Looking For An Affordable Library Website?

You just got to the right place. Affordable Library Websites used to mean a home made looking patchwork of links that one of the Research Librarian’s nephew put together. When the library needed to do updates, it was difficult and it took a long time to get someone to update the complicated mess. Patrons were at first impressed that the public library had the technical know how to build a website, then quickly relayed complaints that it was not organized correctly or it was missing important information.

Using WordPress, public libraries all over the world can have a beautiful website that is easy to add to or change in any way, and meets any budget. Check out a color variation we are trying on this site:

Web Design Workplace can install a base site for you and you can add as many pages as you like. You can change the selections on the menu’s. And when a task seems a little bit too difficult for your staff to handle, we are here with 24 hour service to do the tricky stuff for you with affordable everyday prices.

You can have a stunning site, that is up to the minute accurate every day of the year at a price you though was just not possible. Call Web Design Workplace owner Mal Milligan today at 201-696-5375. Check out our designs and let us put you online with style !!

Affordable Anti-Virals – You Have No Bargain Choices

I have been using anti-virals since 1987. Professionally, I got hit by a legendary Jerusalem B virus that incapacitated thousands of PC’s on Wall Street in New York City in 1990. So for 20 years as a Supervisor of Local Area Networks for 5 of the biggest financial companies in the world, I managed the rollout of anti-virals on 5,000 to 10,000 PC’s in the Manhattan Campus and on thousands of computers in 100+ countries all over the world. So I know too much about anti-virals probably.

Is There An Affordable Anti-Viral Right Now?

Short Answer = NO. I use either Norton or McAfee on all my machines and they aint cheap. But this one in particular is undesirable to me… Norton 360. I’ve had to uninstall it twice from the same machine so far because it automatically installs an unwanted toolbar. That toolbar reduced my work area on the screen and I had to go to the FireFox Tools / Addons to disable it and get rid of it. So I am writing support and I will update this post if I get the other features I don’t need and don’t want supressed. My recommendation to my customers: Don’t Buy Norton 360…. unless you want all kinds of features that I would not trust… like PC Tuneups and PC backups. I take care of those myself. Thank You.

WordPress for Non-Profits

WordPress is a perfect website choice for many non-profit organizations. We just did a site for a local Public Library and it’s a good example to demonstrate the message here. I’ll make a list of reasons but first mention that WordPress started out as a blogging platform, and it quickly evolved into a framework that allows rapid website development. Almost everyone has heard of “blogging”, or “Blogger” or “WordPress”, but the word is still getting out that there has been an absolute revolution in web design created by WordPress. Non-Profit organizations are switching to WordPress in short order these days and for good reason:

Reasons Why WordPress and Non Profit Organizations Go Together

  • WordPress is free to use and it”s Open Source so it’s supported by hundreds of developers and thousands of organizations.
  • You do not need to be a web designer or a computer programmer to build and maintain a WordPress website or to add new content.
  • WordPress websites have a structure that major search engines like Google, Yahoo, and Bing / MSN like, which makes getting your information into the search engines a lot easier and faster.
  • The flexibility in terms of appearance and functionality is nearly unlimited. WordPress can display video, images, slideshows, .pdf’s, and text using artistic rendering as limitless as the owners imagination.
  • WordPress acts like a CMS content management system. When the content is added, it actually gets put into a database. So you can change the outside appearance of the site – the look and feel – but still have exactly the same content.
  • It is easy to find an affordable professional to help with building or changing a WordPress website.
  • Programmers write free WordPress “plugins” for every conceivable additional function you could possibly use with a website so you might never need to custom manufacture a software module. It’s all “off-the-shelf” and free.
  • There are tons of resources to help you learn about using WordPress from books, to videos, to public access seminars and meetups.

NYC WordPress Meetup May 2010

I’ve been going to the MYC Meetups since the summer of 2009 and they have been great. I find people to chat about WP with that can really not only talk the talk but also walk the walk. The NYC WP meetup groups are friendly – informal – and fun. I personally recommend – Regards Everyone – Mal

Tuesday May 18, 2010

Oracle – Sun Microsystems
101 Park Ave – Floor 4
41st and Park Ave.
New York, NY 10017

Learnin about WordPress 3.0 !!! All us WP Nuts have been in the trees looking toward the horizon for version 3.0 to arrive. Steve Bruner has another great session in store with BOONE GORGES from Queens College leading the topics. He will include:

* Multisite setup – What, How, Why,
* New custom post types – why, how
* The new most awesome menu system – what and how

WordPress 3.0 for Nonprofit Organizations

WordPress is a fantastic website platform for an NPO Charity or Business because:

  • it’s free
  • there is support via forums and dozens if not hundreds of sources
  • it ranks well on Google
  • and it’s easy to use.

