A Guide to Making Your Blog Appear like a Website

If your website looks exclusively like a blog it might be time to change things. You might be thinking it’s time to make the switch to a classic website style. You don’t have to follow these steps if you just want to revitalise your blog. There are other ways of doing this without making such a drastic change. Here are some guidelines for giving your blog a facelift and changing the structure of your website.

Making Minor Changes

Superficial changes are those changes which the visitor sees. It could be a new background or a slightly different layout. These don’t actually alter the structure of your website. It focuses on appearances only. You can make some changes to make it seem more like a traditional website. Superficial changes are good for keeping up with current trends in web design. [Read more…]

What to Consider When Choosing a WordPress Theme

Choosing a WordPress theme can be very difficult considering how many different designs and styles are available. Every conceivable layout, navigation style, and design is out there waiting to be the platform you utilize for your blog or site.

pro theme 266x142 What to Consider When Choosing a Wordpress Theme

Professional theme sample.

So, how do you choose the theme that is going to suit both your needs, and the preferences of your desired audience?

It is important to first take the time to really think about what it is that you want from your WordPress theme. Determine a clear set of requirements and expectations, and then browse the available professional wordpress themes to find one that will meet or exceed every single one. [Read more…]

How To: Use Mobile To Generate More Traffic

Mobile has become a phenomenon; between the explosive device sales and increase in attention towards monetization of mobile, companies are trying to figure out exactly what to do with it.

20120820 011251 How To: Use Mobile To Generate More Traffic

The mobile optimized version of BlogCraving.com.

However the one fact that marketers, and businesses as a whole are facing is get ready for mobile, or be ready to lose – with this article I want to try to help you win by using mobile to generate even more traffic for your website.

Utilize native mobile technologies

Mobile has the inherent benefit of additional communication technologies that the desktop does not have. For instance over 7 billion SMS messages we’re sent in 2011 according to ABI research and it’s an under utilized marketing channel. As such a prominent communication method – especially if your target customers or audience use SMS frequently then it’s a valuable avenue to explore.

If you do run an SMS campaign carefully consider the text used and be sure to include a link to your business for web-enabled smartphones. In addition to SMS consider how your emails are being sent and any signature that you are using is optimized for a mobile device, and when they land on your website it’s optimized for mobile as well.  [Read more…]

The WordPress SEO Guide

Using WordPress for your content management system is not only smart it’s recommended by most SEO Experts.  In order to rank well today in Google you need to have a blog and a powerful way to manage that content.  WordPress is close to prefect out of the box but there are still things you need to do.

If you are adding a new blog it is recommended to add the blog as a subfolder and not as a subdomain.  A subdomain is considered a new domain and will not carry the weight of your existing page.  Nor will you give your website the added bonus of links and content pages if you use a subdomain.

seo logo 266x176 The Wordpress SEO GuideSubdomain: blog.domain.com

Subfolder: domain.com/blog/  (preferred method)

Tags & Categories

Once you have your blog installed and are ready to go you need to think about duplicate content and how you can prevent that.  The biggest problem with WordPress is the categories and tags it allows you to create.

Tags

If you have a large website with thousands of pages of content most of the time tags will help improve your SEO.  This creates additional pages that have keywords as titles.  The problem is when you have a smaller blog and not enough articles it creates pages with almost identical content.  Duplicate content is bad for SEO and will actually hurt your ranking potential in Google.

Categories

The same thing that happens with tags also happens with category pages.  Category pages can be near identical to tag created pages and can harm your SEO efforts.

To help solve these issues I recommend to all my clients to use the All in One SEO Pack.  This is a powerful plugin that has many features with the most useful is the ability to “no-index” tags or categories.  It is highly (do it) recommended you install this plugin and set up your blog to not allow search engines to index your tag pages.  This feature alone will solve most of your on-site SEO issues with WordPress.

Tip: When you categorize your blog post remember not to select too many categories for each blog post.  I always recommend one category.  If you start selecting several categories for each post then you run the risk of creating more duplicate content.   [Read more…]

Tutorial: Different Sidebars for Homepage and Posts

This is an update with full illustrations to an older post.

Basic Method:

1) Find your sidebar.php file.

2) Make a copy of it.
Name it sidebar-secondary.php. Your second, third, forth, etc. sidebars
all need to start with sidebar-NAMEHERE.php. That’s part of the naming
convention in WordPress.

2sidebars Tutorial: Different Sidebars for Homepage and Posts

3) Make the content changes you need in secondary sidebar file.
This is where you make the secondary sidebar different. Whatever it is
you need to be different should go in this file. Save
sidebar-inside.php and upload it to your server.

4) Locate your single.php file.

