Learn something new – Fall/Winter 2011 Course Schedule

social media course israelHave a business that needs marketing? Need to learn more about social media? Would you like to build and manage your own site in WordPress? Want to know more about how to optimize your site for Google rankings? Join Pixel/Point Press in September and October for classes that will help you hone your skills on marketing and the web.

Registration is first come, first served – course sizes are limited to ensure enough attention to student questions. All courses are taught in English. For more information or to register, please visit our website or contact us at classes@pixelpointpress.com.

If you would prefer to host a course for your company or organization onsite or prefer private tutorials, please contact us at classes@pixelpointpress.com to make arrangements. [Read more…]

Ask P3: Using WordPress to build a website with a static home page

Answering your questions on social media, search engine optimization and wordpressI’ve had the pleasure of teaching a month-long course for small business owners and marketing executives that demonstrates, hands-on, how to use WordPress to build and manage a complete website. My students have some amazing projects and continue to amaze me with creative uses of WP’s content management tools and excellent questions about usability and SEO. I’d like to share a common question about WordPress.

I installed WordPress on my domain and added a template that gives my site the look and feel of a business, but my home page is still my most recent blog posts. How do I create a real home page?

It’s a common question when you start using WordPress as a full-out CMS instead of blogging software (or in conjunction with a blog). Although it’s been answered elsewhere, I’ll also cover it here.

Note: Some themes automatically shift your most recent blog posts to another page without taking the steps below, so you might want to check if your theme supports this option before you start working.

If your theme is a standard theme that defaults to recent posts, here’s how to create a static page for your home page. We’re using Mystique for this example.

Log into your WordPress dashboard. Under your Pages menu, click to add a new page. The WordPress editor opens.

We’ll create the home page first. Add a title and any content that you’d like to appear on the new, static home page.

Creating a static home page in wordpressWhen you’re finished, click publish. Of course, you can always make changes later.

Next up, let’s create a page to hold all of our blog posts.

Under your Pages menu, click to add a new page. The WordPress editor opens.

Add a title for your blog page – “blog” is a good choice, but you might also consider “recent news” or “latest updates” depending on how your target market feels about the credibility of the dreaded B-word.

Unless you want content to appear at the top of the blog page above the posts, you’ll want to leave this section of the site empty.Creating a blog page for your WordPress siteWhen you’re finished, click publish.

Now let’s tell WordPress which page goes where.

Selecting a static home page in WordPressUnder Settings, click Reading to display the Reading Settings for your WordPress site. The default setting is that the front page displays your latest posts. Instead, let’s click the radio button for a static page. We’ll set our front page to Home and our posts page to Blog (or whatever name we chose).

You can also change the number of posts the posts page will display (the default is 10) and the number of posts that will appear when folks subscribe to your RSS feed (again, the default is 10). You can show your RSS readers the full text of each blog post or a summary – there are pros and cons to both options, but we’ll save that for another blog post.

You can also change the encoding of your blog pages and feeds. Unless you know that you need to change it, you’re best leaving it set to UTF 8.

After saving our settings, let’s go to our site and see what we have.

Our new static home page in WordPressAnd now, let’s see what we get when we click on the Blog page.

Our new blog subdirectory page in WordPressLooks like we’re all set!

Delete extra home page link in WordPress themeBut, what if your theme has a link to Home hard-coded into the header? When you add a Home page, you might end up with two home links in the header. If we apply the Jarrah theme, we end up with two home page links.

Although there are a number of different ways to fix this, learning how to exclude pages from your navigation is a handy trick, and we’ll use it here.

In your Dashboard, click under Appearance > Editor. Click on the right-hand side to edit the header.php file.

Although every template is a little different, we’re looking for the part of the code where our theme creates our top navigation. Where our code says

wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&depth=2&sort_column=menu_order’);

we want to change it to

wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&exclude=’);

where we’ll add the page numbers that we want to exclude from our navigation. In this case, our home page is 2, so our code will read

<?php wp_list_pages(‘title_li=&exclude=2′); ?>

Remove home link from top navigationWe’ll save our changes and refresh our home page to see the change.

To determine what the page number of any given WordPress page (or post), you can mouse over the page link in the page editor. From the Dashboard, select Pages > Edit. When your list of pages loads, mouse over the page title link and the page number will appear in the bottom left of the browser window.

