How Is A Meta Description Like A Dating Profile?

What is the difference between your blog posts and a profile for an online dating service?

Not much.

That reads like a really bad joke, I know. But these are the thoughts that pop into my head at 3am when watching commercials for sites like Farmers Only Dating dot com. What does a farmer say in their profile that will make a person (aka their potential soul mate) want to click through and know more about them? And how is that different from what a dentist would say? Is it different at all?

Getting Noticed in Google Search Results

Just like a single person scans through dating profiles, your potential website visitors are scanning through their Google search results, trying to decide which result to click on. Even if you achieve the much coveted goal of getting on the first page of Google if nobody clicks on your link, it doesn’t matter. So what is makes that searcher click on your link over the other links on the page? What makes your website attractive in the sea of online resources?

Creating valuable content is paramount, but what you do after the post is written is equally as important. To get your post noticed, pay extra attention to things like your title, categories, and Meta description. They are the “blonde hair, blue eyes, loves long walks on the beach” part of your content strategy.

What exactly is a Meta description?

To get a good feel for what a Meta description is and how it works, here is an example:

Meta Description Example

Search results will return a title, a link, and a few short lines telling the searcher exactly what they will get should they choose to click that link. Well, at least that’s what those lines should tell them. When posting a blog, the Meta description is often overlooked which can end up being the difference between a click-through or a scroll-by. And none of us want to be a scroll-by.

How Does It Work?

Notice that some of the wording in the Meta description is bold. Those words are an exact match to the keywords the searcher typed into the search engine. Pretty cool, huh? Written correctly, your Meta description will work hard to drive traffic to your site and it has two main jobs to do:

Keywords: The Meta description needs to be an accurate description of what your article is about so that the reader gets exactly what they were looking for when they click through.

Attention Grabber: The Meta description needs to hook the searcher; the more engaging these 3 lines are, the more likely they will want to know more.

Using the 3-sentence format

The tricky part is to create an effective Meta description within the character limits. You could just make sure your keywords are visible – but will that actually get the click-throughs that are needed to get visitors to your website? Probably not. Take another look at the example:

Meta Description Example

In just three simple sentences, the Meta description was able to:

  • Ask the question that matches the question asked by the searcher. In this case, suggestions for SEO plug-ins for WordPress.
    Tell the searcher exactly what they are going to get when they click-though.
  • Relay a fun call-to-action that actually has something to do with that particular plug-in. (Yoast uses a green/yellow/red light system to show SEO strength.)
  • Now that you have the 3-sentence format in your toolbox, writing your Meta descriptions for future posts should be easier and less time consuming. No more struggling with what to say and how to say it.

Get An SEO Boost

To help improve your SEO, take time to go through past blog posts and take a peek at your Meta description wording. Check to see that it follows the 3-sentence format and includes the keywords you have selected for your post. Not only can this small tweak bring increased traffic to your site but it will be the right traffic for your website.

Has this taken the mystery and intimidation factor out of Meta descriptions? When used consistently and correctly, it is an awesome tool. Want a quick and easy way to start applying SEO to your website? Take the 5 Minute SEO Makeover. See how 5 minutes and 3 easy steps can have big impact! Download your copy today and start getting noticed.

State of the Word 2014

For the past 11 years, the WordPress community has eagerly awaited the “State of the Word” address from WordPress creator Matt Mullenweg. It’s great to review the recent milestones and hear about the future direction of WordPress.

State of the Word 2014 happened in October, but many people who use WordPress for their website vs developing for WordPress don’t know about it. So I’ve created some highlights of things I think you’ll be interested in you can watch the video here.

This year some of the highlights included:

  • A new kind of WordCamp for 2015 – WordCamp US where people from all over the world can come together. They don’t know when, where or exactly how it’s going to happen yet, but stay tuned. (I think I’m most excited about this one!
  • 23.2% of the web runs WordPress. That’s up from 18.9% in 2013
  • 6,468 plugins and 684 themes were approved

The Future of WordPress:

  • More language packs for themes and plugins because for the first time ever, non-english downloads surpassed English downloads.
  • Fully localized plugin repository – means you can search for plugins and themes in other languages
  • Automatic updates for major releases
  • 5 for the Future: Companies who benefit from WordPress will donate 5% of resources to core or community. Go to Make.wordpress.org to figure out how you can contribute
  • Do you know the mission of WordPress – Democratize Publishing.

