Thursday, November 28, 2013

5 Classifieds Plugins for WordPress

Plugins that are designed to make it possible to create classified listings are a great way to plug unwanted items or post listings for work. The following classifieds plugins are great to use for creating such listings.
WP Classified – This is a simple plugin that is designed to make classified listings which can be displayed on a separate page. Can be stylized with several great formatting and makes for a very nice addition to the WordPress blog.
Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin – As the name implies, this is another WordPress classifieds plugin that can be customized in several ways. This plugin comes complete and places classifieds easily.
Social Engine Last Public Classifieds – This is the social engine plugin to show the last public classifieds. This application is not free to use and requires a subscription to their service.
Classifieds Theme for WordPress – This is a great theme for WordPress that integrates all that you need to make your WordPress blog into a functional classifieds page with the ability to integrate several payment methods.
Edgeio Classifieds – This plugin allows you to create a classifieds’ section on your WordPress blog and offer free or even paid classifieds to your blog for others to take advantage of.

5 Chat Plugins for WordPress

Having a chat running on your website is a great way to keep visitors entertained and engaged with your writing. You can offer chat in various locations and visitors can chat amongst themselves.

Geesee Chat – This is basically a chat client that is available to use with many different platforms including WordPress. It is very useful in keeping in touch with your readers and allowing them to talk with each other to discuss your writing.

WP Live Chat – This is a plugin that is basically an IRC engine. It allows users to chat over your website and supports many functions of the popular IRC chat engine.

Side Sparks Chat – This plugin allows you to communicate with your readers in real time. This makes it possible to do so with a self hosted WordPress installation.

Chat Catcher – This plugin allows you to post comments from social media services to your blog. It is a great tool to ensure that you get all of the praise for your blog as possible while moderating out the less flattering comments.

ooVoo Video Chat – This is a very nice chat application that makes it possible to have live video chats with other users. The great thing about it is that you can have up to 6 people connected via webcam and have focus groups or brainstorming sessions with readers!

2 Sermons Plugins for WordPress

Giving a sermon through WordPress seems farfetched, but it is more common than you think. There are two specific plugins that are available to allow for such a feat to be accomplished.
The Sermon Browser – This is a very nice plugin tool that allows a church to upload a sermon to their WordPress site. This also catalogues and makes the sermon easily searchable and ready to download from the server for people to listen to.
WordPress Sermons – This is another great plugin for churches which have sermons that are recorded into MP3 format to upload and share to anyone that wishes to enjoy the sermon from home.

5 Blogroll Management Plugins for WordPress

A blogroll is useful for many different reasons but it is mainly based on creating links to other websites. They can be a great promotional aid and may help readers find related content that could be useful to them.

Blogroll Auto Linker – This great tool is useful in making it possible to easily link to another site in your posts by using your blogroll. This also allows you to use the auto link feature with smart tags by putting the name of the blog in brackets.

Blogroll Links – This is another great plugin that features the ability to quickly and easily manage your links to other websites through the blogroll. This is useful for linking to friends or other blogs that you use.

Blogroll to Google CSE – This is a great tool if you will be linking to permalinks. It easily creates a database and custom search engine that runs off of Google and lists your links first.

Blogroll Fun – Show Last Post and Update Time – This is a great tool that can help you show your readers the last post time and update time. This can be very helpful when readers want to go to pages that are actually updated every so often.

Auto Blogroll – This is a simple tool to create and manage a blogroll for link building. It is a great plugin that simplifies everything for you and makes it possible to link to any website or post.

Monday, November 25, 2013

How Do You Pick a Great SEO Expert?

Do a Google search for “SEO Expert”. How many results do you see? I receive over 13-million results.
The SEO market is saturated with companies and individuals claiming that they can get you great rankings and drive traffic to your website.
With so many experts available, whom should you choose?
The purpose of this article is to help to guide your choice with some simple questions that you should be asking of any potential Search Engine Optimization expert before you let them loose on your campaign.
Question #1: Can you get me to the top of the search engine results pages (SERPs)?
The answer you want is “no”.
No one, even Google themselves, can guarantee your position through organic search results. Organic results are from normal, natural searches by users, not influenced by any outside factor such as payment for listing.
You can guarantee first three positions on Google if you are prepared to pay for a sponsored link. But why would you pay an SEO “expert” to do this for you if you can approach Google yourself, without any SEO experience, and achieve the same result?
Bottom line: If an SEO expert promises to get you into a specific position – top of the results; top ten; first page etc. – they are either lying or do not understand the nature of search engine rankings. Either way, they’re not for you.

