Categories and Tags: what to use

Someone said on the hackers forum: “The analogy I use is that Categories are like a book’s table of contents, and Tags like its index.”

However, be aware that categories that are actual search terms are very strong Google magnets.

So, instead of using a category “lines we carry” think about “High Performance Motorcycles in Dayton OH”  and then use tags to highlight the brands and product names.

Tags are ways to identify the keywords or concepts in each post- categories group the posts in ways that make sense for others. Lately, Google has started dinging sites for putting a single post in more than three categories (which is too bad)- so think carefully about your choice of categories.

Continue reading →

You can be a Google star… you just have to write often, connect and know what you are talking about.

It’s nice when the New York Times writes about blog superstars like Mark Cuban- who gets thousands of comments on a post, but, what about the rest of us?

Everyone knows something about something- at least that’s the premise of Wikipedia. But, when it comes to getting that Google love, the Times has a few good tips:

So You Want to Be a Blogging Star? – New York Times
More to the point, linking to other bloggers is the best way to get them to link to you. Links from other bloggers increase your readership two ways: they send readers directly from other sites, and they raise your ranking in search engine results. A blogger who posts about a hot topic like Eliot Spitzer’s secret life, but has no inbound links, will lose out to one who already has dozens of inbound links from other sites.

Plug yourself. That’s what all the name-brand bloggers do. It’s not bad form to send a short note to a prominent blogger drawing his or her attention to a really good blog you wrote. Some bloggers place links to their sites in comments they write on more established blogs. And some bloggers are on to the trick and refuse to allow it.

A more direct way to draw a crowd is to submit your blog posts to news aggregation sites like Digg, Fark and Boing Boing. Readers vote on how much they like the posts and new readers are drawn to the list of most popular posts. Granted, it helps if your blog post includes a home video of someone being attacked by a cat or really arrogant e-mail messages from a hedge-fund manager. Those get passed around virally in an instant.

You have to think about what you write, how useful it will be to your audience, and how to get connected with other sites. Finding your community and your voice can take a while, but once it’s there- lookout.

Of course, if you take the websitetology seminar, you’ll know a lot more about how all this works.

Continue reading →

Why does my post look funky?

All of a sudden, you see your post and the previous posts all are in a different font, or your sidebar doesn’t appear in the right place. Did you just break WordPress? Probably not.

What you most likely did was put code in your post that WordPress either doesn’t recognize or doesn’t like.  That’s because WordPress likes you to do the writing, and leave the formatting up to it. Here is some info on Validation from the WordPress Codex:

Validating a Website « WordPress Codex
Validation errors aren’t limited to your template files. They can also happen inside of a post. When you are writing a post and using HTML, WordPress might not recognize the HTML and convert it to a character entity, or you may have entered it wrong. If you have a page with a lot of HTML coding, validate it to make sure you have it all correct. And occasionally check random posts to make sure everything is still okay from time to time as part of your general housekeeping.

So, if you are trying to write about php code- WordPress will strip it out- thinking you are trying to run code where you shouldn’t. People who write about code, use a plugin to make code quotable.

The main problem is copying and pasting either from other sites, or from Microsoft Word. These pastes can contain all kinds of tags and formating that WordPress has no use for, or doesn’t understand, or conflicts with the Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) built into your theme.

If you look to the right of your ? (help) icon in the toolbar- you will see the “Advanced Toolbar” button that will give you access to a whole bunch of formatting (and unformatting options). It’s here where you can underline text, add colors, use different heading tags- or remove formatting or clean up messy code.

So, if you see something looking wonky on your wordpress site, try the eraser tool- and remove formatting, before the panic, and try reformatting using only the tools that WordPress offers. If you are still finding errors- look in code view- and see if there are more than a few things that say MsoNormal, or Table or div or span in your code. Most of those are indicative of formatting problems.

Continue reading →