WordPress for Business Bloggers

A Quick Check List

Based on the writing tips we’ve looked at, there are a few common themes that keep
popping up. This check list will help you to keep them in mind:

  • Know your target audience and try to get inside their heads.
  • Ask yourself if each post is truly relevant to your audience.
  • Are you posting frequently enough (or too frequently)?
  • Are your posts too long?
  • Make sure you include plenty of links to other blogs and websites (but try to
    restrict this to 100 outgoing links per page, for SEO reasons).
  • Consider whether your tone and voice are appropriate for your target
    audience and how they could apply to your brand identity.
  • Have you applied a structure to your post?
  • Could you add a question at the end of your post?

Remember that the art of blog writing requires plenty of practice, but the points we
have covered should help to get you on your way. The key is to constantly analyze
your writing and ask yourself how it can be improved.


	A Note about Keywords
	We'll discuss the whole topic of SEO in the next chapter. But it's
	worth noting here that your writing has a big impact on search engine
	findability. This is what adds an extra dimension to writing for the Web.
	As well as all the usual considerations of style, tone, content, and so
	on, you also need to optimize your content for the search engines. This
	largely comes down to identifying your keywords and ensuring they're
	used with the right frequency—we'll discuss this in detail in Chapter 6. In
	the meantime, hold this thought.

Categories and Tags

It’s very important to organize your content in a usable and logical way. Your
readers will be frustrated if they cannot find what they’re looking for. Their overall
experience of your blog is greatly enhanced if you use clear signposts to your
content. Luckily, WordPress makes this easy with the use of Categories and Tags
(in version 2.3 and higher).

The Difference between Categories and Tags

There can be some confusion about the differences between categories and tags,
which can lead to them being used incorrectly. This is partly due to the fact that
different bloggers use them in different ways. There is some debate about how they
should be used, and some may argue that there are no hard and fast rules. However,
I think it’s important to establish in your mind some distinction between categories
and tags; what follows is my method for using them.

Categories should be thought of as being part of the hierarchy of your blog’s
navigation. In a way, they are a bit like a filing system for your blog. Each post is
‘filed’ in a category, giving your blog a hierarchical structure. Some people also think
of categories as being the ‘table of contents’ for a blog.

Tags supplement categories but they should not really be thought of as part of your
blog’s navigation. They are rather like an index in a book. You use an index to look
up a keyword and it gives you a list of page references for that word. Similarly, when
a reader clicks on one of your tags, they are given a list of references for that tag.
Tags can also be thought of as keywords or search terms that readers (or potential
readers) might associate with your posts.

Categories are a high-level way of organizing content, while tags are more
granular or low-level. A category will contain many posts, whereas a tag may
point to far fewer.

Using Categories

Bearing in mind that categories are a high-level method for organizing your content,
you should keep the number of categories to a minimum. I would recommend not
going above 12 categories, and in fact, for many blogs far fewer will be sufficient.

Remember that we are also using categories as part of our blog’s navigation; they
are not just a way of labeling posts. Your category list should be clearly displayed on
each page of your blog so that it can be used as a navigation menu.

Each post should be placed in just one category. This is a controversial point, and
you will see some bloggers place their posts in more than one category. However,
this detracts from the idea of using categories as a navigational aid on your site or as
a table of contents. A section in a book only appears under one chapter heading; it
only occurs once within the book, so it is only listed once in the table of contents.


	You can set up your permalinks so that the category is part of
	the URL. For example: http://blog.chilliguru.com/
	recipes/2007/04/01/the-worlds-best-salsa-recipe/. It's
	rather like the directory structure used in static HTML sites, where
	content is organized by placing each page in the relevant folder. This is an
	important reason for placing your posts in just one category. We will apply this
	to the ChilliGuru case study later in the chapter.