Question #2: Will you need to change my website?
The answer that you want is “Yes” – or at least “let’s take a look at your site and make a decision”.
SEO can be conducted in two styles: on-the-page and off-the-page. Although off-the-page work delivers greater results because of the way search engine ranking algorithms work, many so-called “experts” completely miss the importance of optimising your actual web pages.
Your content; your site structure; the load time; outbound links; code validity; the ease of which search engine spiders crawl your site. All of these factors, and more, will ultimately affect the way your site will eventually be ranked. This is why all great web designers, such as DataMouse, need to have at least a fleeting interested in SEO practices.
If your SEO guy doesn’t want to look at your site and at least review the work that you have completed already, they don’t know what they’re doing.
And, if they don’t know what they’re doing, do you really want them to be in charge of guiding customers to your site? I didn’t think so.
Question #3: What software do you use for SEO?
The answer you’re looking for is “I use some where appropriate, but you can’t beat some manual, hands-on work”.
There are loads of software packages available to improve your page ranking, and some work better than others. Having said that, there are some instances where old fashioned manual work is the key to great results.
If your expert uses an automated system to submit your site URL to directories, acquire back links or add content to article sites, these will not give you as great a benefit as manual submissions.
Likewise, if your SEO expert sends automated, template-based emails to other webmasters asking for reciprocal links, they are very likely to be less successful than sending tailored emails, individually addressing their interest in why they want to exchange links.
This SEO software is available to anyone – not just SEO experts. If you are paying a long-term partner to maintain and improve your ranking using only automated solutions, then why wouldn’t you simply invest in the software yourself?
Question #4: How do you know if my SEO campaign is being successful?
The answer you are wanting is “by the conversion rate”.
If you receive answers such as “the amount of traffic”, “the number of page views”, “your PageRank” or “the position of your site in the SERPs”, your expert is not a true SEO expert.
A true SEO expert understands that getting people to your site is only one stage in a successful strategy. Increasing your visitors from 100 per day to 1,000,000 per day does you nothing if those visitors are still not buying your products and/or services. In fact, you’ll probably be in a worse position, having increased your bandwidth usage and, therefore, the cost of running your site.
The whole purpose of increasing your site visibility is to get more of the right people to your web pages, and for those people to convert into sales.
If this concept seems alien to your SEO expert, there are better experts out there that will deliver a successful SEO campaign.
Question #5: Are there any practices that we shouldn’t do?
The answer should be “absolutely”.
I can give you some tips that will drive traffic to your site and put you at the top of the search engines within a very short period of time. You can then pay me and our business is concluded; just in time for your site to be completely removed from the search engine index.
As with most things in life, there are two ways to get results. We can do it the correct way, which is more work and takes longer to see the results, or we can do it in a quick and dirty way that shows results quickly but is also spotted and punished just as quickly.
SEO is no exception. There are “White Hat” and “Black Hat” SEO experts, so named because of old Western films, in which the bad guys always wore black hats whilst the heroes wore white.
White Hat SEO is hard work. But it delivers results that are long-term and strong. Black Hat SEO can be done very easily and can deliver results that a layman might interpret as a job well done. But, as we’ve already mentioned, this short-term gain won’t last forever and, depending on the actions taken, can make your website disappear completely from Google et al.
Essentially, Black Hat SEO delivers higher search engine ranking results in an unethical manner.
So, what practices come with the black headwear?
  • Hidden Text
Search engines use your content and keyword weight to determine what your page is about and how important it is.
Unfortunately, you can’t just write “seo seo seo search engine seo seo google seo seo search engine google” etc all over your page, as this will look hideous to your human visitors.
Black hat SEO has a way around this. Add the text to your page, but make it the same colour as your background. That way, your human visitors won’t see it, but the search engine crawlers will spot it in your HTML code. Genius!
Nope. Google are very much on top of this technique. Even having text that is a similar colour to your background can land you in hot water. Light grey on a white background? Say “goodbye” to your listings.
  • Keyword Spamming
Key word density is the ratio of how often a particular word of phrase appears within a block of content. If a website is written for human visitors (as it should be), you would expect the keyword density to be within an acceptable tolerance.
Google knows this. If your density is too low, your site will not be ranked well for the term. If it’s too high, Google’s algorithm assumes that you are keyword spamming, and reduces your ranking. It can also remove you from the index.
  • Doorway Pages
A doorway page is a page build purely for search engines, optimised for a few short keywords/phrases, which your human visitors will never see.
Often, they are coded to show particular content for a search engine spider and different content for a human reader. On other occasions, the page uses a redirect for non-human visitors. They can also be “orphan pages”; a page that has back links to your site pages, such as your homepage, but no links to itself. This means that the only way to reach it is to type in the full URL address in to your browser.
Any time that you show different content to search engines compared to human visitors, it’s generally a bad idea that’s punished or ignored by the search engines.
Summary
If your expert can answer these 5 questions to your satisfaction, you’re well on your way to a great partnership; one that can deliver tangible, stable results for your web site.
The keyword there is “partnership”. SEO is a two-way street. With slow traffic and lots of road works. You will not see results in a few days – they could take as much 3-months before you start to see real benefits. And even then, these results will change as your competitors adjust their own strategies for those precious keywords.
When this happens, you need to know that the guy you rely for your SEO work isn’t some fly-by-night black hat cowboy. You need the lone ranger.