5) Look for a line near the end of the file that looks like this: <?php get_sidebar(); ?>

6) Change it to <?php get_sidebar(‘inside’); ?> (note, the ‘inside’ part should match the name of the new sidebar-inside.php file). The single quote marks ‘ ‘ are required. [Read more…]

PSD to WordPress Conversion Instructions

Section 1 – Designing a WordPress theme in Photoshop

Designing a theme for WordPress in Photoshop is straightforward. In our example today, we will create a simple two column fixed width theme. Before we start, we need to decide what the width of our theme will be. I chose a 980-pixel sixe because it will fit on most screens without the need to scroll form side to side, as most screens today are at least 1024 pixels wide.

To get started create a rectangle that is 1024px x 768px. This will serve as our background for the theme. You can color your backgrounds or even add an image. For our tutorial, we will color the background blue. [Read more…]

Jetpack for WordPress

The new suite of plugins called Jetpack (by WordPress.com) offers an all-inclusive set of features for self-hosted blogs.

jetpack wordpress 240x154 Jetpack for WordpressOne of the things I am asked most by friends and strangers:

That plugins do I need for my WordPress blog?

I get this question most often from people who have recently moved their blogs over from WordPress.com to the self-hosted WordPress.org version.

The core of both platforms is nearly identical with the exception that the self-hosted version requires you to install all of your own plugins.  Most, but not all, of the features available in WordPress.com are available as one-off plugins in the open marketplace.

Unfortunately, you are responsible for updates and anything that goes wrong if they experience bugs. [Read more…]

The First Steps in Turning Your Hobby Blog into a Business

Inevitably, most hobby or amateur bloggers wake up one day and realize that they could turn their hobby blog into a business.  Yeah, you might not be able to quit your day job, but you might be able to earn yourself enough money to take a vacation or by yourself a new iPad.

Mr. Hobby blogger does some quick Google research and realizes all they have to do is throw some Adsense code on their blog template, and the checks will start rolling in!

Fail.

Do not pass go.  Do not collect new iPad.

What the heck happened?  Mr. Hobby blogger actually has a pretty sizable following for his site all about Legos.  Sure, it is a hyper specific niche, but there’s an audience for this stuff.  He has even received invitations to attend major toy conventions.

Mr. Hobby blogger has actually talked to marketing folks from the Lego Group Inc. about his site, yet they do not seem interested in sponsoring his website. What’s the problem here?

No one is taking you seriously because your site does not look like a serious business.

Yes, we’re talking about kids toys here so of course it does not have to look like the Dow Jones homepage.  But here is what’s making you look amateur:

  • Your website URL is:  http://legofreak.blogspot.com.
  • Your email address is:  [email protected]
  • Your “About” page talks about where you grew up and has a picture of your dog on it.
  • Your blog template is the same template used by 2.4 million other bloggers.
  • You are secretly obsessed with funny animated gif files.
  • You steal photos from other websites.  You loooove Google image search.
  • Privacy policy?  What’s a privacy policy?
  • You don’t have or use a web analytics program.

There are probably a few more issues, but these are the most common.

You’re content is probably some of the best Lego related content on the Internet.  Unfortunately, it is hard for legitimate advertisers to take your site seriously.

You get an A+ for content, and a D+ for execution.

Here is your homework assignment:

Run out and register a Lego related domain name.  Maybe don’t use the word Lego in the domain since it is a registered trademark, but pick something in the “building block” arena.

Once you’ve got that domain name locked down, set up a real email address.  [email protected] would be lovely.

Write out a better About page.  Talk about the site and the type of content you hope to deliver to your audience.  If you happen to know some data about your readers, here’s your chance to highlight it.  Think of this as a soft sell for why an advertiser might be interested in doing business with you.

Move your blog to a self hosted system such as WordPress.org.  There’s plenty of cheap (like $6 per month) hosting out there.  Sign yourself up, and get WordPress installed.  It is not hard and you can get it all done in under an hour.

Pick a better template that fits your blog’s theme.  If you are really committed to this, hire someone to build a custom template for you.  You should be able to get this done for a less than a couple hundred bucks for something basic, but classy.

Stop stealing photos.  Yes, it is easy to do a Google image search and rip pics from someone else.  Unfortunately, that’s kind of illegal.  However, hope is not lost!  Solicit photos from your readers.  I’m sure there are Lego fans out there that would love to share their creations with you.

If you find pictures on another site, ask the owner if you can use them.  Often times, they’d be happy to let you use a photo in exchange for a link back to their site from the post.

Google what a “Privacy Policy” is.  There are stock templates out there.  Get your hands on one and get it up on your site.  Many ad networks and direct advertisers require that you have a privacy policy on your site.  Plus, it make it look like you know what you are doing with this whole “business” thing.

If you haven’t already, sign up for Google Analytics.  Run, don’t walk.  Sign up right away and start measuring your traffic.  Your advertisers are going to want to know how much traffic your site gets.  This is how you will know.

Get out there and make us proud.