Archive for July 2010

More WordPress Plugins

WordPress logoRecently, I gave a list of recommended plugins for WordPress with a full description of how to use them and why I like them. Here is a more complete, alphabetical list of plugins that I use or that I’m testing myself. There are literally thousands of plugins available for WordPress, so if you don’t see one listed here that does what you need, you can probably find it in the WordPress Plugins Directory. Some plugins require tweaking of the code to work, so be sure to read all of the documentation, as well as check compatibility, ratings and reviews (all available in the directory listing).

Plugins with a * are ones I consider “must haves” for all WordPress sites! You can see my review of many of those on my Happy Plugins! post.

  • *AddThisWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Social Media Links
  • *Add Your Own HeadersWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Customize per page/post meta tags
  • Ad RotateWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Rotating ad banners
  • *AkismetWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage • Additional info – API Key
    Pre-installed WordPress Comment Spam Blocker
  • *All in One SEO PackWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    SEO friendly titles, tags, keywords and descriptions
  • Article DirectoryWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Sitemap-like Directory of Categories on the site. Untested yet but looks promising to build a category-list directory similar to an online store.
  • ArtPalWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Simple, easy-to-use PayPal links for artists selling one-of-a-kind items on their site
  • Automatic SEO LinksWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Turn keywords within posts into external link
  • Comment LuvWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Allows other blog users to post links to specific pages of their own blog in comments
  • Contact Form 7WP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Advanced contact form. (Note about Contact Form 7 and Dagon Designs Formmailer. Both are contact forms. It is not recommended to use both on the same site as both use CAPTCHA and may interfere with each other.)
  • Custom rel LinksWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Set your own links for “Next” and “Previous” in your header
  • Datafeedr Random AdsWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Create random ad banners
  • * Dagon Designs Formmailer – (Not available in directory) • Plugin Homepage
    Basic contact form. (Note about Contact Form 7 and Dagon Designs Formmailer. Both are contact forms. It is not recommended to use both on the same site as both use CAPTCHA and may interfere with each other.)
  • Drain HoleWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Download manager
  • FB Activity WidgetWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Add Facebook comments and advanced Facebook connectivity
  • * FB Like ButtonWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Add basic Facebook Like button to posts and pages (Note: The FB Activity Widget and FB Like Button plugins alone do not provide links to Facbook’s Analytics, but can work well with specialized code to make the Analytics work.)
  • * Feedburner Feedsmith – (Not available in directory, see Google link for WordPress Download) • Plugin Homepage
    Track RSS feed analytics within your Google analytics account
  • * Google XML SitemapsWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Build an automatic XML sitemap for Google crawler
  • Link Within – (Not available in directory) • Plugin Homepage
    Creates a link to top related posts with a thumbnail image from the related posts. I haven’t yet tried this plugin but I’ve been very impressed with it on other sites that I’ve seen.
  • Official Statcounter PluginWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Works with a Statcounter account for tracking site analytics
  • Page Flip Image GalleryWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Creates a Flash generated image gallery with “page flip” style (I have not yet tested this plugin out, but I’m hoping it will make an interesting book or magazine “feel” for some images.)
  • * PC robots.txtWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Automatically creates a robots.txt file for your site to block spam bots and allow Google crawler bots
  • PHP Code WidgetWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Adds a widget that will accept PHP code for the sidebars. Works just like the included WordPress HTML Text widget for PHP code.
  • Recipe PressWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Create posts in recipe format for easy viewing of ingredients, directions, etc.
  • Sexy BookmarksWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Animated Social Media Bookmarks
  • * Sitemap GeneratorWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Builds an auto-generated Sitemap for your site. (FYI: If you use an updated version, check the comments on the plugin homepage for a solution to some errors. Some code in the Sitemap PHP pages may need to be updated.)
  • Smooth SliderWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Creates a mini-slideshow of Featured Posts using an image and SEO-friendly text from the post on the slider. Plugin requires knowledge and updating of PHP pages.
  • Syntax Highlighter Evolved- WP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    If you ever need to show CSS, PHP, or other code within a post, the sytax highlighter makes it easy to read and prevents the code from breaking “real” code on the page
  • Tweet MeMeWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Adds an easy-to-use retweet button directly on posts and pages
  • * Twitter ToolsWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Connect your WordPress site to Twitter in several different ways. Sends posts to your Twitter account automatically, connects directly with a account for link analytics, adds a Twitter widget to show Twitter feed in sidebars.
  • WP PollsWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Add polls to a WordPress post or page
  • * WP Pretty PhotoWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Creates a javascript link for images to open thumbnails in a “view window”. Requires minimal html code added to the image link. I’ve tested many javascript “pretty photo” plugins and this one is the easiest to set up and is less demanding on the server from others that I tried.
  • WP Print (*)WP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Makes pages and posts “printer friendly”. (Untested. If the plugin does what I’m hoping it will do, I expect to add this to my “must have” list after testing it myself.)
  • * Yet Another Related Posts PluginWP Directory DownloadPlugin Homepage
    Creates a list of the top 5 related posts based on tags and categories.

