Mastodon Autopost Plugin

I saw this plugin mentioned on Mastodon today and thought I would give it a try on ClassicPress and see if it worked. Install in ClassicPress went easily, like most WordPress plugins do. There were no warnings and ClassicPress says it is compatible. The only hard part was finding the plugin. I had to search by the plugin authors name to find it. I have to say the authors name, L1am0, does not inspire confidence, but their website looks legit enough.

Once installed and activated I found the settings for the plugin under the Settings menu, which is nice. So many plugins think they deserve their own spot the admin menu, nice to see a plugin that picks the right menu place.

To get started you will need to connect your website with your Mastodon account. Simply start typing the name of your Mastodon server and the plugin will start to filter your choices down. Once you have your server selected you can then authorize the plugin as an app on your Mastodon server. After you authorize the plugin you will be redirected back to your website. This is the only error I had. The plugin output some text and cause a PHP bad header. I had to reload the admin and go to the settings page again to continue.

You can then select if it posts when new posts, pages or media are created, and how it looks. I can’t tell you if the plugin really works yet, since this is the first post I have created since I installed it. Once I publish this post I will come back and let you know.

You can find the plugin in the WordPress plugin repository.

Well look at that. Looks like it works.

WordPress Backup

If you run a WordPress powered website you probably know how important it is to backup your website database and files. If you don’t know that you need to be doing that please start!

There are lots of different methods to backup your WordPress database and files and I perform regular backups of my site and clients websites. Did you know that it us actually possible to backup your WordPress website straight to your Dropbox account?

Dropbox is a great tool that syncs files between computers. I still use it regularly to make sure I have the latest files on my laptop from my desktop. They offer 2gb of space for free, more than enough for storing the majority of WordPress users backups. (note: I help them run their website) has this great post on how you can use a plugin or two and have your WordPress backup sent straight to your Dropbox account. While this method of backing up your WordPress website might not be for everyone it could be handy to occasionally have a copy of your website backup in your Dropbox account.

I tested a few of the plugins out that are mentioned and my favourite was BackWPup. It seemed to offer the most options as far as scheduling and what to backup. Not to mention it offered more choices of backup destinations that just Dropbox. So if you have an Amazon S3 account you could backup to there instead.

I did not spend a great deal of time testing the plugin for how many resources it used. If you have a large blog it could eat up a considerable number of resources. Just a word of caution if you are on shared hosting. If you use the BackWPup plugin what has been your experience regarding server resources? Have you had any problems?

You can never have enough backups so it might be worth trying out BackWPup. If you send your backup to your Dropbox account you would easily have access to it whereever you need it.

WordPress Weekend Project – Similar Posts

Blogs make it easy to add new content to your website. Adding new, regular articles helps to bring people back to your website, can improve your search engine rankings and help you connect with your clients and customers. The one problem I have had with blogs is older articles can become hard to find. Sure there are categories, tags, author and date based archives to help people, but if you have a rather large blog it can still take considerable amount of time for people to find more articles that they might be interested in. There is also the search feature that is built into WordPress available to people, but as I have talked about before the default WordPress search is not the best at actually finding what you are looking for. This is where the similar posts plugin can be very useful.

There are several similar posts plugins available and there are several tutorials on the Internet showing you how you can create a similar posts section without a plugin, but the similar posts plugin I prefer to use is, aptly named, Similar Posts. The Similar Posts plugin will create a list of posts it believes are related to the post the reader is currently reading and insert the list below the post, so when the person is done reading they can browse to another similar article that they might be interested in.

The length of the list is customizable and if you have a rather new blog you might only want to offer five additonal posts. Once your blog ages and you have a larger collection of posts you can increase it. The plugin also offers the ability to add a similar posts section to the bottom of you RSS feed, so people that have just recently subscribed to your blog will be given suggestions for other articles from the past that might interest them.

Giving your readers suggestions of other posts to read from your blog is an excellent method to help increase your readers interaction with your website. It gives them more opportunities to comment and take part in your website and can lead them to becoming a regular reader, a subscriber and a regular contributor. It also helps to bring some of the great content you wrote earlier to the forefront in your newer posts. Similar Posts is a great plugin to take use to easily improve your website and blogs ability to have your reader stick around.

WordPress Weekend Project – Ultimate Google Analytics

I am a statistics junkie, I can’t help myself. I like to know how people found my site, where they went, what they clicked on, where they are from and the list goes on. It is probably not surprising that I use Google Analytics on my site, and I install it on most of my clients sites. Google Analytics provides people with an easy to use and see statistics package and for the price is perhaps the best you can get.

