How To: Do something (anything) to enhance your skill set

Dear Internet,

In the last six months of job hunting, I’ve begun paying closer attention to the fluidity of the requirements of positions. While my background is  pretty diverse, I wanted to start thinking more of becoming a specialist in a few areas rather than just being an overall jill of all trades.

(Yes, yes, I know I ranted about unicorn / blended / full stack librarians and how it is bunk (still is bunk) but girl needs to pay her bills and the profession doesn’t move that fast.)

Part of the problem in having a huge variety of interests is they’re closely related fields so there is a lot of crossover but this is slowly not becoming a problem as I start breaking out the pieces I was most interested in and fitting them into a puzzle I can better understood.

After going over my interests, it became pretty clear what I wanted to do, as much as I loathe to say these two words, is to become a full stack developer. I want to know the back end of the server but I also wanted to learn how to develop and optimize the front end too. I’ll be writing more about how I’m doing on these things the upcoming weeks as I continue to sort and shuffle to make it work for me.

(And how you can do most of this training for free.)

For today though I want to to give you an idea how to get started if all or some of things interest that interest me and might interest you. Fill out the comment box below if you have more suggestions.

Back End
I’ve done some back end server stuff a million and a half years ago but that stuff is getting beyond rust. I keep it on my resume as most places want to know you can understand and move along the command line, write a few scripts, typically things many of us can do in our sleep. I wanted to reboot my back end education and this is how I’m starting:

  • Step one: Buy a book on linux. Yes, yes, I know there are a trillion and a half websites that will teach you a-z of linux, but I am a tactile as well as a visual learner. I need a book next to me when I’m working so I can take notes and what not. If websites work for you, awesome. I will probably use them for troubleshooting and quick reference.
    • I recommend The Linux Command Line for a couple of reasons, even if you’re familiar with using the command line already. This is a thorough walkthrough from setting your terminal shell to writing scripts. Caveat: Do not buy a flavor specific book (Redhat, Ubuntu, etc). While 95% of the commends work on all flavors, that 5% will get you if you buy a Ubuntu book and you’re working on Redhat.
  • Step two: Download VirtualBox, a virtual machine software. Some like VMWare or, if you’re on a Mac, Parallels but I found both to be clumsy and / or resource intensive. Things may have changed in the last few years since I looked at them, but they left such a terrible scar on my soul I refuse to use them.
  • Step three: Download your flavor of linux. You’ll need to download the ISO separately from VirtualBox but you’ll install your flavor within VirtualBox. To clarify: VirtualBox doesn’t come with any OSes and you’ll need to get them separately. Which I suppose I could have just said outright.
    • Choices are: Ubuntu, CentOS, RedHat and a metric ton more. You’ll want to make sure you’re downloading the desktop version for your experimentation. Now that you have a virtual machine, you can download variety of flavors to see which one works for you.
    • What’s the difference between the flavors: Think of cars. Every car on the planet has similar set up: four wheels, an engine, doors, steering wheel. What makes them different is design, size, and features. That’s exactly the same thing for the differing flavors of linux.
  • Step Four (optional): If you need something beyond books or websites, look for online classes. Udemy has classes fairly cheap but I found their classes to be hit or miss. Linux.com has suggestions. If your library has a subscription, Lynda.com also has pretty intensive courses.

Front End
I use “front end” to refer to not only the coding but also the organization of information, how it works, and its accessibility. These are a lot of different whole positions in themselves but I’m curious as hell about all of them. There is a lot going on here but just so we’re clear most librarian positions do not expect you to have expert knowledge (they may say so but really, what they ask for and what they want are two different things) in any or all of these things. Most will refer to front end as strictly web development / coding. If you decide to work outside of library land, YMMV.