Note: I have not personally tested any of the above plugins with WordPress 3.0 or 3.0.1. All of my sites currently use 2.9.1 or 2.9.2 versions of WordPress until I can test compatibility of my plugins and my own themes. If you already have WordPress 3.0, check the directory and forums for compatibility issues. None of the links above are affiliate links, nor do I earn or receive anything for recommending these plugins. These are just ones I use, recommend or am trying out myself.

Do you know of a great plugin not listed here? Leave a comment with your own recommendations and reviews!

Facebook: I like you!

Setting up a Facebook Like Button.

23 Likes on my blog

I’m going to apologize in advance for getting overly technical with this post and for how wordy I tend to get when that happens. Putting my geekdom aside, however, I hope you find it useful. :)

It’s been almost 3 months now since Facebook announced they were taking over – uh, I mean expanding to the rest of the web. (Read more about it here.) Since then we’ve all seen the FB “Like” button cropping up on sites all over the Internet, and if you’re like me, you’ve been innundated with FB status updates from bored teenagers who have discovered the new “Like farms.” (BTW, hey Mark Z, if you get this message, think ahead next time about the timing and rolling something like this out right before summer vacation hits!) As one of the first people to implement the “Like” and “Comment” buttons on my site (And I mean very first. Before they even fixed the errors in their documentation.), I’d like to share some of my experiences with you.

I’ll spare you the hair-pulling moments when I first put the FB code onto a few pages of my site, only to get errors and warnings basically telling me,“You’re doing it wrong!” Thanks, Facebook, for letting me know that. It was your code! No, you don’t need to hear about that. The documentation has (quietly) been corrected. You might want to just start out with the very basic “Like” button. If you use WordPress, you’re in luck. There’s a Plugin for that. :) I use it and highly recommend it. If you want to take it to the next level, like I did, I’ll let you in on a few tricks – some of which I discovered by accident; others by trial and error. (Facebook seems to have updated the documentation once again with a little more information about it. That could have saved some hair-pulling 3 months ago.)

Ready? Let’s get started.

Step One: Set up a Facebook Application

You can go to the FB Developer’s site to register your own personal website as an application here:

Before the hair-pulling commences, be sure the link to your site is the full link and includes the slash / at the end. It will give you some sample code, and your Application ID. (If you build your site in HTML, you can grab the sample code for your site.) You’ll need your Application ID and your personal User ID for the meta tags in the next steps.

Step Two: Finding Your Facebook ID

Don’t know your profile User ID? Enter this into the address bar (not the search bar) of your browser:

Make sure it’s your Personal Profile and not a FB Page. You should see something like this with your own name and a bit of information about you. (This is my personal profile graph:

Graph ID

Now you’re ready for the code. Some words of caution. Once you’ve set up the Admin for a site, it’s virtually impossible to remove that User ID as Admin. FB warns that you can’t. It took a lot of back-end removing Facebook Pages and other code-hacking for me to figure it out, so be prepared to be Admin for life on the site where your ID is listed first.

Also, be aware that you could potentially end up with a long list of Facebook Pages that you Admin.

Step Three: Install the Like Button Code

If you haven’t already, install the Like Plugin on your WordPress site. Recommended settings: Display Above OR Below the content. You can check both, but it isn’t necessary to have it in both places unless you want it to look like FB took over your site. Leave Display on Individual Posts, Individual Pages and on the Home Page checked. You never know what someone might happen to “Like” so why not give them every opportunity?

Recommended settings for FB Like Plugin

This is the setting that I used. I chose below the content because most people want to read something before they know if they Like it and may not scroll back to the top. Feel free to play with the display settings, but the default options should work just fine.

If you’re building your page in HTML, you can visit the Javascript SDK page on the FB Developer’s site to get the necessary Javascript code for the enhanced Like button.

Step Four: Add your Application ID and Admin (User ID) Meta Tags

You’ll put this code into the Head section of your main (Home) page:

  • <meta property=”fb:app_id” content=”YourApplicationID” />
  • <meta property=”fb:admins” content=”YourUserID” />

Both IDs will be 15 digit numbers. Even within WordPress, you’ll need to manipulate a bit of code for this. On the Appearance Dashboard, go to Editor and you’ll see a list of PHP pages on your site. The code goes in the Header.php page. I like to put it just before the <title> tag so I can easily find it again.