The new version to be released sometime in May 2010 will be even better geared for the average NPO.

WordPress 3.0 Has Better Features for Non-Profit Organizations

NPO’s can always use free stuff that rocks, and WordPress is one of the diamonds in the freebie bag along with Open Office and Linux. The next version will have drag and drop menu building which will make it so much easier to use. Along with the super flexible menus, version 3.0 will be Multi-User right out of the box. Yeah !! You know medium sized NPO’s rarely have just a single website. They more often than not will have a different web for each regional location or each category of support. By having a Multi-User option, administrators can setup and manage all their different websites from a single control panel. In terms of manageability, this puts the average WP installation into a new league of power and control.

In addition to the major features, there are a good hand full of other enhancements like a new default Theme called “Twentyten”, customized post types so there is more variety than just “posts” and “pages”, authoir templates, and the ability to use URL shortcode –  you to get a shortlink for your post based on your own domain name.

And did I mention it’s FREE !!

Website Redesign Using WordPress

One of the best uses for WordPress is to do a website redesign quickly. I’m going to demonstrate that by taking a complex website like this one (Web Design WorkPlace), and I’m going to completely convert it to a new Theme in a timely manner. I’ll document it every step of the way to tell you all in a later post.

Why Redesign the Website In the First Place ?

After every 4 to 6 months, I take a look at how effectively  a professional business website is meeting it’s goals. Sometimes based on statistics and the judgment of other SEOs, it’s time for a website redesign. That’s exactly what we decided to do with Web Design WorkPlace. I was getting almost 2,000 unique visitors a month. So at first you might think that’s great… but was it leading to sales? No. The traffic was mostly other WP Designers and other IT Professionals looking for tips on WordPress development. So the first reason for a redesign was that my real goal which was getting sales for WordPress Web Sites was not being reached by the website look and feel and the content. I was off course.

I took a Subliminal Vacation

Well – I just did what every WordPress Consultant does sometime during their career, and that is to take a break from blogging. I know it was a tad sinful to stay away from posting for 3 months but I’m ready for a blogging tear now and I’m letting it rip starting this weekend. The truth of the matter is that I’ve had so much work building WordPress and Studio Press Themes out that I did the old “Shoemakers children are the last to get new shoes” thing. This break from blogging gave me a chance to collect 4 months of data to get a solid picture of what the website was actually doing.

Redesigning a Big Site is Huge, Did I decide Alone?

I’ve taken a hard look at the traffic this site has generated and made some judgments. In addition to my analysis, I’ve had 3 friends whom I’ve worked with for more than 2 years to take a look at my stats as well. So we all put our heads together and decided 3 big things:

1.) I was getting lots of traffic – but from the wrong sources. The traffic was not the type of qualified buyers I should have been looking for, it was mostly web designers and SEO’s. I was #1 and #2 on Google for a number of very competitive phrases, but these phrases were not getting me sales. My PageRank was still very high at PR4 so there was an excellent chance I could reconfigure the entire site and quickly get on top of other phrases in terms of ranking.

2.) The look and feel was not creating the right call to action for the traffic I was getting that was qualified… so my conversion rate was way low. Although I was still getting prospects looking for what I was selling, the site did not get them to buy.

What is the Next Step in a Redesign Process After You Decide To Go For It?

I went to my favorite New Jersey Diner and sat down with my big design notebook and made 4 pages of written notes. Then I picked a WordPress Theme that would fit the requirements. I went with a Studio Press Genesis Framework because I think they are the best in the business right now. In terms of functionality, SEO effectiveness, and beauty. I picked the Metric Theme for my site becasue it had everything I wanted. Those are the steps… everything else is detail work and it’s the most time consuming. I’ll write a number of posts to describe what a website redesign entails as we go along.

WordPress Foundation Formed

501C NonProfit Organization

Matt Mullenweg and several Automattic employees have started a new 501C NPO to house various trademarks for WordPress and WordCamp. I think that’s the right choice for a project like this that was started by a couple coders writing for the Open Source community and wanting to remain so. Foundations and Associations de-personalize open source projects legally. No matter what happens down the road in terms of disputes or in fact if the original licensees unexpectedly die, the Foundation is in theory unaffected.