  • SEO Search Engine Optimization is easy to learn but with libraries difficult to implement. The basic idea behind SEO is to better improve your site’s rankings in search engines so you can be found, but with libraries it becomes moot as most people use “name of city library” in their search bar and the first hit is usually that city’s library website. What SEO can do for libraries is optimize their sites for accessibility, which is important. It’s also a good skill to have if you’re looking to consult or move out of library land. Some things to know:
    • There is currently no industry standard certification on SEO. If you find websites that claim to get you industry certified, it’s bullshit.
    • Be weary of sites that want you to download software, even free, as most of them are ad ridden, unneeded, and only for Windows. A lot of the tools, if not all of the tools, you’ll need are already available online.
    • SEO Beginners has a good list of sites to read if you’re interested in keeping up with the hows and why of how search engines work, the research, the techs, and new techniques. (Google’s algorithm changes enough that what works for SEO in one version won’t necessarily work in the current version.) I read moz.com and searchengineland.com on the regular to keep abreast of changes and news.
    • Books are hit or miss. Mainly miss and mostly bunk. As of July 2015, a lot of SEO books just cull information from the internet, slap it together as an eBook, and call it a day. Don’t be fooled by most of the books that have high rankings — you’ll notice a lot of them are not verified purchases (which if your book is only available on Amazon and in eBook form — how in the hell are these people giving A++ stars?). I do recommend Adam Clarke’s SEO 2016 eBook. While I originally gave it three stars, his amiable response and updates were significant enough to move that up to a 4.
    • You can take classes at Udemy and there are a ton of free ones. The ones by moz.com are going to be legit since they are the SEO experts but look for highly rated popular ones to step your toes in.
  • Social Media This is more of my expert area as I’ve been writing, using, and lecturing on social media for years. What I’m more interested in is not what is popular and what the youths use in so much as what social is (ir)relevant to libraries, how to manage and produce content, and getting started. My stance has been, and will be, not all social media is for all libraries. I’ve fallen off the wagon for this but bookmark the above page if you want to get updates on the regular, which I promise to do.
  • User Experience / User Interface / Information Architecture These are fields I’m really interested in and the ones I really need more instruction on. I have given introductory talks on very, incredibly, simple introductions to UX, but a lot of what I’ve gleaned over the years has been listening / learning from experts. Smashing is a very good resource. Listen to the LibUX podcast which is run by twitter friends Michael/Amanda for talks, resources, and more. The holy grails on UX/UI are The Design of Everyday Things and Don’t Make Me Think. Amazon has a wide variety of books on UX, UI, and IA. I have the first edition of Information Architecture (looks like I’ll have to update), which is also a holy grail. IA is typically tied in with UX/UI in a variety of fashions (mainly usability).
  • Coding I will freely admit I am eating crow on this topic. I postulated for years not every librarian needs to learn how to code to work in tech (and why I get my knickers in a knot when a lot of the librarian tech stuff is mostly coding), and while I still maintain this to be mostly true, I’ve conceded I need to learn how to code. Something. Right now I’m mainly interested in HTML, CSS, Javascript, and Ruby on Rails.
    • First, I’m going to sing the praises of teamtreehouse.com. My local library has a subscription to the service (and they also have a subscription to Lynda.com), so for me it’s free. Their classes are fantastic, well organized, in-depth, and some places (Like CodeLouisville) consider them to be a standard for learning. Plus the instructors are professionals in their field, not some Tom, Dick, and Harry who can put up a class on Udemy. Treehouse also has a large variety of coding  tracks (WordPress development, Ruby on Rails, etc) that are comprised of variety of classes within those tracks. Plan on spending between 25-40 hours per track. Don’t be an idiot like me and do 40 hours over 3.5 days for reasons. They are going to include tracks on soft end development like SEO and currently have a track on starting your own consulting firm and digital literacies. And if my library dumps Treehouse, I am going to cough up the $25/mo to get their service as I love them that much.
    • Second, in addition to Treehouse there services like Udemy, UdacityLynda.com, and others have loads of free (and cheap) classes to take on a particular language. Lots of languages (I’d hazard most if not all) have classes/tutorials set up already on their or related sites.
    • Third, if you’re going to code, hie thee over to cloud9, a cloud based development workspace. You get one work area for free in which you can run one whatever at a time. e.g. If you install and muck about WordPress, you won’t be able to install the environment for Python. You’ll have to scrap your WordPress workspace to do Python, but hey!, it’s free. (They also have paid tiers which allow you to upgrade to more workspaces and so on.)

