you are in the edit page section you should scroll down until you see the preview of your page title/meta description (if you haven’t already set one it will still be there as it will set a default one). Click on the preview and it will open the option to set a page title, enter the appropriate page title here (don’t forget to include your keywords) and make sure to save changes before leaving the edit page section. A page title should ideally be between 10-70 characters this is so you can be sure that it will be displayed properly on the search engine and it doesn’t get cut down.

Pages with a duplicate page title / Meta description

Google is all for original content and fresh ideas, anything that is duplicated makes it more difficult for Google to understand your site, so original titles for each page is an easy and effective method to please search engines. This again would be edited in the same way as the previous two, by going into edit page on WordPress and changing all your page titles appropriately if any of them are duplicated.

Pages missing a meta description

Missing a meta description may not affect your SEO directly, however it is very important, as your first point of sale is often your page title and meta description in Google search, it is your first chance to sell your product or service to your customer with a snappy and effective description. If a meta description is not specified, then search engines will display some copy from the page instead. This will therefore be unlikely to give a good description of your page and will be bad for attracting potential customers to your website. You should try to keep your meta descriptions between 150-160 characters to maximise your chances of achieving a better number of clicks from potential customers. A meta description can be added to your page using WordPress in the same section that your page title is added.

Pages missing Google Analytics

Google analytics should be on every page if the user would like to be able to view what’s happening within their website, things like referrals and traffic. Google analytics can also allow you to set up other tracking tools and will do all the work for you. You must have a Google Analytics account set up, and the analytics are put onto the website in the code on each page on your site.

Pages with a low word count

It is recommended to have at least 250 words on a page to improve your technical optimisation for your site, however exceptions can be made for non-key pages, such as contact pages. This is because if a page has a low word count then it gives the search engine less content to look at, this means it is more difficult for the search engine to understand the page and to judge whether it is a good quality page or not. Therefore, to improve your on-site SEO it is strongly advised that your key pages include over 250 words, and don’t forget your all-important keywords. On your WordPress site you can click edit page in the toolbar and more than likely increase your word count by simply adding to the content on the page, which is easy to see and edit.

Pages with duplicate content issues

Once again, in the same way that a duplicate page title or meta description is harmful to your SEO, pages that have content that is considered as duplicate can be even worse. Duplicate content is bad your site as search engines may not show both pages because they are forced to choose which version is likely to be the original, or most relevant version. Therefore, if you have pages with duplicate content you are jeopardising your chances of getting the desired high rankings. There is no one way to change duplicate content specifically for a WordPress site, other than changing the content and ensuring that no content is the same across your site.

Links missing anchor or ALT text.

If a link is missing ALT text, then it makes it more difficult for a search engine to understand the context of your site and therefore more difficult to decipher whether your site is worthy of a good ranking or not. Therefore, it is important to add ALT text to your links to ensure that the search engine is not going to struggle to read your site and give it a good ranking. This can be done by simply putting text that is relevant to the link as anchor text in your <a> tag when linking to a page.

Images missing ALT text / Title text

Using ALT and Title text is an easy way to give search engines a further understanding of what is happening on your site, as you can include relevant keywords in them, giving the search engine an understanding of what the image is, and how it relates to the page. Using your keywords in ALT text and title text will improve your likelihood of ranking higher for your search term as Google will understand that your page is relevant to this keyword, providing that the rest of the page is well optimised for your keywords. Try to ensure that all your images across the site do have ALT text and title text. These can be added in WordPress in the media section, where you will find all the images on your site, simply click on the image and on the right-hand side will be a section to add ALT text and title text.

Broken Images

Broken images will not only damage your SEO, but also your user experience. If a user can see that there should be an image on your page but the image is broken, then they will be deterred from what is happening on the page as this broken image will negatively impact their experience on the site. It may also negatively affect your SEO as search engines can see that there is a broken image on the page. But you should make sure you do not have any broken images more importantly for your users than search engines. If you have a broken image on your WordPress website you should be sure to fix this as quickly as possible, because there are several reasons an image could be broken, there is no sure way to fix this. You can read about the common reasons and fixes for broken images here.

Page errors / Broken links

Page errors will cause an issue when the search engine cannot find a page on your site, that is being linked to or is indexed. This can be due to the server being too slow to respond, or because this page may have been deleted, or had the URL changed without performing a 301 redirect. These errors will stop a user from accessing your site and should be amended as soon as possible, as they severely damage your SEO and your user experience. There is no one way to amend a broken link on a WordPress site, as it can be due to different reasons, you can find out some of the reasons and methods to fix here.

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Source by Matt Grant

7 Reasons Why You Should Be Using WordPress As a CMS

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CMS, SEO, HTML … Website development is full of confusing and often obscure acronyms and terms. It's difficult enough for those who dabble in website development; Imagine the confusion for those people who simply want a website to market their business' services and products?

And that's one of the reasons why using WordPress as a CMS or content management system makes sense.

What is a content management system?

In simple terms, a CMS separates the coding and design of a website from the content. For the end user, which for many small businesses is the owner or manager of the business, a CMS allows them to update their own website content – such as headings, text, images and links – without having to learn about website coding. Many content management systems also allow users to set up blogs, which are increasingly becoming popular businesses tools.

There are many different content management systems available worldwide, many of which are free. Importantly, once a website is built on a particular CMS it can not be simply swapped to another CMS.

Why WordPress is the best CMS

Having a CMS is clearly attractive to most small business website owners. The ability to edit information, change prices, add pages, insert images and make other changes without having to call a website developer makes sense, from a cost and efficiency perspective. Unfortunately, I've seen many small business owners struggle with making even the simplest of changes because the CMS they're website is built on is not all that easy to use.

To me this is the key reason why more small businesses should be using WordPress as s CMS. Compared to most content management systems, using WordPress is quite easy to learn. And once you learn how to use WordPress, editing is easy. This is important because if you're like most business owners, you do not have the time, resources or skills to spend on keeping your website up to date.

Here are the reasons why I believe WordPress is the best CMS:

  1. For developers, WordPress is easy to install and is free to use. The developer still needs to design / code for each business' brand, style, features and needs, but these points do help to minimize the cost of developing websites.
  2. While you will be able to edit your website, there will be times when you'll need to call on your website developer to make changes and improvements. Most website developers can work with WordPress, which allows you to easily seek assistance elsewhere if required.
  3. WordPress is continuously improved and updating is easy.
  4. There are literally thousands of WordPress 'plugins' available which either improve the user experience or help website owners administrator their website.
  5. A WordPress website can grow as your business or resources grow.
  6. WordPress is a brilliant blogging tool. So if you're interested in developing a blog, articles, news or posts section on your website, WordPress is even more attractive.
  7. And, as previously mentioned, WordPress is easy to use.

Another great thing about WordPress is that you can create a test website and see how easy it is to manage – for free. Go to http://www.wordpress.com and sign up for a new blog. While the resulting website will look vastly different from your intended business website, it will give you first-hand knowledge of what it's like to work with WordPress.

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Source by Paul Hurkmans