Testing my blog’s development

I’m picking up on the post from Lorelle on her Lorelle on WordPress blog about testing your blogs development. She lists a set of links you can test your blog on, and see what sort of results are returned. So without further ado:
Live Google PageRankResults
An average pagerank of 2.7, which considering that when I started the blog a few months back, pagerank was essentially 0, is not bad going. Pagerank is one measure I would like to test on again in 6 months time and see where I stand then.

Visual PageRankResults
This is a good tool, shows the pagerank of every single link on a page. I note that I don’t seem to be quoting many major sites in terms of links in a post generally, if I was wanting to live by pagerank alone, I should have more links, and to higher ranking sites. I know that is by no means the only path to improving pagerank, but this tool does highlight the relative merit of your links.

Google Cache Tool
This checks to see what internal links have been cached by google, having read through the front page of the blog. According to this, 3 out of 7 have. Not sure if I would need to get the rest cached, but it is caching the main url of the site, which is what I would want.

Spider ViewResults
Okay, as a topic I’ve discussed several times on here, I checked Ubuntu as a keyword on the site. This showed that I’ve mentioned it 18 times on the front page as it stands.

AlexaResults
3 results here. I’ve found personally that Alexa is a bit sniffy in some senses, as they profess to only be interested in the top 100,000 websites, rather than providing information beyond this. Also, their ratings depend in part on users installing spyware, which isn’t really the ideal way forwards.

Search Position CheckerResults
I know from a little while ago that one of my most successful posts on this blog was a simple little explanation of how to install realplayer on Ubuntu. I was getting at one point 20 hits a day direct from google for the post. So I used this tool to search for the keywords ubuntu realplay edgy, and see where I am ranked. It shows no results for google, which suggests it may be a bit borked, as a manual search shows I am #2 for that search on google. It does show me as 5th on MSN and 11th on Excite.

Link Popularity CheckerResults
Important to remember here that I am only searching on graemehunter.co.uk, not www.graemehunter.co.uk, which does get very different results. Note that google shows no results at all for the www version. I use google sitemaps to submit the version without the www, but have been meaning for a while to sort out with www. This underlines it needs doing, and that each can be treated very differently by search engines. At least 3 search engines there see over 100 results with the www.

Keyword Analysis ToolResults
This shows the frequency of words throughout a page. So for the front page of here, as I had guessed previously, Ubuntu was the most regular, followed by WordPress and product. Again, if I was targeting a particular audience, I would want to up this count in certain areas.

Google Webmasters Site Status Test
This confirms that I am included in the Google index, and that I was last indexed on the 9th February. I can get a lot more detail once I log into the Google webmaster tools, and I may well do this as a seperate exercise to blog on here soon, going through the results and seeing what they show.

So there are a good range of tools here to check how search engines view your site. Do note by the way that the results I have referred to will change once I publish this post.

I killed my WordPress blog, and lived to fight another day

So it was late. It was the wrong time of night to be playing with those sorts of options. And I compounded my error with the classic mistake of “oh, it’s a little change, I won’t need a backup”. Let both of those mistakes be lessons I learn.

So what happened? Well, I have a couple of other blogs with the WordPress theme K2 on them (this is a skinned version of K2 here), and I noticed that on my main personal blog I didn’t have the same options for the sidebar. After some experimentation, I removed a conflicting plugin, then chose to upgrade the theme. I followed the instructions carefully (well apart from backing up of course), disabled the theme, and then…

Nothing. Nothing at all. The whole site was blank. No posts, no admin, no error messages, just a blank screen for every URL. Really not good at all. So what did I do? Panicked of course.

After a good five minutes of quality panic, I decided to have a look at my database. It was there for starters, which was a very good thing. Then it struck me, there must be an options table for WordPress. And there is, wp_options by default. In there is an entry for theme. So as a last chance, I altered it back to K2 from default. And it worked, I could see the blog once more, and could sort out things from there.

Now, I wouldn’t recommend altering tables like this by hand. It was a qualified guess, but I got lucky. I didn’t deserve to after my other acts of stupidity, but I did. It was a handy thing to learn a bit about in case of that sort of disaster, but in this case it should never have happened, if I had backed up it would have been a lot easier to fix.

Fate also dictates that the morning after, I notice Lorelle’s great post on fixing a broken theme.

WordPress 2.1 Ella – How is it?

Well, I took the plunge last night. I meant to upgrade one of my least used blogs to WordPress 2.1 as a test, and it was so quick and easy I ended up doing all four. Basic process was just backup the database, disable all plugins, copy the upgrade into the same directory as your main install, run the upgrade, restore the plugins. Quite painless.

I still think that WordPress needs to built the upgrade functionality in, I should be just clicking to install it and run the above process. That is the sort of thing that takes away the admin side of WordPress, and would draw more people into using it.

Overall, it seems a little faster, a little prettier, and nothing has broken. So, happy with it thus far.

Geshi-based syntax highlighter for WordPress

This is my second test of a code syntax highlighter, in this case the Geshi-based syntax highlighter plugin.

Geshibased Syntax highlighterThis isn’t very successful either. The problem is with multiline cut and paste, certainly in Firefox. Doesn’t behave how you would hope. I’ve manually added the line returns to the CSS example, and that behaves fine, but the CSS still isn’t working.

Dean’s Source Code syntax highlighting plugin for WordPress V1.1

I’ve been asked to find a WordPress plugin for source-code highlighting in posts. My first research leads me to the belief that the area to look at are plugins which use the Generic Syntax Highlighter or GeSHi. This can handle over 200 different languages, so should be flexible enough for our needs.

So the first plugin I am looking at is Dean’s Source Code syntax highlighting plugin. What I intend to do is to install a few different plugins, activate them one at a time, input code in a few languages, and compare the results.

Code Formated by Deans Source Code Syntax Plugin

These are just a few examples to show how well it formats. What I didn’t count on was that if I de-activate the plugin, the formatting goes immediately. So the above is an image of the generated code.

Having a second go here at multiline code:

Another go at multiline

Still not happy. My basic issue here isn’t with writing code from scratch, that works fine. It is cutting and pasting a section of code in Firefox so that it will keep the formatting and parse properly through the highlighter. Just can’t get it to work. Putting it on hold for now.

Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress

I’ve been meaning for a while to submit the sitemaps for my domains to Google’s Webmaster Central site. Having a sitemap for the googlebot to read improves how your site is crawled, and means only the pages you want are submitted. It has recently also become a format recognised by Google, Yahoo and Microsoft, which has resulted in the sitemaps.org site.

Anyway, I looked into how to generate a sitemap, and to be honest it is a bit of a pain for WordPress users. It seemed like the best way to do it would be to just submit an RSS feed. However, the standard location for your feed isn’t liked by Google, and I didn’t want to move mine. The other methods seemed like too much work as well. So I looked for a WordPress-based solution, and found Arne Brachold’s Google Sitemap Generator for WordPress plugin.

Very easy to setup and run, all the instructions are there, and only took a few minutes to set up, run, and submit to Google. Perfect tool for the job. It will even ping Google about any changes to your site structure. I’m now getting to read through what Google makes of my site, and for starters get on with fixing a few broken links I didn’t know about.