Creating Your First Website – WordPress Plugins and Setup

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Today we are going to continue the series entitled “creating your first website“, this time we will be digging further into WordPress, and we will be looking at the plugins and general setup options.

You should have your WordPress site installed, and you should have an admin login. So login and go to the WordPress Dashboard, go to the top right and click “Options”.

General Options

The options here are fairly self explanatory, but there is one trick that you need to use:

wordpress options

In the above section, ensure that the “Users must be registered and logged in to comment” box is NOT ticked. I accidentally had this ticked for the first few months of a blog, and it drastically reduced the amount of comments I received.

Writing Options in WordPress

Staying within the options section, click “Writing” and scroll down. You will see a section called “Update Services”. This basically is a feature that informs other sites to tell them that you have published new content. This helps bots etc keep up to date with you, and if used correctly can also drive extra traffic.

I have compiled a list that you can copy and paste into this section, I am sure there are others, but this should help get you started:

www.a2b.cc/setloc/bp.a2b
api.feedster.com/ping
api.moreover.com/RPC2
api.moreover.com/ping
api.my.yahoo.com/RPC2
api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping
www.bitacoles.net/ping.php
bitacoras.net/ping
blogbot.dk/io/xml-rpc.php
blogdb.jp/xmlrpc
www.blogdigger.com/RPC2
blogmatcher.com/u.php
www.blogoole.com/ping/
www.blogoon.net/ping/
www.blogpeople.net/servlet/weblogUpdates
www.blogroots.com/tb_populi.blog?id=1
www.blogshares.com/rpc.php
www.blogsnow.com/ping
www.blogstreet.com/xrbin/xmlrpc.cgi
blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC
bulkfeeds.net/rpc
coreblog.org/ping/
www.lasermemory.com/lsrpc/
mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatt
www.mod-pubsub.org/kn_apps/blogchatter/ping.php
www.newsisfree.com/xmlrpctest.php
ping.amagle.com/
ping.bitacoras.com
ping.blo.gs/
ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/
ping.blogmura.jp/rpc/
ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc
ping.exblog.jp/xmlrpc
ping.feedburner.com
ping.myblog.jp
ping.rootblog.com/rpc.php
ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php
ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php
ping.weblogs.se/
www.popdex.com/addsite.php
rcs.datashed.net/RPC2/
rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/
rpc.pingomatic.com/
rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2
www.snipsnap.org/RPC2
trackback.bakeinu.jp/bakeping.php
topicexchange.com/RPC2
www.weblogues.com/RPC/
xping.pubsub.com/ping/
xmlrpc.blogg.de/
bblog.com/ping.php
www.catapings.com/ping.php
effbot.org/rpc/ping.cgi
thingamablog.sourceforge.net/ping.php
ping.bitacoras.com
bitacoras.net/ping
rpc.pingomatic.com/
rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping
www.a2b.cc
api.feedster.com
api.my.yahoo.com
api.my.yahoo.com
www.bitacoles.net
bitacoras.net
blogbot.dk
blogdb.jp
www.blogdigger.com
blogmatcher.com
www.catapings.com/ping.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

Moderating Comments

I strongly recommend that you moderate comments, otherwise you will get a lot of spam.

Here are the settings I use:

wordpress spam comments

By ticking the above two boxes, you ensure that you keep full control of which comments appear on your blog. This is vital!

Permalink Options

Ok, this may be a bit complex, but bear with me, as it is very important that you get this right from day one.

Again, we are staying in the “options” section of the dashboard. Click “Permalinks” and you will see this menu:

The default option is: » http://deanhunt.com/?p=123

But the problem here is that Google doesn’t like these types of urls, and it can cause numerous problems.

Option two is: » http://deanhunt.com/2007/12/17/sample-post/

This is better, but I don’t like having dates in my urls, as some content will be timeless. For example, if you are searching in Google and you see 2004/12/08 would you click it? I wouldn’t!

Option three is: » http://deanhunt.com/archives/123

This is a terrible option. Don’t use this one.

Option four is what we are going to use: “Custom, specify below”

Here is what I use: /%postname%/

I recommend you post this into the “custom structure” box.