Additional jazz

If you’re going to program/web dev/whatever, you’re going to want to find a local geek/nerd/hacker space. L-ville has CodeLouisville (where I’m going to be taking in-person classes on front end web dev starting in the spring) and as well as a few other hacker spaces. Almost every city I’ve been to has some kind of *space where you can muck about, learn new things, and find your peoples. If you search MeetUp, you should find specific groups, e.g. Louisville Linux, where you can meet people, learn something, participate events, and so on. Last but not least, find mailing lists of what you’re interested in to keep you fresh on what’s happening in that thing. Alternately, you can get updates from their websites via RSS or mailing lists as well.

tl;dr

I’ve covered a lot of ground today but this should give you a good idea of where to pick up training, information, and etc if you’re interested in any of my topics or you can use these techniques for your own interests.

As mentioned, I’ll be updating over the upcoming weeks on projects and things to keep me on track and so nosey people can follow along.

Au revoir!

I need to be in the town where they know what I’m like and don’t mind

Dear Internet,
It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve done a serious update, thus it’s time to keep everyone abreast of what’s happening in my little world.

First up, I’m moving. Again.
I’ve been holed up in Kentucky these last six weeks, staying with TEH, as I’ve run out of day to day living money.The GR apartment was pre-paid for a year and I received my refund for the remaining six months, but that would only cover monthly expenses sans rent/food so it was time to go. The plans is I would be responsible for paying my bills and TEH would cover food/housing/gas. (We have the weirdest divorce, ever.) One of the conditions of me living here was keeping up daily chores and job hunting, which I’ve been doing with aplomb.
TEH decided to head up to the cabin for a month or so, starting in the first week of August, in which I would fly to CT to stay with TheBassist as I could not take a break from job hunting. Then TEH decided he was going to go up later than planned after which my open return ticket had been purchased. Since we’re now looking at me being out in CT for roughly two months now, I decided to cancel and swap the ticket over to TheBassist, whose flying out here on Sunday with planning on driving to CT that day.
Follow that? Okay good.
Right now my packing is skilled enough that it’s frightening. If you ever need help to pack for a trip or a house, I’m your girl.

Speaking of jobs, as of July 30th I am up to 113 applications from everything to librarianing to content curation and (now) retail (bookstores). I’m also heavily looking for positions as a tech/copywriting/content. No stone unturned and etc.
My interview rate is about one in ten, which is above average. I often get second interviews and then! Rejection. One place rescind an offer 24 hours later after extending said offer exclaiming I did not “show enough interest in the job” though I drove an hour one way for a 30 minute interview. So yep, totally not interested. I was shopping for apartments in Lexington, KY when they called to rescind the offer. Was it because of the case?
Probably.

Speaking of writing, I sold my first writing piece to a web ‘zine and I’m super excited about it (natch). I cannot publish the piece here nor do I know when it’s going to be published, but I can tell you the title is, “How I Divorced My Mother in Three Easy Steps.” It is non-fiction and clocks in at about 1800 words before editing. My beta-readers said, “It’s impossibly dark.”, so that should give you an idea of the atmosphere of the content. As always, I keep it real.
In other writing news, I’m doing reviews for No Flying No Tights, mainly in adult graphic novels. I assumed I had spread the word for this but apparently not! This is not a paid gig, but it will help with my bibliography (or clips) page. I’m super excited about this possibility.

Flipping back to the job thread, I am using Udemy.com to build my own education, concentrating on front end web development, content, and SEO to extend my skills. TEH and I purchased bundles from them over the years as well as taking advantage of free classes is allowing me to do this on the cheap. I know, I know. I KNOW. I was on the defense war path that coding was not the only technical thing and yet, here we are! I do apologize deeply to those who got tired of that schtick. It’s pretty clear a lot of jobs require some if not all of these for the typical unicorn they are trying to catch, so why not?

