9 Firefox Plugins for Easier Blogging

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Blogging isn’t hard, but it can be a hassle. You collect information from around the web, then keep up with the sources and links, write the blog post, tweak your on-page SEO, find an image, check the links, and that’s not even taking into consideration the linkbuilding, maintenance and competitive analysis. Here are nine free Firefox plugs that can help you spend more time generating content and less time chasing details.

Research

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Trail Mix Activities — Collect information on the web and store it in a handy sidebar. Just drag and drop images or text clips to a blue box on the sidebar, and store them until you’re ready to use them later. Collect clips, bookmarks, and images from the web or images and documents from your hard drive and keep them available for later. When you’re done with the blog post or don’t need the information anymore, you can just delete it. No need to clog up long-term disk storage with data or a link you’ll only use once.

Blogging Clients

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Deepest Sender and Scribefire Next — With either of these two blogging clients, you can post to any of your blogs from a window of your browser. They both work with a variety of blogging platforms, and they both offer the option of writing in WYSIWYG or HTML. With either one, you can apply the category as you input the post. Both allow you to open and revise old posts. Both will hold your post until you’re ready to publish and to create a post while your computer is offline.

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Scribefire Next comes loaded with features. It gives you a field to write your excerpt, if your blog uses that, and other user-defined fields. You can add tags. You can schedule a post or post to "private" — but not to "draft." Deepest Sender’s interface is clean and undistracting. It doesn’t have all the features Scribefire has — no tags, no excerpt. It does have a draft button, which I prefer over Scribefire’s "scheduled" or "private." But having used both, I turn back to Deepest Sender when I just want to write a post. They’re comparable browser-based blogging clients, both with enough features and strengths that it comes down to user preference.

On-Page SEO

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SEO Blogger — WordTracker Labs brings you SEO Blogger a free firefox plugin to help you check your keyword use as you write. In the top module, you pick keywords and get comparative traffic figures. From there, you add them to a working list in the bottom module, and the tool keeps track of the number of uses and the keyword density figures. With just a quick look, you can make sure you’ve got your keywords in often enough that Google knows what you’re writing about but not so many times that you get hit for keyword stuffing.

Image and Link Suggestions

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Zemanta — Add images and links from right within your blogging window with the Zemanta plugin (also available as a server-side plugin for self-hosted blogs). As you write, Zemanta analyzes your text and offers images, links, and related posts that it thinks might be relevant. Don’t like the ones it suggests? You can put a word into a search field, and it will bring expand your search to include your terms. It also offers informational links for words that appear in your text — to company websites, Wikipedia, your choice. Just click, and the link is in place.

Outbound links to authority sites are good for search engine optimization. And you can put in your Amazon.com affiliate code, and it will link to books and other products that Amazon sells. One caveat is that the pictures tend to be small and don’t reside on your site. That means that you can’t change the size, you can’t use them for feature photos (if your theme uses that), and if the other website changes, you lose your image. You can, however, sacrifice the one-click ease and go directly to the site Zemanta finds and download the photo. Even the search function alone can be a big help.

Commenting

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Resizeable Text Area — This handy little Firefox plugin does the small but useful task of increasing the size of text boxes in blogs, forums, comment areas. If you’ve ever been frustrated by the two or three lines you can see as you’re writing, you’ll be glad to find a drag handle so that you can just open it out as far as you want.

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CoComment — Comments are a powerful way to increase your exposure and traffic — not to mention SEO linking. And when you comment, half the fun is seeing if anybody continues the conversation. One way to handle that is to subscribe to future comments — if that’s an option on the blog. But then you get emails from the site long after the conversation has faded from memory. CoComment is a Firefox plugin that tracks your comments and stores them at coComment.com. You can follow all your conversations on your schedule without clogging up your inbox.

Competitive Analysis

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Search Status — Wondering just how well that other site is really doing? Search Status gives you all kinds of performance information about any site you land on — Alexa, Google, Compete, and Linkscape rankings. It will also highlight no-follow links, give WhoIs information, list backlinks, keyword density, and more. Search Status can make every page an object lesson.

Website Diagnostics

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Firebug — Speed is one factor Google uses in assigning authority to your site. Like a lot of people, the robots apparently get bored and move on if it doesn’t load fast enough. Firebug is a free Firefox plugin that will tell you if your site is slow and why. It also helps you analyze your CSS and HTML, and check for Javascript errors. But if all it did was tell you if your site is too slow, that would be a good thing all by itself.

This post was written by Jan Bear, who gives book marketing tips at Market Your Book She also builds websites for writers and other creative professionals.

SEO Tips: How to Optimize Images, Videos and Audio for Your Website

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If you’re an online publisher, then Google is king.  Whatever content you’re pushing to the web, you’re going to want Google to index it properly, and serve it up in its search results.  There are lots of guides on basic text and blogpost optimization out there, but what about other types of media like images, video, and audio?  Here’s a simple guide to follow so you can make the most of your multimedia content.