 

Slides from WordCamp Raleigh 2014: 5 Things You Shouldn’t Do With A WordPress Plugin

Kelly Phillips WordCamp RaleighI had a great time at WordCamp Raleigh this weekend and even got to present a workshop! If you’ve never been to a WordCamp, I highly recommend you look for one in your area. It’s a great place to network with other WordPress enthusiasts and learn about some pretty cool WordPress topics. Below is a copy of my slide deck. Enjoy!

PS. I saw a keynote from Ben Huh (creator of I Can Has Cheezburger) where he said “Cats Convert”. Well, the night before this presentation a tiny little kitten hitched a ride home from church in my Mother-In-Law’s engine block. No worries – she was fine. And is now living in the Kitty version of the Ritz here at my house. So in honor of my new family member, I did a cat slide with a pic of her and my mailing list page on it. We’ll see if Ben was right 😉

wordcamp-logo

Plugin Review: Deploy Articulate Modules in WordPress

You may not know this about me, but I spent most of my corporate career in the training field. I was still working my corporate job when I started my business and to my surprise, I found that many of the tools and techniques used to market an online business lent themselves very well to the world of corporate training – WordPress being one of them.

In order to easily deploy and track online training, you need to have a Learning/Content Management System in place. And those don’t come cheap. So for companies under 1000 employees or without the budget for a learning system, WordPress could be the answer. That’s why this plugin review is particularly close to my heart. This plugin is a solution that brings my two worlds that much closer together.

With the blessing of your IT department or by using an outside hosting provider, you can manage, deploy, and even track training content at your company using a WordPress site. There’s just one problem. The Instructional Designers who build training modules usually don’t have web design skills. And getting online training modules uploaded and working in WordPress is a manual process that takes more time and HTML/website knowledge than your average Instructional Designer possesses.

The Insert or Embed Articulate Content into WordPress plugin by Brian Batts from ArticulateFreak.com is built to take online training modules built in Articulate Presenter or Articulate Storyline and make it simple to upload and manage them in WordPress. (In case you’re not in the training field, the Articulate is one of the leading elearning development software programs.)

I tested the free version of this plugin and while it’s fairly simple, it does its job and it does it well. When the plugin is activated, you’ll have a button on your pages and posts you can click to upload a course.

 

Deploy Articulate Modules in WordPress

Simply upload your .zip file through the plugin interface, choose exactly how you want the course to display to the user and you’re done.

Articulate Modules in WordPress

Click the Launch button to see an Articulate Storyline module I uploaded as a lightbox with the vintage theme. You can embed the course on a page too, but I think this lightbox effect is pretty cool.

The files are kept in an upload folder behind the scenes and can be replaced with new versions of the module fairly easily. If your WordPress installation is outside the company firewall, security of the modules would be handled through the native WordPress password protect feature, or by using a membership plugin like Optimize Press.

You can deploy elearning, but you can’t track

Don’t get me wrong, this solution is no Learning Management System (LMS) replacement. While the bookmarking features seem to work just fine, there no tracking features included. So even if you have a SCORM enabled module, you won’t be able to see who accessed the training or what score they received.

I asked Brian if he had any plans for adding tracking to the plugin. While he’s keeping his eye on it, there are no plans to implement tracking in the near future. A part of that is because right now the best options for tracking would involve connecting to third-party systems.

Until I can make WordPress act like its own Learning Records System (LRS), I won’t implement a tracking feature in the plugin.  I’ll continue to focus on making it as simple as possible to get your elearning content out into the world.- Brian Batt

But will it stick around?

The Articulate plugin is the only plugin I’ve found that will help you deploy Articulate modules in WordPress. So what happens if the developer abandons it like so many other WordPress Plugins?

Well, you could be out of luck. With every update of WordPress core is potential that plugin would stop working if the developer doesn’t update it. And since there aren’t any other Articulate plugins (at this moment), your only option would become manual uploads. However, given Brian’s self-professed absolute dedication to Articulate (which you can read about on his website), I feel that this is one plugin that will be around for a while.

If you’re looking to deploy true, interactive elearning modules rather than just video training, this plugin will save you time and aggravation. It also will make your training interface look fabulous.

Seven Things You Should Never Do With a WordPress Plugin

Remember when you were a kid and your mom would send you off to the local carnival with five bucks and “spend it wisely because that’s all you’re getting”? I don’t know about you, but I would walk through the entire carnival, assessing every game and sweet treat, ranking them in my head and figuring out how I could get the most from that precious bit of cash.

WordPress plugins are kind of like that.You purchase a hosting package with just so much speed, bandwidth, space, etc. But you often don’t think about how you’re “spending” it when you build your website.

Every plugin you add to your WordPress site takes up a bit of those precious resources. Here are seven things that are so easy to implement on your WordPress site, that you should never (or at least rarely) use a plugin.