Mentally, things have been more or less okay. Last week was awful with the mania where I was hopping off the walls while crying for entire days. The only recourse, at the time, was to drug up on Klonopin and sleep with Ted E. Bear.
Things came to a head when TEH and TheBassist both insisted I up my Lamictal to the last dosage as approved by doctor in Grand Rapids and take myself to the free clinic to talk to someone.
The free clinic in Louisville is designed mainly for the homeless and those on their last hopes. As a walk-in, I was told they could see me when first available slot came open. Four hours later I requested more info to discover the therapists were all at lunch and they closed at 3:30. Would I liked ot make an appointment? Sure, why not. Okay, we can fit you in two weeks. Two weeks? Yes. What if I came back tomorrow? You’ll have to start the waiting process all over again.
(…)
I called six places in Louisville and every single one was booked out for weeks and months. If I was suicidal, which I wasn’t but I was in crisis, I could check myself in at the local emergency room who could throw me in a locked ward for 48-72 hours. THEN I could get help.
(I don’t know if I told you all this but I was stuck on the east coast during a massive blizzard back in January with an appointment with a medicating therapist in GR the following day. I called and canceled and explained why, they said they couldn’t fit me for another five months. This is an emergency I insisted. Doesn’t matter they said. When I finally say said medicating therapist and told her about the run up, she said they had policies in place and times open for just things. It should not have taken me five months to see her.)
Thankfully I had an appointment set in CT JUST IN CASE if I happened to come back that same time, so I’ll be okay in CT. I’m also set up in CT with a local bipolar support group.
I’ve, and others, have said over and over again the state of mental health wouldn’t be this tenuous unless the pain was physical and obvious. It’s frustrating, anxiety inducing, and pointless. But that is a rant for another day.

That’s pretty much it for me at this time and juncture. Sunday is the 12 hour drive day so it might be a few days before I post here again. Happy weekend everyone.
 
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2014, 2014, 2012, 2012, 2008

Collection of Cunning Curiosities – July 18, 2015

Map of the Internet
Johann Georg Hainz's Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
Johann Georg Hainz’s Cabinet of Curiosities, circa 1666. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A weekly compendium of things that delight my fancy.

Dear Internet, You can follow all mentioned items here and past on the Pinterest board. x0x0, lisa

Reading

I’ve been plowing through my book list these last few weeks. I finished Goddess of Buttercups & Daisies, which was a fun read and The Devil’s Detective, which posits that terrible murders are happening in hell and Satan hires a detective to find out why. Yes, murders in hell, but go with it as the horror/mystery novel is able to pull it off quite well.
This last week I started research on a sekret project that involves learning as  much as humanly possible about SEO, however, the current titles that are regarded are so terrible, I’m embarrassed to list them here. You can check out the list on Pinterest.
To wash out the bad books, I picked up Jane Goes Batty which is the second in a series that presents the idea: What if Jane Austen never died, but became a vampire (turned by Lord Byron no less) and was living in contemporary America, owning a bookshop? I know, AGAIN, another book where the summary sounds implausible but the series is quite fun and a quick read.