Avoid the use of sub-categories. If you keep the number of categories small, you
shouldn’t need any sub-categories. You must also constantly monitor your categories
and how you are using them. If it turns out that one of your categories is only getting
a few posts while all the others have dozens, you should consider merging the
underused category into one (or more) of the others. A category with just one or two
posts that refl ects badly on you, and many of your readers may doubt your expertise
or enthusiasm.

Using Tags

We’ve mentioned that tags are a more granular way of organizing your content.
You may only have a few categories, but you should use lots of tags. However, just
because there are lots of them, you shouldn’t be cavalier in the way you use them.
Always use meaningful tags but try to keep them as short as possible. The best tags
are just one word, although sometimes you will have to use more.

The whole point of tags is to use the same ones over and over. Do not create more
than one tag with the same meaning. For example, if you were frequently writing
about architecture you could have the tags such as, ‘building’, ‘construction’,
‘development’, or a whole host of variations. The problem is that they are all too
similar. It would be far better to use just one of these tags for posts on that subject.
You should also be aware of any ambiguities in your tags, for example, ‘building’ can
mean ‘a structure of bricks and mortar’ or ‘the act of constructing’. If you were to use
it as a tag, you would need to be consistent and use it in just one meaning.

You can give more than one tag for a post, in fact, you will usually find you have to.
The whole point of tagging is that readers can use it to find related posts, and this
may be best achieved by using several tags per post.

Applying Tags and Categories to ChilliGuru

Now, let’s look at how we can apply this to our case-study blog. First, we’ll consider
the categories that are needed for the blog. Based on the subject matter of ChilliGuru,
we can come up with a few broad topics that will be our categories:

  • Recipes and Cooking
  • Planting and Growing
  • ChilliCulture
  • ChilliHistory
  • Speaking and Events
  • TV Appearances

This looks like a good list of categories to begin with—we can always add more,
later. Now, start up your local development server and log in to the admin area
of the ChilliGuru blog (http://localhost/wordpress/wp-login.php). Select
Manage | Categories. Begin by deleting all the old categories and then add the
new ones.

Some of the category names contain several words, but you may wish to use just one
word for the category slug. The slugs will be used by our permalinks, once we’ve
re-configured them.

For the time being, leave the Uncategorized category—you can set one of the new
ones as Default later.

Next, you need to go through each of the posts and assign them to a new
category—remember, only one category per post. At the same time add a few tags
for each post. Tags are placed in the box immediately below the main post editor.
Since, we’re only using dummy content, it doesn’t really matter which categories and
tags you use for each post.


	Tags work in WordPress 2.3 and higher. If you have been following the
	ChilliGuru case study since the beginning of the book, you will have
	installed at least version 2.6.

The Sandbox theme, which we used for ChilliGuru, displays tags within the
meta-information at the end of each post:

However, it’s also useful to display your tags in a tag cloud within your sidebar.
WordPress comes with its own tag cloud widget, but it’s not very fl exible. So, we’ll
use a third-party plugin, called Configurable Tag Cloud (CTC) developed by Keith
Solomon of http://reciprocity.be.

Go to http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/configurable-tag-cloudwidget/
and download the plugin. Unzip the file and place tag-cloud.php in your
plugins folder (C:\xampp\htdocs\wordpress\wp-content\plugins). Go back to
the admin area and activate it.

Click on the Design tab and then Widgets. So far, we’ve been using the default
sidebar settings. We’ll place the CTC widget in Sidebar 1. The available widgets
are listed on the right-hand side of the page (the Configurable Tag Cloud widget
is shown as CTC). On the left-hand side under Current Widgets, make sure that
Sidebar 1 is selected from the drop-down box. Now click the Add link next to the
following widgets: Pages, Categories, CTC, and Archives (in that order).

Now click on the Edit link next to CTC.

He re we can change a few settings for the tag cloud. I’ve changed the title to Site
Tags;
set the Number of Tags to Display to 100; set the Smallest Font Size to
10 pixels; the Min. Tag Color to #DF5E37; and the Max. Tag Color to #800000.
Click the Change button and then Save Changes.