Optimizing your Keyword Research

Too often, when I view the source code on pages of potential client’s sites, I notice that they include keywords that are just too broad to 1) enable them to show up on 1st page SERPs and/or 2) bring targeted, interested traffic to their site. Another problem I’ve encountered is that people forget or don’t know to look at synonyms for additional, meaningful keywords.

Let me explain the first point:

I have a client whom manufacturers wonderful chocolate novelties/favors for occasions such as weddings, Easter, baby showers, Communion, etc. And their keywords, in addition to “chocolate party favors” include those terms too. But those terms alone provide little to no help in bringing the right traffic to their site.

“Baby shower” on its own could refer to hundreds of different things. Baby shower planning, themes for a baby shower, baby shower invitations, baby shower poem, baby shower activities, etc. But the chocolate maker can only fulfill the needs of ‘baby shower chocolate favors’, ‘baby shower candy favors’, and other tightly related terms. When keyword research was performed on these terms and their many variations, and then those learnings where incorporated in the site, meaningful traffic increased almost immediately.

As for the second problem mentioned – it can easily be illustrated with this example. A client asked if I could optimize his site so he would get more meaningful traffic. He happens to be a lawyer and the few keywords he had on his site all had the term ‘lawyer’ in them. But after I performed keyword research for his practice areas I realized that ‘attorney’ was a highly desirable search term too. When we added keyword terms and rewrote content to include both ‘lawyer’ and ‘attorney’, (picking each specific term based on potential traffic and how competitive the term was) traffic picked up within a matter of weeks.

A Smart and Quick Web Design Technique that Increases Profits

The problem with a lot of web designers is that their skill is well, web design and by this I mean they create beautiful interfaces and all of the the stuff that we like to look at and interact with and of course, this has it’s rightful and important place in the digital landscape but often the point of the site is often overlooked.
Where many web sites fall over, and I’m talking specifically in terms of transactional sites, is that they look great but in actual fact they don’t do what they are supposed to do – convert traffic into leads or sales or whatever you else you use as a benchmark for your web site’s success. So without further ado I’m going to introduce you to a simple technique that will increase your conversions and that is not yet widely used in the internet marketing and that any web designer can integrate in just 5 minutes. In fact, it is not just something you can implement on your own site but on the web sites belonging to others in related sectors.

Let’s start with some basics. If you haven’t heard of the ‘sales funnel’ it is the journey that a prospect takes to get to a conversion.

So something like a user does a Google search on a keyword that takes them to your web site sub page, they then enter their details to get to a download offer page. That would be a typical example. For digital marketers getting relevant prospects into their sales funnel and converting them is the number one priority as converted prospects are far easier to sell to than cold ones.
With this in mind consider this journey. A user arrives at your web site and decides to sign up to your report about weight loss. They fill in their details and submit the form and great, they are now in your list. It is at this point that many web sites miss a trick. At this moment the prospect is at their hottest as they have just traded their details for your report and trust you as a resource but what does your web site do? It pops up with a virtually blank page that says ‘thank you for signing up’ and that’s it. What a waste!
Now is the time to hit them with an even better offer. All you have to do is link to it and boom, you might just make a sale. Now stay with me though because this gets 10 times more powerful.
Consider how you can use this technique to leverage the traffic on other peoples web sites. Remember the sales funnel? Well most good web sites have their’s figured out and get a lot of traffic signing up for offers and news and the like. All you have to do is get your offer into their sales funnel.
You are probably thinking why would anyone let me do that and if so how?
Well this bit is easy as it is a win/win situation. All you have to do is source the highest traffic web sites related to your offer (I’ll get to that in a minute) and contact them.
Your offer to them is simple, you want to put an affiliate link to your product on their sign up ‘thank you’ page (which 999 times out of a 1000 has no perceived value to them) and you will give them whatever percentage you deem appropriate. You can even offer to put together the HTML for them yourself! How could they refuse?