Fanciful Delights

Did you know the word “awesome” has been in use since the late 16th century? Neither did I. The word usage in the 16th century was more along the lines of, “made you shiver in terror” rather than our current usage to mean, “things that fill you with awe.” This is why English language and it’s constant growth is awesome. (See what I did there?)
Exit, Pursued by a bear papyrus Digital Manuscripts Library at the British Library recently wrote an article about one of the oldest papyrus’ found, which they nicknamed “Exit, Pursued by a Bear.” Regular readers of this journal may remember this journal is named after a scene from Shakespear’s The Winter’s Tale, It seems natural enough, then, that the article on the oldest known papyrus nicknamed the same would delight my fancy.
To the delight of some, and annoyance to others, I refer to American soccer as football. But I have always wondered why we call it soccer when the rest of the world calls it football. Well wonder no more my friends, dictionary.com has the answer.
Map of the InternetHaving been a user of the Internet for a solid 20 years (!), I’ve always wondered what it look like mapped. The Optae Project answers that very question. “Since the Internet is basically a vast constellation of networks that somehow interconnect to provide the relatively seamless communication of data, it seemed logical one could draw lines from one point to another. The visualization is a collection of programs that collectively output an image of every relationship of every network on the Internet.” (Click on the image on the right to get a large image and other images created by this project.)
I did not get into Joy Division until I was in my late ’20s or early ’30s, which is surprising since I was a huge New Order fan in high school. No matter, Joy Division remain one of my top five bands for the last decade and that more than likely will not change. What’s interesting about this revelation is the band released only two full albums and the lead singer, Ian Curtis, committed suicide 35 years ago. Despite their small catalog, JoyDiv remains one of the most influential bands of the late 20th century. This even though the remaining members went on form New Order and other multi-album bands, and yet, yet, JoyDiv tops them all. Recently, The Guardian wrote up a piece on the 10 best Joy Division tracks, which prompted me to add them to to this weeks list. Below is the video for She’s Lost Control, one of my favorite Joy Division tracks, natch. Or you can open up Spotify to listen to their tracks.

This day in Lisa-Universe in: 2014, 2012, 2011, 2003, 1999, 1998

Top 5 of Everything

Dear Internet,
As I formulate my perseverance, I’m opting to take some online classes to keep my skills flush in a variety of fields. As I have an interest in SEO (search engine optimization) from my days in library school when we were mapping data sets and taxonomies, this seems like a good place as any to start. If you’re interested, Udemy offers a couple of free courses (Moz.com’s SEO Training Course and Advance SEO: Tactics and Strategy) that I found useful and I’m going to apply some of the strategies here on EPbaB to see how they work.
I’ve been curious as to how people find me other than direct links from across social media. Now that Google (at least) shields keywords if you’re logged in, the data I have is actually very little. I use three different analytics software on the site (Google Analytics, WordPress JetPack Stats, and StatCounter), while there is some variation of what is coming up, it’s been pretty agreeable across the board.
And oh! A couple of things about searching: If you’re logged into Google (which, it seems, 90% of us are), your searches are influenced by what you searched with before. If you search for “lisa rabey” (quotes or othewise), Google’s results will change depending how you searched for that thing (or related thing) in the past. Additionally, if you’re logged into Google when you search, and land on my page by using keywords, I won’t see those keywords in my stats. Those will be shielded. Also! If you use a URL blocker, like donotlink.com, I also won’t see that reference.
Hence why what I’m getting back in data is tiny. So there.
Lastly, if you want untainted results, use any browsers incognito mode an search, not logged in, for that item. In incognito mode, your history is not tracked or kept thus it sill be a fresh search each time. I would teach this trick to my info lit students by having them log into Google, pop open an incognito window, then search for the same thing in both windows. Sometimes the results will only vary a bit and others, a lot.
As a mini-project, I’m going to put together top five keywords and top five pages and see how they stack against the other.
Top 5 Keywords

  1. Exit Pursued By A Bear (no comma)
  2. Lisa Rabey
  3. live sexual harassment
  4. queen pussy
  5. Saint Lisa

Top 5 Pages

  1. Home page
  2. Apology for team harpy (now pulled)
  3. ALA code of conduct
  4. Live action Sexual Harassment
  5. Hello