It has happened more than once though that I have edited a theme and forgot to include the Google Analytics code back in the footer of the WordPress theme. Then I look at the stats and go “what the *&%$!” It is then that I realize what I did and I have to go back and edit the websites theme footer file. Well no more, I have start using Ultimate Google Analytics and I no longer have to worry about making my silly mistake. The plugin will automatically insert the Google Analyitics code into the footer for you, all you need to do is provide it with the Google Analytics ID.

Some of the other great features of the plugin include the ability to add tracking code to all external links and downloads. Add an external link and the proper code will be automatically added to the code so you can track how often it is clicked inside Google Analytics. The reports are viewable in Google Analytics in Content. The default for external links is Outgoing, but you can define a different name if you desire.

Outgoing Links in March 2009
Outgoing Links in March 2009

It can also track links to files that you offer for download. Have a PDF file that you want to know how often it is downloaded and Ultimate Google Analytics will automatically insert the code to track the number of times people download PDF files, zip files and a whole list of file types. You can add or remove types that you use on your blog.

According to Google the best place for the Google Analytics code to be placed is in the footer just before the closing </body> tag. The reason for this is so the Google Analytics code does not slow down the loading of your web pages if the code is placed in the head of your web pages. The Ultimate Google Analytics plugin will automatically place the Google Analytics code in your footer, but if your themes footer file does not call the wp_footer() function the plugin will insert the code into the head of your page so you will continue to recieve your stats. If at all possible it is best to make sure your themes footer does include the wp_footer() to ensure the code is inserted in the best location.

Having the best statistics available from your site will pay off very quickly. It will allow you to see how people are finding your website, give you ideas for new blog posts from the keywords that people use to find you and let you see what people find most interesting. Take a few minutes and try out Ultimate Google Analytics, I know it has helped me know more about my website visitors and how to improve my website.

WordPress Weekend Project – CommentLuv

One of the things I like best about WordPress is how easy it is to extend it with new plugins. You can add new features and tweak many different things on your website with just a few clicks by adding a new plugin. Recently I thought I would add a new plugin to the website to offer the people that comment a chance to let other visitors know about their latest blog posts. The plugin is called CommentLuv by Andy Bailey.

CommentLuv is a great plugin to show that latest blog posts of the people who comment on your blog. This can encourage people to comment on your blog and help build community on your blog as well as giving back something to the people that take the time to add to your blog. CommentLuv works with AJAX to perform its magic. Simply fill in the URL of your website or blog and CommentLuv will check for a RSS feed and give you to option of including a link to your latest post with your comment.

Because CommentLuv uses AJAX to accomplish its task it does insert some additional code into your blog posts including some additional Javascript and CSS file. This does add some additional requests and download weight to your blog posts but it is not to excessive. There is also the possibility that there could a conflict with another plugin but so far I have not found any problems.

If you are looking for a fun weekend project to add something to your blog, take a look at the CommentLuv plugin. It gives you a chance to highlight the blog posts of the people who take the time to add to your blog by commenting. You might even come across a blog post or two you want to read.

WordPress and Flickr Photos

World of flickr
Attribution-NoDerivs License by msc-???t?????g? (busy)

Photos can add a lot to a blog post, and I know I am not one of the best examples since many, if not most of my blog posts do not have images with them. There are many places that you can find stock photos for your blog, but it still requires going to that website, searching, downloading, uploading to your blog and inserting into your post. When you have limited time to blog you need to make the most of of your time and that does not always include searching around for images.

There is an alternative to doing all of the searching for stock photos for your blog, use photos from Flickr. Many of the photos on Flickr are licensed under a Creative Commons and you can use them to enhance your blogs posts. There are a number of benefits to using photos from Flickr:

  • You have access to great photos from around the world.
  • It can save you bandwidth.
  • It can reduce the requests on your server.

There are several WordPress Flickr plugins available, but the one plugin I am currently testing is the WordPress Flickr Manager. The plugin allows you to manager your entire Flickr account from inside of your WordPress dashboard, including uploading new photos, inserting your photos into your blog posts and search photos that are available to use via the Creative Commons license.

The one feature I wish the plugin had was a better search for Creative Commons photos. The public photo search returns Creative Commons licensed photos but it would be nice to have an option to limit the search to Creative Commons photos that are allowed under various circumstances. For example photos that are allowed to be used commercially.

