I received a comment that made me realize it’s been a while since I published a post like this, so I wanted to create one for today’s post. Some of these terms you could consider “obvious” but many of them I would label as “not-so-obvious.”
3rd Party Comment System
Instead of using the built-in comments that come with your blogging system (whether you’re using WordPress, Blogger, or some other service), you can use someone else’s commenting software. You are the first party, your blog software is the second, and so any thing else you bring in from outside and integrate into your blog would be a 3rd party. Popular 3rd party commenting systems are Disqus (which I use), Livefyre, Triberr, IntenseDebate, and Facebook comments. For integrating with WordPress blogs, you’ll install a plugin (defined in this list further down) that connects your blog to the commenting service. People use these because they often work better than the default comments and let people sign in and share using their social media logins, so it’s convenient.
Analytics is a catch-all term for systems which measure important data about site visitors. Also called web analytics, blog analytics, or social media analytics, depending on exactly what kind of analytics you’re talking about. Google Analytics is a popular free service for measuring and reporting your website’s visitors.
Akismet is one of the (if not the) leading way(s) to prevent spammers from constantly bombarding your blog with worthless spam comments. In some ways, the internet is not a very nice place. Automated and manual blog comment spam is a huge drain on everyone’s resources and time. If you’re using WordPress for your blog, Akismet is one of the few plugins WordPress will have “out of the box.” It’s a default plugin you get when you install WordPress.
You may already know about Akismet, but did you know how it works?
Each time a new comment, trackback, or pingback is added to your site it’s submitted to the Akismet web service which runs hundreds of tests on the comment and returns a thumbs up or thumbs down.
Blog Index Page
This is the main page on your site that lists out a certain number of recent blog posts. In a default WordPress installation to the main public website folder of your web server, your blog index page is also the same as your site’s “home” page. When you visit a website, the page you see by default is the home page.
It’s possible with WordPress to have your blog on its own page and your site’s home page be separate from that. On my site, for example, the home page is at http://remarkablogger.com. But the blog index page is at http://remarkablogger.com/blog. If your site is a business, you probably want to present your products & services on your home page, and put your blog on another page.
Categories are a way to classify your posts on a blog. Think of your blog like a filing cabinet. Each drawer is a category. You don’t have many and when you file a paper away in your filing cabinet, you can only put it in one drawer. That’s how you should treat your blog posts: assign them to one category. This makes it easier for people to find it, makes it easier for Google to deal with it, and makes your blog pages look less cluttered and messy.
Comment spam is when comments appear on your blog usually for the purpose of placing a link to some web page. People pay shady companies to automatically generate and submit blog comments with links in them back to whatever product they’re selling. Even if you just started your blog and have no comments, you don’t want these kind of comments. They are usually full of horrible English and often don’t even make any sense when you try to read them. Comment spam is prevented to some degree on WordPress blogs by the Akismet plugin (see above).
When you leave a comment on another blog, you can provide your name and your website URL (Uniform Resource Locator, otherwise known simply as a website address). If a blogger uses the CommentLuv service and plugin, commentators may also get a link back to a post they wrote recently. This is a nice way for the blogger, the commentator, and the readers to all mutually benefit from blog comments: the blogger gets more comments by people who know they get a second free link back to their site (the first being their name/site URL). Readers get new sites to visit from commentators who impress them.
Conversion is when a site visitor does what we want them to. What we often want visitors to do is subscribe or buy something. A web page’s conversion rate is the percentage of visitors who performed the desired action (usually a very low percentage). Conversion is affected by many things:
- How well you know your readers and what they’re after so they actually want to do what you want them to do.
- How you place and design the elements on the page.
- How little friction there is in the process (if someone wants to pay you for the something, you don’t want to slow them down with too many clicks or troublesome forms).
The domain name is the “whatever.com” you purchase to have a website on the internet. A domain and a URL aren’t the same thing. Remarkablogger.com is a domain, but http://remarkablogger.com/blog-consulting/consulting-design-packages/ is a URL. Domains don’t have to have a “.com” suffix (the com is short for “commercial”). Domains can be purchased from many different companies online. I use NameCheap (affiliate link) because they seemed to be the best alternative to GoDaddy and I didn’t want to give GoDaddy my money anymore as a reward for their atrocious publicity.