Analysis
Exit Pursued by a Bear (no comma) matches with the top page. This is blatantly obvious as keyword will drop you my landing page. Tada! The name refers to a stage direction from Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Talewhich came out of nowhere in the play. It’s also the name of an acting group, a band, a TV trop, and a play in addition to my website. Other variations of the keyword popping up includes the same phrase with the comma, “exit pursued bear,” “pursued by a bear,” and “exitpursuedbyabear.” (Quotes not withstanding.)
Lisa Rabey searches are ubiquitous to me though I have it on good authority there are two more of us (possibly three) in the world. Quotes or no quotes, you will find at least one of my three sites (this one, lisa.rabey.net (librarian professional) and lisarabey.com (writing professional)) will come up in the top five results. This accounts for traffic being driven to my landing page AND to my about page.
Live sexual harassment search is interesting to me because, who the hell is searching for those keywords? Actually, it could be from any numerous contributors such as people looking for data stats. This search links to Live action Sexual Harassment, which is a write up I did right after I was sexually harassed at a conference where I was on a panel talking about it, you guessed it, sexual harassment in the workplace. Oh, the irony.
Queen pussy is also interesting one to me as it is in the top 5 keyword search and I’m wondering what people are searching for exactly. Like Pussy, Queen of the Pirates maybe? I am not sure but what it does is bring the entry, Queen of the Pussy Posse. QofPP is an entry I wrote after I published widely a piece on ALA’s Code of Conduct. Someone thought the name thrown at me would be derogatory. The answer is — nope.  So while this is a top five keyword, the page does not show up as a top five page, which is intriguing.
Saint Lisa makes me giggle because there is no saint lisa, st. or otherwise. All the variations land you to an old entry from 12 years ago, St. Lisa: Patron saint of tattoos, piercings, fags and married men, in which I discourse on my friends from theology class, Matt and AQPaul. What becomes amusing about these keywords is that the page is number 25 on the list of top pages for my site and is the only set of keywords that do not align to the corresponding top 5 pages.
Other things that I know are: Pages with lists or how-tos do really well on my site. The more I write, regardless of content, generates more page views than when I take breaks (this one is seemingly pretty obvious). I get a lot of private comments on the personal stuff and public comments on the how-tos and lists.
There is a lot more to SEO than what I’ve laid out here and will discourse more at another time.
xoxo,
Lisa
P.S. Don’t want near daily emails or can’t make it here everyday but want to keep up with what’s going in my world? Subscribe to A Most Unreliable Narrator, a monthly-ish newsletter roundup of what’s happening. Bonus! Comes with GIFs!

This Day in Lisa-Universe: 2009, 2000, 1999

Writer How To: my writer website part ii

Dear Internet,
On Sunday I talked about what authors should (and shouldn’t) have on their websites, yesterday I broke down the branding, design, and infrastructure of my own author website, and today I am going to discuss main navigation and why I set it up this way, child pages, what’s left to do on my author site, and base plugins you should use for your own WordPress site.
Here is the landing page of my author site again:
lisarabeycomlandingpage
Let’s take a look at the main navigation, homebiofictionother writingblog, and contact. Each of these links are to the minimum pages an author should have as I mentioned on Sunday.
Home will bring you back to the main page.
ProTip: If you include an image header on your page, make it a clickable link back to your main page. This way if people get lost in your site, they have an easy way to get back to the beginning.
Bio will contain the short and extended about me along with a headshot of some kind. 
Fiction will contain all the fiction work (short stories, novels, novellas, etc) with links to purchase or to read.
Other writing will link to mainly non-fiction and academic works. 
Blog will take you directly to EPbaB.
Contact will take you to a contact form.
ProTip: I’ve heard both sides of the story on whether or not to keep a contact form. One argument is that it creates a barrier with your readers, can get confusing, and you’re not entirely sure if the form was sent or not. My personal experience, having managed websites other than my own with contact forms, is you’re more apt to get people writing in using the form rather than if you provide a simple email link. I will more than likely include an email link on the form itself to give people the option.
ProTip 2: Interestingly, the sites I looked at for Sunday’s piece had a lot of the writer’s putting their reps as the contacts but no way to directly contact the writers themselves. “For foreign rights, email joeschmoe@you.com. For media inquiries email yourmom@thejeez.com.” I thought that was interesting.
Let’s take a look at one of the child pages.
childpage copy
I’ve clicked on other writing. We know the link we’ve clicked on takes us to the right page by a few clues. The first clue is the word other writing in the navigation bar is now white instead of grey. Second clue is the breadcrumb shows us where we are, and thirdly, we have a header that tells us on what page we’re on.
As far as design goes, all the child pages will look identical to this one. We have our main navigation at the top so we can bounce around. Our header image from the landing page has been resized to fit comfortably and allow content without (much) scrolling. The right hand sidebar has the same content as the landing page sidebar. The main content box is easy to read and links are easy to find. Header text  is obvious and tells us what the page will contain. Lastly, we have a sharing bar that allows us to share the content across various social networks.
ProTip: I debated on having a share option on these pages since they will remain mostly static, but thought it might be useful if I write a trillion short stories and someone wants a printable version or share it with their BFFs across the social sphere. This is another plugin within Jetpack that allows you to cherry pick social networks you can share across. Plus I get annoyed when I find a page that does not have sharing enabled, so better turned on then turned off.
Now that we’ve got the main infrastructure in place and a design we like, let’s sum it up:

