8 WordPress Plugins you needed Yesterday

wordpress plugins

If you use WordPress for your blog software or content management system (CMS) than I am pretty sure that you use a lot of WordPress Plugins to improve the functionality of your website.  There are tens of thousands of useful WordPress Plugins available and tons of great developers, but how do you know which ones are useful for you and which ones are not?

While you will find tons of different opinions and lists of useful WordPress Plugins all around the internet here are some plugins that I have found that are useful for a wide range of bloggers and webmasters.

8 WordPress Plugins you needed Yesterday

  1. AkismetGetting hit with spam comments really sucks but Akismet makes having to delete and sort though spam comments a thing of the past.  Akismet monitors millions of blogs and forums and will decided whether a pingback or comment is good or bad.  While a spam comment is going to get through here and there for the most part it should take care of most spam comments.  Since the service is run by Automattic, the company behind WordPress, the spam filtering and blacking capabilites is one of the best I've seen.  I use Akismet even on a MyBB forum I run.  The best part about Akismet it is free for personal bloggers and there are reasonable plans for businesses with multiple WordPress sites. I haven't found any other spam plugin that is efficient and accurate as Akismet.
  2. Cookies for Comments:  This plugin, like Akismet, should help you reduce the amount of spam comments you are getting.  When a user visits your site a cookie will be dropped and it will check the cookie if they leave a comment.  If there is no cookie it's probably a spambot trying to get a link from your blog.  Cookies for Comments also checks how long it takes for a user to enter their information which also helps stop spammers.  This is plugin is co-authored by Automattic.
  3. WordPress SEO by Yoast:  I've been using this plugin since before it was even popular and it's the best thing to happen to happen to WordPress ever.  (Since Matt Mullenweg invented WordPress of course.)  Joost de Valk made this plugin so you can format all your articles to be written so that search engines will like your articles.  You get a green dot if they are formatted correctly for a certain keyword but you can also get a yellow, orange, or a red dot if your articles are not good for SEO (search engine optimization).  Wordpress SEO has a bit of a high learning curve though so be aware of that when you install it and start using it.  It is not going to be straightforward and you will have to learn how to format articles properly for the best SEO.  Wordpress SEO has a lot of other features which I have to even really use to it's full extent.
  4. Digg Digg:  See that floating sharing bar that follows you as you scroll down (or up) on this post?  That is Digg Digg and it's a great plugin to encourage social media sharing.  If you have't shared this article yet, you know you should with Digg Digg by the way!
  5. SexyBookmarks by Shareaholic:  Another great social media sharing plugin.  This places icons on the bottom of your posts and you choose from a wide variety of different social networks and social boomarking websites to display.  I wouldn't overload your WordPress blog with too many social media sharing buttons but it doesn't hurt to have them a few places on the posts to encourage more sharing.
  6. Yet Another Related Posts Plugin:  This plugin displays related posts on the bottom of articles so that a visitor might read more of your articles and posts.  It even grades the relevance of other articles you have written to what the user is currently reading.  It shows text links as well as picture links to other posts.
  7. Schema Creator:  I recently found out about this plugin during BlogPaws 2013 and I really wish I knew about it sooner.  Schema markup helps you add more meta data to Google search results.  For instance when you see a movie review on Google and there are stars rating the movie that is Schema markup.  This plugin lets you automatically add that markup without having to manually insert code yourself.  The plugin has several different categories and types of Schema markup you can use.
  8. Broken Link Checker:  This plugin checks your WordPress site for broken and dead links.  A post your wrote a year ago about a cool website may no longer be active and Broken Link Checker will send you an email to let you know.  It's great for SEO too as too many dead links on a website will tell search engines your site hasn't been updated in awhile.  The plugin is not perfect as it will send false positives once in awhile. I do recommend it since it has been helpful catching dead links as I can't recheck ever link on all my WordPress blogs.

While there are literally thousands of other useful WordPress plugins out there available, these are just some I have found useful for myself and my own Worpdress blogs.  

If I you think I forgot to include any useful WordPress plugins please leave a comment below and suggest a cool plugin to others. I always love discovering and hearing about new and fun plugins and what developers are doing.

2 Awesome Podcasts to Encourage your Content Creation

Yesterday I wrote an article entitled, “Top 6 Misconceptions about Blogging.”  After the article went up I got an email from a friend of mine asking me about point #6 on the list.  This intrigued my friend since he isn't a particularly good writer but is interested in starting “awesome podcasts” as he put it.

