Baby Steps

WordPress recently came out with a new update, bringing us all up to 3.3 – “Sonny.” The difference isn’t noticeable on my outward-facing website, but my dashboard and navigation menus for updates are all cleaner, and there are several other convenient little updates. It’s not a huge redesign or anything, but it feels like slightly more than a baby step.

…Which is interesting timing. I have been thinking about necessary updates to my website in terms of design and navigation. After thinking long and hard about advantages & disadvantages to a whole redesign (including a whole new WordPress theme), I’ve concluded that baby steps are what I need to stick to. But baby steps are hard to stick to when you have available tools to make giant leaps. So I’m trying to self-discipline and stick to small, trackable changes, and I’m trying to give it all time to monitor the differences.

It’s hard. There’s so much out there to fiddle around with, and it only gets easier and more tempting. It’s like not playing with a jetpack that you find on your doorstep when you know you have to stay inside and do the proper research on how to fly.

So then imagine my eyebrows when I see on my newly-refreshed dashboard a link to a newly updated WordPress plugin, previously only available to WordPress.com-hosted sites. Mine is hosted on TierraNet, so this is indeed new to me.

The plugin is called Jetpack.

If you don’t want to read up on this boring old WordPress plugin, let me break down what interests me about it…
– WordPress.com stats.
– Consolidated sharing functionality.
– Enhanced distribution to search engines.
– Twitter sidebar widget.
– Math.

There’s plenty more that comes with the plugin, but these four items are what are drawing me to it.

The WordPress.com stats will undoubtedly bring more insight than Google Analytics alone; I am really curious to see what data they show differently, and what different data the WP stats offer. Speaking of updates, Google Analytics recently launched a redesign, and the tool is much more useful to me personally now than it was before, so I say, bring on the games! Let the battle of the analytics tools begin.

The sharing functionality might be nice in terms of clean-up for me on the backend. I have more than one sharing plugin operating right now, and more than one is (x-1) too many. This’ll help me get rid of the clutter.

I always like the sound of enhanced distribution to search engines. I know the Feed Me Seymore theme I have rolling right now claims to offer this type of function, though to what extent I do not know. But I figure, if there is no additional burden to me, the webmaster, then there is no downside to distributing new content to search engines. NOT distributing means I have to wait for spiders to find their way back to this site, re-crawl it, and have it fit into their algorithms. That can take up to six months. I want search engine rankings now, dammit.

The Twitter sidebar widget – I’m sure I could have gotten one previously, but it would have been redundant since I decided to activate a feature from another plugin to create new blog posts of all my tweets. This is good for SEO, but it clutters up the homepage, which I don’t like. And the organic traffic it generates, I have noticed, has 100% bounce rate and an average of less than 10 seconds on the site. So I think I’ll drop that feature and go with Jetpack’s sidebar widget.

And the math. Well. Math is beautiful. Math is art. I want that math feature.

It’s getting near the end of the year now, and that’ll be a perfect time to not only consider some site design refreshes, but also reflect on nearly a year of Sharkblogging, what I’ve learned about SEO, so on. And the timing here is nice, since I’ll have all through the holidays to plan any changes to implement after the new year.

Baby steps. Grit my teeth and just take baby steps.

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