Hosting, or web hosting is the physical storage of your website’s files on another computer, which is specially set up to be a web server. Your domain name points to the default file or home page. Your web server, provided by your hosting company, delivers web pages to the web browsers of your site’s visitors. I get web hosting from Bluehost (affiliate link) and recommend them to my clients and anyone who asks, because they’re fast, cheap, and have good service. When people talk about a self-hosted blog what they mean is you have web hosting and you run the blog software on your own website instead of using a free service.
People may visit your blog but you’d like for them to keep visiting, yes? How are they going to know you have a new post up? One way is to let them know by email. In order to do that, you need a way for people to sign up. A form to fill out with their name and email address. That form is called an opt-in form, because people are opting in to your email list. If getting opt-ins is a goal for you, then this relates to conversion above.
Each blog post you publish has a unique URL, which is called a permalink. Permalinks are needed because the same content on a blog can be accessed via many different URLs. For example, on the front page or under a category. When you create a WordPress blog and configure it, you’ll want to decide what kind of permalink structure to use, like date/post name or just post name. Can you guess what kind of permalinks this site has? Look up in your browser’s address bar while reading this post.
A plugin—WordPress plugin, to be specific—is an extra program added into (“plugged in” to) a WordPress blog. It helps you do something your blog didn’t do already. There are tens of thousands of plugins at this point, and they are one of the main reasons why WordPress is such a popular blogging platform. With plugins you can make your blog do almost anything: member site, classified ads site, e-commerce site, photo galleries, social media sharing buttons… anything you can think of and a thousand things you can’t even imagine.
RSS stands for Real Simple Syndication. Syndication like how newspapers syndicate stuff. Only it’s for your blog and it goes over the internet. RSS feeds are a way for other people subscribe to your blog. RSS feeds also power podcast subscriptions in your iTunes store. Every blog publishes a feed, even if you see no obvious link to it. You can subscribe to feeds using a feed reader program, like Google Reader. In the early days of blogging (the 90s), bloggers were concerned with getting RSS subscribers. As time passed and the general populace didn’t really wrap their heads around RSS, bloggers began to encourage subscription via email.
Blog webpages often have at least two columns: a main one for blog posts, and a more narrow one for things like social media links, email opt-in forms, and the like. A narrow vertical column on the left or right side of the web page is called a sidebar.
Sliders are those animated “slide shows” you often see at the top of some web pages. Commonly they showcase what the site owner feels are important links for you to visit. Sliders are animated, cycling through a series of images which you can click on to visit a single page or post. Sliders can be built into a blog’s design or added in separately (such a WordPress plugin). One such example is Nivo Slider.
Tags are another way to classify blog posts (along with categories above). You can have as many tags on a post as you want (the opposite of my advice for categories). Tags should be words that visitors might search on or might be interested in. Clicking on a tag shows you a list of all the posts on your blog which also have that tag. If categories are like filing cabinets, tags are like putting sticky notes on your documents.
A WordPress theme is the collection of files that gives a blog its visual design (and sometimes other functions, too). Like plugins, there are tens of thousands of WordPress themes. Most are free, some cost money. A theme that is referred to as a framework will have its own special functions and features beyond just creating the appearance of the blog. I use Headway (affiliate link) for this site and for my clients’ sites because it lets me design the complete look and feel of everything.
Trackbacks are when another blogger links to a post on your blog. Their blog “pings” (signals to) your blog to tell it of the link. You can allow the link to show up like a comment or deny it.
Widgets have two meanings as they relate to blogs. One: widgets are blocks of content in your blog’s sidebar. Two: widgets are little windows into another site’s information which you can place on your own site by copying and pasting some code. If you look at my sidebar on this page you see example of both kinds of widgets happening for the same item, such as the twitter stream or the Google+ box.