The incredible thing about these thank you pages pages is that they are incredibly targeted as previously mentioned, these are people that are actively looking for similar products or services and are hot right now!
To find web sites that will benefit you is quite easy too. Just do a Google search using your top industry keyword plus “privacy is important”. This will return pages in your sector that have sign up forms on them. From there you will need to use a tool like SEO for Firefox to gather some data.
You need to target sites that get good traffic so check out the Alexa ranking and the PageRank before you go wildly pinging emails to every site in the top 10 for your search. Then all you have to do is send a nicey nice email discussing your offer in you win I win terms and that should be that.

If you think about this, who in their right mind would turn you down? Sign up thank you pages are already in place so there is no development outlay and it is an opportunity for the web site to make money without lifting a finger.

Custom Web Development and Design Matters…

Custom Web Designing Matters…
To be successful on the web you need a custom website design that has something more than others have on offer. A well designed, easy to navigate; user-friendly custom website design will serve as an asset to your company while being a major part of your corporate identity.  Your prospective customers will find you on top search engines of the world such as Google, Yahoo and Bing.  Everyone these days is searching for something new and most web surfers stop by a unique looking website that offers cool features.  A creatively designed home page with easy to use navigation will make your custom website design appealing to the target market.
So, pay special attention to the layout and design of your website, so you stand out from the crowd. Do you know why some of the e-commerce websites have booming online sales as compared to others? Well! its simply due to their attractive design.  Websites that do not get any visitors need to b erevamped and this time focus on the functionality and appearance apart from the content.
Custom Web Design Challenges:
For a web designer, designing a website has its own challenges. The use of appropriate colors and creating a theme can take days at a time. Building something that will draw you heavy traffic requires special attention. A good web designer ensures that your custom website message is conveyed effectively and the products/services on offer are highlighted properly. A custom web design will allow you to connect to your target market and you will have more queries and  consequently your website will start to churn profits. Those who own information websites need to ensure that they offer relevant information, so the website serves its purpose.
As you must be knowing a successful website design has three main features:
  • User friendliness
  • Easy navigation &
  • Fast loading graphics
Not only does the design, but content also play an active role in the success of the website. Website content and web design go hand in hand. You can have one of the best designed websites but what if the content is not good enough to catch the attention? A well designed, elegant and a user friendly website will always be graded at a higher rank in the SERPs, driving more visitors to your website.

How to Hire A Quality Web Designer or Company?

With the Internet involving more and more each day, and more people moving their businesses online. You will soon face the idea of hiring a web designer. Not just any web designer, but a web designer that will get the job done the way you want them to.
Before you go and rush of and hire the kid next door to design a website for you, you should consider the foundation and the fundamentals of a good website first.
When looking for a someone to design your website, you need to give them as much details as you possibly can, in order to meet your recommendations. Don’t assume that they know what you want, be very specific to what you would like, so they don’t design a website that was not what you were looking.
The most important factor with hiring a good web designer is communication, this will speed up the work flow, and if you have any questions along the way, there is always an answer there waiting for you. Because if your deadline is short, this is very important to a designer who may already have other projects on the go, that also have schedules.

Hiring an expert to do the job for you can be pretty expensive, but it’s a one payment project, than spending along the way to get your website finished and ready, and resulting in spending more in the future.
You are going to want your website to load as quickly as possible, and attracts customers straight away. And bearing the customer in mind, they have to have an easy process of navigation through your website without any errors that may be there.
So when looking to choose a person or even a company to do your website for you, you can expect to come across a little expense, but having seeking the expense of their service, you will know that you’re in good hands, and getting what you paid for.

How Will Article Marketing Help With My Search Engine Rankings

Article Marketing is a great way for businesses to market themselves online by writing short articles related to a topic in their specific industry. It should be considered as an essential part of your search engine marketing program.
Not only is Article Marketing a great, free method of getting your expertise out there but also, and very importantly, it is one of the best ways in which to generate traffic to your website. Extra traffic means extra enquiries and hopefully extra sales. Your visitors are targeted as, by reading your article, they are already interested in what you have to offer.

The articles are made available for distribution and publication on the internet and each article contains a link back to the author’s website. The website where an author posts an article is known as an Article Directory. The Article Directory site gradually gains in popularity as more articles are posted, which benefits the author with increased article views and an increased value on the link back to the website.
As each article is distributed or syndicated out to publishers this increases the exposure of the business, greatly increases the one way backlinks to the author’s website resulting in higher search engine rankings, and may generate extra traffic.

