Thursday, 12 February 2009

Improving my blog using plugins

The content management system I use for Matthew Cain's blog is wordpress - my favourite blog provider. Having now generated some traffic, started to get some comments and got a few blogs linking to mine, I now want to improve the blog itself. I'm going to try using a few plugins - optional extras provided by the wordpress community.

1. Managing spam

I've installed the Akismet plugin to deal with spam. It's free, has a good algorithm which (apparently) also learns from all the other users so when spammers develop a new method, the system updates quickly to correctly flag new spam. It's not actually yet identified spam - a signal that my blog isn't getting particularly wide attention!

2. Using a site map

Lots of SEO experts say that you should have a site map. Apparently a site map helps search engines crawl through all your pages (rather than just the homepage) and it can even tell the search engine how frequently each page is updated. So I downloaded the Google sitemap generator (it works as well for other search engines) to create a site map.

Currently Google has indexed 57 pages on my blog - which appears to be all of them. I've posted 29 times and together with the tags and about pages, it adds up to around 57.

Google last visited my site at 15.30 yesterday - shortly after I published my last post. So it's visiting often enough.

I've got 10% of my traffic from search engines, thanks to people searching for my name (Hi Dad).

I'll be looking closely at these figures to see if there's any positive change as a result of the plugin.


I've added an RSS subscription widget. RSS isn't well used proportionately but heavily used be techies. What it does is take your blog posts and publishes them in the user's chosen interface - a bit like their own newspaper page. It's an easier way of monitoring updates on your favourite blogs than visiting each through your bookmarks. And it's a way of keeping readers who visit once.

I'm starting with a base of 0 so we'll see if my blog is popular through RSS subscriptions.


I've installed a search engine optimisation tool. My URLs and headers are already optimised for search engines, because I do that when writing them. However, this tool allows me to define the meta content description. I won't bother with the keyword tags as it doesn't make any difference any more.

New content feeds

I'm experimenting with 2 plugins which generate new content. One will take all my Newscounter Tweets from Twitter and publish them - ensuring 2 or 3 new pieces of content in between blog posts. The second, postalicious, takes feed from my bookmarking site. So every time I save a bookmark in Delicious, I can produce an aggregated bit for my blog - passing on articles that I find interesting. Currybet does this particularly well with his recent links feature.

Increasing interactivity

I'm trying a meet your commenters tool. This plugin displays web pages and profiles of those users in the dashboard, so you can add them as friends if you are in the same social network. I don't know how well it will work, frankly. But because I'm trying to build a community, hopefully this will involve people more closely in my blog.

Monitoring loadtimes

I'm going to be keeping a close eye on the site load times. This is what they are currently:

And I need to make sure that it doesn't get too slow. I want my blog to be accessible to people with a dial-up modem. After all, if you want to build a community you need to be inclusive.

I will report back on progress shortly.

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