Page link preview in WordPress edit pagesOf course, if you’re not using SEO-friendly permalinks, you can just navigate to the offending page on your WordPress site, but you really should be using SEO-friendly links! That’s another post for another time.

Three steps to improve your SEO

Social Media 1-2-3It’s been awhile since our last Social Media 1-2-3 post. For that, I apologize. We’ve been crazy busy here at P3. December is a jam-packed speaking, moderating and attending circuit for us. For me, being out of the office and away from the organized nature of my desk aren’t conducive to blogging.

This week’s post is on SEO. While you might think search engine optimization isn’t related to (or – gasp – necessary for) a successful social media campaign, you’re missing out on a crucial opportunity to draw in more relevant web traffic.

Finally, you might also think that SEO is for super-guru-expert web developers only. To be sure, there are aspects of SEO that would befuddle the average blogger, but the big picture is well within your grasp.

With that said, let’s look at three simple steps anyone can implement.

Keep it human friendly

If you take one grain of knowledge from this post, it’s this: what’s human friendly is also SEO friendly. It’s true in every instance I can think of – quality of content, ease of navigation, site speed, etc. Google serves human beings and it’s in their best interest to direct their incoming search traffic to sites that are human friendly.

What can you do to keep your site user friendly?

  • Write content that you would enjoy reading and keep it clearly organized using headings
  • Keep your site clearly organized using categories and tags
  • Create sitemaps – one in HTML for real people, one in XML for Googlebot (not using a CMS? you can still create a sitemap here)
  • Keep the navigation simple – real people don’t enjoy clicking through six levels of navigation to get to your sterling prose

Increase your incoming links

Give potential visitors a good reason to visit your site multiple times, comment and even share your content. Provide your would-be visitors with content that offers value (without heavy marketing jargon) and they’ll be more likely to share the link with others. Since Google and other search engines place a high value on the number of incoming links from other high-quality sites, increasing your incoming links (known as inbound marketing) is a great way to raise yourself in search results.

What’s the best way to regularly update content in a simple, SEO-friendly format on a website today? You’ve got a handful of options, but the easiest is probably a blog. Post new content on a regular basis. Find other bloggers that are covering similar content or reaching out to the same target market and comment on their blogs. While it might seem like a simple strategy, it’s also very effective and easy for anyone to do.

Avoid duplicate content

Have you heard this one?

You’re a new blogger. A friend has been blogging for years. In order to help you get some additional traffic when you first start blogging, your friend copies your first blog post and posts it over on their site. A link at the bottom tells readers to “visit this site for more great blog posts like this one!”

While it might seem like your friend did you a kind favor, the reality is that they hurt your SEO. Duplicate content appearing on multiple sites is a no-no for SEO. In short, you’re in competition against your friend for ranking on the same blog post. Since your friend’s site is older, has more incoming links and likely more content, you’re going to lose.

Avoid posting duplicate content on multiple sites. Although SEO experts disagree on how dramatic the impact might be, the general consensus is that it’s to be avoided whenever you can.

Three simple, non-technical tips can go a long way toward improving how Google sees and ranks your site.

For more specific tips on how to optimize a site built with WordPress, don’t miss Joost de Valk’s excellent post and presentation on the subject (and thanks to Rebecca at Illuminea for sharing the link to the presentation on Twitter).

For more technical (and frequently comic) tips directly from Google, don’t miss the Google Webmasters Channel and more info from Matt Cutts on Twitter.

Introducing Social Media 1-2-3 – a new series of blog posts for social media beginners

Earlier this week, a friend challenged me to explain the premise behind social media marketing in three steps. After a short spiel, I realized it is possible to explain the basics in simple, easy-to-understand terms – and doing so might just help someone to take their first steps using a new tool or strategy.

While I strive in our classes to provide a wealth of knowledge in a very short time span, hoping to keep our students busy for several months after the classes end, I’m beginning to realize something: There’s a market for brevity.

To meet that growing need, I’m hoping to create a series of blog posts explaining how to get started in the wide worlds of social media networking and marketing. Topics will include:

  • Blogging
  • WordPress
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Third-Party Twitter apps: Seesmic, TweetDeck, Bit.ly and others
  • Making the most of RSS feeds

And more. I’m also hoping my regular readers will help me generate some more topics. My goal is to provide a new post every Tuesday until I’m stumped for topics.

