Category Archives: Productivity

More WordPress Plugins: Keywords, Performance and Social Share

I love discovering WordPress plugins that work and help with marketing your website. My first WordPress plugin post listed 3 awesome plugins for search engine optimization (SEO), link tracking and personalization. This time I’ve found 3 more awesome wordpress plugins for keywords, site performance and social share.

Keyword Statistics

Keyword Statistics helps optimize your WordPress blog for search engines. It can automatically generate meta informations (like keywords and description for example) needed for the SEO of your blog. What I like about this plugin is that it scans your content on the page or post for keyword density and updates it every few seconds. The most common keywords are presented in lists of single words and optionally 2- and 3-word phrases.

Keyword Statistics WordPress Plugin
Keyword Statistics WordPress Plugin

Keyword Statistics also will generate meta tags and page titles for a single page or the whole site. It features options for canonical URLs, 404 pages, robots, no follow, and the ability to turn on/off the setting so they don’t interfere with other plugins. The way I use it is to research the keywords and then write the meta tags using WordPress SEO plugin.

W3 Total Cache

Wordpress plugin W3 Total Cache Page Speed Report
Page Speed Report dashboard widget

W3 Total Cache bills itself as the most complete WordPress performance framework that can improve site performance and user experience via caching: browser, page, object, database, minify and content delivery network support. W3 Total Cache improves the user experience of your site by improving your server performance, caching every aspect of your site, reducing the download times and providing transparent content delivery network (CDN) integration. With page load speed now a factor in search engine rankings this plugin is invaluable. The dashboard widget gives you a quick analysis of your page speed report listing areas for improvement. The dashboard report clicks to a detailed report with specific areas to improve load speed and performance.  From there you can make the adjustments to your site to improve performance. W3 Total Cache promises at least 10x improvement in overall site performance.  As you can see from my report above, I still have some work to do to improve performance, and now I know exactly what items to tweak.

AddThis

I’ve tried most of the social share WordPress plugins and have finally settled on AddThis for a couple of reasons. First they have all of the networks with the ability to customize the buttons and the order they appear on the page. All you have to do is list the account codes in the order you want them to appear. They list what services perform best on their services directory page. Sign up for a free AddThis.com account to see how your visitors are sharing your content: which services they’re using for sharing, which content is shared the most, and more. The dashboard widget allows you to view stats for current day, past week and past month.

AddThis WordPress Plugin Dashboard Widget
AddThis dashboard widget shows social sharing stats

I’ve also found AddThis to work well on iPhone while testing for my site.  Some of the other social share plugins performed poorly in this area so that was a big factor in using this plugin.  Other features include bit.ly and Google Analytics integration.

3 Awesome WordPress Plugins for SEO, Links and Personalization

Wordpress Plugins

Awesome WordPress Plugins

If you use WordPress for a small to medium sized business website then this post is for you. Over the past several months I have discovered some awesome WordPress plugins that can help you with your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), link management and create custom pages with dynamic widget management.

WordPress SEO Plugin

WordPress SEO is a great plugin to help with all the SEO work you need to do on your site. I first heard about this from local SEO guru Phil Buckley (@1918) and have been found it to be one of the best SEO tools I’ve used. Just this week a new release was announced and available that makes this plugin even better. WordPress SEO allows you to change the meta keywords and descriptions and other tags that search engines crawl and index on your site. But where it really adds value is by performing analysis on how well you focused on the keyword you want to be listed under. The latest release is now paired with Linkdex for enhanced analysis that reviews your post and gives you feedback on how to tweet your page for maximum optimization. This allows you to go back and edit the specific areas to focus more on what keyword you are wanting to show up for in search results.

Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin Page Analysis with Linkdex
Yoast WordPress SEO Page Analysis Screen with Linkdex

Broken Link Checker Plugin

The second WordPress plugin I’ve found useful is Broken Link Checker. Finding broken links is a never-ending task and this WordPress plugin does all the hard work for you. It detects links that don’t work, missing images and redirects and will alert you via the WordPress dashboard or email.  There are several options for page and posts types and you can prevent search engines from following broken links as well.  The interface cleanly lists all broken links and allows you to edit, update or remove the link depending on the circumstances.  I use this to find any broken internal links that may have happened from archiving or changing URLs as well as any links on other sites that have changed.  You can also scan the link source for links that are not really broken like older tweets that have been archived from Twitter and other sites.