First things first, the general rule of optimization is to ensure a descriptive file name and URL which match what people may be searching for.  This is crucial when it comes to Google deciding if your content is relevant to search terms.  If you want to refine it, you can try using the Google keywords tool to determine search volume. 

Tip 1. How to Optimize SEO for images

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Tagging of images is essential for Google’s understanding of what your image actually is.  Pay close attention to your ALT and TITLE tags when you upload an image to the web.

  1. ALT attribute is an important part of search engine optimization. It describes your image to search engine and when a user searches for a certain image this is a key determining factor for a match. 
  2. TITLE attribute plays a lesser role but is important for visitors as this text will automatically appear in the tooltip when mouse is over the image.

If you’re using WordPress, you can try SEO Friendly Images, which is a free optimization plugin that automatically updates all images on your website with proper ALT and TITLE attributes.  What this plugin does is, it changes these tags based on your image file name and your post URL.  This is a quick one click solution helps optimize all your images at once.

Tip 2. How to Optimize SEO for videos

Sitemaps are Google’s way of understanding and indexing your videos.  Check out this video for a bit more detail on this.

To get more tips on submission of setting up an mRSS feed so you can automatically submit sitemaps of your videos in the correct format, you should visit Google’s Video sitemaps page.

Tip 3: How to Optimize SEO for Audio

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  1. Text Transcripts: There are several ways to optimize for audio, but the best way is to have actual transcripts of your audio on your web page.   No matter how much you optimize, having plain text is always more Google friendly.  Consider recording in conjunction with speech to text software if it’s more efficient.
  2. Descriptive Metadata: Changing your ID3 tags to give really descriptive titles and comments which are embedded within the file.  If you’re changing a few files you can simply right click the file in Windows, then go to properties, then summary.  From there you can edit all the attributes of the file.  If you’re handling this for multiple files you may want to use freeware like ID3 Tagit to help you along.

Do you optimize your content on your website of blog?  Tell us about it in the comments :)

5 Ways to Optimize & Speed Up your Website

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Have you ever come across websites which seem to takefor..e..ver.to load? They can be an annoyance, right? Slow websites with smashing artwork and attractive bling often drive away more people than simple, and clean websites which are optimized for speed and usability.

1. How to Optimize Style: Use CSS as often as you can, and tone down on Javascript

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Javascript can add a lot of flair to your website, but more often than not we tend to borrow lines of code from other fellow developers rather than reinvent the wheel. Sounds logical, right? Well, the problem with using other people’s JS is that they usually contain lots of code which we ourselves don’t need. Borrowing CSS, however, doesn’t present that problem as much. So if you want to optimize your website to display smoothly on dial-up lines, try switching styles a little.

Also check out this excellent post on 53 CSS-Techniques You Couldn’t Live Without

2. How to Optimize Images: Focus your Format

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GIF? PNG? JPG? JPEG? One drawback of the widespread availability of the Internet is that practically anybody can contribute to its development. This leads to too much choice, which consequently is good, but not so good at the same time, and image optimization is no exception. Knowing what type of format to use for your digital images can save you a lot of hard drive estate. Use GIF for flat-tone colors, JPG for bright snazzy photographs with millions of colors, and alternate between either GIF and JPG for PNG when you feel it’ll give you better quality. Basically, different formats handle different images better, so you can expect a sizable difference in image size when you use the correct type. Also, be sure to use the œSave for Web options in image editors to optimize images.

Also check out this excellent post on 4 free tools to optimize and compress PNG images without losing quality

3. How to Minimize Latency: Group Files Together

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When you write your website, do you write it page by page starting from the bottom up, or with a bird’s eye view? In most cases, the latter method is better, as you’ll get to save time and space when you code. For instance, CSS and JavaScript both allow you the option to save standalone files for reference by your other pages. This allows you to write a single CSS batch file and share it two to a million webpages, instead of having to rewrite the code every time you start a new page. Can you imagine how much space Google saves by having just one CSS reference file?

4. How to Squeeze Extra Speed from Your Website: Extra Tips to counter Time-Lag

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There are a certain number of things you can do to reduce the waiting time your website’s visitors have to endure; some which still not many may know of. Make sure to add a slash to the end of your links: œwww.myname.com/about/, as opposed to œwww.myname.com/about. This tells the server that it’s reached the end of the road, so it doesn’t have to waste (milli)seconds detouring when you click on a link. It may not be terribly significant, but well, you take what you can get when you optimize a website.

5. How to optimize your cache for WordPress sites: Use super-cache

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SuperCache is a free WordPress plugin that caches your page as a static html file. When your visitors arrive at your site, they will be served the static page instead of the actual page.  This usually makes it much faster for your visitors, and more importantly it creates less strain and burden for your servers.

This article was written by Aaron Pek & James Yeang.  Contact me if you wish to become a writer for this blog.

Those were 5 simple tips to get started.  What other tips do you have for speeding up websites?  Tell us in the comments!