In another new addition to the blog, I’m asking readers for questions about how to use social media, drafting a strategy, etc. With your permission, I’ll reply to these questions and more every Wednesday on the blog so that others can learn from your questions. To send me a question, please email at kelli@pixelpointpress.com.

As always, thanks for reading, commenting, subscribing and sharing our content with others!

Coming in September: Social media marketing classes and more

After a whirlwind month of finishing projects and moving into our new offices (pictures to come as soon as we finish painting!), we’re happy to announce some of the cool things we have planned starting in September.

Back by popular demand is our Social Media Marketing class. Our first class will be held in Jerusalem starting on September 3.

This is a popular class so please reserve your spot as soon as possible. This time we are meeting at the beautiful JBS Business Class Center in Talpiot, Jerusalem. For anyone who missed a session from a previous class, please note that on your RSVP.

  • Date: Thursdays,  September 3, September 10, and September 17
  • Time: from 9 am until 12 noon
  • Address: Hataasiya 8; 4th Floor; Talpiot; Jerusalem

Directions: The office is at Hataasiya 8. Hataasiya Street is the extension of Yad Harutzim after the Achim Yisrael mall. The building has an electrical appliance store on the ground floor called Traklin and an Orange office. The entrance to the office part of the building is on the right side – look for a big statue of a lion in a glass case. Go down the path, into the building and take the elevator to the 4th floor. Make a left and then a right when you get off the elevator.

Do you want to learn how to make the most of your presence online? Need help starting (or customizing – or promoting) a blog or Web site?
Consider joining us for three sessions to build your Web profile, reach new clients, and market yourself using free tools.

Cost for all three sessions is NIS 350. We’ll meet once a week a for three weeks.

Session 1: An Introduction to Social Media

  • Starting a blog
  • Using Facebook and LinkedIn for professional networking
  • Using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing
  • Tips and tricks to get started quickly and effectively
  • hree ideas you (and your competition) haven’t tried yet
  • What not to do – common mistakes and how to avoid them

Session 2: Promoting your Social Media Efforts

  • How to promote a blog
  • RSS/Social bookmarking
  • SEO – Crafting effective headlines and tags, using XML sitemaps
  • Facebook groups and fan pages, LinkedIn user groups, Twitter tweets, FriendFeed

Session 3: Advanced Social Media Techniques

  • Creating custom blog templates
  • Developing Facebook apps
  • Plugins and more – bringing it all together
  • What’s next? Staying ahead of the curve
  • What to do when that’s not enough to beat your competition

I will be teaching the classes and am happy to answer any questions. I have several years of experience using open source tools for Web design and development, SMM and SEO.

After our social media marketing course comes to a close, we’d like to fulfill requests for two other classes: Using WordPress as a CMS and Creating Custom WordPress Templates. If you’re interested in these classes (or others), please let us know by dropping us a note at kelli@pixelpointpress.com or filling out the contact form below.

How to learn the latest Web tricks? Turn to TV

It’s amazing how much the Web had changed learning. Those of us who would have needed a degree in computer programming a decade ago can now learn just about all we need to build a killer web site online.

We all know how video works online, but some companies have taken things a step further to make it easier for prospective and current clients to learn the ins and outs of their software. Let’s take a look at just a few of the resources out there to improve your skills – for SEO, WordPress and graphic design.

Google Webmaster Help channel on YouTube

Pick from more than a hundred great videos by the guys on the search engine team at Google. My personal favorites are those made by Google SEO leader Matt Cutts – they’re short, they’re witty and they give us insight on how to design our site to make the most of search engines.

WordPress TV

When it comes to blogging, nothing beats WordPress. But most people don’t even begin to realize the power of WordPress as a content management system. With the ability to create excellent custom templates, track traffic through Google Analytics and perform your own SEO with any number of plugins, there’s a whole lot of information to learn about WordPress.
WordPress TV provides short snippets of information – whether it’s an update from a WordCamp conference around the world or a challenge to create a specific site in a short period of time.