For those that didn't read my article, but you know you should, the #6 misconception about blogging is that “Everyone should start a Blog.”

He then mentioned he had thought about podcasting before but didn't really know where to start.  He then asked what sort of advice I could give him to start a radio or video internet show.

The first thing I suggested to my friend is that he should start listening to a lot of podcasts and watching video shows in topics that interest him.  This will give him a feel for the type of show that he wants to create and what he could possibly do that hasn't been done before.  (Remember you need to find a niche that is Wide Fucking Open.)  This is good to do before you start investing in equipment, hosting, etc.

However I also recommended 2 awesome podcasts that put out content quite frequently.  These podcasts were;

Mike From Maine

awesome podcasts

This is a podcasted and video show hosted by Mike Thomas, who is from Maine, and used to build niche websites.  Like a lot of web entrepreneurs he found himself in a bit of trouble after Google decided to update their search algorithm.  So he decided to switch gears and start interviewing successful internet entrepreneurs about how they make money.   Mike puts out 5 interviews during the weekday and his guests cover a wide range of topics from copywriting, video creation, plugins, solo ads, email list building, social media, and even more.  I've found some of the interviews quite interesting and informative.  The Jayson Benoit interview about solo ads was surprising for me since I didn't even realize people were still making a full time incomes from email lists.  (To me this sounds real old school.)  There was a great interview with Michael Cyger, from DomainSherpa, about monetizing podcasts and about what lead him to start his website.  What is interesting is that Cyger wasn't a domain investor but was interested in the industry and decided he should start a show about it.  Listening to the Mike From Maine has made me realize all the various ways someone can monetize websites and make money online.

While I have gotten a lot out of the show, I would be careful who you listen to.  There are a good number of people that come on the show that “Sell The Dream” (STD). When I say someone has an “STD” that means their successful web business is selling you a product and not actually having done much else besides that.  It doesn't take much to figure out who these people are and I encourage everyone to stay away from anyone with STD's.  😀

Mike even has admitted he's let people though the cracks, so at least he knows and is honest about it.

Entrepreneur on Fire

entrepreneur on fire

This is show that posts excellent interviews with successful entrepreneurs 7-days a week.  That is not a typo but the host of Entrepreneur on Fire, John Lee Dumas, might be slightly nuts. It is a great show with amazing entrepreneurs and John's main goal is to inspire others to pursue their entrepreneurial goals.  Since there are around 230 interviews and growing it might be hard to find a certain interview and show that will be useful for you, so there is a Podcast Match Maker.  You can select what level of entrepreneur you are and what you are trying to accomplish.  The Podcast Match Maker will then give you set of shows it thinks are best for you to listen to.  What's nice about the EOF is that John has the show formatted in the same way so you get familiar with what is going to be asked.  I've gotten a lot out of listening to some of the interviews on EOF and I know you will too.

What's funny, is I believe John is also from Maine and currently lives there as well.  I guess people from Maine are good at podcasting.

Food for Thought

Not only are these awesome podcasts but I recommend “Entrepreneur on Fire” and “Mike from Maine” since both hosts update with new content quite often.  When I first started listening to Mike from Maine I didn't realize he posted new interviews every weekday.  At first I thought, “Hey, is iTunes broken or something?”  There were so many new shows it made it hard to keep up.  The same thing happened when I started listening to EOF.

While the shows can be hard to keep up with for some, I am sure a lot of people love listening to every interview.  Even though I don't listen to either of these shows everyday I know when I visit either site there will always be fresh and relevant content on there.  That is a powerful way to encourage repeat visitors.

Are there other great and awesome podcasts out there?  Sure, but these are the only 2 podcasts that I am aware of that post new shows this often.  That's why I suggested these 2 podcasts specifically to my friend.

There are a number of large media companies and news outlets that put out podcasts daily, but keep in mind these are not large scale operations.  It is not fair to compare Mike Thomas and John Lee Dumas to someone with access to several producers handling tasks for them and resources of a news organization.  (John does have someone help him though.)

Mike is so dedicated to putting out new interviews he still did 3 shows when he got married. How's that for dedication?  (If you are reading this Mike, congrats!)

Seeing both of these guys dedication to their content and sites makes me feel more encouraged.  I hope if you follow them you will get the same push that I did.  I am going to start a podcast with a few other people which I am hoping will go well.  This shows make me realize if they can do I can do it.  Certainly my friend who is not the best writer but quite a boisterous talker could do a great podcast.

