What a difference 24 hours make.
A few days ago I was honestly prepared to rip a product to shreds. It wasn’t that it was a bad product, but it wasn’t as well prepared as it should have been, and from what I can tell it was due to an honest communication error between a well respected online marketer and his programming team.
But before I talk about the product itself, I am going to give you a little history lesson.
A few years ago I purchased a script called WordPress Elite. It was pretty useful, and allowed you to point the software at a server, and create WordPress blogs based on a default configuration plus you could select various parameters.
I even sold a couple of copies as an affiliate.
It didn’t do everything, you still had to log into the WordPress blog and activate the plugins, configure them etc, and at the time I was an SEO newbie… some would say I still am ;)
The marketer however sold the business, and the new owner didn’t do anything with it. He got some new subscribers. He asked the list once for new features, then nothing was released, and the script never really supported 2.x very well.
WordPress Super Installer
I managed to pick this up really cheap when it was first released, and I soon forgot that WordPress Elite was going through some teething problems.
Unfortunately development pretty much stopped at the beginning of 2007.
First, as with any newly released version of software (including wsi) there are bugs and anomalies that need to be worked out before the version is completely stable. I know one bug in particular reported to WordPress about v2.1 is it’s lack of compliance with the xmlrpc standard. Xmlrpc is what most of the blog content auto-posters use to post content to your blogs via remote methods (as apposed to logging in a posting something manually).
Though the newest version of WordPress may have some advantages over the previous versions, I don’t feel for the sake of building blog farms to achieve back links to your money sites that it makes sense to quickly jump on-board a new version, just for the sake of having a new version.
The last update I received from Randy Rhodes (not Randi from Air America) was at the end of July 2007.
WordPress 2.0.x is still maintained because it needs to be for Debian inclusion, thus if you don’t need all the fancy features of WordPress 2.1 or above, it is still a good choice, especially if you are fed up of things breaking all the time, or have tons of WordPress blogs to maintain.
There are other scripts out there, plus various services that promise to install WordPress on your behalf. I must admit I am not that keen on forking out more money, changing business processes, and then for another script development to grind to a halt.
I would never trust an automated service to install WordPress packages for me. There are a few cropping up again, there have been a few in the past, but why reveal all your niche sites to a 3rd party hiding behind a website, even if you trusted them to do the installation, and have access to your server.
If you are not too reliant on 10s of plugins, you can get by just creating WordPress packages. Include a set of standard plugins and themes that you have tweaked, upload, switch on the plugins, and configure them to your liking.
Or you can create a process, and pay someone else to do it for you.
SEO Optimized WordPress Package
Jeff Johnson has just released a special package for WordPress SEO
The installation is painless
Setup your database as always
Edit your config as always
Enter your blog name and email address
Select a theme
So what is done for you?
Plugin settings (though I am not sure how much they differ from default)
Shall we coin a new phrase… the “4 Ps”
The themes are also relatively well optimized, so you have H1s where they should be
WordPress SEO Plugins Installed
All In One SEO Pack
Google XML SiteMaps
Sociable (the new official version with nofollow)
also Akismet and Simple Captcha
Why Was I Going To Slam It?
This problem was exasperated by many of the themes Jeff Johnson decided to include in the package, some optimized themes from MyType.com who basically take fairly average WordPress themes, optimized them a little, and then stick 5 spammy links in the footer to various pages on their domain, many seem to be paid client blogs.
(disclaimer: MyType.com currently rank first for WordPress SEO and I have a post blocked by robots.txt ranking on the same page – it is not exactly a competitive search term, doesn’t bring much traffic, but it probably takes 100s of spammy theme links to rank for it now)
In addition Jeff had included a few links on the default blogroll, and a badge in the sidebar.
When you added up the total number of external links per page, and it came to 14 without the WordPress default links etc, it couldn’t really be looked at as a good recommendation for SEO, especially if people download it who are less experienced.
So I emailed Jeff, and within a few hours I had a reply that it was going to be fixed. I think I may have been the only one who was concerned.
It Is Not Perfect
I don’t like some of the sites on the pinglist they use – lots of .jp sites – my personal pinglist for “quality” blogs consists of just one site, Feedburner, and I let them handle the pings to other places.
sidenote: I keep seeing Pingoat listed on ping lists – last time I checked Pingoat hadn’t been accepting pings for 18 months, maybe that is now closer to 2 years. Web pings only. Maybe John Reese when he purchased the site switched that function back on and didn’t tell anyone (such as update the Pingoat blog) – looking at recently updated blogs on Pingoat, it seems like the Poles might be using a script to spam the hell out of it.
I would use a different plugin selection, though I am sure the version of WordPress Jeff provides to his clients has a more comprehensive feature set. That being said, you really want to minimise plugin use if you are hosting a lot of blogs on a single server.
The themes are better than the originals, though you might want to look for replacements.
As they stand, if lots of people use this WordPress version for blog farms and datafeed sites, they have a bit of a heavy footprint. They still have a lot of nofollow links in the footer, plus 2 blogroll links and a banner
It Is A Time Saver
Even as it stands, for an experienced WordPress users it represents a time saver, and for someone less experienced who has problems with the basic steps of setting up plugins, permalinks etc it is a good resource, especially if the package gets improved over time.
Jeff is providing lots of instructional videos on how to install the package, though effectively it is the same as any WP installation. He does recommend using this only for new blogs, though there is a procedure that can be used for existing sites.
It Is Free
Whilst I started off with some real concerns, what concerns remain can be cured with very simple hacking. I expect this to be well maintained.
Thanks Jeff, great value for money – download it here.
p.s. I am not sure how long Jeff will have this available. It is just one of many things he is providing free of charge as part of a product launch, and these bonuses tend to disappear from public display once a launch has completed.
My advise would be to download it and test it on a few spare domains, tweak it for your own use and feed the blogs you create with some content.