Small, quick and very simple post this one – I;m just trying to find out if and other reviewers use markup (be it html, microformatting or anything else) to help improve the visibility of your reviews in google search engine ranking?
Doesn’t matter whether you review sex toys, nappies or gardening tools – if you write and publish reviews online there is a way to help make them stand out in google’s results and I’m trying to find out if people realise this. And a little more importantly I want to know if enough people are interested in this for me to take the time to write up a bit of a tutorial on how to go about adding the extra markup to your reviews to help you get your reviews seen – and after all if your reviews are read it can equal sales for your sponsors and possible comissions for you.
So if you’ve heard of them or use them I’d love to hear how useful you find it, or if you just want to know more let me know that too and I’ll work on creating a guide to adding the correct markup/metadata to your reviews.
And just to prove I’m not totally bonkers and that “review mark up” does exist you can read about it on google. It’s been around for a while but is only just beginning to really make a difference as the google algorithm updates get rolled out across the globe.
Adding extra functionality to your wordpress blog
WordPress is an impressive CMS1 with many already inbuilt functions but its true magnificence is that it is an open source platform upon which developers can create further options and features that simply “plug in” to wordpress. A little bit like the i phone and apps. Having an i phone is cool, but it’s the apps that make it even more useful. The same goes for wordpress.
**Note plug ins are for self hosted wordpress blogs, unfortunately you can’t add plug ins to free wordpress.com hosted blogs – sorry :(
Most of us bloggers are active on twitter and often our blogs and tweets become interwoven so adding tweet functions to wordpress are almost necessary. I’m just listing the one’s I like and use but many more add ons, widgets and other interactive programs are available for you to use.
Word Press Tweeter – You can set this up so that it uses your chosen template to tweet to your followers every time you publish a new post on your blog. You can also have it set to tweet every time you update a post – but for someone who makes as many typo’s as me you don’t want to fill your timeline with updated posts tweets!
Another twitter wordpress plug in you might be interested in if your blog is older than a year or so is Tweet Old Posts which will tweet about a post from within your archives. You can set how you want these posts chosen and other options from the plugins admin panel. A kind of cool way to share your older posts with new followers who may have missed them first time round. **EDIT** June 20th 2011: As Dangerous Lily so kindly pointed out in the comments below the Tweet Old Posts plugin appears to be not working and the authors site isn’t available. I am looking for another plugin that offers the same features and will update this post if & when I find one – I’m not having much luck though so if you have any suggestions please comment away.
Tweet Meme Re-Tweeter – This easy to configure plug in will add the re-tweet button (On my posts it should be in the upper right hand corner) to each of your blog posts to allow your readers to easily share a post with their twitter followers
Although I currently don’t use a plug in to display my tweets on my blog there are a number of good ones available, alternatively you could install one of twitters customisable widgets to your sidebar or footer to share your tweets in real time with your blog readers.
In Post Plugins
There are a lot of cool plugins that allow you to add extra content or offer extra features that can be included within your actual wordress blog posts.
One of the most handy and often used is WP_footnotes. This plug in allows you to add extra comments to a blog post that can be viewed by the reader hovering on or clicking the related number within the post2. The comment is also placed at the bottom of the post which the footnote link sends the reader to if they click the footnote indicator rather than just hovering over it.
Adding the footnote comments within the post is easy to do just by starting a comment with two opening brackets (.( and finishing it with two closing brackets ).)3 and it is by far one of my favourite and most useful plugins,
Recently I’ve discovered the WordPress Post Tabs plug in which allows you to add tabbed sections within your post. I haven’t gotten around to publishing a post using it but I’ve got a few almost written. I think it is a great way to be able to divide up the different sections of reviews – you can have a tab for general info, care & cleaning and any other sections you can think of. You can checkout the demo on the plug in page. If you don’t think the default look will work for your blog you can adjust the way the tabs look by tinkering with your css.
Another plugin that’s useful to both you and your readers is a related posts plugin. There are a lot of different ones out there all with different features. Some offer Images and links, others just print out post links of similar posts that might also interest your readers. As I’m not currently using one I’m not going to recommend & link to some random one, but you can go and search for a related posts plugin that will suit your exact needs from within your plugins menu of your dashboard or at the WordPress.org repository.4
Most sex toy reviewers regularly run giveaways and anyone who has done so using comments for tracking entries knows that it can be a bit of a headache, so can trying to track entries in a spreadsheet. If you don’t have a theme that assigns a number to each comment it’s even worse.
With the ‘And The Winner Is‘ plugin the only hassle is to ensure entry comments don’t end up in the spam folder. Once installed you just tick the plugins admin box when publishing the giveaway post and indicate the number of winners there will be. After the giveaway closes and you’ve double checked the spam folder it will choose a random winner from all of that post’s comments. It takes a whole lot of hassle out of the process of administering a sex toy giveaway!