1. Google Analytics

Log into your Google Analytics account and copy the tracking code they give you. Most good WordPress themes will have a special box under Theme Options where you can paste this code. The really good ones will just need your UA number.

What about those plugins that put the analytics right on your website? If you want to use your precious plugin space for something you can easily bookmark in your browser, be my guest.

2. Mailing List Forms

I’m talking about including a simple mailing list opt-in in your sidebar or in a page on your website. Every mailing list service gives you the code that you can past into a text widget or a page to include your mailing list signup form. Now, if you want an evil pop-up box you will need a plugin for that.

3. Google Fonts

The least techie of us may want to go ahead and spend their plugin juice on pretty fonts, but if you have just a little bit of patience you  can implement Google Fonts without too much trouble. You copy one small piece of code to put into the header of your website, and another small piece of code to add to your style sheet. Again, a well-made theme should have a box in Theme Options to handle both. At least give this one a shot first.

4. PayPal Buttons

If you are doing a simple one item sales page or even a subscription, it’s not very difficult to create your own PayPal buttons. Look under Tools in your PayPal account and you’ll find an easy way to create them. You can build and save as many as you want, and even use custom graphics instead of the ugly PayPal buttons we all know and love. If you need a full-featured ecommerce store, a plugin is a good idea. But the simple one-offs? Save yourself the set-up time and the bandwidth.

5. Blog Roll

Bloggers love to promote their fellow blogger’s blogs with a blogroll! And yes, it’s a nice little touch to always have the list move to put the most recent poster on top. But do you know how bulky that is in terms of your website? And do you really want to send your readers off to another blog? If the answer is still yes, I advise you to use a text widget and create a static blog roll list.

6. Social Media Icons

This one is really tempting! It seems like a lot of work to upload the little icon graphics and painstakingly link them to each of your social media sites. But trust me, it’s worth it. You can find the code on Google and just replace the links with your own if you want.

7. Google Authorship

Ironically, as I’m writing this post I read the announcement that Google Authorship is dead. So if you do have an Authorship plugin, it’s time to deactivate and delete it. If you manually implemented Authorship on your website, John Meuller from Google tells us that you don’t need to remove it, it won’t negatively impact anything on the Google side. I guess the next time I talk about this list, there will only be six things you should never do with WordPress plugins!

 

That’s my list of seven things that you can implement easily enough without using your precious plugin allotment. I’ve been using WordPress long enough to know that there is always a reason to break the rules. So if you really want to use a plugin for one of these things, go right ahead. I’ve even listed a couple of them on the All-Star Plugin Roster. Just make sure you’re not giving up space for a plugin that could really help you hit it out of the park with your website.

Do you have anything to add to the list? Share your tip in the comments below.

WordPress Plugin Review: Page Builder

If you’ve ever found yourself frustrated by the page design limitations in a WordPress theme, the Page Builder plugin by SiteOrigin might be the answer you’re looking for. Page Builder adds an additional tab to the Visual and Text editor on your WordPress pages and posts. WordPress Page Builder It allows you to section the page into rows, and divide each row into multiple widgetized areas. You can then pull any widget that is active in you WordPress installation on to the page. WordPress Page Builder

What I Like About Page Builder

Some pluses to the Page Builder plugin include use of widgets on pages, the ability to set backgrounds per row, and a complete customization of each page. One big plus you don’t often find in plugins like this is the ability to set full-width backgrounds with some attributes options using drop-down fields. I did experience a few frustrations with this plugin. The text entry boxes do not have a formatting toolbar, so you need to hardcode text attributes that you would normally format using the toolbar.

Opportunities for Improvement

While I really like this plugin (and am even using in here on WPPluginCoach.com), there are some things I’d like to see improved. The overall feel of the plugin is a little bit clunky. It’s difficult to tell exactly what is in each box without comparing it side-by-side to the front-end view of the page. You can use this plugin with any theme, and I have found specific theme developers (such as Kadence Themes) who have worked to integrate it seamlessly into their themes. Overall, I do recommend giving this plugin a try. I think there is room for improvement and I’m looking forward to seeing where this developer takes Page Builder.

Plugin Stats

Name: Page Builder

Developer: Site Origin

Purpose: Section pages and insert widgets into page body.

Versions: Free

WordPress.org Page: http://wordpress.org/plugins/siteorigin-panels/

Developer Page: http://siteorigin.com/page-builder/

 
 
Are you looking for a plugin but can’t find exactly what you need? Submit it to Plugin Scout and we’ll add it to our plugin research list. You might see appear as a review or in a course here at WP Plugin Coach.

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