Step Five: Add the “Open Graph” (og:) meta tags to individual posts and pages

Here, each page gets its own individual meta tags. Once again, I’ve found a Plugin for WordPress where you won’t have to manipulate additional code. The “Add Your Own Headers” Plugin works great with this feature. I like to enter the meta tags in Notepad as one single line of code so no line breaks interfere with anything. I’m using in my example the site I’m building to put the book, Trek to Texas, online. For pages that aren’t directly from the book (About, Contact, Support, etc.) I use <meta property=”og:type” content=”website” /> just to let FB know these are website pages. You’ll want to select your “og:type” accordingly. You can find the full list of types and information on the FB Open Graph Protocol available in my Resources section.

Once activated, the Add Your Own Header plugin appears at the bottom of the page/post Editor in WordPress:

Add Your Own Header plugin

Each property is fairly self-explanatory. The only part you need to change is the Content Attribute shown in bold to match your website page. Be sure that the URL goes directly to the site page where it’s listed (see Facebook’s Guidelines below), and the Title and Type are relevant to the page. Facebook doesn’t allow you to change this information once you’ve received a certain number of Likes on the page. Do not change the Property Attribute.

  • <meta property=”og:title” content=”Welcome to Trek to Texas” />
  • <meta property=”og:type” content=”book” />
  • <meta property=”og:url” content=”” />
  • <meta property=”og:image” content=”” />
  • <link rel=”image_src” href=”” />This last line isn’t really related to the Like button, but I included it because I often use it on my pages along with the other meta tags. Have you ever noticed some sites allow only one image thumbnail choice when Sharing a link on your Facebook profile?
    link rel=”image_src” tells Facebook which image from your site you wish to use as the thumbnail image so you can control what FB users see on their newsfeed links.

Note: The image used must be in your site’s directory; it can’t be from a different site or FB will show it as a “?” image or no image at all when it finally gets onto their site.

Step Six: “Liking” a page creates a Facebook Page

Admin Page Link!

Once you’ve completed all of the steps above, make sure you’re logged into the account that you set up as an Admin in Step 4, and you can Like one of your own pages. After a few minutes, depending on the speed of Facebook’s servers, an “Admin” link should magically appear on your web page! This link takes you (And ONLY you. No one else sees it unless they’re a listed Admin in the meta tag and also Like the page.) directly to a Facebook Fan Page where you have access to the same information as any Facebook Page. When you post to the wall of the Page, it will show up in your fans’ newsfeed just as a normal Facebook page would. What shows up on the newsfeed for your fans includes a link back to your site.

I’ll repeat my words of caution: you could potentially end up with a long list of Facebook Pages that you Admin! I do not recommend Liking every page on your site or blog right away. The purpose isn’t to show others how popular you are with “Likes”. It’s to gain insight into what Your Customers Like. If you see a particular page that has several Likes, or wish to send promotions to people who have Liked the page, all you have to do is Like the page to create a Facebook Page. That’s IF you have followed all the steps above prior to people using the Like button.

What I learned

Why do I have to go through all these steps? Can’t I just add the “Like” button to my site? Sure, you can. But if you want to use Facebook’s tools to help you analyze a page on your site that’s getting several Likes, if you’ve followed these steps when setting up the page, you’ll have Insight into your users that can help you identify key characteristics to narrow down your Target Market. Are they primarily male or female? What are their other interests? What other pages have they liked? What age group are they in? These are all essential characteristics that any business should know about their current customers to help analyze if your business is on target with your Target Customers.

Did you notice the 23 Likes in the image at the beginning of this post? It’s from a giveaway I did on my personal blog. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many people Liked the giveaway while only 6 people commented. (One of the Likes and Comments was me.) Curious to learn why the giveaway was so popular, I Liked the page. And waited. And waited. No Admin link appeared. No Facebook Page showed up in my list of Pages I admin. What did I do wrong? I had set myself up as Admin for the blog. I had created an application for it. I realized after only a little hair-pulling that I had forgotten Step 5, setting up the meta tags for that page. Could I recover and still add the tags later? I tried, and yes! The Admin link and Facebook page appeared! With ONE fan. Me.

A test of setting everything up beforehand, following Steps 1 – 5 before users Like the page achieved the desired result: Users Like the page first, I see that the page is getting popular, so I log into Facebook and Like the page, and Voila! All the page’s fans are there! Step 5 was the most crucial in getting everything to work. Yes, it’s also the most time-consuming because every individual page should have its own Title, and URL at least. In my example of the genealogy book, I use the bookcover for the majority of the images on all the pages, and the “Type” will often remain the same.

In the end, you just never know what people are going to Like on your website. Some people are more comfortable clicking a Like button than leaving a comment or sharing on Facebook or Twitter. The information you can get from it can be invaluable to your site and your business. And it’s a pretty good feeling when someone says, “I like you!” :)


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