40 essential tips for wordpress blogs – Joost De Valk


Although its been a few weeks I had the pleasure of seeing Joost de Valk present at the a4uexpo in Amsterdam on 40 essential tips for wordpress blogs just this April past.

His session focused on optimising your wordpress blogs and a prominent part was ensuring that it was able to load quickly for visitors but also factors such as SOE, maintenance and analytics.

Slow loading sites can serious reduce your visitors experience as patience is definitely not a virtue online and its about time I addressed the points he raised. The other tips are definitely worth reviewing and applying although all the recommendations might not be applicable to your own blog depending on what your coding ability is or what plugins and features you may already have implemented.

If its easier, here’s the list of recommend pages and plugins included on the slide show to help make sure your wordpress blog is running at full capacity.

Making your WordPress Blog FAST

Slide 19: Install WP Super Cache with Gzip enabled

Slide 20: Move .htaccess directives to your server config (if possible) and disable .htaccess parsing. (what the hell is this? dont ask me how to do it, pay someone who knows.)

Slide 21: Combine CSS files into one big CSS file, same goes for Javascript which should be loaded in the footer.

Slide 22: Use CSS Sprites (see your developer if you dont know what this is).

Slide 23: Add a PHP opcode Cahce – pick one, all are better than having none. (see slide 20 for instructions in how to deal with this)

Slide 24: Kill some plugins…and try and replace them with similar ones, some plugins are god awful.

Slide 25: Still slow?  Switch to better hosting: http://www.westhost.com/blog-yoast.html (that’s an affiliate link for Joost, so if your gonna purchase hosting use it, I’m sure he would appreciate it and he kinda deserves it even though he owes me a beer).

Adding SEO to your WordPress Blog

Slide 27: Set Pretty Permalinks – Why do people still forget this?

Slide 28: Switch Blog name and Post Title – the format should be post title – blog name

Slide 29: Give Robots Directions – Noindex wp-admin, login and register pages etc. Try Joosts Meta Robots Plugin.

Slide 30: Write better Titles – Use HeadSpace2 or even All in one SEO.

Slide 31: Write Good Meta Descriptions – If you don’t, do NOT auto generate them.

Slide 32: Create Proper Pagination using wp-pagenavi by Lester Chan, f/i

Slide 33: Diasbale paged Comments… they suck.

Slide 34: Read and Implement everything in my (Joost’s) WordPress SEO Guide

Maintaining your WordPress Blog

Slide 36: Backup your database every few hours. Use Lester Chans WP-DBManager plugin.

Slide 37: Optimise your database every day using the same plugin.

Slide 38: Backup your files every day. Use WordPress Backup.

Slide 39: Check your queries. Use the debug queries plugin to check for plugins gone mad.

Slide 40: Run Askimet. Kill those spam comments.

Slide 41: Check the referrers for comments.  (Click the WP plugins Tab)

Slide 42: Remove those nonsense widgets. Technocrati rank? Well…OK. Blog Value Widget: = Nonsense.

Slide 43: Track your uptime. Use pingdom, or another tool. But be the first to know when your blog is down. (and address it immediately)

Slide 44: Check 404′s. Use the 404 notifier plugin and fix them using the redirection plugin.

Slide 45: Remove unnecessary META info.


// Remove Really simple discovery link
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘rsd_link’ );
// Remove Windows Live Writer Link
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wlwmanifest_link’ );
// Remove  the version number
remove_action( ‘wp_head’, ‘wp-generator’ );

Making your WordPress Blog Social

Slide 47: Allow and encourage people to submit (share) your content. Use socialable, dammit :)

Slide 48: Doing newsletters? Add a refer to a friend button the the Thank You page.

Slide 49: Or use my(Joost’s) Comment Redirect plugin, and add the refer a friend there!  ^^

Slide 50: Use WP Greet Box, even useful on “normal” sites.

Slide 51: Make sure your comments are gravatar enabled.

Slide 52: Do the Twitter thing. Its an absurd traffic driver.

