WordPress is a free and open source blogging tool and content management system (CMS). It has grown from a simple CMS known as b2/cafelog in 2003 to the most widely used CMS on the Internet. As of January 7, 2012, 62.38% of the web’s top million websites use WordPress. The primary creator of WordPress, Matt Mullenweg, of Automattic has developed a number of clever plugins and add-ons, such as Akismet, Gravatar, VaultPress, IntenseDebate, Polldaddy, and more that add functionality to blogging platforms.

For someone who is unfamiliar with web programming, WordPress makes it easy to create fresh content with an easy-to-use interface. As it is popular and open-source developers have created lots of easy-to-use plugins and add-ons that extend WordPress’s functionality so that it can better integrate with social media networks and the content can be found by search engines. These plugins help you get the most out of your web content.

Get the most out of your WordPress content with these free tools:

  • Social media integration is becoming increasingly important for branded blogs to remain relevant in both search rankings and the everyday activities of consumers. Recent studies have found that the average American user spends almost eight hours every month on Facebook alone. That makes Storify’s new plugin an extremely useful tool for marketers, as it allows publishers to embed social media stories with ease. Sometimes exchanges between brands and customers on social media networks don’t stand out as much as they should. These exchanges should come to embody your brand’s customer service and have come to embody traditional “testimonial” marketers have been dependent on for a century. With the new technology of social media, you can now see that these testimonials are real people giving their honest opinion. That’s what motivates the world’s top brands to participate. To better document and present your brand’s customer service on social media channels you can use the Storify plugin, which allows you to simply paste URLs to the individual social media posts. WordPress takes care of the rest. As a bonus, the plugin adds SEO-friendly versions of your stories to each post, ensuring that your stories get properly indexed by search engines.
storify wordpress plugin user interface
  • This WordPress SEO plugin allows content publishers to edit the meta information of posts and pages so that the content, headline, and description of the page are indexed in search engines in the best way possible. After picking a focus keyword, the plugin provides a guide for how well your content reflects that keyword. The plugin even provides a snippit preview of what your entry will look like on a search engine’s search results page. More and more, search engine results are giving local, smaller businesses the chance to show up in the web’s top search results. This is because search engines have begun to include things like the geographic location searches are occurring in into their search algorithm. So while optimizing your posts with keywords related to your industry or area of expertise, consider adding geographical references to case studies or testimonials where your products or services are sold.
wordpress seo plugin

This SEO plugin even offers the ability to automatically generate sitemaps. Sitemaps are used by search engines to properly index websites. For example, if a section of a website was about “marketing,” the sitemap would indicate the articles linked to and from that section of the website. This allows search engines to get a more accurate read on how well your site illustrates a given topic. This sitemap generator automatically updates itself when new content is created, and then notifies search engines of its creation, ensuring that your fresh content is delivered to search engines immediately. Otherwise, your content would have to “wait” to be found by a search engine scraper, which could take up to a week depending on how often your site is updated.

sitemap generator wordpress plugin

  • Slick” social share buttons is a plugin that creates a customizable tab that allows your readers to share articles to their social networks. The plugin can be configured so that it appears as an expandable “share” button, hiding the numbers and buttons that to most web designers are an eyesore. Like the Storify plugin above, social share buttons are important to include on a website so that your content can be spread through an organic online network of social media users. These consumers love to share cool stuff with their friends – so let them!
social share buttons wordpress plugin
  • HungryFeed is a WordPress plugin that inserts RSS feeds onto blog posts, pages and sidebar widgets. The RSS feed content becomes a part of your page, and can be customized using CSS rules. This is a great way to include a section of the site that updates on its own from a reliable source. RSS feeds can even be configured to include customized topics and keywords on your site. This way, rather than simply following your source’s RSS feed, your audience will be compelled to check back on your site for your uniquely defined feed of information. In addition, these RSS feeds will keep sections of your site updated with fresh content should you be unable to update your site from time to time.
RSS feed exampleKeep checking back for more tips on how to increase your brand’s value using sustainable brand strategies. Follow us on Twitter or Like us on Facebook to get the latest in digital branding trends.

cookie monster google doodle sesame street

On November 3rd, 2011 Google updated their search algorithm, referring to it as the “Freshness Update“. In their own words, “Search results, like warm cookies right out of the oven or cool refreshing fruit on a hot summer’s day, are best when they’re fresh. Even if you don’t specify it in your search, you probably want search results that are relevant and recent.”

For example, if you search for “New Year’s events Toronto,” the results should reflect New Year’s events occurring this year or recently. Searching for past events might be interesting to some, but in those cases, they will likely be more specific and add the year, such as 1999.