Syndicated article sites want good material so you need to make sure that your article is well-written with the content relating directly to the title of the article. If the reader likes your article and values the content that you have provided they are likely to click through to your website thus creating extra traffic to your site.
Try and differentiate yourself from your competitors. Research what they offer and what they don’t. Read forums, blogs, social networking sites and other online publications to get ideas on what people are talking about. This is a great way to get ideas and also to make sure that when you come to write your own article you have picked a popular topic. In order to get picked up by the search engines your article must also include the keywords (although don’t overuse them) that your website is optimised for. Be careful to write naturally, and focus on readability rather than trying to get your keywords in the article as much as possible. A reader should not be able to tell that you’re focusing on certain keywords – they should just think that they’re reading a quality article on a specific topic.

Why You Should Be Building an Email Marketing List

Regardless of the product or service you are offering to potential clients or customers, you can benefit from building an email marketing list. It provides an effective means of regular communication with customers and prospects, and it is inexpensive, highly targeted, and results are often extremely quick.

Email Marketing Lists are Inexpensive

The cost of an email marketing list is driven by two factors. First, the cost of the management software or service. There are several well-respected suppliers of email list management services, including Aweber and GetResponse. Generally this cost is based primarily on the number of subscribers to the list, making it easy to grow your list, without high up-front costs. Because this part of the cost is not driven by the number of emails you send out, you can be free to set a schedule that makes sense for you and your business.
The other cost that is sometimes associated with building an email list is the cost of the content. Because providing useful and quality content is such a significant part of building a reputation online, through brand awareness and authority, it’s important to make sure your email marketing list receives great content on a regular basis. For some businesses, this simply means repurposing content, such as news releases, articles written for local newspapers, etc. for use with their online newsletter.

But for many businesses, there isn’t enough time in the day to do everything they need to do to help their business thrive and grow to spend time organizing or creating content. In these cases, a business may choose to hire or outsource content creation to experience ghost writers.
Even though this does mean an additional cost, when weighed against the business owners time, the added expense is negligible.

Email Marketing is Highly Effective

According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), it takes between five and seven contacts with a prospect or lead before they become a customer. By utilizing email as a communication tool, you can increase the chances of having those five to seven touch-points, and, in doing so, increase your customer base through your email marketing list.

Tips For Social Media Optimization

Now a days to make the websites popular there are various techniques such as Search engine optimization and internet marketing for web promotion. Social media optimization is a technique that is used by the web business to to make the website popular among the search engines. It is possible to optimize the websites to make them easily connected to the community websites through SMO. The vital thing before opting for SMO techniques is to identify the sites that you intend to use such as MySpace and Flickr.

Social media optimization is a technique to optimize the website to be acknowledged in a social community site. Internet is accessed by people all over the globe on the daily basis as it is the reservoir of knowledge and information and above all it has become a medium for the online business.To increase the traffic to your website it is very essential that the site should have the maximum visitors visiting the site. One of the method can be to write maximum blogs to make the site attractive to all.

It is also important to have content that that the visitors would link to by including the tag or mentioning the links in the blogs and this ensures the success in the SMO as the key to success to SMO lies in its content. The popularity of SMO lies in using the secure usernames to be used in visible social media, email or sites like gmail or hotmail.

Social Media optimization is boon for the web businesses but also is a major source of earning revenues for them. The vital ingredient for the sites to be popular is the linkability of the site on the other web sites. The site would be more popular and well known if it has links on to the other sites too. One more method to improve the traffic to the site is providing fresh content to the readers. Nobody would be interested in reading the same content over and over again. So something new in the content and varied informations will attract more and more people to the site. Not any type of information would find a place on the site but information relevant to the site or giving information about the products which the site sells online. If the site offers an interest it would be popular among the visitors and then automatically increase its rankings in the search engines.

Social Media Optimization is an effective tool for website promotion. The content of the site should be highly resourceful and informative and one should always adopt innovative techniques to make the site popular among the visitors. Social Media Optimization is most effective technique of SEO that most search engine optimizers are using to achieve higher rankings.

Launching your E-Commerce Website

Once you have launched your eCommerce website and begin to get some traffic, you are ready for some online transactions. You wouldn’t want to lose out on an incredible opportunity of selling your products and services on the internet. Your website is the best spot where you can actually make this happen. You can tell your customers what you’re offering, what price tags your service and products have. You can even invite them to buy your products online and this can only happen when you add an e-commerce feature to your website.
Having an e-shopping feature on your website creates incredible business opportunities for your business to grow online It helps you to expand your global clientele and gives your company the much needed global exposure. The best part of having an e-commerce feature is that your products can be bought by your clients just by clicking them over the internet.

