Reasons to write blog excerpts

When you write blog excerpts you provide your readers a straight to the point summary and a reason to click-through to read the full post.

1. Write Blog Excerpts So They Appear On Archives

If your WordPress theme is set up to use excerpts you can craft a few sentences that will provide readers a snippet of what the post is about.

The problem with having a theme setup to use excerpts but then not write one, is that all the paragraphs run together when the excerpt is displayed. That’s because WordPress will grab the first 240 characters or so from your blog post and use it as an excerpt if none is available.

  • excerpts appear in category archives and search results
  • write blog excerpts to influence your readers to click-through
  • make searching and scanning easier for readers

Below is an example from this blog where I have used some HTML to format the excerpt and provide a to the point summary on what the post is about.

excerpt
In this example I used HTML in my excerpt to create paragraphs and line breaks

2. A well crafted excerpt can also be your meta description

An excerpt can be longer than a meta description so be careful what you write. The first 140 characters is all that will show in search engine results, making your first sentence the most important.

Where to write blog excerpts

excerpt-dialogue-box

To add an excerpt use the “Excerpt” dialogue box under the editor in WordPress. A sentence or two is fine and you can use HTML in the excerpt to make it readable.

The difference between a Meta Description and an Excerpt

If you write a meta description it will become the excerpt when sharing on Facebook or LinkedIn, not your excerpt. If you don’t write a meta description or an excerpt the first few sentences from the post are used and it all runs together with no styling.

excerpt-applied
Excerpt and meta description from my Open Book series page as it appears when shared on Facebook

The excerpt will appear with a thumbnail image along with the title and a link to the rest of the article.

It is good practice to write blog excerpts, it will help you focus and stay on topic when writing the full post. An excerpt can be used as the basis to write a meta description and will help your readers find what they are looking for faster. For these reasons what you write for your excerpt is important.

Create meaningful hyperlinks

Best practices to create meaningful hyperlinks and links to PDFs

By using appropriate link text you will create meaningful hyperlinks to internal and external web pages. Use these guidelines for linking to non-web documents such as PDF’s and email addresses.

Create meaningful hyperlinks

create-meaningful-hyperlinks
This is NOT a meaningful hyperlink
  • Links should describe what users can expect to find when they click on the link.
  • Use short, concise link titles. Links should not exceed 60 characters.
  • Avoid using “click here.” Visually impaired visitors often use auditory browsers, which will read the text aloud rather than display it visually so the link should have meaning when read out of context.
  • Do not use URLs as link text. Not only can URL’s from other sites be long, they can be difficult to read.

Text you can use to create a link title:

  • The name of the site the link leads to (if different from the current site).
  • Details about the information on the linked page and how it relates to the context of the current page. For example: to view the tutorial on creating links, see Artbiz’s WordPress tutorials.
  • A specific action, such as “Sign up for my newsletter”

Internal and external links

An internal link is any page that exists on your website.

An external link is any web page that exists outside of your website.

Open web pages in the same browser window. Most people rely on their Back button to go back to where they were, they can become confused when it appears grayed out, so they close the browser entirely. For this reason, open web pages in same browser window.

PDFs and non-web documents – open in a new window

pdf
Visitors can become confused when links to non-web documents offer a different user experience than that of standard web pages.

Usability studies find that when people are finished viewing PDF files or other non-web documents, they clicked the window’s close box instead of the Back button. If the document wasn’t launched in a new window, they have left the site completely.

Guidelines for linking to non-web documents:

  • Open non-web documents in a new browser window.
  • Warn users in advance that a new window will appear.
  • Use the following format, only linking the document title to the file:
    • Sample Guideline Document (PDF – 16 kB) opens in new window
    • Application Form (DOC – 3 MB) opens in new window
  • To open files in a new window, select the ‘Open in new window’ option in the WordPress hyperlink dialogue box.
  • Keep file names under 20 characters

Email links

Outlook-Email-SetupEmail addresses should be spelled out and hyperlinked when they are to open an email client. Clicking an email link and having a new page open with a form is misleading. Make it clear the link is an email link. For example:

If you want to direct people to your contact information contained on a contact page, tell them so. For example:

In conclusion:
By using the appropriate text to create meaningful hyperlinks visitors will understand what information the hyperlink may contain. Links that do what visitors expect them to do will increase the usability of your website.

This is the fourth of 4 articles dedicated to writing good content. To read the others follow these links:
Web Page Writing Tips
Scanning Web Pages
Using Web Page Heading Titles and Headlines

How to use Excerpts and Read More Tags

There are two ways to create summaries of blog posts; excerpts and read more tags. The results are quite different depending on the styling and coding of your WordPress theme. In this article I show visual examples of both and explain how to use Excerpts and Read More Tags

How the Read More Tag works

The Read More tag is added to the content at a place of your choosing. The tag is added in the visual editor of WordPress.

read-more-tag

Simply place your mouse cursor where you want the tag to appear and click the icon shown in the image above. Once inserted into the content it looks like the image below.

more-tag
Once inserted on the page it looks like this

Once the tag has been inserted it appears similar to the image below on the live site. When clicked the link takes the reader to the rest of the article.

read-more-tag
More tag linked to the rest of the article on the live site

What I like about the read more tag is that it maintains the post formatting, showing the full size feature image, the meta data and comment links at the bottom of the post.

The Read More tag is useful if you have long articles and your reading settings are set to show a number of posts on a page. This reduces the amount of scrolling and exposes your readers to more of your posts.

When using the read more tag it is important that the first few sentences provide the essence of the article because this will be what influences your readers to click-through.

How Excerpts Work

When you write blog excerpts for your posts you are providing your readers a teaser. These words can be quite different from the open sentences of the post.

