Meeting the Public: Comments and Links
The next two panels, right below Right Now, concern the lifeblood of any blog: comments and external links. You’ll never forget the first time someone comments on one of your blog posts, and you’ll be thrilled when you find the first Web site not run by you that’s linking to your blog.
Recent Comments panel
As you might expect, the Recent Comments panel (Figure 4.4) displays recent comments that folks have left on your blog. It also alerts you to any comments that are awaiting moderation. The pound sign (#) is a link directly to that comment. You can also click the See All link in the top-right corner to manage all the comments on your blog.
Figure 4.4 Recent Comments are displayed in this panel.
Incoming Links panel
The Incoming Links panel (Figure 4.5) is a great way to see what other people are saying about your blog on their blogs. This feature uses Google Blog Search to see what blogs are linking to yours and reports back to you. When you first install WordPress, there won’t be any links to your blog, so your panel will look like Figure 4.5. As you start to blog, though, you’ll start to build your audience, and people will start linking to you. It won’t happen overnight, but with some work, it’ll happen sooner than you think.
Figure 4.5 Incoming Links tells you how many people are (or aren’t) linking to your blog.
Clicking the See All link opens a new browser window or tab to a Google Blog Search for your blog’s URL. This way, you see all the blogs linking back to your blog—not just those in the panel.
You can customize this panel to a degree by clicking the Edit link. When you do, the panel expands as you see in Figure 4.6.
Figure 4.6 You can plug in the RSS feed of your favorite blog search engine here and make the Incoming Links panel display what you want to see.
You can set the following options in the expanded Incoming Links panel:
- RSS feed: By default, this panel uses Google Blog Search. But if you prefer to use another search engine that provides an RSS feed of results, you can enter the URL of its RSS feed here. (I discuss RSS feeds in more detail in Chapter 5.)
- Number of items to display: Choose the number you want from the drop-down menu. You can display 1 item to 20 items.
- Display date: If you check this check box, the date of the link appears alongside the link itself.
- Subscribe to feed: The RSS link and orange RSS icon in the top-right corner of the panel allow you to subscribe to this panel’s results in your favorite newsreader. That way, you’ll know the moment anyone links to one of your brilliant posts (which will happen often; I can tell just by the way you read).
Whatever you do in this panel, click Save when you’re done to tell WordPress to accept your changes.