Life is Expensive

The main apparatus for much of the WordPress dominion is the aforementioned  San Francisco based corporation called Automattic. The free and popular wordpress.com and Gravitar and the new VideoPress all are Automattic products. Starting with a single hand full of employees 4 1/2 years ago, Automattic is now a company of 40 or more and they actually live all over the planet physically. To run a huge project like wordpress.com required full time employees and support and it could not have been done without forming a corporation… because life is expensive and so is running wordpress.com. The code behind WordPress continues to be Open Source and free for the world’s use although part of the apparatus is a commercial operation. And I think that’s appropriate and actually honorable in this day and age.

Time Flies and Then You Die

Before 1993 as a Technical Officer in a Fortune 100 Wall Street firm, my internet use was mostly done with a dialup company called CompuServe. We used primitive tools that were called “Gopher” and “Finger” and “FTP” to access file systems at Purdue University and other edu’s and government repositories. We also used it for file sharing because email systems were very limited with the file size capacity of their attachments. It cost a shocking 30 bucks an hour to “go online” in the late 80’s with CompuServe and by the early 90’s it was still around 5 bucks an hour for full featured service although personal accounts could be had for 10 bucks a month.

In 1993 the first practical “WWW” tool appeared. It was called Mosaic and it made CompuServe immediately obsolete because cheap online access companies could now form using friendly web browsers to “surf the net”. It was developed and paid for paid for by the US Government and freely available to download and use. Except the 2 guys that were paid using US Taxpayer money to write the code also did something sneaky that the NCSA (National Center for Supercomputing Applications) did not anticipate. They retained legal rights to the code. And they became very wealthy by forming a company called NetScape and they sold cheap dialup online access and the browser commercially. The NCSA originally sued the developers they had paid to write the code but they were unsuccessful – and I think it’s because they did not force the programmers to sign a non-compete agreement but I’m not 100% sure. What is for sure is that the code paid for by you and me went into forming Netscape and it helped initiate or at least propel the DOT COM Bubble. NCSA was then more or less forced to sell all commercial rights to Mosaic in 1994 to another company and it became the so called Microsoft “Internet Explorer”. Microsoft IE became the most popular browser in the world for many years because of unfair trading practices.

The DOT COM Bubble Giveth and the DOT COM bubble Taketh Away

and so Netscape became a flash in the pan. It was purchased for a hugely over inflated price by AOL and then it died when the bubble burst taking down most of AOL and the support for Netscape commercially. What started as Mosaic, then became Netscape, finally morphed into an Open Source project we all know and love – Mozilla Firefox. In 2009 FireFox became the #1 browser in the world because it was clearly a better product than IE in terms of reliability and additional addon tools available – all for free – all Open Source at this point.

Remaining Open Source

WordPress could have gone the same route at a couple strategic points but it never did because Matt Mullenweg stayed true to the original Open Source ideals. And the world is better for it because WP is free to distribute and use. To make sure WordPress stays free and Open Source, this new Foundation will retain the trademarks anyway for now and we will just have to see what’s next. I do hope Matt has realized financial gain along with the huge thanks he deserves from literally millions of users and developers who use and support WordPress.

At a later time I’ll explain my dislike for WordPress Theme developers who violate the spirit of Open Source for their own personal profit. They take the WordPress code written for free by many people and they sell a product on top of it that cannot exist without WordPress by using slick marketing techniques . They do it for their own personal profit without making the products free to use the way it was intended by the Open Source developers. I hope the WordPress Foundation takes them on legally. There are superior Themes written that are Open Source of course, and their developers profit financially by selling premium support. For my commercial rollouts I use only Open Source Themes that sell support, and I use free Themes. I experiment with and do personal sites sometimes with themes that are not open source just to see what they’ve got that will “push the envelope” for developers. We will just have to wait an see what happens to the rogue for profit only theme makers. I hope they all get on stage with their lawyers in the front row at the next WordCamp SF.

Cheers -

WordPress SEO – All You Need To Know

Learning WordPress SEO – All You Need To Know

Here is my WordPress SEO Checklist you can use as a guide:

  1. Figure out what keyword phrases you want to rank well for and assign 1 or 2 per page.
  2. Use the great WP plugin “All In One SEO Pack”.
  3. Don’t use the WordPress default permalink structure… I use /%post_id%/%postname%/
  4. Get inbound links from high PR authority sites using your keyword phrases as anchor text.
  5. Add good H1 or H2 titles and use more h2’s for subtitles throughout your blog post.
  6. Include bold or italics or even some bold + italics text on the page.
  7. Link out to at least 1 high PR authority site per page.
  8. Create interior hyperlinks with a keyword you need for the target page.
  9. Make bulleted lists (ordered and unordered) whenever you can.
  10. Write in targeted keyword phrases and their derivative variations in your text.
  11. Add Alt tags for some images using your target keyword phrases.
  12. I always add images to every blog post and static page.
  13. Use Google’s drive toward Universal Search to your advantage.
  14. Encourage commenting with do follow links and respond to good comments.
  15. Be cleaver with your blog post titles and use 3 or 4 word most of the time.
  16. Check your robots.txt file to make sure you are not blocking search engine spiders.
  17. Update your sitemap.xml file automatically with a plugin.

