By now, I expect that you’ve heard about the viral video that has reinvigorated the Old Spice brand. I have to hand it to the ad agency Wieden & Kennedy for showing everyone that the adage “if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” works. According to Mashable, they reformulated and re-released the original video (initially produced in February) and developed almost 200 unique video responses to the social media buzz. These personalized videos generated even more buzz and eventually drove video views through roof.
This past weekend, I attended the Atlanta WordCamp conference where we heard from local, regional and national folks about how to harness the power of WordPress for both blogging and web content management (see my WordCamp Atlanta recap for more detail). One of the speakers at WordCamp, Topher Kohan who handles SEO for CNN.com, brought up an important point (indirectly) about the SEO in the future:
Load speeds will impact page rankings on Google (Per Matt Cutt at PubCon, 2009; source)
This is pivotal point where power shifts back to web developers. Why?
If you consider the capabilities of WordPress, you quickly realize that it is one of the premier tools for business users such as social marketers or content strategists to write and publish content online without requiring any technical assistance. And the content that these users produce has value only if it has good page ranking. Otherwise, it has limited reach and that means limited eyeballs and that means failure.
So if you want to ensure that your site ranks well, business users need to hire a modern web developer and treat them well because they (will help you) rule the world wide web.
Despite the icy roads and frigid temperatures, hundreds of people from the US southeast region came together at SCAD Atlanta on January 8th – 9th to attend the inagural WordCamp Atlanta, a conference where the WordPress (aka WP) community exchange tips and tricks about this widely popular blogging (and sometimes as a web content management) tool.
I had the pleasure to attend this event along with my colleague Kathlene Hestir. Below are the highlights from the various sessions. I’ve tried to link to the presentations on Slideshare whenever possible.
Friday Night, Janurary 8
WordPress & Journalism
Alejandro Leal and Thomas Wheatley (Creative Loafing Atlanta)
- Managing their blog using WordPress MU (which is the multi-user version of WordPress).
- Have a decent amount of data: 58 blogs, 906 users, 7977 Posts, 17556 Comments.
- Digital or online content is mostly separate from print content; very little sharing between the two.
- Use basic SEO, such as good page title, content headline, 250 words, and ALT tags, on your website.
- You should use breadcrumbs b/c taxonomy is good for both search engines and the user).
- Rankings is going to become dependend on page load times (so hire a developer with strong server and page code optimization experience).
- Sculpt your webite with rel=”nofollow” attributes.
- Canonical URL’s are going to play a larger role in the future.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Topher takes SEO very seriously — he did an amazing job getting everyone fired up about this topic. There are a ton of good plug-ins in the presentation so just check it out.
The AJC and WordPress
Cliff Barnett and Jason Gilstrap (Atlanta Journal-Constitution)
- Rolled out WordPress to make this simple and consistent.
- WordPress is the central content repository for newsroom as content from system gets pushed both online and to the print system.
- Blogs responsible for 8% of traffic; posts on average get 700 comments.
Saturday, Janurary 9
- Big Announcement: WP 3.0 is a producet of “The Merge” between WordPress and WordPress MU.
- Expect lots of goodies: a multi-site platform, new base theme, custom posts and canonical plug-ins (or de facto plug-ins for Twitter, Google Analytics, etc.).
- Enhanced media functionality is now pushed to WP 3.1 (maybe).
- WordPress.org is going to be undergoing a major redesign (with help from WP Ninja Mark Jaquith)
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Things like multi-site platform, custom “posts” (aka custom content types) and canonical plug-ins is HUGE news — this is where WP finally takes the baby step to become a true PHP-based web content management tool. Alternative solutions such as Drupal should take note!
- Current plug-ins for Google Analytics are weak — they only feed you the basic info.
- Using custom variable and advanced segmentation one can REALLY analyze what’s happening on your blog
ADDITIONAL NOTES: Rusty code examples in his presentation so I suggest that you check it out.
Complex Content Management with the Pods CMS Framework Plugin
- Ability to create custom content types in WordPress using Pods (Pods Plug-in).
- Data for pods maintained in separate tables.
ADDITIONAL NOTES: An interesting conversation started up between Scoot and Mike Schinkel over the viability of Pods since Jane announced that custom post types were coming (see tweet).
- Do the obvious: keep WP updated, rename “wp-admin” folder and use strong passwords (10 chars or more).
- Use advanced techniques like, moving wp-config.php out of webroot, reassign admin rights to another user and delete admin account, get rid of error message on login screen, and limit access via IP whitelist to wp-admin folder and change DB tables prefix (don’t use wp_)
- Tons of good plug-ins for security so don’t be lazy!
PHP and WordPress – Converging Communities
- Core is still written in PHP4 (some parts are using PHP5) so it is time to update core!
First of all, the event was a great success — kudos to Tessa and Brandon for pulling it off. I can’t imagine someone walking out of this event thinking that they didn’t learn a ton. And in case you missed it, plan to attend next year’s WordCamp Atlanta Conference, which will be held February 11-12 2011.