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Using Tools, Widgets and Other Great Features of WordPress a Beginners Guide

why the blogosphereOnce you’ve installed WordPress and logged into your dashboard (also known as “admin panel”), you should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the features.

You may run into terminology (as well as features themselves) that are unfamiliar. The following are some of the most common features and terms:

– Themes: A blog theme is just another word for your blog design. WordPress comes with a default theme, which is fairly bland. However, you can find thousands of themes (both free and paid) simply by running a search in Google for “WordPress themes.”

You’re sure to find something that’s the perfect color, includes the perfect graphics and otherwise “fits” with your site. If not, many of these themes are customizable. That means if you find one that’s close to what you want but not exactly, you can tweak it.
Alternatively, you can hire a WordPress theme designer and coder to create an exclusive theme according to your specifications.

– Plugins: Plugins are tools that give your WordPress blog more features, benefits and functionality.

The reason plugins exist is because the WP developers realized that if they included every cool feature possible in WP’s core, the software would become “bloatware.” Plus, most people would have no need for all the additional tools.

The solution? All these additional tools are separate. That way you can just install and use the ones you really want, and ignore the others.

Now, there are plenty of plugins you can use. Some of the best ones are the sitemap tools, the anti-spam tools, the SEO-related tools, the monetization-related tools and a whole lot more.

– Widgets: Widgets work the same as plugins, in that they give you more flexibility and functionality on your WordPress blog. The difference, however, is that widgets reside on the sidebar of your WordPress blog, which is why they’re often referred to as “sidebar accessories.”

The other catch is that only WP themes that are “widget enabled” will allow you to install and use these tools.

– Posts: A post is the content you submit to your blog. It could be an article, a link to something interesting, short commentary on someone else’s blog post, etc.

– Categories: When you post, you can post to a certain category of your blog – that is, a specific subtopic on your blog. These subtopics help you organize your blog better, helps your readers find what they’re looking for, and can even help your search engine rankings.

– Comments: When you make a post, you have the option of enabling comments for your posts. Just as the name implies, enabling comments gives your visitors the ability to comment on and discuss your post. And that makes your blog “sticky,” as readers will return repeatedly just to watch the discussion unfolding.

– Tag: A tag is just another name for a keyword. You can use tags to help your blog readers find posts that they’re interested in. for example, if they search your blog for a particular keyword, then every

post that includes that keyword – either in the content itself or as a tag – will turn up in their search results.

In addition, tags are useful for search engine purposes. If you use certain keywords in your content, in the title of your post, and then again as a tag, it may help with your ranking for that keyword.

Finally, tags are useful for when you notify blog directories (like Technorati.com) that you’ve updated your blog. Blog directory users often search for posts that interest them using post tags, so choosing the right tags can increase your traffic.

Which brings me to the next term:
– Pinging: Pinging has multiple meanings in blogging. You may hear about a “pingback,” which is similar to a trackback in that you notify another blogger that you’ve discussed his article on your blog.

More commonly, however, you’ll hear bloggers talking about “pinging” a blog directory. This is when you inform a blog directory or search engine that you’ve made a new post… that way they can send a bot to crawl your site and index this new post.
You can ping the top blog directories with one click using a free service like pingomatic.com. However, if you’re using WordPress, then you don’t need to use those services. That’s because WP automatically pings the directories the moment you post.

– RSS: RSS refers to “Really Simple Syndication,” and it comes standard with WordPress. The benefit is that people who have RSS readers can subscribe to your blog “feed.” Whenever you make a new post on your blog, the updated feed is sent to the person’s RSS feed reader – that means they can read your blog comment from their desktop, without the need for actually visiting your site.

In addition to giving individuals the ability to subscribe to and read your blog in another format, RSS allows you to share your content with other websites. If they have a feed reader on their site, they can pull your content into your site (with your permission, of course). (That’s where the Really Simple Syndication name originates.) Here is a list of free blog and rss directories that you can submit your feed to.

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