If you ask me both of these guys are content freaks and are making others look bad.  Hey, both of you need to slow down! 🙂

WordPress 10th Anniversary and some cool WordPress facts

wordpress 10th anniversary

WordPress, the most popular blogging and publishing platform on the net, turned 10 years old today.  Happy 10th Anniversary WordPress!  This marks an amazing occasion and milestone for the content management system  first released 10 years ago by Matt Mullenweg.  

In internet terms 10 years is essentially “forever” but it feels like the content management system is still pretty new.  You might have noticed the majority of my websites and blogs run on WordPress.  (I use MyBB for forums since WordPress is really not ideal for forum software.) I feel like I have been using WordPress forever but realized it has only been a couple of years since I started using the easiest and best content management system around.  Some people have been using WordPress a lot longer and their expertise goes far beyond where my knowledge probably could ever go.  I learn more about the depths and capabilities of this powerful publishing platform everyday though.

To celebrate the WordPress 10th Anniversary there are special meetups for WordPress users, enthusiasts, bloggers, etc. happening in 639 communities all over the world.  If you want to participate in one of these special WordPress 10th Anniversary events click here to find a MeetUp in your area.

If you don't plan to celebrate the WordPress 10th Anniversary by meeting-up and partying with people, that's fine.  Here are some awesome and cool facts about WordPress you might find interesting  though and you can have a party at your computer;

  • Installation files for WordPress, from WordPress.org, were downloaded 44 million times in 2012, which is a few downloads every second of every minute during the day.  Something to note is this does not include automatic script downloads using Softaculous, Fantastico or other scripts.  Matt Mullenweg was even impressed with this number during his “State of the Word” speech at WordCamp 2012 in San Francisco.
  • WordPress.com runs over 66 million websites including some of the largest sites on the web.  This includes CNN, NBC Sports, TED, TechCrunch, Forbes and many other major news and publishers that all run on WordPress VIP.
  • It is estimated that 17% of the websites in the world run on WordPress or use a customized WordPress framework.
  • 52% of the top 100 Technorati blogs run on WordPress and no other content management system comes close to matching that number.
  • The 2012 WordPress survey had 27,000 respondents from 158 different countries around the world.  2/3 of those were from outside the Unites States.
  • Roughly 20,000 people are making money from WordPress or their entire living.  This includes designers, plugin developers, managers, third party software, etc.
  • WordPress was launched on Memorial Day!  (Happy Memorial Day everyone!)
  • WordPress will save the world!

Ok, that last one might be stretch but I think it is true fact.  People can share ideas a lot easier and make the world a better place with WordPress in my opinion.

Do you have any cool WordPress facts you want to add to this list?  Please leave a comment below and let me know.  I'd be happy to hear if I have missed something because I know I probably have.

Remember to keep blogging, writing, and making open source platforms such as WordPress continue their dominance on the web.  Congrats to AutoMattic (the company behind WordPress) , the developers, enthusiasts, coders, and the entire WordPress community that has made it all possible.

I probably wouldn't be online and blogging today if it wasn't for WordPress.  Do you feel the same way?  I'd love to hear from readers about how WordPress has changed your life as it certainly changed mine.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

Penguin 2.0 part of Google Algorithm Updates in 2013

Google has released some details via it's GoogleWebmasterHelp Youtube channel about some major Google Algorithm Updates that will be taking place in 2013.  The big news that Matt Cutts revealed is that Google is releasing Penguin 2.0 in an effort to continue to cut-out Blackhat and spammy link building tactics from search engine results.

What should we expect in the next few months in terms of SEO for Google?
Matt Cutts, Mountain View

From what I can tell that was said in the video Penguin 2.0 will most likely go deeper than the original Penguin update Google made to it's search algorithm last April.  That means if you using duplicate content without linking to the original source, using automated link building software, basically any BlackHat link building tactics or whatever your websites will likely get harder hit this time around.  “This one is a little more comprehensive than Penguin 1.0” commented Cutts in the video. “We expect it to go a little deeper and have a little bit more of an impact than the original version of Penguin.”

penguin 2.0

The other change that webmasters and sites owners should be aware if is that Google doesn't want sponsored posts or paid advertisements passing on PageRank to sites that have paid for links.  This violates Google's quality guidelines and I have a feeling that the Penguin 2.0 and the next set of Google Algorithm updates might make sponsored posts harder to rank.  It is possible i fewer companies will want to pay for links if there is no PageRank or traffic benefit for doing so.  You could always keep it secret though.