Before just jumping into developing an e-commerce website, sit down and have a healthy discussion on how are you going to make the website work. Firstly, you need to make sure that the website is easy to navigate and the e-shopping option retains the interests of the client.  During the designing and development, counter check that your website is client friendly. List down all the necessary and additional details of your products that you intend to sell online, you can create a portfolio with the prices of each product given. While pricing, do not forget to add the taxes and shipping charges.
If the shipment of certain products is limited to certain countries state upfront that your products and their shipments are only available to following specified countries. Order processing software added to your website will always come in handy, it helps in calculating all the expenses a client will have to pay for, from the actual price of the product to the delivery/shipment charges and taxes.
An eCommerec site always has a form where customers put in personal details e.g.  name, telephone number, address etc. Your e-commerce website must have a foolproof security that ensures a leak proof environment.

The Benefits Of Incorporating A Blog Into Your E-commerce Web Development

Seeing e-commerce websites out there that do not have blogs really puzzles me. One thing most people fail to acknowledge is that fierce competition exists in the online world. So gaining the victory over such competitions is the only key to have a successful business online. You should consider incorporating a blog into your e-commerce web design and development.
Why? This is essential for the following reason:
  1. Blogs do not cost a dime and can be updated easily. An open source blog such as WordPress is totally free.
  2. Blogs can be created in little time, say ten minutes. Filling up a blog with content is as simple as your A to Z. This allows for fresh updates and high search engine rankings for your site.
  3. Most search engines are addicted to blogs. While this might seem easy, it really requires that you update your blog with fresh material.
A blog cannot be passed for an e-commerce site. Updating your e-commerce site’s content will increase its page rank. Nonetheless, blogs provide a great deal of benefits that are a rarity for most e-commerce stores.
The benefits derived from blogging are outlined below:
Blog directories that enjoy high page ranking about and your blog can easily pick a spot among the RSS.  E-commerce websites cannot be listed in these directories as they are only meant for blogs.

Blogs also enable you use long chains of keywords for your business. A keyword such as “Bradley 20 X 45 azure pillar tent sleeps 5”  will look odd and weird on an e-commerce site. You can however, post contents on a blog containing such a keyword, with a cross link to the e-commerce store. As you blog’s size increases, you will have lots of posted content that contains long chain keywords; and hence, increased traffic.
Finally, since your blog’s content were written when you were relaxed, they would sound more natural. This will kick your blog all the way to the search result list.
Give yourself a brand and get into discuss with your customers. Blogs already have an avenue for this; enabling you to build a relationship with them. Your blog content should contain information on your business, new products and services and other stuff that would capture the interest of your viewers.
Most blogs contain plug-ins that allows people to take polls. If you have a red-hot business issue, polls are good ways to their opinion. You would probably consider blogging in different facets of your online business and this will make you a professional in the area of e-commerce website design and development.
If your business involves the sales of computer, you should give their technical specifications, date of manufacture and perhaps, tips on how best to use the computers. This will push you into the spotlight.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

WordPress Search: Best Practices

It’s not often you find articles related to WordPress search on the web for some reason. I don’t know why is this the case, but I’ll try to fill that gap here. Read below to find useful information on how and why it is important to add a good WordPress search box for your blog.

Why is a Good Search Box Important For Your Blog?

There are 3 reasons:

  1.     More repeated readers. If your users are searching for something, type their query and receive no results, they usually leave.
  2.     Better user experience. Important for getting more loyal visitors.
  3.     You’ll know what they search for and learn a ton from that data. I will later share with you one example where I’ve learned one surprising thing about my visitors from just tracking what they searched for on my blog.

WordPress Standard Search – Avoid It

Using the WordPress Standard search box is the worst option. In my experience the WordPress standard search returns very few relevant results. It can decently handle 1-word queries (if you type ‘people’ for example) but for more complex queries it’s terrible.

If you still want to use the standard search box for WordPress then I recommend you get the following plugins:
  1.     Search Everything
  2.     Search Meter

Why is it important to track what people are searching for? Allow me to share one story.

Several months ago, I was researching and writing a list of people search engines which soon became the most popular article on the entire blog. I started received tons of traffic and realized I could make use of that opportunity by analyzing the behavior of some of the people who came to the site and possibly gaining new insights.

So I installed a plugin like Search Meter (unfortunately that plugin is no longer working now so can’t really recommend it) and was SHOCKED to see that 99% of the people typed NAMES into the search box (I had 0 posts that mentioned any name)! Upon further investigation I saw that most people search sites worked this way, you just type a name and get results. Mine was different, mine was a people search help website (providing advice) but that didn’t stop people from typing names in the search box.

Lesson learned: People were used to the typical format of a typical people search site and expected mine to be no different (for your niche and industry, you may discover some even more surprising insights).