If you want to merge your Flickr account and make it easy to add Flickr photos to your WordPress blog take a look at the WordPress Flickr Manager. It might be just the thing you are looking for. Oh, and if you are wondering if this means that I will be adding photos to all of my posts now? I’ll try to add a new one occasionally.

Google Sitemap Generator

There have been a lot of little things that I have done when I decided to integrate my blog into my main website. Doing a redirection from the old blog address of to the new address was a priority. That has helped users that have already bookmarked or linked to the posts on the old URL’s find the new locations. Eventually it should help PageRank flow to the new locations as well. While I have not always submitted a Google Sitemap to the Google Webmaster Tools in this occasion I wanted to let Google know as quickly as possible about the new location of the content.

Creating Google Sitemaps is not necessarily a difficult task, but if you have a large website or a blog that is updated often the last thing you want to do is to update your Google Sitemap everyday manually. Sure there are some online Google Sitemap generators that can create the file for you. Some have limits on the number of pages they will allow, some use Python scripts, and some you can download and run on your computer to create the file. All of them will take time away from you doing what is most important to you. Things like running your business, creating more great content, spending time with family etc.

One of the reasons I choose to move my website into WordPress was to automate some of the things that take time and take me away from running my business. WordPress has a plugin system that makes it easy to extend WordPress to do more. In this case to simplify the creation of a Google Sitemap all you need to do is install the Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress. With a few clicks you can have WordPress create your own Google Sitemaps file for you to upload to Google Webmaster Tools. The plugin automatically regenerates the sitemap if you modify or publish a new post and you can spend your time doing other things.

The Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress is one of the plugins I often install for clients that use WordPress and it has been a great help in getting the new LGR Internet Solutions website and blog indexed in Google with the move from the blogs previous URL. I recommend using the Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress if you have a WordPress website and you are using Google Webmaster Tools it takes care of creating your Google Sitemap for you and allows you to focus on what is important.

Use Redirections to Help Users and Search Engines

Detour AheadMoving a website from static HTML files to a content management system can be a daunting task that people don’t like to tackle. There are a lot of benefits to move from a static HTML website to a system such as WordPress. The most obvious are how easy it is to add and edit the information in your website, not to mention the benefits of offering RSS feeds for your readers. Aside from the moving of information from the static HTML files into WordPress one of the most often ignored aspects of moving a website into WordPress is the need to redirect users and the search engines from the old pages to the new pages seamlessly.

Recently here at LGR Internet Solutions I have been working on integrating the blog, that I originally had on a sub domain, into my main website and redirecting several of the original pages of the website to different locations on the new website. I have also been updating several other websites from being managed with Frontpage to WordPress and have been faced with redirecting hundreds of pages from their original locations to new locations on the new WordPress managed website.

Redirection is not one of those really sexy things that you do when you manage a website. It is a task that many webmasters and bloggers don’t even bother with because it is easier to just let users and the search engines find the new pages and hope for the best. Managing redirections can make a huge difference if you want to keep your search engine rankings and help your readers to find the new location. In the recent change here and with my clients websites redirections were imperative. Search engine rankings and user experience were incredibly important so I had to have a way that was easier for my clients to be able to use to manage simple redirects.

With the need for the clients to be able to manage the redirects on their WordPress websites I started looking for a solution that they could manage from inside of WordPress. While I might like to use .htaccess redirects it is not practical to train people in using .htaccess redirects when all they need is to redirect the occasional URL. The system I found that worked the best with WordPress is to install the redirection plugin into WordPress.

The redirection plugin provides a nice easy to use interface to manage redirects and add new redirects. The feature that I have found essential has been the ability of the plugin to log 404 errors and make it easy to add those 404 errors to redirect to the correct locations with a couple of clicks.

The redirection plugin makes moving a website from static HTML files to WordPress an easier task. It ensures that users and the search engines continue to find the pages and information that your website is already known for. The plugin is easy to use once installed and can help even the beginner WordPress user to manage what can be a complex task. I have used the plugin to help clients, and myself, with my latest changes to the LGR Internet Solutions website and blog. It has made it easier to manage the many different redirects that have been needed and is a great plugin even for simple redirects such as changing a WordPress permalink. If you are thinking of moving from static HTML files to WordPress and you want to make it a seamless transition try out the redirection plugin in WordPress, it might be just what you are looking for.