WordPress plugin : Google XML Sitemaps 4.0 significant changes

One of the most popular WordPress plugins – Google XML Sitemap – has recently been upgrade to version 4.0, with some significant changes.  Here is the quote from the changelog:

New in Version 4.0 (2014-03-30):

  • No static files anymore, sitemap is created on the fly!
  • Sitemap is split-up into sub-sitemaps by month, allowing up to 50.000 posts per month!
  • Support for custom post types and custom taxonomis!
  • 100% Multisite compatible, including by-blog and network activation.
  • Reduced server resource usage due to less content per request.
  • New API allows other plugins to add their own, separate sitemaps.
  • Note: PHP 5.1 and WordPress 3.3 is required! The plugin will not work with lower versions!
  • Note: This version will try to rename your old sitemap files to *-old.xml. If that doesn’t work, please delete them manually since no static files are needed anymore!

Quinico web insights

Quinico web insights

Quinico is an open source web application designed to help you easily improve your website’s performance, reduce errors and optimize for search engines (SEO).  Quinico can constantly monitor your websites and alert you when there is a problem that requires attention.  Using Quinico, you can automate the continual tracking, reporting and alerting of the following:

  • Google search engine rankings of all of your important keywords (supports all google domains and languages)
  • Google Pagespeed metrics including suggestions for improvement (mobile and desktop strategies)
  • Page weight breakdown (mobile and desktop strategies)
  • SEO url metrics (utilizing SEOMoz)
  • Webpagetest performance metrics (including first and repeat views)
  • Google webmaster metrics (keyword impressions/clicks, crawl errors, top search queries)

Website traffic, the learning curve

I’ve built plenty of websites over the years.  Some – from scratch, others – mere customizations and adaptation of someone else’s work.  But when it came to web promotion, I’ve usually handed it over to someone else.  Don’t get me wrong – I have a pretty good idea about how these things work, but I didn’t keep up and I haven’t practiced in a long while.

Currently, I am involved in the project, where the web promotion bit is my responsibility.  Until the project grows and earns enough to hire a professional.  So I’m using it as a platform to refresh my knowledge, catch up with current trends, tools, and techniques, and to try out a few ideas of mine own.  It is an interesting experience.

One thing I like is that the website is brand new on a very young domain with no previous history.  The A/B testings and statistics cuts are very clean.  There is an opportunity to measure the effects of this or that campaign with a lot of precision and no interference from any other traffic sources.

A lot has changed since I did it the last time.  One thing that amazes me is how dirt cheap the web traffic is these days.  I mean that when I first went in to buy some, I had a price in my head.  I paid less and I got more than I expected.  Then I studied it for a few days and got a way better price.  Then I tried something else and got an even better price.  I’m sure I’m not at the end of the tunnel yet either.

Of course, this is a random, not targeted, pretty much not convertable traffic.  But it does have its pros this early in the game, and given the price – it’s well worth it.  Even with that I’ve got more conversions than I hoped for.

Let me mention it once again – I am pretty much a newbie in the practical terms of this.  If you have any advice or any resources that you think might help me out – please share and let me know.  Once I get a better hand of it, I’ll share my thoughts and experiences too.  Right now though it’s too embarrassing to do so.

Content authorship is a new cool

Here is a quote directly from Google’s Inside Search blog:

We now support markup that enables websites to publicly link within their site from content to author pages. For example, if an author at The New York Times has written dozens of articles, using this markup, the webmaster can connect these articles with a New York Times author page. An author page describes and identifies the author, and can include things like the author’s bio, photo, articles and other links.

If you run a website with authored content, you’ll want to learn about authorship markup in our help center. The markup uses existing standards such as HTML5 (rel=”author”) and XFN (rel=”me”) to enable search engines and other web services to identify works by the same author across the web. If you’re already doing structured data markup using microdata from schema.org, we’ll interpret that authorship information as well.


We know that great content comes from great authors, and we’re looking closely at ways this markup could help us highlight authors and rank search results.

In simple terms, this means that you should make sure that all your content – no matter where it is published – identifies you as an author.  This will help link all your content together, create your author profile, and use that as yet another criteria in ranking and searching.  Those of you publishing with WordPress shouldn’t worry at all – adding authorship is either already done or will take a minor modification to the theme. WordPress provided both author pages and XFN markup out of the box for years.

Can you handle the popularity?

Looking around the blogosphere, I see more and more bloggers who work really hard on promoting their sites.  They optimize their themes for Google, submit blog to all sorts of directories, share links to their best content via social networks, microblog, and comment all around the web.
Well, that’s all fine.  But here is the questions – can they handle the popularity?

I’ve been thinking about it before, but it came all to me suddenly yesterday and today.  One of my recent posts got submitted to reddit.com and it somehow it went through to the main page of the site, and from there got aggregated via RSS to a lot of other places.  Within 24 hours, my blog received more than 20,000 views.  Compared to an average day, which brings much under a thousand, that’s a lot.

This sounds like a dream come true for any blogger, no?  Well, it is, sort of.  But.  Consider the other side of the story, which is not so obvious from the first glance:

  • My hosting company handled the spike really well – no complaints or disconnections.  Not all hosting companies are created equal.
  • Commenting form on my blog was broken at the time of the spike.  It was down the whole spike duration.
  • There were about 500 comments posted in the reddit.com thread.
  • I’ve received almost 100 emails.
  • When commenting form got fixed, I got another dozen or so comments, plus another SPAM wave along with it.

If you imagine for a moment all that coming upon you in the middle of the working week, you’ll see a problem.  Who and how should respond to all that?

I’ve spent half a day today talking with my hoster about the commenting form.  Gladly it got fixed (the problem was session misconfiguration on the hosting company side).  Then I needed some time to respond to all those emails. In the meantime I quickly reviewed and approved all comments in the moderation queue.  That pretty much ate my day, together with some things I managed to slide in at work.

Later in the evening, when my family went to sleep, I actually read all the comments and responded to a few.  I also read through most comments at reddit.com .  Can I reply to any of those?  Nope.  That’s out of my resources.  I can’t handle all the traffic that came in.

Can you?  What will happen to your server if you’ll get digged or slashdotted?  How can you moderate all the comments?  How can you handle replies?  What about comments at other places – blogs, forums, and social networks that brought you in the traffic?  Do you have any moderators on standby?  Do you have any monitoring setup (Google Alerts, coComment, etc) for remote discussions about your content?

If you aren’t thinking about those things while promoting your blog, you are in for a big surprise…