Now, we’ll add a quick CSS rule to the style sheet. Select the Theme Editor. In style.
css, add the following rule on the line below /* The Sidebars */:


	.ctc a{text-decoration:none; border-bottom:1px dotted #F5AD61;}

Click Update File. If you view the blog, you should see the tag cloud in the first
sidebar. Notice that the most-used tags appear larger, in the #800000 color; there is
a sliding scale of font sizes down to the least used tags, which are colored #DF5E37.
Also notice the dotted ‘border’ we added at the bottom of each tag using the CSS
rule, which also removed the default underlining for hyperlinks. Clicking on one of
the tags will show a list of all the posts that have been tagged with it.


	You will see that there is a 'recipe' tag as well as a 'Recipes and Cooking'
	category. This is because ChilliGuru knows that many of his readers visit
	the blog primarily to read his recipes. This makes it is as easy as possible
	to locate all his recipes. Readers can either select the tag or the category.
	The 'recipe' tag shows just the recipes, while the 'Recipes and Cooking'
	category contains all the posts that are on the general topic of cooking, for
	example, techniques, utensils, tips, and so on.

Finally, we will update the permalinks so that the relevant category appears in the
URL for each post. Whether you decide to implement this on your own blog is up
to you. It has advantages and drawbacks. The advantage is that your category
structure is reinforced in your post URLs and the drawback is that the URLs are
slightly longer.

Select Settings | Permalinks. Under Common settings, select the Custom Structure
radio button, and enter /%category%/%year%/%monthnum%/%day%/%postname%/ as
shown in the following screenshot:

Click Save Changes. Your permalinks will now be structured like this:

http://blog.chilliguru.com/recipes/2007/04/01/the-worlds-bestsalsa-

recipe/.

Now, as we’ve dealt with categories and tags, we’ll look at some of the static content
you may wish to include in your blog.

The ‘About’ Page

Your ‘About’ page will be one of the very first points of contact with most new
readers of your blog, so it’s important to get it right. It’s your chance to explain who
you are and what you’re doing with your blog. There are no hard and fast rules for
writing the ‘About’ page. A cursory visit to a random selection of blogs will reveal
that there is no standard, as ‘About’ pages come in all shapes and formats. However,
there are a few similarities between most of them, and you would be well advised to
include the following as a bare minimum.

About You

This is the place for your potted résumé. Keep it brief and to the point, outlining
the skills and experience that make you qualified to write your blog. Readers are
more likely to trust what you write and come back for more, if they know it’s the
words of someone ‘in the know’. This might not necessarily include degrees and
diplomas. Depending on your blog’s subject matter and your own life experiences,
you might not hold any relevant paper qualifications, but simply be a knowledgeable
and committed ‘amateur’. As long as you can demonstrate that knowledge and
commitment (both on your ‘About’ page and in your posts), it should be enough to
convince readers of your credentials.

It’s also fairly common to include a photograph of yourself. If you do, try to pick a
good one or even spend some money on getting your portrait taken professionally.
Sometimes bloggers use an ‘alternative’ image to represent themselves; maybe
something like a gaming avatar, a caricature or a graphic portrait. For a good
example, you can visit the ‘About’ page at GigaOm at http://gigaom.com/about.
There is also a more traditional author image of Om Malik at http://gigaom.com/
about-om/.

If you have multiple authors on your blog, you should ensure that there is some
information for all of them on your ‘About’ page.

About Your Blog

You sh ould also give some information about what your blog is about. Of course,
this would be apparent from reading a few of your posts, but for new readers who
may be in a hurry, it’s worth including something on your ‘About’ page. Think of
this as being like the cover ‘blurb’ on the back of a book. In effect, you’re trying to sell
your blog in a few short paragraphs. Try to stay focused on the blog’s aims and think
about how to get them across in as concise a way as possible.

