Posts Tagged ‘Wordpress’

Mobile goodness

Jun
9

I’ve installed the WordPress Mobile Pack in order to make blog reading quite a bit friendlier on our mobile visitors. Not seeing a great many in Google Analytics (about 3% of the traffic) but perhaps that just is because the desktop theme is quite terrible on mobile browsers. Casiella suggested a mobile theme in the past, and now that I have my own smartphone I actually enjoy keeping up with comments or draft a quick post outline while on the road. The theme is one of the default ones, perhaps at some points I’ll add something prettier.

For more mobile browsing goodness the Naraka forums have also been pimped out with phpBB Mobile, which while still under development does the trick quite well (new posts cannot be made yet, and mobile / desktop switching is a little tedious). Depending on user feedback I may get rid of it again and just offer a mobile theme + a theme switcher, as I’ve seen on other forums.

Please leave a comment if you’ve used the new mobile version of this site to let me know what you think of it!

Blog links cleanup

Jul
1

As part of the periodic blog maintenance I’ve changed the Naraka blogs category to Veto blogs, as Naraka is still in stasis until I assume my position as CEO / Alliance executor again. I’ve also updated the blog roll again  and am still looking for a WordPress plugin that can just import and update the whole list without further input from me. If anyone runs one, suggestions are most welcome. Lastly I’ve removed all blogs from all categories that ain’t the Blog Pack who haven’t been updated since the start of 2010, as well as those who’ve failed to respond to my request to update the blog url for this blog on their own. I did send a very nice evemail about it, but I’ve got only one response. Should you have forgotten or simply receive the news late, contact me through evemail and you’ll be put back on the list. New reader and blogging as well? Read this to get on the blogroll.

Public service announcement: RSS feed

Jun
14

So it would seem that my RSS feed had grown out of proportion making Feedburner go “This is too big, I am not going to process this” and the last ten posts I made never showed up. That does explain why traffic has dropped, I was personally writing it off to post frequency having dropped down to somewhere every two weeks thanks to being less active in EVE. I blame being a bit burnt out and the lovely weather for that. It should be working again now that I’ve reduced the feed setting in WordPress to show the last 80 rather than 100 posts, and I’ll keep a close eye on it to see if it needs an even lower value.

Other than just making this a rant and an explanatory post, I urge other Feedburner users to check if this is the case for them as well, especially if you aren’t subscribed to your own feed for monitoring purposes. Just go to Troubleshootize for the relevant feed and hit the resync now button. Any error messages will appear on top of the page. Hopefully there will be none, but if there are, best get onto fixing them asap!

WordPress plugins, hacks and SEO

Mar
31

When mandrill asked me to share my WordPress hacking wisdom I replied that I would do a blog post on it, as well as on what plugins and search engine optimization I have applied.

Search Engine Optimization

Following the WordPress SEO guide ranked highest in Google (proof the advice works?) I applied the following changes:

  • Permalinks are now created as http://ghostfestival.net/myrhial/%postname%/. To avoid stupidly long url’s the SEO slugs plugin throws out all stop words. When writing or editing a post you’re still presented with the opportunity to make edits to this so you can tweak it to perfection. I did not need the Redirection plugin as it seems WordPress does this automatically but it might prove useful for users of older versions who do not have the ability or knowledge to upgrade.
  • Headspace 2 optimizes page titles, something of which I’ve noticed the results on my old Blogspot blog. When writing or editing a post you can edit what you’ve configured as default should you wish to. What wasn’t immediately clear to me there is that when you click “page title” or “description” in front of the input fields it automatically makes a suggestion for you. Headspace is also able to insert code for Google Analytics and various other webmaster tools, which made it my all-in-one solution replacing several other plugins that did this for me.
  • Writing good descriptions and alt texts have been drilled in during my education, and having had the experience of working with a blind student who relied on a screen reader made it all too clear how unusable the web can be. While an EVE Online blog might not be visited by this target group a search engine indexer pretty much works the same way. And then there are mobile users, who might opt to block images to save bandwidth. That last group however you can do a big favor by optimizing your images for the web so they can enjoy your blog in all its glory.
  • Breadcrumbs are more than a web fashion trend. They are one of the biggest investments in user-friendliness you can do, and help indexers make sense of it all.
  • Caching is your friend when set up properly. WP Super Cache works like a charm for this. It has a LOT of options but was pretty much configured right for my tastes out of the box. I’ve noticed the speed increase already, and despite enjoying the luxuries of unlimited hosting its still nice when you don’t go and hog all resources!
  • If you want more speed I recommend the YSlow and  Google Page Speed Firebug plugins and following their best practices.
  • The rest of the guide I’ve pretty much skipped or was implemented already. I’d like to add though that I do not agree on removing links to other blogs as a SEO solution. Keep your list trimmed and up to date, with an archive page is a good idea since an overdose of links might be seen as spamdexing, but if you need to take such measures to keep your readers on site you should consider other solutions like better and more interesting content.
  • There’s information floating around the web that adding rel=”nofollow” to all links means higher page ranking. This is not true. Nofollow should only be added to links of which you cannot guarantee the quality, or are paid advertising. Pagerank sculpting — adding nofollow to everything except a few preferred links — is something I personally frown upon. If I wanted I could add the attribute to all blogs except those belonging to Naraka members to boost their rankings, and ask them to do the same, but where would that lead us? Imagine the whole EVE blogging community starting to apply this. I cannot see it having any positive long-term effect.