Broken Link Checker WordPress Plugin Screen
Broken Link Checker Plugin Screen

Dynamic Widgets Plugin

Creating a personalized experience is key to website design and conversion optimization. With the Dynamic Widgets WordPress plugin you can do just that. This plugin allows you to choose which pages that specific widgets will appear on the page.  The settings are very robust and can be set according to user roles, dates, pages, categories and Buddypress groups to name a few.  These options allow you to set  default and custom settings for specific widgets.  For example if you want to cross sell on a landing or conversion page you can set those widgets to appear on those pages and any child pages.  Using this tool requires some level of widget modeling and you may find it necessary to develop a chart that lists what widgets should appear on what pages depending on your specific criteria.  It takes some work to get it all setup but in the end it is worth it.

Dynamic Widgets plugin screen
Dynamic Widgets plugin screen

I hope you find these WordPress plugins as valuable as I have. What are some of the WordPress plugins that you have found to be helpful?

Remember Plurk, Plaxo and Poken?

With a new social media site being announced every few days I wanted to go back to some of the sites that were abuzz a jew years ago. After the initial launch and buzz what happens to these sites if they don’t attract critical mass? I decided to look at three sites that I have not looked at in over a year.

PlaxoPlaxo is an online address book and social networking service founded by Napster co-founder Sean Parker in 2002 that as of a few years ago reported 20 million users. Plaxo provides automatic updating of contact information as users store their data on Plaxo’s servers. When users update it updates all their connections address books and users can connect and access the address book from anywhere. I tried Plaxo but found that I was already connecting with other business users on LinkedIn. One of the annoying factors that Plaxo has that I did not like is that I received many email invites to connect on a platform that I had already abandoned. This did reflect poorly on the company as it was accused of violating email spamming laws. Plaxo was acquired by Comcast and in 2009 announced that it would charge for the Microsoft Outlook synchronization service.

PlurkPlurk was an alternative microblogging platform to Twitter launched in 2008. It lists user updates or “plurks” in a timeline which lists all the updated received in chronological order and delivered to the other users who have signed up to receive them. The majority of Plurk’s traffic comes from Taiwan. I found a single user that said he used it a few years back when Twitter was experiencing frequent outages and he used it to communicate. What it lacks is the ability to create groups, aggregate information and other useful tools that Twitter employs to organize communication.  When I checked Plurk recently it seems to have abandoned the timeline updates and the user interface looks very similar to Twitter with a vertical feed.

PokenPoken is both a social site and hardware device that allows the exchange of online social networking data between two keychain accessories. Each person must have his or her own device in order to exchange information. It has been called the social business card and attempts to be a digital replacement for physical business cards. The keychain device is inserted into a USB drive and data is uploaded to the site. Like Plurk users were presented in a horizontal chronological timeline. For the few users I actually connected to it imported them twice and never could figure out how to get rid of the duplicates. I also found it hard to use when swapping information with other Pokens.  The light was covered and there was not way to determine if it worked other then blinking light sequences.  I usually still swapped paper business cards. I actually won my Poken at a Raleigh Social Media Club event and used it for several months but only exchanged info with a handful of users. The battery eventually died and I was unable to find a replacement. Now I’m not even sure where the device is.

It will be interesting to see if these technology companies will survive over the next few years. In my next post I’m going to look at how Plaxo and two other sites have survived after being purchased by major corporations and if it was a good or bad move for them.

Have you used any of these networks lately or have they fallen off your radar?

Beyond the Basics: Corporate Microblogging

[featured style=”shadow”]

This edition of Beyond the Basics looks at corporate microblogging and how it is impacting today’s business communication. Dan Connolly (@DConnolly17) of Blogtronix spoke with me about how microblogging can help reduce email clutter and increase productivity. Dan had some interesting statistics Blogtronix has customers have experienced.