If you type “wordpress seo” on Google, the first entry on the SERP is from WordPress legend and SEO pundit Joost de Valk. Joost is from the Netherlands and his name is actually pronounced like “yoast”. And that’s why he named his famous and incredibly high (I’ve been to Amsterdam 7 times so far) PageRank 6 website yoast.com.

OK so you can see what one of the brilliant stars in SEO and WordPress says about the subject by going to his site first. Joost is one of the world’s leading WordPress plugin developers and he is almost scary smart. It’s a good article.

We all know Google Loves WordPress right? Well it’s true. The Master Mind Anti-Spam King at Google is Matt Cutts and he himself uses a WordPress blog even though his company makes Blogger. Matt talks about WordPress in positive terms because there are many features that just lend themselves to automatically following the recommended Google WebMaster Guidelines. That being said, here is what you can do to improve the built in linky goodness.

I take a straight forward approach to WordPress SEO that may be simple, but for the person out there who needs help, you can get by on this and maybe get some great rankings that might have otherwise escaped you. As a web design consultant I don’t do this for the sake of art. I build beautiful WordPress sites that rank well on Google, Yahoo, and Bing so my clients can get new prospects from the internet and make millions of dollars. These recommendations are what I do for every professional site I build and maintain.

1.) Figure out what keyword phrases you want to rank well for.

Assign one or 2 phrases per page and know that your homepage and your about us page are going to get the most views and have the best luck getting ranking for your primary keyword phrases. Most websites do best shooting for 1 or 2 primary keyword phrases and a total of 5 phrases all together. Professional SEO’s sometimes will map out 50 keywords on a large website but it takes a lot of work and it’s really for professionals. My personal record so far was a site that I got 34 Google #1 rankings for at one time in English and almost as many in Spanish. I also had a total of 110 Top 10 rankings on that site in English the same month. So it is possible to map 50 or even 100 keywords to a website but it’s hard. Most of you out there would do well to find 1 keyword or 2 and go for it.

2.) Install the plugin All In One SEO currently maintained by Semper Fi Web Design.

Every blog post and every static page on your website should have a custom written meta title and meta description. This plugin will do the job of making these meta titles and meta descriptions automatically for you. It also gives you the option in every blog post and static page to enter your own titles and descriptions. Being a professional full time SEO, thats a big part of my job every day and I make custom titles and descriptions that are way better than the automatic ones the plugin creates. But I’ll tell you about that in another post. For now just know this is the single most important thing you can do for yourself in terms of WordPress SEO. Plugin developers need your support with a small donation every once in a while by the way.

There is a 3rd field that is optional called the meta keyword field. Google does not use it but I think they still look at it and I’m sure other search engines do look at the meta keywords. I enter them. Just add a few words that appear on your page and don’t do any keyword stuffing here. That might give you 1 strike with some of the SE’s.

3.) The WordPress default permalink structure is bad for SEO, don’t use it.

I use this permalink structure: /%post_id%/%postname%/    That gives me keywords right in my url so search engines can grab onto them.

4.) Get inbound links from relevant high PR authority sites using your keyword phrases as anchor text.

Don’t pay for them from cheap outfits – that will get you caught and it won’t get you banned, but it won’t help you. Don’t ever get involved with any linking schemes – they don’t work anymore. Those “you link to me and I’ll link to you” schemes are terrible… your PR out and PR in negate each other. You get a tiny bit of credit but it’s simply not worth your time to do it any more. The single best way to get inbound links from high PR authority sites is to use paid directories like Best of the Web and Yahoo Dir. If you have a huge spend available then buy every directory listing that gives you a do follow link that you can find. Avoid any directory that links to a lousy community of course.

5.) Add a good H1 or H2 title as the opening characters on a blog post and use more h2’s for subtitles throughout your blog post.

6.) Add some bold or italics or even some bold + italics text on the page. Use secondary keywords for these.

7.) Link out from the page to at least 1 high PR authority site. You can link out to a hand full but try not to go over 5 for an average post. If it’s a list of some kind then by all means link out like crazy. If it’s a site you like and trust, use do follow outbound links. It’s going to take PR from your page whether you use a do follow or a no follow anyway.