For statistics, in my opinion anyway, you can’t beat wp-stats-dashboard. Like the name suggests it does produce a stats panel similar to the one you get with a wordpress.com blog – except this ones does so much more too. It tracks your visitors to display them as a handy graph with daily weekly & monthly totals being available for comparison.
It also tracks where visitors have come from, what they’ve searched for to find your blog as well as which links they’ve clicked from your blog. Some of the extra features of wp stats dashboard stats are that it also includes tracking for your Google PR, Alexa Ranking, # of twitter followers and about 20 other important metrics regarding your blog that are tracked and graphed by this full featured dashboard plugin. You can see just how many different metrics this plug in measures by checking out the screenshots.
You can download wp-stats-dashboard from the authors site or the wordpress.org repository and save the zip file to your hard drive then upload it via the plugins menu or you can simply search for it via your plugins menu.
The WP-125 plug in is possibly the one I’m asked about the most – It’s what I use to display the 125×125 pixel ads in my sidebar. It isn’t actually a discovery of mine, rather it came included with my theme (which is created by the folks at site5.com), but I strongly recommend it to anyone wishing to sell some advertising space on their blog as the 125 square format is incredibly popular.
With WP-125 you can style the ads however you like using css so that they will fit seamlessly into your theme. The plug in also tracks the number of clicks per ad as well as reminding you of when the ad is due to be renewed. I love that it allows you to have any empty ad spots link to a page or post that outlines your advertising policies. You can download it directly from the developer’s website, its page in the wordpress.org repository or you can search for it by name via your plug ins dashboard.
Another question I have for my fellow sex toy reviewing bloggers is that if there was a plug in that added a list to your sidebar of the items sitting in your queue awaiting review would you use it? It’s something I was thinking of writing but thought I’d see how many people would be interested first.
If you need help with any of these plugins feel free to leave a comment or send me an email
Where does it go?
Somedays it feels like I have all the time in the world, but then I see the front page of my blog and realise just how long it’s been since I published anything. Even longer still since I wrote a blog post with some kind of substance. It’s not that I don’t have things to write about – more that I scrutinise the things I’ve written and never feel they are good enough to make the grade and I can’t seem to find the time to finish them off.
From Incomplete reviews that need images added to them & tales of debauchery that need some polishing to posts on the best plugins to use with your wordpress blog – they are all sitting in my drafts folder gathering dust. There’s even an amazing but only half written post about the importance of late term abortions from a year ago… I just need to find some extra time to get them written or the courage to publish the ones that I don’t feel make the grade.
One of the perils of running your own blog is that you are responsible for all roles – writer, photographer, promoter, publisher and ultimately chief editor. I think the issue is that I don’t feel I have the ability to properly edit my own writing. Or maybe I just keep putting things in my own way to stop myself from succeeding. Things like my theme… I know I want a new theme and I’ve found “the one” I just need time to finish customising it so that it will suit me perfectly. I also need time to find a new host and move my site over.
My to do list is almost endless just for this blog let alone projects for clients and getting my design site set up – I need a never ending day or two so I can get everything on that list completed.
I guess I’m not 100% sure why I’m struggling with getting posts finished but if anyone feels like playing editor for me let me know. I’d also be interested in any tips for how to get some of these posts finished.
Hopefully now that my flatmate is home during the day I’ll at least have a 2nd pair of hands to help me get some cool photos for Wanton Wednesday – I really miss the fun of taking part in all the wantonness.
California Exotics moved into the premium sex toy market earlier this year with their new range of Vanity by Jopen products. And from the look of the Jopen website the VR line is just the start with the possible new brand names of ‘Simply Jopen‘ and ‘Euphoria‘ appearing in the menu beside the Vanity link. If the strength of the VR5 is anything to go by I’m excited to see what else they come up with for their new ‘Luxury’ brand.
Whilst other reviewers who have participated in the Cal Exotics Sexpert Program have only ever received products from the lower end of their ridiculously huge range of products I have to say that I’ve been very lucky in the random products that have been assigned to me. My Couture Collection Bliss egg is still, by far THE best egg style vibrator/ remote controlled vibrator I’ve come across! This month my good luck has continued as I received the Vanity VR5 from their new premium Jopen brand. Whilst the VR5 isn’t going to push my beloved Soraya out of her #1 spot, the VR5 is a nicely powerful dual stimulation vibrator.
The Important Info
Manufacturer: Jopen (by California Exotics)
Finish: Velvet like matte finish
Color: Deep purple-ish pink
Size: 17cm long with a maximum girth of 11cm. The clitoral arm is approx 4cm(1.5″) long with full flexibility able to turn a full 360°
Power Source: Re-chargeable, able to re-charge fully in 4hrs providing at least 2hrs of constant play. The VR5 features two separate motors, however the 2nd motor is located within the clitoral arm rather than the shaft as shown in this image
Controls: 2 buttons, one to control each of the dual motors, features instant off and travel lock option
Vibration Levels & Patterns: # of levels aren’t discernible as there are no definable, separate levels and no patterns are available, only the same continuously on vibration mode although the motors can be operated independently.