Google will also be providing more tools to webmasters that have hacked sites.  “We hope in the next few months to roll out a next generation of hack sites detection that is even more comprehensive.”  Cutts also said that Google will be working on communicating to webmasters so they know when their sites have been hacked sooner.  It seems they will accomplish this by having more comprehensive info in Google's Webmaster Tools and a “One stop shop” as Cutts puts it, so when someone realizes they have been hacked they can go get the resources they need to clean it their site.

It also seems authority sites with great content will be getting a boost from Penguin 2.0 and the next Google Algorithm updates happening in 2013.  Google wants to serve up sites with content, “According to the algorithms, might be a little more appropriate for users.”  So authority sites in certain areas, like medical or travel, could be seeing a spike in traffic for certain keywords in the coming months.

Some websites that might have gotten unfairly hit by the Google Panda update back in February and April 2011 might get a reconsideration.  Since Google Panda affected roughly 12% of search engine rankings, there are probably a lot of sites that were unfairly hit.  Most were not hit unfairly however.

A possibly change will be that Google will have less site clustering on search engine result pages.  “Once you've seen a cluster of results one site, you'd be less likely to see the more results from that site as you go deeper into the next page of Google search results.”  said Cutts.  It sounds like this change is not definite but will likely be something that Google will roll-out.

Matt Cutts explicitly states in the video people should take what is said, “With a grain of salt.”  Google could move resources around and decide to make different updates to it's search engine if the need arises.  It sounds like for the most part a lot of these plans will be rolling out over next few months in 2013.

What was most surprising in the video was actually nothing that was said by Matt Cutts, but he is wearing a Firefox T-shirt! 🙂  I noticed it immediately and I assume the Google execs and Chrome team probably were not too happy about it.  Most likely they didn't know until the video went up.  Google is a pretty cool place to work if they allow employees to wear T-shirts that represent competitors products.  (I am writing this blog post using Firefox by the way.)

Anyway, bottom line is if you were affected by Penguin or Panda and still do BlackHat link building techniques, Google is coming for you.  If you just have a simple blog or website and are not engaging in shady practices you should be fine as long as you have a good SEO gameplan with great content for users.

Matt Cutts did announce on his personal blog that Penguin 2.0 officially rolled out on May 22, 2013.  About 2.3% of English language and US based queries have been affected at this point.

What are your thoughts about the Penguin 2.0 and Google Algorithm Updates for 2013?  Please leave a comment below and let me know how you interrupted the video if you are a webmaster, Search Engine Optimizer, or just think I am plain wrong.  Hopefully that isn't the case though.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!

9 Tips for Running a SUCCESSFUL Kickstarter Campaign

successful kickstarter campaign

Everyone it seems is trying to raise money on Kickstarter nowadays.  It doesn't matter how wacky or crazy your idea is or well-connected you are, everyone is doing Kickstarter.

You probably have dreamed about running a successful Kickstarter campaign and getting tons of money to fund your next venture or project.   While it is quite easy to setup a Kickstarter campaign, it is very difficult to actually run a successful Kickstarter campaign.  These tips should help new or experienced entrepreneurs crowdfund their next project.

1. Start marketing BEFORE you launch

This is a simple, easy, and a key tactic to running a successful Kickstarter campaign and a lot of people do not do it.  If you can give your campaign momentum before it even starts, the chances of you getting funded are much higher.  Send your friends and family an email and just say, “Hey, I am launching this Kickstarter project and it would be really cool if you contributed when it launched.”  Obviously add some heartfelt messages and say what the project is and be genuine about it.  This way you already have a good idea of how well you are going to be funded before you put up the Kickstarter page.  You need momentum since most people won't donate to Kickstarter projects if there doesn't seem to be any chance of the project reaching the funding goal.

2. Use SOCIAL MEDIA as much as possible

If you are active on social networks use tip #1 and market the Kickstarter project before, during, and after the Kickstarter project goes live.  Social Media can be a great way to find people within your niche or field that might be interested in funding your project.  If you are not active on social networks, find someone who is and can help you.  If you know someone with a lot of (legit) followers, ask them to promote your Kickstarter project.  Don't waste time on a social networks you don't like or don't want to use though.  If you like Facebook, use Facbook.  If you have better results with Pinterest, use Pinterest.