This would also be a good place to include any complimentary reviews or quotes,
from other experts in your field, who have praised your blog. Maybe you could place
a couple of these in block quotes on your ‘About’ page.

Anything to Declare

Your ‘ About’ page is also a good place to declare any interests you have that might
be viewed by some readers as compromising the objectivity of your blog. There’s
nothing wrong with using your blog to relentlessly promote your products or
services, as long as you don’t present it in a way that might mislead readers into
thinking it’s an independent, non-biased recommendation. If you blog about any
professional or business interests make sure that your readers are clear that you have
a stake in them. The same is true if you regularly blog about potentially partisan
subjects such as politics or religion. Make sure your readers know where you’re
coming from and never pose as an impartial commentator if you have a vested
interest in your subject matter.

The ChilliGuru ‘About’ Page

Now le t’s work through building the ‘About’ page for ChilliGuru. We need to add
a CSS rule to the style sheet so that our block quotes really stand out. Log into the
admin area of the ChilliGuru blog on your development server (http://localhost/
wordpress/wp-login.php).

Click on the Design tab, followed by Theme Editor. Make sure that style.css is open
for editing in the WordPress text editor. Add the following CSS rule just after /* The
Main Content Area */:


	blockquote {color:#800000; font-family:"Times New
		Roman",Times,serif;}

Click on Update File.

Now, we can add the content to our ‘About’ page. Select Manage | Pages.

Choose to edit the existing About page. Delete all the existing text and replace
it with something new (I’ve included the ChilliGuru ‘about’ text in the about.txt
file in the code bundle for this chapter; if you want to use that, you may). Tidy
up the formatting by inserting the bullets and making the headings Level 3
(see http://blog.chilliguru.com/about/). You can also upload an image, if
you like.

To place the two quotes inside block quotes, highlight the text that belongs in the
block quote, and click the Blockquote button in the toolbar:

Enter a line break before the name of the quote speaker and make it bold:


	Most bloggers don't allow comments on their 'About' page. You can turn
	comments off by unchecking the Comments box under the Discussion
	menu for the page:
	

Other Static Content

Besides t he ‘About’ page there may be other static content that you should add to
your blog. If you have another website along with your blog, ask yourself whether
you could bring that content into WordPress, so that all your web content is together
in one place.

There are many other static pages that you may wish to add. For example, designers,
photographers, and artists often have a portfolio page to display their work. Or
you may wish to set up a page to showcase a handful of your bestselling products.
If you’ve written a book you could add a book page with some blurb and a link to
Amazon. As you know, WordPress is more than capable of handling static content
alongside your dynamic blog posts.

Backing Up

Now you’v e put so much time and effort into creating great content, you need to
make sure it’s protected. To ensure your content is safe, you must back up your blog
on a regular basis.

The frequency of your backups will depend on how often you post to your blog, but
as a general rule of thumb it’s a good idea to back up at least once a week. You never
know when something might go wrong and when it does, it’s usually beyond
your control.

When considering your backup routine, remember there are two groups of data that
make up your blog: the site files and the database. Both of these need to be backed
up, but it may be that the site files don’t need to be backed up as frequently as the
database. The site files are basically everything from your original WordPress core
installation. Much of this you won’t have changed, so as long as you keep a copy of
your version of WordPress somewhere on your PC, you should be able to use that as
your backup site (just remember to back up your PC regularly, too!).

For most WordPress users, the only site files that change on a regular basis are the
theme, plugins, and uploads, all of which are contained in the wp-content directory.
The only file outside of this directory that you need to back up is wp-config.php. The
wp-config.php file is unlikely to change after your blog has been installed, so it is
probably only necessary to back up this file once, shortly after you first install
your blog. So, regarding your site files, all you need to back up regularly is the
wp-content directory.