WordPress Blog Analytics

Slide 54: Use Google Analytic’s (and my*Joosts* Google Analytics plugin for it)

Slide 55: Use RSS link tagger

Slide 56: Track Twitter Traffic with Twitter Traffic Plugin

Slide 57: Install Canonical URL’s so your analytics does’nt interfere wiuth your SEO.

Slide 58: Use comment redirect to track first time commenter’s

Slide 59: Track Comments as a goal! Use an onclick Javascript with a minor delay.

Slide 60: Track RSS subscribers the same way.

Slide 61: Start optimising: Which traffic leads to more subscribers? (and yes that means forgetting about Digg).

Slide 62: Use my(Joost’s) blog metrics plugin. Improve yourself each month!

And to round it all of, heres the actual presentation itself.
*Joost, next time, make it 20 tips will you?  This took me bloody ages.
40 essential tips for wordpress blogs   Joost De Valk

WordPress the Free CMS for your blog or website


Adaptability, flexibility, user friendly, search engine friendly (even without adding plugins), there’s a lot to be said for the power of the WordPress CMS for creating and maintaining your blog.  I did just say blog, but I could also mean website. If you don’t know the difference between a blog and a website, quite frankly I wouldn’t be worried so for the sake of clarity I will try and explain.

Wordpress the Free CMS for your blog or website

The (traditional) difference between Blogs & Websites

The Website

Every business needs a website. They nearly all have one. They use the site to explain their product or service, display them in the appropriate fashion and market them to grow the business and convey the brand image and representation of the company in line with the physical business.

The site is usually contracted and developed by designers and coders and may or may not have a content management system to manage the information on the site although even today their are still sites that are completely static and do not update or maintain their information with Content Management.

That’s a website, plain and simple.

The Blog with WordPress (the free CMS)

Firstly lets explain something here.  WordPress is not only a free cms for blogs.  The perception is generally that blogs are a site which allow people to keep an on line diary of their experiences, but this perception is somewhat dated now. In reality, the flexible nature of the WordPress CMS and the Search Engine friendliness of the software has ment that businesses have begun to utilise its features in conjunction with their current websites or even as stand alone sites in themselves, meaning that they are not only blogs in the traditional sense, but also complete websites in form and function.

This goes some way to showing just how flexible a WordPress CMS is.

A full list of WordPress features are listed on the Official WordPress site.

As a business you should look at this extensive list of features and compare them to the description of the website above.  A website will not necessarily come with all these features included.  You will have to detail your requirements to a web designer who will then see to implementing and actioning all your requirements.  Then you will be considering the marketing and applications options for your site. Why should you when this free cms covers a vast range of these options already and is Search Engine Friendly from scratch!

But lets clarify something here.  While the CMS itself may be free, nothing in this world is for nothing. Someone with the right knowledge and experience needs to set up the site, edit the design and implement all the correct plugins and settings to get the software to where it really needs to be and that, I’m afraid, means putting your hand in your pocket and shelling out some cold hard cash.

The benefit though, is most certainly in the long term as the wordpress cms is open source, hence new plugins and additions to the site are constantly being added and developed allowing you the freedom to extend and expand your site as required, and with a little training, you can even manage to do all this yourself.

WordPress CMS site examples.

Check out just a few example sites being run on the wordpress platform:

Ford Autoshows
Harrington Estates
Maryland Commercial Real Estate Investors
Kauai Rentals
IES Solutions
Z World

Other FREE CMS Options:

And Finally, just so you know, for a whole range of Free CMS options available check out this post by Paul Anthony from Web Distortion Ireland.

A Twitter Sideline


A Twitter Sideline

Yahoo have just released a new piece of software today, called SideLine,  that bears a striking resembelance to TweetDeck.  The offical site description reads like this:

Sideline is an Adobe® AIR™ desktop application built with the Yahoo! User Interface Library (YUI). It allows users to create and group custom queries by topics of interest.

Sideline is an open source application released under the BSD license. The first beta release is out and the code is hosted on github. If you experience difficulties with the Flash “Install” badge on this site you can find the manual download here.

Without further delay I’m going to download it and give it a spin, will let you know what I think of it soon.