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WordPress (part 1)

WordPress (part 1)

One question that seems to crop up all the time concerns marrying AOM to WordPress.  I just want to briefly discuss some ‘hot-to’ and ‘not-to’ situations concerning making these two systems work together.

The first point I want to emphasize is that Associate-O-Matic is not a plugin for WordPress. I see a lot of questions come into support that seem to think of AOM as some sort of module. It is of course, a standalone application, much like WP itself. While there is an AOM plugin for WP, that is designed to send data from the store to a blog.

Following on from that, most of the difficulty people experience is from trying to encapsulate AOM into a blog. It can be done, often with an <iframe>; however the use of frames generally creates SEO difficulties. It can act like a firewall, insulating the site from search engine spiders. You would have to depend on the overall ranking of the blog to carry the store, as far as page rank. This may actually help with things like duplicate content, but it does put more burden on generating original content instead. So if you consider SEO ranking for your store an important consideration, this may not be the approach for you.

But even if you accept that sort of limit, you may take another SEO hit by not being able to use AOM‘s mod_rewrite feature.

WordPress and AOM both use .htaccess files, which contain mod_rewrite rulesets designed to clean up the URLs and make them more accessible to humans, and more attractive to search engines. WP does it automatically, and there are many plugins that will improve the process. With AOM, it’s done under the SEO tab. The problem is that the rules for each program are totally incompatible; neither program will work as expected under the rules for the other one. Also, WordPress tends to just stick the rules it needs into any existing .htaccess file it finds. If you’ve already got Associate-O-Matic installed, then you may find your store suddenly stops working. With AOM as a subdirectory of a blog, the .htaccess may be ignored completely. So having one as the subdirectory of the other generally creates nothing but headaches.

I’ve seen some suggestions about ruleset commands to add/edit in an effort to get around this situation, but the easiest solution is to not get in this position in the first place; AOM will work without using the mod_rewrite rules, but the URLs will be long and ugly. And as mentioned above, not as SEO-friendly as they could be. But that’s the trade-off for compatibility.

So what are good ways to make AOM and WP play together? Like unruly children, the best way to play together is to play separately. Keeping the two programs in separate directories is the best option, and just link from one to the other. With well-crafted custom header and footer files,  it may be possible to continue the look of your blog into your store. Most people may not even notice the transition.

The next-best option would be to keep the two in separate level subdirectories off of a common root. This generally means a main site index page with links to mysite.com/blog and mysite.com/shop (and/or mysite.com/forum). Separate but equal means there’s no problem with mod_rewrite from one side bossing around the other side. It’s important to make sure the main site page has nothing in it that could cause adverse affects with the two subdomains (like… an .htaccess file).

So in a nutshell, that’s a short guide to making WordPress and Associate-O-Matic work together. In part 2 (sometime in the near future), I’ll try to discuss the WP plugin in detail.

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