  • We have (potentially) cohesive design that works with my other sites
  • Each site is clearly identifiable of what it is and links to its brethren
  • The design and structure are responsive and mobilized
  • The layout and navigation clear and easy to use
  • Pages are well marked
  • Typography is pleasing easy on the eyes, link colors are bold

Over the course of a week I’ve put about five to six hours of work in with a couple more hours left to go. Since most of the work was design and infrastructure, the least bit is content which should take less time but in my case, I’m importing all the writing works over from EPbaB to the author site for consistency, so that’s taking a bit longer.
What’s left for me to do:

  • Fill out content of child pages
  • Flesh out widgets in right hand sidebar
  • Check for grammar and spelling errors as well as verb consistency
  • Tweak accessibility
  • Export over to live site

Now that we’ve got the site in place, content sorted, let’s talk about the base plugins we can use to make the site even better.

  • Jetpack for WordPress has over 30 plugins in one beautiful package. I use the following: contact form, custom CSS, enhanced distribution, extra sidebar widgets, JSON API, mobile theme, monitor, notifications, omnisearch, publicize, sharing, shortcode embeds, site verification, spelling and grammar, subscriptions, wp.me shortlinks, widget visibility, and wordpress.com stats. A lot of these plugins have variations available individually on WordPress’s site, but I like knowing that Jetpack is constantly updated, added to, and guaranteed to work with the latest versions of WordPress itself.
  • All In One SEO Pack Search Engine Optimization is how web crawlers find you, index you, and then report back when people are searching for you. While the metrics and math can get complex, you can significantly increase your traffic by following a few simple SEO rules. This plugin does the work for you. Here is why you should use it: a few months ago I was wondering what other writer’s sites looked like, so I did some basic keyword searching and found — nothing. Well, almost nothing. Today while thinking about the same search, I wondered if there would be a difference if I swapped out the term “writer” for “author” and the answer turned out be a surprising fuck yes. I also duplicated near same results in Bing.
    This tells me a lot. One, it tells me how Google (and Bing) are indexing content. Two, it tells me even if a writer type person doesn’t use the word “author” anywhere on their website, or metadata, to be indexed, Google and Bing still sort them out as “authors” and list them under that search term  but not under “writer.” The search engine derivatives of “writer” seemingly refer to magazines, goods, and services. So if you prefer the term writer to author, this could hurt you in terms of SEO. Now most people interchange author/writer, but there is apparently a difference with the gist referring to a writer as someone who technically writes whatever (just as a baker bakes) while an author is someone who comes up with the ideas and plans to execute the writing. Someone can apparently be both. Another argument is a writer is someone who is unpaid while an author is a paid professional.
    Whatever you believe or agree with, the bottom line is if you want to make sure you’re getting properly indexed, you need to use SEO to make sure all of your bases are covered so use author/writer in your SEO markup even if you use only one term in your content.
  • Breadcrumb NavXT The easiest and most complete way to set up breadcrumbs on your site.
  • Broken Link Checker Nothing more annoying than going to a site, clicking on a link and discovering it was dead. This plugin actively scans your links (internal and external) and reports back which links are broken and with what kind of errors. Super handy to use and makes your site look a million times more profesh since you can clean up errors and change links from across the site in a single page .
  • Google XML Sitemaps One way to make your site easily indexed by any search engine, on top of SEO, is by having a XML sitemap on the ready. This plugin generates a new XML sitemap based upon your specifications, which can get pretty in-depth. It automatically notifies Google and Bing of any updates.
  • Analytics How are people finding you? How many page views are you getting a day? How many visitors have you had? Jetpack comes bundled with its own analytics, but you may want to use another one or two more as not all analytics software are created equal. I use Google Analytics (which is part of Google Webmaster Tools) and StatCounter.