Backing up wp-content

Your web host will probably back up all the files on its servers on a daily basis.
But you shouldn’t rely on them. It’s always quicker and easier to access your own
backups than having to ask your web host for them. The safest way of backing up
your site files is to use your FTP program to download the wp-content directory to a
safe location on your computer. The following screenshot shows the backup process
for the ChilliGuru wp-content files using CuteFTP:

Backing up the Database Using phpMyAdmin

While it’s important to back up your site files, you’ll only need that backup if you
suffer a complete loss of data on your server. Thankfully, a complete data loss is
fairly rare. If you should experience a data loss, it’s far more common that it will
involve the MySQL database that drives your blog. Remember, the database contains
all the posts, pages, comments, and links from your blog.

Probably the easiest way of backing up your database is to use phpMyAdmin,
so we’ll run through this process here. This example uses version 2.11.3 of
phpMyAdmin (other versions may vary).

Connect to phpMyAdmin on your server (if you’re not sure how to do this, your web
host will be able to give you instructions).

Select the database for your WordPress installation. The quickest way is to use the
Database drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the main phpMyAdmin page.

You will now see a page that lists all the tables in your WordPress installation.

Click on the Export tab at the top of this page.

On the next screen, select all the WordPress tables in the database. If WordPress is
the only application using this database, you can just click Select All. If WordPres s
is sharing the database with other applications, you will need to go through the list
and just select the WordPress tables. These will be the tables beginning with
wp_ (or whatever table prefixes you chose when you installed WordPress).
Ensure the SQL radio button (below the table list) is selected.

In the Options section, select the following:

Choose to save the files as gzipped:

Click the Go button and choose to save the compressed file to disk. Save it using the
default filename given by phpMyAdmin. The following screenshot is using Firefox;
other browsers will vary slightly:

You now have a backed up copy of your database stored on your local computer.

Restoring the Database from a Backup File

The circumstanc es that might surround a real-life data loss are many and varied.
However, there are a couple of scenarios that are most common. First, the entire
database is lost. In this case, when you log in to phpMyAdmin, your WordPress
database will no longer appear in the list of databases. Second, one or more of the
tables in your WordPress database has been lost or corrupted. In this case, the
database will still appear in the database list within phpMyAdmin.

If you suspect the second scenario is the reason for your trouble and you cannot
repair the tables or even identify which table is lost or corrupted, it’s probably a good
idea to remove the entire database and start again using your backup file. To remove
the database, select it from the list in phpMyAdmin and then click the Drop tab.

At this point, whichever data loss scenario may have occurred, we’re in the same
situation. Your WordPress database no longer exists. The good news is you have a
copy of all these tables.

The first step to restoring those tables is to create a new database to hold them. From
the phpMyAdmin home page, create a new database, with exactly the same name as
your old one.

Once you’ve clicked Create, you’ll be taken to your new database’s phpMyAdmin
home page. Click on the Import tab.

On the import page, click the Browse button and locate your database backup file
on your computer. Leave all the other settings as they are and click the Go button at
the bottom of the page. Depending on the size of your backup file, it will take a few
minutes to upload. You should then see a success message.

You have now restored your database as it was when you made the backup file and
your blog should be working again.

As you can see the process of backing up your WordPress database is fairly
straightforward. However, to ensure you don’t leave anything to chance, you might
want to run through the procedure using the ChilliGuru blog on your local test
server so you’ll be completely comfortable, should the worst happen to your
live blog.

Summary

In this chapter, we’ve looked at all kinds of written content. We began with some
general tips for writing your blog posts. We then looked at how to organize your
content in a logical and usable way using categories and tags. We went through
the process of setting up the categories and tags for ChilliGuru. We considered the
importance of having a good ‘About’ page. Finally, we saw how to protect your
content by performing regular backups.

In the next chapter, we will look at the related subject of search engine optimization.
You will see how content plays an important part in making your blog more visible
to the search engines.

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About Krishna Srinivasan

He is Founder and Chief Editor of JavaBeat. He has more than 8+ years of experience on developing Web applications. He writes about Spring, DOJO, JSF, Hibernate and many other emerging technologies in this blog.

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