Adobe TV

If you’re involved in graphic design or web development, at some point in time, you’re probably going to use some Adobe software. Yes, you can jump through any number of hoops to build a site without Dreamweaver and open-source alternatives have many rivals for Photoshop. That said, for many of us, there comes a time when the maneuvering to save money on software ends up costing more money in lost time and productivity.
And let’s face it – there’s a certain amount of geeky pride involved in saying that you have CS4 Master Collection – even if you know you’ll never touch half of the applications in the suite.
When you buckle down and make the big purchase, it’s up to you to ensure that you’re using Adobe’s exceptionally powerful software to its best effect. Local user groups can help you with short seminars and tips and tricks, but when it comes to learning a program from scratch (the way the creators intended you to use it), nothing beats Adobe TV. The wide variety of videos available cover every ability level and every program. In addition, there are videos to inspire you – showing the works of others that came out of the software.

Upcoming social media marketing classes: Haifa and Netanya

Our next round of social media marketing classes are coming up in June!

We’re pleased to announce that Commtouch will be hosting us for three classes at their offices in Netanya. Class will be held on June 9, 16 and 23 from 10 a.m. to noon.

Our regular three-session course will be condensed into two classes in Haifa. Class will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on June 11 and 18.

Session 1: An Introduction to Social Media

  • Starting a blog
  • Using Facebook and LinkedIn for professional networking
  • Using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing
  • Tips and tricks to get started quickly and effectively
  • Three ideas you (and your competition) haven’t tried yet
  • What not to do – common mistakes and how to avoid them

Session 2: Promoting your Social Media Efforts

  • How to promote a blog
  • Lifecycle of your social media content
  • SEO – Crafting effective headlines and tags, using XML sitemaps
  • Facebook groups and fan pages, LinkedIn user groups, Twitter tweets

Session 3: Advanced Social Media Techniques

  • Creating custom blog templates
  • Developing Facebook apps
  • Plugins and more – bringing it all together
  • What’s next? Staying ahead of the curve
  • What to do when that’s not enough to beat your competition

Details:

  • Classes are taught in English
  • You do not need a laptop to attend
  • You will receive a cheshbonit mas

Cost:

  • NIS 250 for all three sessions
  • NIS 100 for a single session

To register for classes, please send your contact information and preferred course location to kelli@pixelpointpress.com.

From one participant:

I would just like to post a review on Kelli Brown’s Social Media Course that was originally advertised on Digital Eve.

So – what can I say?  So far – So EXCELLENT.

Kelli held her first lesson in my lounge in Tel Aviv last Thursday and I would like to say that she more than exceeded my personal expectations. She had certainly done her homework and came very well prepared (projector and all) and delivered a very well thought out, professional presentation covering everything that she said she would in her original email.

I also would like to add that on a personal note, I found her unpretentious, down to earth manner to be nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

So, there you go – if any of you are interested in this course –  in light of the first lesson that we received – I WARMLY recommend it and would even go as far to say it’s a MUST do for those that don’t want to get lost in the social media shuffle.

Best,
Jodie Clements
Marketing Communication Services

Social Media Marketing classes forming now

Do you want to learn how to make the most of your presence online? Need help starting (or customizing – or promoting) a blog or Web site? Consider joining us for three sessions to build your Web profile, reach new clients, and market yourself using free tools. In three two-hour sessions, we’ll teach you how to market to your target audience using free Web tools.

Class outline:

Session 1: An Introduction to Social Media

  • Starting a blog
  • Using Facebook and LinkedIn for professional networking
  • Using Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter for marketing
  • Tips and tricks to get started quickly and effectively
  • Three ideas you (and your competition) haven’t tried yet
  • What not to do – common mistakes and how to avoid them

Session 2: Promoting your Social Media Efforts

  • How to promote a blog
  • RSS/Social bookmarking
  • SEO – Crafting effective headlines and tags, using XML sitemaps
  • Facebook groups and fan pages, LinkedIn user groups, Twitter tweets, FriendFeed

Session 3: Advanced Social Media Techniques

  • Creating custom blog templates
  • Developing Facebook apps
  • Plugins and more – bringing it all together
  • What’s next? Staying ahead of the curve
  • What to do when that’s not enough to beat your competition

Details:

  • Classes are taught in English
  • You do not need a laptop to attend
  • You will receive a cheshbonit mas

Cost:

  • NIS 250 for all three sessions
  • NIS 100 for a single session