Plugins

All of these are available under “Plugins > Add New” in your WordPress admin control panel.

  • Akismet: Comes standard with WordPress and is catching spam like it ain’t pretty. Getting a lot of the sneaky spam, vague comments with a link to some site on posts from ages back. Do not want! As pointed out in the SEO section this spam can be very harmful for your blog as without nofollow attribute search engines will downrank you for it. Don’t let it happen.
  • FD Feedburner Plugin: I highly recommend feedburner if only to keep track of who’s subscribing to you and how, and with lots of options to get the most out of your feed it sets you apart from the rest. Once you have it this plugin redirects all RSS to there, with options to also use feedburner for your comment and category feeds.
  • Google XML maps: Bit of a misleading name since Google, Bing and Yahoo all have webmaster tools with sitemap support. While an RSS feed can work just as well (not when run through feedburner) this plugin alerts these services of updates and allows for customizations to sitemap.
  • IntenseDebate: Makes commenting a lot more interactive and syncs with the classic WordPress commenting system so you don’t lose your comments when you uninstall the plugin. Had it on Blogspot too, but it cost me blood, sweat and tears to get the Blogspot exporter plugin to work. My workaround? Save your exported comments xml file on your own host to get around the password protection of the IntenseDebate site. Any kind of comments and post titles with quotes or other odd signs are going to be skipped and I found nothing faster than to manually add them to the database.
  • RSS footer: Inactive now, but might see future use to advertise new pages or other things not viewable through RSS.
  • Twitter tools: Tweets whenever I publish a new post, and has a nice sidebar widget. If I wanted I could even enable it to let me tweet right from my blog.
  • Yet another related posts plugin (YARPP): Adds related posts at the end of posts both on site and on RSS. Especially nice to bring the attention to previous installments of the Blog Banter and Friday Flash Fiction.

Hacks

Just one really, which I couldn’t find a plugin for, and what seems to be standard functionality on WordPress.com hosted blogs but not in the standalone version (why?!). I wanted to display categories and tags at the end of a post when read through RSS so confusion is avoided between in character and out of character writing.

  1. In your blog’s root folder browse down to wp-includes and open all files starting with “feed-”. These are the layouts of the various methods of RSS your blog supports. Skip the ones for comments.
  2. Locate the line looking like <![CDATA[<?php the_content_feed('something') ?> or  <?php do_action('rss_item'); ?> and add the following right behind: <p>Posted in <?php the_category(', ') ?></p><?php the_tags('<p>Tags: ', ', ', '</p>'); ?>]]>. Should be a </content> tag right behind it.

And you’re done! Wasn’t that simple? If you wanted you could add the post meta data instead. Does not include tags however so that bit you’d have to take from the short version I used.

New software, new look, new location!

Mar
18

As announced on the old blog, I am now self-hosting my blog on the domain and webspace of my corporation which recently have become my own. Wish I had done this sooner, as it costed me blood, sweat and tears to get everything imported. IntenseDebate sadly does not currently have any support to relocate comments from Blogspot in an easy way, as it cannot sync the classic comments with its own like WordPress can. I found a plugin that helped for the most part, but it needed editing as it choked on the xml export being password protected with cookies. While that was simply solved by uploading the export myself and reading from that I still had to do manual imports for all comments belonging to posts containing characters such as quotes as in xml you use their html equivalents to represent them. Ergh, sorry for all the technobabble, but had to mention that for future reference and perhaps it might help bloggers in a similar situation.

On to the positive stuff though, all blog posts and comments made through the old blogger system were easily imported. I did choose to upload all used images again to the new blog to avoid extra calls to Picasa which powers the Blogspot image functionality. Page Speed matters after all. More of these optimizations and some SEO stuff coming soon to provide an optimal reader experience. What can I say, I love to tinker with my blog.

Other than the old stuff there are some new things as well. Twitter integration via Twitter Tools in the sidebar for example, so you can see what I am up to in the Tweetfleet. And YARPP powering the related posts. I’ve also decided on a simple but powerful system for the categories and tags: Categories will simply mark a post as in character, out of character or fiction. Tags will give extra information, for example if an in character post is publicly viewable, or if an out of character post belongs to the blog banter. Have also added a few pages in the sidebar which carry this and additional information. So you might want to check here once in a while for updated to that if you are used to reading the blog through an RSS reader exclusively. If anything major a blog post will likely elaborate on them, but I make no promises.

I am still working on getting the tags and categories to display in the RSS feed. Ideally I’d like the extra footer that displays in single post view to be visible in RSS also. Found no plugin for this, and am under the impression this used to be standard for WordPress but was removed, so I think I will have to resort to some code editing to make it work.

Finally for those using RSS to subscribe to the old blog, I’ve taken the liberty of replacing the blogspot feed by the feedburner feed for this blog, so you should be seeing this as the newest post. Google Reader does also show me all old posts again as new updates, if that is the case for you too then apologies for the spam. I simply wanted to minimize reader loss through relocation :(

That said, please leave a comment with what you like or dislike about this new incarnation of Diary of a Pod Pilot.