8.) Use at least one interior hyperlink with a keyword you need for the target page. You can use 2 or 3 internal hyperlinks if you want but remember each takes a percentage of the potential PR on that page.

9.) Add bulleted lists and ordered lists when you can. I try to get one per post at least.

10.) Use targeted keyword phrases in your text. Use them several times and especially at the very top of the page where they are deemed “prominent”.

11.) Add Alt tags for images using keyword phrases. Don’t over do it with alt tags. I don’t use them on every photo but I do use them maybe once or twice on a page.

12.) I always add images to every blog post and static page. I don’t know if this helps much with ranking but I think it must because it makes the blog posts more robust.

13.) Play the Universal Search game.

Google loves to find references for search phrases in meta titles, on page text (especially in H1 or H2 tags), anchor text from inbound links, in alt tags, and in Podcasts and Web Videos. It’s called Universal Search when Google includes all forms of media. Get yourself some web videos that are relevant and use keyword phrases you are trying to hit for in their titles.

14.) Encourage commenting and respond to good comments.

Allow Do Follow on good and relevant comments but strictly do not allow spam comments. If surfers know they can get a good do follow link from you they will more often than not leave you a good comment. Spammers and spam bots will feast on it if you let them. Use the Akimet plugin developed by Matt Mullenweg and delete all spam comments frequently. I eyeball every comment and delete all except for the 1 or 2 decent comments from real people and friends. When your WordPress site is popular enough you can just do away with the do follow and go to the default of no follow.

15.) Be cleaver with your blog post titles.

On WordPress sites I have that are “heated up” where they have been around a while and I post to frequently… my post title goes to #1 on Google within a few minutes of me submitting the blog post. That’s not just because I’m a good SEO, but also because I use 3 or 4 word titles that I carefully construct that will get me hits for my keywords but will not be competing with IBM or HP for top ranking on 1 or 2 word phrases. Trying to rank top 10 for a title like “web hosting” is nearly mission impossible. Trying to rank top 10 for a title like “cheap reseller web hosting” is doable.

16.) Check your robots.txt file every once in a while to make sure it is not blocking bots and search engine spiders.

The robots.txt file is an ascii text file at the root level of your WordPress site that gives specific instructions to search engine spiders that they may or may not abide by.  Usually the directives tell bots where they are welcome to look and where they are not welcome to look. The big SE’s will usually agree to your robots.txt directives but sometimes in the search for images even the big bots will ignore exclusion directives here. You can even try to tell “bad bots” to stay away from your entire site, but that rarely works. You can also specify the location of your sitemap.xml file.

User-agent: *
Disallow: /cgi-bin/
Disallow: /wp-admin/
Disallow: /wp-includes/
Sitemap: http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml

17.) Keep your sitemap.xml file updated, and since it’s so time consuming, make sure you do it automatically.

Search engines look at the sitemap.xml file on your WordPress site to see if you have added a new file. They also spider the site and discover files but they will get the new content faster if you automatically update the sitemap every time you add a new blog post. I use a couple different plugins for this on different sites but mostly I use the “Google XML Sitemaps” plugin by Ann Brachhold and I recommend it.

(I was not paid by any persons or companies listed in this post – Cheers – Mal)

WordPress 2.9 Batch Plugin Upgrades

My first 2 WP 2.9 upgrades went well tonight. Only 20 more to go. One of the features I’ve been looking forward to is the ability to upgrade all plugins that can be upgraded all at the same time. I can tell you from experience maintaining a fleet of WP installations is time consuming and there is a significant amount of pure maintenance work. Updates to WordPress  itself happen frequently, and depending on your site you might have 5 to 10 plugins that all get updgrades from time to time. So anything that can do the grunt work better, faster, and more efficiently is appreciated.

Note the location for the batch upgrades feature is found at:  Dashboard/Tools/Upgrade

My results were flawless on the first time around with the batch upgrade process:

So I’d like to welcome the version to a long healthy life, I’ll just mention it’s called Carmen McRae after the late Jazz great…

WordCamp Boston 2010 is Sold Out

Sold out over a month early that is. Wow. I’m glad they announced the sell out immediately because I was just about to get a hotel. My brother is at Harvard graduate school and I’ve been meaning to visit him for a while. This was going to be it. Oh well. I got shut out of WordCamp NYC last year when it sold out early too but this year was just a blast in New York with the unlimited capacity venue at Baruch College. I hope with the increased awareness and participation in Big City WordCamps that we can have a few less sell outs on the east coast.

If there is a change in the status I will post it up ASAP. And get hotel reservations ASAP as well.