If your WordPress theme is coded to use excerpts you can craft an excerpt otherwise use the Read More Tag as explained above.

The excerpt is a content summary, use this opportunity to influence your readers and give them a reason to click-through and read the entire article.

excerpt
Custom crafted excerpt

The excerpt will appear with a thumbnail rather than the full size image, along with the title and a link to the rest of the article, as shown in the image above.

Under the editor you’ll find the “excerpt” dialogue box. Write your excerpt here. You can use HTML to provide some styling to your excerpt.

excerpt-dialogue-box
The excerpt dialogue box is under the visual editor

Either way you chose to summarize your blog posts the important thing to remember is that it’s the opening sentence for the read more tag and the excerpt itself that are MOST IMPORTANT words. Chose your words wisely and you will have also created a meta description for search engines.

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Schedule WordPress Posts to Auto Publish

One of the keys to a successful blog is consistency. If you’re anything like me you produce a number of articles in one sitting (or two). Well you can’t publish them all at once but you can schedule WordPress posts to auto publish.

Reasons why you may want to schedule your posts to publish automatically on the dates and times you choose.

1. You’re going on vacation.
2. You much rather be in your studio knowing your blog is taken care of (to a point, see below).
3. An unforeseen event happens and you forgot to publish your post but your email was scheduled and now your link to the post is broken.

Here is how to schedule WordPress posts to auto publish in 3 easy steps.

Schedule WordPress Posts to Auto Publish

1. While your post is in “draft” stage and before you actually click the big blue publish button, click the edit link next to the “publish immediately” text. The schedule form will appear.

2. Select a month from the drop down menu and then enter your date and time, even the year. The time is in the 24 hour military clock. For example, if you want to publish at 7:00 in the evening you enter 19:00.

3. Click the Schedule button and you’re done.

Now that you have scheduled your WordPress posts to auto publish don’t forget that you still have to check in and reply to comments. 

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Tricks and Tips for Using WordPress Menus

My clients questions are a constant source of blog post inspiration. Frances Vettergreen inspired this tutorial when she asked;

“I’d like to group the menu selections for the art and the info (statement, cv etc); is there a way to insert a space in there?

In other words what Frances wants to do is this:

Featured
Current Work
Small Fruit
Plein Air
By Series
Bio/CV
Statement
Contact
Blog

With a space to separate her texts and portfolios. In essence insert a space between By Series and Bio/CV.

Here are 3 tricks and tips for using WordPress Menus to accomplish what Frances what’s to do.

OPTION 1

With WordPress Menus you can create as many menus as you like. Using WordPress Widgets you can add menus to your sidebar or any widget area using the Custom Menu widget.

There’s only one draw back to using the menu widget to split your main navigation. Often the widgets style (font sizes and colours) could be different from the styling of the main navigation. They are in Artbiz themes in order to apply importance to elements.  Your menu could look like the image below, not ideal.

menu2

OPTION 2

This option keeps the menu styling the same for all items.

To do this create a custom menu item and change the label to an underscore or another symbol to break the line. Once it is added to the menu open it and remove the link.

menu3

On the live site it looks like this…better. The styling of all the menu items remains consistent.

menu

OPTION 3

Simulate nesting by indenting with a keyboard symbol. For example…
menu-example
This is so simple, you’re going to wonder why you never thought of this.

Inside your WordPress admin go to Appearance > Menus and select your main menu.

Each menu item expands down by clicking the downward arrow in the top right corner.

Under “Navigation Label” type in a keyboard symbol. Ideas could be…
: Featured
:: Current Work
~ Small Fruit
– Plein Air
| By Series

Portfolio and Texts can be dummy parents, meaning they are menu items with the links removed. To do this add a custom menu item to the menu and then once it’s in there open it and remove the link. To further differentiate PORTFOLIOS and TEXTS could be all capitals.

There’s a full tutorial on menus including the steps to make a dummy parent at https://artbiz.ca/school/appearance-options/create-and-manage-wordpress-menus/

The label does not have to be the exact page title that you entered in the editor. As the example below shows, I shortened the label and added a title attribute which is a tool tip that appears when a visitor hovers over the menu item.

menus

There you have 3 tricks & tips for using WordPress Menus. Which option do you like the best?

How to Delete the Admin user in WordPress

Notification – Global Brute Force Attack on the admin user in WordPress

About a week ago a major network of remotely controlled machines across the world started to actively scan for all WordPress that may have weak administration passwords. This caused outages, slowness, and site access issues for some.

As long as you don’t use “admin” as a username you should be okay. Artbiz Client’s don’t have “admin” as a username.

Make sure passwords are not a word based, totally random, and long over 14 chars with upper, lower cases, symbols and numbers.

How to delete the admin user in WordPress and create a new admin user account.

To be on the safe side download a backup of your content first. Under Tools > Export select all and save to your computer.

Create the new user account first

  1.  Login with your “admin” username.
  2.  Go to Users > Add New
  3. Create a new admin user account with a strong user name that will be hard to guess. This means DO NOT use your name if it is the title of your site. I use a combo of my 3 pet’s names for example.
  4. Create a strong password that is a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols at least 14 characters in length.
  5. Make sure you provide administrative rights to the new use
  6. Enter a Nickname that will display publicly as the author of your posts.

Deleting the admin user

  1. After you create the new user account with administrative privileges – log out.
  2. Log back in using the new credentials
  3. Navigate back to Users > All Users
  4. Under the user “admin” click delete
  5. On the next screen you will be prompted to attribute all the posts under the admin user to someone else. Select your new user account.
  6. Click the Confirm Deletion button
  7. Viola bad user name be gone.

That’s it. Any Questions?

More information on securing WordPress

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