Lube Compatibility: Water based lubes are best as silicone or oil based may damage this toys velvety surface
Other Features: Waterproof, Clitoral arm makes it safe for anal use,Dual Motors that can be individually controlled. Comes with a 12 month warranty.
Price: Around the $150 mark
Like many of the other adult toys in the Jopen Vanity line the VR5 is a rabbit style vibrator… or rather a dual stimulation vibrator, as it (Thank God!!) doesn’t have any features that are in anyway similar to any animal or insect. It has an almost indefinable, somewhat blob like shape. Maybe you could compare it to an amoeba but I don’t mind toys that look like one celled organisms, it’s sex toys fashioned after actual animals I tend to dislike.1
With the whole new ‘Jopen’ brand Cal Exotics have done quite a number of things to raise the quality level above all other products they produce. They are all 100% Body Safe, Phthalate free silicone, with Eco Friendly rechargeable batteries and arrive with somewhat discreet packaging (at least in comparison to some other CalEx products) … but the seams and logos imprinted in the silicone are far from the high end finish you would expect from a top shelf product and its matching price tag.
Now the seams themselves aren’t too much of an issue,but they do point to what in my mind is a lack of attention to the details during the R&D process of these toys. I also find it kinda inexplicable as to why they needed to include raised logos on the actual body of the toy. I don’t need my high end vibrator to tell me on its body that it uses 5Volts of DC, Nor does it need to tell me not to dispose of it in the regular garbage or advertise that its a ‘Power Bullet™’ product – that’s what the instruction booklet that comes with upper class sex toys is for. I’m just guessing the heavily raised circle on the back of the shaft is so that blind people can tell where you plug the toy in as it really isn’t required. As I said though the seams etc aren’t all that big of a deal, I just kind of expected a little more from a toy within this premium category.
The thing they did get right though was the power!! With two separately controlled motors and a rechargeable battery it’s a bit of a power horse. The motor embedded within the G-Spot targeting shaft has a great rumbley, grumbley, deep throbbing characteristic to its vibrations and is quite remarkably quiet. The clitoral arm’s motor is quite a bit buzzier. I’m thinking this may very well be down to the small size of it. It puts out a little more of a high pitched vibration and sound, but it has managed to deliver more than one seriously intense orgasm.
It’s velvet-esque, matte finish means that the silicone creates even more drag than one would usually expect – so lube is an absolute MUST with this toy. I seriously recommend Astroglide’s Glycerine & Paraben free lube, its by FAR the best lube I’ve come across. It won’t damage your toys, nor will it cause you any of the nasty side effects such as thrush/yeast infections or other possible allergic reactions. When I’m using the VR5 I start to use it in a somewhat circular pattern. With my fingers on its base I roll it around in a circle kin of, a bit like I’m stirring a cake inside me2 which drives both my clit & G-Spot crazy. However as the surface causes so much drag I started to give myself a carpet burn style injury – thus lube is an absolute must.
The curve of the shaft and its bulging shape add to the pleasure but for me its the clitoral arm with its extra flexibility and devoted motor that make it rock my world. I’ve found that if my clit isn’t in the mood for the buzzy style vibes its getting from the extra arm it is just as easy & as pleasurable to use the much deeper resonating vibrations found at the tip of the shaft against it.
Now to the buttons. As I mentioned there are 2 – one for each motor. Pressing a button turns its corresponding motor on, holding it down allows its vibrations to rise in intensity – there aren’t any distinct levels, rather a smooth increase in strength. Press the button again and it has that great instant off switch that parents and people living in shared accommodation love. Only issue is that the handle portion of the toy is incredibly small- only an inch or so long, so right as you are just getting into your groove you accidentally bump one of the two buttons and that motor switches off. It has such a feather light trigger that it is almost impossible not to inadvertently switch it off right when you want to turn it up!! It is such an obvious issue that it’s just insane that it wasn’t rectified back in the R&D process, long before it was sent into production. Either make it so that you can’t accidentally turn it off with a single touch or make the handle portion longer so that they aren’t constantly being hit during even basic use!
The VR5 has given me some great orgasms but it has also ruined some potentially mind blowing ones!! I love its shape as well as the strong rumbley vibrations within the G-Spot targeting shaft, I love that it’s rechargeable and I completely adore the T-Shirt, Jersey fabric storage bag – but those two buttons are like the ‘Buttons ‘O DOOM’ killing prospective orgasms before they get a chance to live. If it weren’t for them I’d easily rate it a 4 or 4.5, but Buttons ‘O DOOM earn the VR5 only a three star rating from me
Despite the doom factor and earlier mentioned dislike for sex toys resembling multi celled creatures I am finding myself with a serious lust for the VR10 – its clitoral stimulator looks like a cross between a bunny rabbit or a butterfly sans wings. If you were to combine the strong, deep throbbing vibrations with the rotating shaft it would just send me to heaven… well as long as the VR10’s handle is long enough that you don’t hit the god damn buttons!!