Note: You will then be given a piece of code that you need to paste into your .htaccess file. Simply copy this, go to your root (main) folder, and find your .htaccess file. Open it up by clicking “edit” and paste the code into the file and save.

Recommended WordPress Plugins

There are thousands of plugins for WordPress, what to use depends largely on what type of site you want to make. For example, if you want your site to look more like a magazine than a blog, then there are plugins that can help with this. If you want a photo based blog, then there are numerous Flickr plugins, and if you want a video style blog, then same applies.

However, I will show you what I use, and this will give you the basics to have a decent content site:

Permalink Redirect – A WordPress plugin that replies a 301 permanent redirect, if requested URI is different from entry’s (or archive’s) permalink. It is used to ensure that there is only one URL associated with each blog entry. I am not going to bore you with the technical aspects of this, but essentially it helps with Google and prevents Google from thinking you have two duplicate websites.

SEO title tag plugin – SEO Title Tag makes is dead-easy to optimize the title tags across your WordPress-powered blog or website. Not just your posts, not just your home page, but any and every title tag on your site! – I don’t use this as much as I should, but it is a very useful tool for anyone focusing on getting search engine traffic.

wordpress seo

Sociable – Social media is a big part of my traffic generation strategy, so this plugin really helps. It basically puts a series of small icons at the bottom of each of my articles, people can click these and submit the content to the major social media sites.

Spam Prevention Plugin – Automattic Kismet (Akismet for short) is a collaborative effort to make comment and trackback spam a non-issue and restore innocence to blogging, so you never have to worry about spam again. I love this plugin, and it saves me from getting thousands of spam comments every single week.

Comment Relish – I only installed this recently, and I am still not entirely sure if I will use it long term. But essentially it sends out an email to anyone who leaves a comment on my blog. Creative people will find interesting ways to use this.

In Series – Did you notice that there was a mini menu at the top of this article? This is from a plugin called “In Series”. It basically allows you to connect numerous posts in a series of posts. This is very useful if you do series and feature based posts.

If this is not enough for you, check over 1,000 plugins at the WordPress Plugin Directory

In the next post in the series I will look at templates and themes for WordPress.

I look forward to your questions and feedback.

*******UPDATE********

My good friend Nick has sent me some alternatives, I like his suggestions, so I have added them to the article (see below) so that you have more options.

http://blogsearch.google.com/ping/RPC2

http://api.feedster.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/ping

http://api.moreover.com/RPC2

http://blog.goo.ne.jp/XMLRPC

http://blogdb.jp/xmlrpc/

http://coreblog.org/ping/

http://ping.blo.gs/

http://ping.bloggers.jp/rpc/

http://ping.cocolog-nifty.com/xmlrpc

http://ping.syndic8.com/xmlrpc.php

http://ping.weblogalot.com/rpc.php

http://pinger.blogflux.com/rpc

http://rpc.blogrolling.com/pinger/

http://rpc.icerocket.com:10080/

http://rpc.pingomatic.com/

http://rpc.technorati.com/rpc/ping

http://rpc.weblogs.com/RPC2

http://topicexchange.com/RPC2

http://www.blogdigger.com/RPC2

http://xping.pubsub.com/ping

http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping

I think Nicks’ list is a solid list, and covers all the main sites. Also, it is smaller than mine, so saves posting times.

Nick also uses this posting structure: /%postname%.php

I think this format is well worth trying, my setup pretty much makes my pages seem like folders, but it has served me well. But I get a lot of links, so Nick’s is a very good alternative.

Nick’s Recommended Plugins …

The All-In-One SEO Pack:
Super SEO Pack

(Human) Sitemap Generator:
Human Sitemap Creator

Google Sitemap Generator:
Google sitemap creator

Dean’s Permalinks Migration:
(Essential if you want to change the PLs on an existing blog)

Ultimate Tag Warrior: (for WP 2.2.3 and under)

WordPress 2.3.x directly support Tags but you can extend their
functionality by downloading a plugin called Simple Tags from here:
WordPress Tags

  • http://www.articlesnatch.com/blog/ Matt Ellsworth

    I just stumbled here – and I’m glad I did. this is a great post – and I love your sidebar setup as well.