Google constantly adjusts their search algorithms and so the practice of search engine optimization (SEO) has been constantly evolving. The freshness update is a fundamental change because it forces companies who think of their website as an online brochure to now think of it as more like a magazine or newsletter. No longer is SEO a matter of optimizing keywords and phrases, but instead it is a task of generating relevant news.

Now, it is necessary to post updates frequently that are newsworthy for the current audience while at the same time being interesting for new visitors. The easiest way to add fresh content is by using a blog engine, like WordPress.  Posts should revolve around a central theme or brand focus that helps communicate the brand narrative.  A consistent focus means that Google’s algorithms can attach definitions to the site that make search results more robust so it ranks higher. It also makes the blog easier to maintain.

The words used to describe the brand focus and the brand narrative are not only critical for helping visitors understand the brand proposition—they are also critical in boosting search performance. One way to keep on top of what people associate a given topic with is by using Google’s Insights Tool to see useful information such as:

  • The most commonly used search terms relating to a topic.
  • The interest in a given topic across geographical regions.
  • The interest in a given topic over time.

The statistics that describe how people search for relevant topics should be researched before you start developing content. Google is now maintaining its own monthly blog series on search algorithm changes. You can find updates on smaller algorithm changes and tips at their Inside Search blog.

The internet is about to transform the way we see and interact with the world in ways we could only have dreamed about a few years ago.

The existence of social networking sites and the amount of data collected from them allows programmers to make rich relational associations.  A further step is to associate these associations with what we experience and see in three-dimensional space.

Take Epson’s world-first three-dimensional see-through head-mounted display, Moverio, which has just been launched in Japan.   It connects directly to YouTube for video content and uses a browser to display web pages, and it weighs only half a pound.  The device reportedly will have an initial retail price of only $800.  Eventually, this innovation could be given the capability to allow us to view things on the other side of walls, such as wireless devices.

moverio epson 3d headset display innovation

Epson's new three-dimensional headset display, Moverio.

Eventually, users will be able to see their social links through the headset as well.  The Google+ mobile app already allows users to see posts from other mobile Google+ users nearby. It is a short step for Google to represent this data superimposed on the three dimensional, physical world.

The physical experience of shoppers is already being connected to the internet as retailers embrace mobile payment technology. The Gap Inc. just announced that it will accept Google Wallet payments in the Bay area.

One Millionth Tower, a recently released documentary provides a window into the potential to tie rich sources of data into a three-dimensional representation of reality using open source code.

The movie creates an environment online in which the user can move around in three-dimensions to explore different nodes of information.  Filmmaker Katerina Cizek uses these nodes to present graphics and audio about people who live in Toronto highrises.  The environment also brings in external information, such as the current weather conditions in Toronto, and allows this information to affect the movie.

millionth tower environment 3d graphics webgl javascript html5

In One Millionth Tower, users can move around in 3D space and choose which content they will view.

The project is programmed entirely in HTML5 using WebGL and Javascript which are widely used and open source. More complex implementations will not not require any major technical advances – they simply require imagination.

The movie hints at the opportunities. “What we’ve done with One Millionth Tower is not the future,” Cizek said. “It just points to it.”

Marketers are still trying to figure out how Twitter can make money, but that’s missing the point.  Twitter was and is a revolutionary way of creating, consuming, and re-organizing information online.  The next step will be to hashtag the entire web to improve our collective intelligence, and attach this information into the users’s environment with images and sound.

The implications of these innovations are enormous and will continue to speed up the way that consumers create and share information.

The raw materials already exist.  Google has built tools that enable mobile users to see where media is coming from.  New opportunities like Google Wallet exist to link social media with purchase.  One Millionth Tower demonstrates how diverse sources of data can be presented in an appealing three-dimensional image in a web browser.  Moverio shows how data from the internet can be projected onto images of the real world.  Now all one needs is imagination to link everything together in convenient and fantastic ways.

My passion is flying. On weekends I get a thrill hopping into a little Cessna and wandering around the countryside at 4,000 feet. I wanted to share my passion with aspiring pilots, so in the summer I started a blog.

From working with our clients I’ve always known that it isn’t easy to create and keep up social media. I’ve now learned that it is vastly more difficult to do so recreationally. The reason isn’t a lack of content. I’m too busy–and recreation too often takes a back seat to ‘things that can’t wait’ or ‘must be done’.

This experience has taught me a valuable lesson: marketers can become like doctors who only see the illness, and overlook the person. (more…)