This has been a quick and dirty walk through on getting a simple author website up and running that is not only informative but eye catching as well. There is a lot more (isn’t there always?), but this should give you a good understanding of why things are done a certain way and access to tools that can accomplish your goals.
Cheers!
xoxo,
Lisa

This Day in Lisa-Universe:  2010

Patron Saint of Piercings

My dear friend, Carrie-Anne over at Little Big posted today about SEO for Gangsters, which prompted me to take a look at my own keyword searches and see the haps.
Here is what I found:
patronsaintofpiercing
To be fair, the “MLIS series porn” kind of makes sense because I recently wrote about the influx of erotica fiction in which librarians were heavily featured. But the “patron saint of piercings” is the funny one – considering I haven’t purposefully discussed body modification in ages.
Or it could possibly be a nomination of sorts? Well then, I’m flattered.

search me baby

as we speak, i am in the process of adding myself to search engines on the net. on the san francisco webgrrls mailing list, there was a big conversation about how long it takes yahoo! to index their site, including submissions to them. The period that was so bothersome was that it took anywhere from two weeks to six months to get a site listed. I did a search on my name, lisa m. rabey, and i came up as the first hit. i felt oddly pleased about it.
i’m still waiting for spell checker to download to my home machine. there is something delicious about sitting on a t3 at work, but at home i’m waiting for hell to freeze over to before i can download the damn thing at 28.8.
I’ve pulled myself up several search engines, but, it has to do with the archiving of all the damn mailing lists i’ve been on. only yahoo pulled me up as myself in the first 10, others, I had to keep scrolling to the next page to get more info on myself.
since i’ve become addicted to keeping this page updated on a more timely manner (amazingly, I’ve been updating about once every other day), and i think of new and interesting things to say (i’m so witty, oh so witty), that i need to be indexed properly to gain more exposure.
a cool tool i found, was this search engine that keeps track of all the major competitors and what they are doing. going to this site enables me to add myself to their indexing, to let robots crawl all over my site and basically rate me in order of meta tags.
i love meta tags.
i won’t work without them.
thus far, i’ve added myself to the following sites:
HotBot
Lycos
AltaVista
Aol’s NetFind which i just read is now powered by excite! go figure.
Excite!
Infoseek
LookSmart
Web Crawler
Meta Crawler
Register-It!
the cool thing is that register-it! will do a trial version to eight selected sites. The irony is that i’ve already submitted myself to four of those sites today.
i can’t believe how much time it took to do this schiznit. i started over an hour ago, and now i have five minutes left before i have to get to work. the irony of that is that i was having fun, and it’s been ages since i’ve sat down and threw my information into the hopper, sorta speak. i had to get rid of all the bad urls, that just went no where. fortunately for me, my older sites such as the one hosted on grfn.org, I had added refresh materials in the meta tags to take the user to the new site, which is the one you are looking at now. thank goodness, that i also had a .forward file inserted for the email, because i’ve lost my password to that account.
i want to gain fame and fortune and be worshipped the world over.
justin is just damn happy that i’m writing everyday, where as before i wasn’t.
i’m just happy that i don’t feel so intimidated about my life anymore, and i’ve finally figured out how to write and get the content fresh and new to the readers.
my plans include writing short stories, and getting more involved with what i’m doing. you can always spank me if you wish to let me know how you like this site.
while it seems that i provide content for the reader, it is the reader (based on hits i get) that delegates whether or not this site is any good.
so spank me if you dare.
rad! no spelling errors this time. thank you spell checker!. the simple things please me.