For me, I tried this on some other sites as well and always received types of searches I didn’t expect (which later gave me ideas for new articles etc.)

Google/Bing-Powered Search

Nowadays WordPress comes with a default widget where you can put a custom Google code and have your blog search powered by Google. There are many tutorials in case you don’t know how to do this, just type ‘add Google custom search in WordPress’ on Google and you’ll get a bunch of good articles.

Bing is a search engine from Microsoft (in case you’ve been living under a rock) and also gives you an option to add a ‘bing custom search’ that will allow visitors to search your site only. To do that, go to their advanced search page, complete the 3 steps and after that you’ll be given some HTML code.

Now, add a text widget to your blog sidebar (its description is “Arbitrary text or HTML”) and voila! I’ve tried this on my blog and here are the results:

Photoshop Text Effect Tutorials

In this tutorial you will learn how to create a retro typography design, you will learn the basics of typography and shape making in photoshop CS3 Colorful Plexi Text Effect using Photoshop

Photoshop tutorial will show you how to create a cool looking colorful Plexi text effect.
Awesome Text Effect

This Awesome Photoshop tutorial will show you how to create cool text effect using a basic distortion filter. This is an 12 step easy to follow tutorial

Glossy Emblem Text Effects

Tutorial will demonstrate how to create nice looking Glossy Emblem Text Effect with Adobe Photoshop in 4 simple steps.
Distressed Vector Typographic Poster Design

Colorful 3D Text Effect in Photoshop

In this Photoshop tutorial you will learn how to create colorful 3D text effect.
Illustrious Type Using Airbrushing Techniques

This Illustrator/Photoshop tutorial will walk you through the process of creating some unique type by combining the power of Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop.
CS5 Styled Lettering

Stylish embossed text with metallic glow

Typography Lightning Effect

Music Equalizer Text Effect

Photoshop tutorial to make a music equalizer and then apply the equalizer effect on a text
Realistic folded paper text in Photoshop

Tutorial will demonstrate how to create 3D Grunge Text on Illustrator and Photoshop.
Super Glossy 3D Typography

Tutorial we will demonstrate how to create super glossy 3D typography using Illustrator and Photoshop
Tile Text Effect

Tutorial will show you how to dabble a bit in Photoshop’s built in 3D tools
Dark Grunge 3D Text Scene in Photoshop

Learn how to create some 3D text using only Photoshop using consistent lighting, layer styles to create shadows for our type, Photoshop filters, and more.
Glossy Dreamlike Text Effect

This Photoshop tutorial will not only help you create an attractive text effect but will also teach you to use some very helpful tools, which can be employed to create all kinds of effects in future.
Metal Text Effect in Photoshop

Embossed text effect using Bevel & Emboss and Satin features gives old-world medieval design.
Rusty metal text

Tutorial of how to create Rusty Text
Theater Text

Tutorial will go over creating a ‘theater sign’ text, like the SMASH text.
Cool Dots Text Effect

This Photoshop tutorial explains how to design a three-dimensional text, which consists of dots and a blurred extension.
Create Grunge, Metal & Sci Fi Text Effect in Photoshop

Create a grunge, metal sci-fi/futuristic text effect using Adobe Photoshop. We’ll be using textures, brushes, shapes and useful techniques.
Gleaming and vibrant text effect in Photoshop

Create a beautiful eye-catching vibrant text effect in Photoshop using plain layer styles and filters.
Vibrant and futuristic style text effect in Photoshop

Create a colorful and futuristic style text effect in Photoshop using simple glow effects, motion blurring and stylish fonts and abstract stock images with some simple techniques.
Ice text effect

Neon text

Create a colorful and futuristic style text effect in Photoshop using simple glow effects, motion blurring and stylish fonts and abstract stock images with some simple techniques.
Realistic 3D text

Text effect tutorial that shows you how to create a 3D text without using any new photoshop 3d functions.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Internet and Using Search Engines

Todays Agenda:
  • Lecture: The Internet
  • How to use search engines
  • Computer logins
  • Search engine exercise


Search Engine Exercise:
Search engines allow you to search a database of web sites and files. Google and Bing allow you to search a directory of sites that have been registered by the site owners, for example yahoo. a Meta-search engine searchers other search engines, for example ixquick.

A good searching strategy is the key to finding the information you need:

Searching Tips:
  • Become familiar with more than one search engine, understand that different engines compile data differently. For example, google's boolean search technique is based upon popularity, but not always relevance
  • Be as specific as possible in your search terms. Use unique words or phrases
  • Use a niche site for your search, for instance amazon, or wikipedia
  • Use boolean operators in a meaningful manner (and, or, not)
  • Pay attention to publishing dates, file sources. Not everything on the internet is true
  • Don't give up easily, adjust your search terms. Experiment to find your results
  • BE A NINJA. Try using the Advanced Google Search
  • BE A SUPER NINJA. Try writing Advanced Google Search terms as code right in the browser!

