Search engine optimization for journalists

“This Boring Headline is Written for Google,” that’s the headline of a New York Times article on how news organizations are starting to practice search engine optimization in the writing of headlines.

The article says that news organizations increasingly see the need to optimize their site for search engine crawlers as search engine traffic accounts for at least 30 percent of news website traffic.

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How to create a WordPress theme: A guide for the design-challenged non-geek

I love minimalist designs with great colors. No, that isn’t accurate, make that: I now love minimalist designs with great colors. I used to love putting everything but the kitchen sink in my blog template, hence my previous fascination with three-column themes-to get more screen space for buttons, listings, banners and what have you.

I’ve gone through a lot of WordPress themes, customizing one after another. I decided to simplify my blog design after buttons and stuff that depended on other services and servers delayed loading of my blog pages. I also thought that the clutter of having all these buttons and stuff was getting in the way of the content, and the AdSense clicks. My current minimalist design proves me right on this one.

When I set out to use a minimalist design, I had planned on choosing one of the hundreds of ready-to-deploy WordPress themes out there but at the back of my mind, I had this plan of eventually creating my own theme. I went through designs submitted to the Open Source Web Design site, hoping to spot a great one and then getting a link to the WordPress port of the template. I did spot a great-looking minimalist design, Plain 1.0 by James Koster, but I couldn’t find a WordPress port. I liked the design so much that I decided to attempt porting it to WordPress myself.

I found turning a CSS-based design into WordPress theme to be easy. I am not a geek and I do not have formal training on CSS, HTML or PHP. What I did was I read up on CSS in sites such as MaxDesign. I also went through the WordPress Codex, reading about template tags and files and while I was porting the theme, I went through the template files of themes like K2 and Phoenixrealm to look at how its coders did things.

Here are the steps I took in turning the Plain 1.0 design template into a WordPress theme.

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Pieces of WordPress theme code: a repository

The great thing about open source is that you can build on what others have done. In my quest to port an open source web design into a WordPress theme, I’ve used bits and pieces of WordPress theme code that have served me well in previous designs.

I am posting these pieces of code here so that this post will serve as the repository in case I need to customize another theme. Please feel free to suggest additional code bits so that I can add it here. Just post it in the comment field and enclose it in code tags.

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Printable CEO goes online: Color-code and assign points to your tasks

David Seah’s Printable CEO is an effective productivity tool. It allows you to focus on important tasks based on your hierarchy of values. The color-coding and the assignment of points make it easy to decide which tasks to prioritize. The accompanying tasks tracker helps you keep tab on the things you’ve done and the points you’ve earned.

I’ve long wanted to implement online the concept behind the Printable CEO. I’m not very good at doing things on paper, despite the fact that I work for a newspaper. I’ve frequently lost notebooks and pieces of paper containing jottings, notes, phone numbers and e-mail addresses. The longest paper-based organizer I’ve kept is my Pocketmod “Sony” edition. I keep a lot of blank Pocketmods in case I need to brainstorm when I’m away from the desk.

I already keep my notes online through ZiddlyWiki and it doesn’t make sense, at least for me, to depend on a paper-based task tracker.
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Punk’s not dead, it has gone jogging

Or at least I did. I jogged four rounds at the Cebu City Sports Center oval today and walked another round, with Me First and The Gimme Gimmes and Ramones threatening to bust my eardrums.

I have an eclectic taste in music and my playlist leaves people I know bewildered. Bob Dylan gets mixed with Pavarotti, Andrea Bocelli, Guitar Duo, Guns and Roses, Nina Simone, Celtic Awakening, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Coldplay, The Beatles, David Bowie and Bedroom Radio episodes.

But jogging is serious business and you can’t just listen to any song while running. Bob Dylan and jogging don’t mix. Bob Dylan songs, as with Beatles songs, are songs you listen to while writing an article that should have been submitted last week. These are songs you listen to while smoking, with a glass of Tanduay on the other hand, and discussing with friends how you can change the world.
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Ways to count blog readers: a rundown of the blog metrics services I tested

There are a lot of excellent blog metrics services out there and most of them are either free or offer free account packages. I have used six in this site, not because I am obsessed with going over the low visit count of my blog but because I’m writing about these services for a special section I handle. I drafted this post two weeks back when I was still using a different blog template so the screenshot below of the Crazy Egg data is no longer current.

Here are the services I use or have used, ranked according to my level of satisfaction in using them. Most of the screenshots were taken a few hours after I signed up for their services.

1. Performancing Metrics
The free blog metrics service by Performancing.com, a very informative community for bloggers, is probably the best metrics service for blogs. It tracks data you’d expect an acceptable blog metrics would track–number of visitors, browsers, screen resolution, blog post views–and more: AdSense clicks and on which pages the ads were clicked and RSS feeds for the statistics. Performancing Metrics also allows you to track multiple blogs using a single account.
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