3. Find People to WRITE about your Kickstarter project

Again I would use tip #1 and try to see if you can find a blogger in your niche that would be interested in the Kickstarter campaign before it launches.  (Good places to check are Examiner.com and Dmoz.org if you don't know of any bloggers.) Getting articles written about your campaign makes it seem serious and give you more exposure.  Chances are if a few people write about you, other writers and bloggers will pick-up the story as well.  Additionally this helps get traffic to your Kickstarter page which can be difficult when you consider how many projects and campaigns are on the site and go up everyday.

4. Make it CLEAR why you need money, and what you will use it for

People need to understand what you are doing and why they should give you their hard earned money.  Successful Kickstarter campaigns describe what they need money for in detail and clearly.  If you just put up a paragraph and think that's enough, it isn't!  If you are not the best with words, that's fine.  Find someone who can help you truly describe why you need money and awesome things you are going to do with it.  The most important thing when writing the description is to sound genuine and real.

5. Use keywords for SEO impact

Since Kickstarter has high authority and Pagerank (7), using the proper keywords can really help give your page a boost in visitors.  Having a well-written description that is SEO friendly will make Google love it, which is important.  You can use the Google Keyword Tool to find what words you should and should not include in your description.  (When using the Google Keyword Tool remember to select “Exact” since it defaults to “Broad” searches which won't be as helpful.)  Also remember to put a link to your website (if you have one) in the description.   That will help your website's traffic and link juice.  Also chances are people are going to check your website before contributing.

UPDATE: Google has shutdown the Google Keyword Tool and moved to a new more comprehensive tool, the Google Keyword Planner.

6. Use beautiful PICTURES, a lot

Using beautiful and eye-catching pictures will help keep people on your Kickstarter page.  If they are on the page longer, they are more likely to contribute money.  Remember that the cover image for the Kickstarter project is important to draw people to the page as well.  It should be distinctive and stand out from the crowd.  If you don't take good pictures find someone who is good with cameras help you.

7. VIDEOS sell, so use Vimeo

Videos are a great way to tell the world your story of why you need money.  For instance, a lot of indie film projects put-up trailers so you can get an idea of what the movie will be like.   If you are going to put up a video, make sure to use Vimeo and not Youtbe.  It makes me crazy when I am watching a Youtube video and it freezes!  (This happens even on fast internet connections since Youtube's bandwidth and servers seems to get overloaded during certain times of the day.)  That should definitely not happen on your Kickstarter page since people are impatient.  Vimeo has better video quality and rarely freezes.  That's why lots of startups use Vimeo nowadays instead of Youtube.  Remember you are not focusing on Youtube views, you need to focus on quality and getting people to give you money.  Vimeo even has a nice Video School so you can learn about good techniques for making videos.  By the way, don't feel like you need expensive cameras or equipment.  My Sony HD Handycam, which cost $500, shoots in full 1080 high definition and is great for making short internet videos.

8. GIVEAWAY stuff or something

Successful Kickstarter campaigns giveaway stuff or something.  For instance if you are a band and need money to rent a studio, then mailing the album once it is completed to someone who contributed $50 is a logical thing to do.  If you don't have stuff to giveaway, you could just post the person's name on a Donor List or something like that.  You don't need to offer the world but offering something is important.  People are much more likely to contribute to a Kickstarter project if they feel they got their money's worth.

9. DON'T use Kickstarter!

What? How does that make sense?  While Kickstarter is quite popular and has a ton of traffic, that is double-edged sword.  Your Kickstarter campaign could get a lot of traffic but more likely it will get drowned out by the all the other campaigns vying for people's attention.  It is estimated that only 32% of Kickstarter projects get funded.  You might want to try IndieGoGo which is another popular crowdfunding platform and came before Kickstarter.  The nice thing about IndieGoGo is it has flexible funding option, which means if you don't reach your funding goal, you still get some money.  IndieGoGo is also catered more toward non-profits.  Crowdrise, GiveForward, etc are good options if you are a non-profit.  There are also other crowdfunding alternatives which cater to specific needs or groups.  These might be a better fit depending on your project and fundraising goals.

Successful Kickstarter Campaign

I hope these tips help make a successful Kickstarter campaign or IndieGoGo, Crowdrise, etc for whatever you want to raise funds for.  If you have any tips that you would like to add, please let me know and leave a comment below.

Know someone who wants to crowdfund their next project or big idea?  Please share this article with them before they start it so they have a successfully funded project.

Catch me on Twitter @AdamYamada … if you can!