Search Engine Ninja Exercise:
Research the questions below using a search engine or engines. Use advanced search techniques or specific sites to discover your answers. Compile the answers to all 10 questions and email them to me at swilson@santacruz.k12.ca.us

1. What are the names of all the band members of Skid Row. What are their home towns?
2. I need to buy a new camera, it must be a DSLR. What is the best one? How much will it cost? Who sells it the cheapest?
3. What is the highest recorded temperature for Chicago in August?
4. What is the HTML Tag that defines Emphasized text?
5. When did the TV show "Twin Peaks" go off the air?
6. Suggest a good italian restaurant San Francisco.
7. What were the Oscar Nominees for Best Picture in the year you were born?
8. Who is James Burke?
9. In art, what is the definition of "Negative Space"?
10. What do the letters in HTML stand for?

Compile your answers and email them to me. Make sure you include your name and title of this exercise in the subject of your email.

Special Guest Speaker: Melody Sharp, Web Designer, Developer and Wordpress Guru

"Become an expert in something" - Melody Sharp
Today our class was very honored to host Melody Sharp, a local web developer and designer and wordpress guru. Melody discussed her career and educational path with our class and how she entered into web development and became an expert in wordpress. Melody has a Masters Degree in comparative lit, worked in the magazine industry, marketing and authored a book about her experiences working in the male dominated magazine industry culture titled "Getting On Top, What Management Won't Tell You When Your Not One Of The Boys".  Melody has been studying web development and design for 15 years and founded a local wordpress meet up. Melody shared her insight and knowledge of web design, working with clients and how to keep skills current in an industry that is ever changing. You can see more of Melody's work at her website, melodysharp.com. Our class extends a big thank you to Melody Sharp for sharing her time, insight, experiences and advice with us. Thank you Melody!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Welcome Students


Hello Students,

Welcome to the beginning of your ROP Web Design Class. This course will focus on hand coding websites with HTML and CSS, as well as understanding and creating digital media and computer graphics. ROP stands for Regional Occupational Program, which means we also study and develop the skills you will need to find employment in today's competitive job market as well. Your instructor, Seth Wilson has been working in the creative industry since 1996 and continues to develop world class motion graphics and design as an independent contractor.

Syllabus: All students will be given a syllabus, this must be reviewed with a parent or guardian and signed and returned asap.

Materials: Each student should have a USB thumbdrive of at least 4GB capacity for transferring files and backing up classwork.

I also request that each student has a notebook for use during class, taking notes on operational procedures, lectures, videos, etc... is crucial. Students are often asked to write short response papers, write proposals or sketch ideas. Sketching, exploration and brain-storming skills are crucial to design.

Day 1 Agenda:

- Introduction and demo reel
- Syllabus, Computer Use Forms, Permission Forms, Student Questionnare
- Overview of Class Procedures
- Equipment and Computer Use Protocol
- Q&A

... Stay tuned...

Friday, October 25, 2013

Understanding File Formats: Format Evaluation Exercise

Hello Students,
In this exercise you will practice using the "save for web & devices" feature in Photoshop, a media industry standard when creating compressed images. Creating images that have visual clarity and small file size is extremely important in optimizing a website for viewing online.

File Format Exercise
  • Download and 0pen the image of trees posted below in Adobe Photoshop
  • Go to File / Save for Web & Devices
  • Photoshop has 12 presets, save 1 example of each. Use self-descriptive file names and save them in your portfolio folder inside a new folder labeled "images"
  • Create a new document in Photoshop that is 200X200 pixels, fill the image with a gradient, create a circular selection and create a new layer and fill the circular selection with another gradient, the colors can be your choice. Red is the hardest color to compress, it will show the most artifacts from compression.
  • Go to File / Save for Web & Devices
  • Photoshop has 12 presets, save 1 example of each. Use self-descriptive file names and save them in your portfolio folder inside a new folder labeled "images"
  • Compare the results
  • Create a new HTML file in your portfolio directory. Your HTML file must be UTF-8 and be properly formatted for validation, it can use the same CSS file that your portfolio page does. 
  • Choose the images that have the smallest file size, the best image quality and the best balance of file size and image quality. Embed these images on your file format HTML page.
  • Create a link to your new file format HTML page in your Portfolio Page.
Images that have large flat areas of color such as
blue sky can show compression artifacts
Your gradient test image should look like this