    Current score: 0
  • http://deanhunt.com Dean Hunt

    Thanks Matt.

    Glad you like the sidebar ;-)

    Current score: 0
  • http://www.yumbadges.com Dave

    Personally I use /%postname%.html as this makes the posts as static as possible. I also remove the “generator” tags from the top of any template that I use so Google is not aware that the site is powered by wordpress straight off the bat ;)

    I have a different ping list too and it would be worth you using the stumbleupon toolbar too ;)

    Nice post though Dean!

    http://www.YumBadges.com

    Current score: 0
  • http://www.notesfromspain.com Ben

    Hi Dean,

    I have a feeling that you don’t need permalink redirect anymore for the use you mention above – I think it is now built into the core of WP 2.3 onwards, see near the bottom of this article:

    http://scott.yang.id.au/2007/08/permalink-redirect-081-and-gravatar-cache-20/

    I still use it though as I changed PL structure a while ago (wish I’d changed to yours, I see your point about the dates!)

    Ben – another wp geek ;)

    Current score: 0
  • http://www.thealtitude.info Thomas Gray

    Dean, another good article i can see… Although a little more explanation of why people should add 40 links into their “Update Services” section, because not having used wordpress for a great amount of time, i don’t quite understandey!

    Tom

    Current score: 0
  • http://www.makethegreatescape.org Stephanie

    Great post, it really helped me kinda get my WP together.

    Current score: 0
  • http://deanhunt.com Dean Hunt

    I had this awesome email from Tom:

    Hi Dean,

    Just read the chapter 3 of your “creating your first website” series.

    I got several ideas from it, thank you. I may need your lights on this : the ping list.
    I had my list from this page

    http://www.instant-info-online.com/wordpress-compressed-all-inclusive-ping-list.html

    The article basically explained that a long ping list may result in pinging more than once a service. But your list is newer, so does is it better or does it really matter ?

    Speaking of this, I also use a plugin called Post Schedule Ping Optimizer (http://www.problogtools.com/), it prevents from pinging another time when you just edit and save a post. It is also designed to ping services only
    when your post goes live, but it needs a cron job (and I don’t really know how to do it).

    As for Sociable, I use a “hacked” version, Antisocial.
    http://andybeard.eu/2007/03/wordpress-plugin-antisocial.html. It adds a “nofollow” relation to the little buttons. It’s supposed to be better for SEO.

    There is also the All in One SEO pack, which also have some nice settings for titles http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/all-in-one-seo-pack/.

    I am not really good for SEO, I don’t know what is better. But I suppose your commentators will add their own list because your list was not too long
    (haha, nice bait for comments !). I will add one.

    Tom

    Current score: 0
  • http://www.4UrWorld.com Teresa

    Oh My God, I feel like I am learning a whole new language. I may have to read all of this about like 20 times, but I will and figure out what it means.

    Dean you are a great help to me. You are my favorite Guru Ever.

    Family things arise and I have put off working on my wordpress sites, but I am going to get back into it tomorrow, and now I have the great mentor, Dean Hunt to help guide me through things I really didn’t understand…

    Once again Thanks.

    Current score: 0
  • http://gilbertocintron.com Gil

    I just sort of stumbled upon your blog and found it very interesting. I particulary liked creating your first website wordpress plugins and setup. Thanks for the valuable information.

    Gil

    Current score: 0
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    i’m happy to see that i’m not the only one promoting wordpress over the other blogs… i’m glad you also mention that this is a process not a get rich quick scheme. Pierre

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    is it really necessary to ping all those sites? i mean we can just ping pingomatic right?

    Current score: 0
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    February 14th, 2006 at 9: 53 am Feedblitz seemed to be the best I could find (feedburner integration is a bonus). With the paid version I don’ t get the heavy orange branding Mike speaks of, but I’ ve always wanted more in relation to the frequency. I want a console that allows me to do scheduling. More importantly, I want to check off which articles to include in the mailout. Email fatigue sets in quickly and blasting off every single post is a sure fire way to keep your churn rate high. The other question…

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    Copywriting is also a skill that takes years of practice to become very effective in advertising what you are selling and -.;

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    of the many video clips that i download, i always watch those that are very funny ,`*

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