Simple Tags WordPress Plugin

I’ve stopped using categories for the most part, at least temporarily, as I’ve started to adopt tagging more. This is a more intuitive way of organizing my posts, I think. I used to use delicious a lot, but since I realized I could use my blog for almost all of the exact same purposes by making better use of the WordPress tagging feature, I’ve transmuted that same energy into blog posts. Suddenly I’ve realized I actually have a lot of blogging material.

So when I first started doing this I asked myself the obvious question: OK, these tags are great, but is there a way to make them awesome? So I started looking around for plugins that augment the behavior of WordPress’ tags just to see what is available. What I found is that, seemingly, SimpleTags is the undisputed heavy-weight.

SimpleTags Features:

  • Allows pages to be tagged.
  • Suggests tags via: Yahoo! Term Extraction API, OpenCalais, Alchemy, Zemanta, Tag The Net, Local DB. (All of which I know nothing about)
  • Allows you to auto link tags into post content. This means if you tag “WordPress” on a post, every time you mention “WordPress” within the post it will become a link to all the other posts with the wordpress tag in them.
  • Allows you to automatically include tags in your meta keywords.
  • Allows a related posts section to posts, and optionally, the feed as well. Usually I use contextual related posts, but this is pretty cool and seems functional.
  • Gives you access to a customizable tag cloud that can be inserted into the template, or within posts and pages.

This plugin is very customizable, and might be a keeper: Get SimpleTags

Linkbait and the Incredibly Virality of Infographics

An interesting phenomenon in some of the popular social news aggregators like Reddit, and Digg is the appearance of infographics. Well-designed infographics are like crack to Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon users. (Actually, while StumbleUpon is not my expertise — perhaps this is even more true of StumbleUpon since pictures do well over there). Basically the formula is interesting facts + visually stunning digital art = viral insanity.

To illustrate this point I’m going to share a number of infographics, which also serves to familiarize you in the overall format and common themes.

  1. A friend of mine put this infographic together – 12 facts about bottled water (PIC)2,190 Reddit votes. Bonus: This one has very thorough criticism by the Reddit community, despite being so successful.
  2. Striking Infographic: Tallest Mountains to Deepest Trench (Gives good sense of Deepwater Horizon drilling depth)1,618 Reddit votes. This one got posted and was successful, twice (with the second post getting ~280 votes)
  3. how to spot a concealed weapon. Infographic710 Reddit Votes.
  4. Which Health Supplements Are Backed by Science?[Infographic]1078 Reddit Votes. This one also, interestingly enough, had another interactive, presumably flash based version which I didn’t see on the front page — though it may have also hit. It occurs to me that the links in the comments to the other versions may have also been placed there by someone who knew the content producer.
  5. 1 Pixel = 1 Million Dollars. [Infographic]811 Reddit Votes.
  6. Music sales on different media types. [Infographic]322 Reddit Votes. This one was produced by the New York Times. Cool.
  7. Europes Web of Debt [Infographic] – 325 Reddit Votes
  8. How to predict the weather (Infographic)434 Reddit Votes

One of the more salient features that seem to be important that I notice is that data is represented graphically to scale at every opportunity. Another is that on many sites (the smart ones) they offer the opportunity to put the infographic on your own site, so long as you use the code they provide you, which then links to their site — hence, the term linkbait.

Anything with more than 600 votes is like… insane on fire, and almost certainly means it exploded on at least one other major site. Above 1,000 is beyond my knowledge with the exception of rumored sick level of virality (i.e. 100,000+ unique visitors — never seen this level personally). Often times things pertaining to important global events is what can rock these huge numbers. I’ve heard Twitter trending topics is another good place for ideas.

Make sure to also read my post describing the aftermath of a Digg front page hit. … and also check out The Oatmeal — a popular webcomic that launched his career largely via websites like Digg and Reddit. He’s since gone on national TV, published a comic book, and also been hired by Reddit for illustrations.

Update: I ran across this page giving infographic design tips and examples! Check it out!

What is the “Digg Effect” Like?

The “Digg Effect” has been something of legends among some web development communities. It’s been known to crash websites, and this is what the term actually specifically refers to usually.

Speaking first hand (as of approximately a month ago at the time of this post) I can say with certainty now that a website on shared hosting, and the wp-supercache plugin installed for wordpress (which I mentioned in my top plugins for wordpress post) can survive it. I was very pleased with how wordpress held up under the stress in this arrangement.

Actual Traffic Screenshot (from Google Analytics)

As can be seen in the image just two days before the website had 0 visits, and then shortly after an initial surge which ended up totaling about 34,000 visits over the stretch! Pretty good! Not so impressive is the attention span of the average visit — the traffic only stayed for an average of fourteen seconds. Not very long. What is notable, however, is the traffic does continue for a long number of days after that having a steady slow stream which is far better than baseline was with the very last day totalling about 34 unique visits. This probably had much to do with the enormous number of facebook shares, reblogs, etc., and a general slight SEO/boost in the search engines, which I briefly mentioned in my backlinking tips post.

Viral Side Effects from Digg

This was some of my favorite parts of the traffic. Many of these visits were strictly side effects from people viewing the site from Digg, then immediately sharing it on facebook or twitter. This was made particularly easy for them by intelligent placement of share buttons.

Interesting to note that while Reddit was responsible for more than 20% of the traffic, pulling in over 7,000 visits, you can see the actual vote count on the post from Reddit is relatively low at 33 upvotes. The amount of traffic Reddit delivers is very specific to the actual subreddit submitted to (in this case reddit.com/r/pics). Having seen the amount of traffic just 33 votes can get you on Reddit, if you use a little imagination you might be able to come up with your own numbers on what kind of traffic infographics that get several hundred votes get.

The only two sites that did not pull in a lot of traffic was StumbleUpon and Google Buzz. StumbleUpon is notorious for being unpredictable and in some circumstances dumping far more traffic than even Digg and all of the others.