Employee Engagement Benefits

  • 39% increase in employee connectedness
  • 32% more ideas generated and captured
  • 30%  in employee satisfaction
  • 27% less email
  • 32% reduction in time to find answers
  • 37% increase in project collaboration and productivity

Top Customer Engagement Benefits

  • 42% more communication with customers
  • 31% increase in customer retention
  • 34% higher brand awareness
  • 28% decrease in support call volume
  • 34% more feedback and ideas from customers
  • 27% increase in new customer sales

10 Ways to Boost Virtual Office Productivity

Virtual teams present special challenges, primarily because they are so geographically dispersed. Because you never meet face to face, out must rely on technology to get your workers trained. Remote workers in the form of IT specialists or personal assistants are great ways to save money or assemble teams with unique skills, but they require some special handling to keep them focused on their assigned tasks. Here you will find 8 ways to boost virtual office productivity so you get your money’s worth.

  1. Set your expectations early: You need to make sure you discuss your communication methods and how often you must get updates. Be specific concerning the outputs you want to see and when you must see them. By setting the standard early you can develop a better relationship and also have a framework by which you can provide evaluations and take corrective action if necessary.
  2. Route tasks effectively: A thorough knowledge of your virtual workers’ skill will help you route work properly. Virtual workers all have different specialties, so make sure that you delegate appropriate work to each person. This will help your virtual workers be more productive and you will get the results you need.
  3. Get an address: Your virtual office can include physical space services that have a real address with a real receptionist to sign for packages and provide notary and other services. Space services give you the ability to maintain a prestigious address without the overhead associated with the high rent district. With a virtual address you don’t have to worry that anyone will find out that you do most of your work in your pyjamas.
  4. Use software tools: Training and planning can be done with online project management tools such as the online BaseCamp subscription service. With online tools you can stipulate that all work be documented and you and your team can pick up and move on should one of your virtual workers quit unexpectedly.
  5. Trust, not fear should characterize your relations with virtual workers: As with any employee or contractor you take a risk, although you never get to see most of your virtual team. You also should recognize that your virtual team may have never seen you either, so they have a lot at stake too. Rather than trying to keep your team members on a short leash, let them go about their work and while you go about yours. Most of the time your worries will prove to be unfounded.
  6. Start smart: With a lot of deadlines looming you may feel pressured to assign a lot of work to new virtual workers. Realize that they have to get used to you and the way your organization works just as much as a physical employee would have to do. Start small with simple tasks while your team learns the ropes and gradually allow them to develop into the productivity engine you need them to be for your business to succeed.
  7. Get some legal advice: If you are new to virtual work environments, take some time and money to get competent legal advice. You want to form relationships that don’t leave you vulnerable to legal action should one of your virtual workers become unhappy.
  8. Be culturally savvy: If you have foreign workers on your virtual team, take some time to learn about their cultural nuances and practices. Be aware of their holidays and work routines and be careful not to unintentionally insult or offend them. Everyone must have respect for each other in order for the global workforce to succeed.
  9. Provide support: Virtual workers will have concerns from time to time that you need to address promptly to keep them productive. Pay issues are probably near the top of the list with workflow issues being close by. If your workers need online or other tools to get their work done, go ahead and support them by getting them what they need. If you’re willing to work to accommodate them, they will be more likely to accommodate you.
  10. Respect: To have a productive virtual office, you must show your workers respect. Take the lead in this area and be patient while your workers adjust to you and their virtual surroundings. After you’ve been fair and respectful with them for a few weeks, demand respect in return (if you haven’t received it yet). The virtual office is just like a physical office: everyone must get along in order to accomplish the mission.

Chart your course to success with these 10 ways to boost virtual office productivity. You will you’re your experience with this modern workforce to be fun, exciting, and profitable.

John Brook is a regular contributor to other blogs where he posts about improving productivity. He works at OfficeKitten.co.uk where he writes about presentation supplies and office supplies.