Welcome to The Blog Report

I'm so glad you stopped by and hope you find this blog an interesting read. I've been blogging since April of 2006, currently the author of six public and two private blogs. In the beginning I knew absolutely nothing about blogging. Over the years through trial and error, frustration and elation, and a few tears I've learned a lot. However, the learning process when it comes to blogging continues to evolve. Here you will find a hodge podge of my blogging experiences, useful codes and how-tos, sprinkled liberally with my opinions. Enjoy!

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Custom Domains

Back in the days of the blogging networks, blogs with domain names ending in Blogger or Wordpress domains were frowned on regardless of how good they were.  Certain monetizing sites would not even accept a blog unless it had a custom domain.  Like many, I saw no real need for a custom domain.  My blogs have flourished and even made money since their conception without a custom domain.  So the question remains as to whether a custom domain is really necessary.

Three years ago, I bought custom domains for two of my blogs but have never used them.  With the return from my blogging hiatus of 2015, I'm planning on using those two domains.  Well, actually I bought another one to simplify one I already own so now have three domains.  Essentially all this will be doing is simplifying the URL for my readers.

Custom domains require registering the domain you want based on availability.  A custom domain should be a short title of the blog.  I chose a .ca domain so also had to validate my registrant information with CIRA and accept their agreement.  Canadian citizens and businesses, organizations, and community groups located in Canada are eligible to register .ca domain names.  Other countries will have their own criteria or you can use .com (commercial), .net (commercial/universities), or .org (organizations) if your blog falls into those categories.  In addition to a custom domain, email addresses can be set up using the custom domain (eg.  yourblogname@domain.ca). 

Benefits of a custom domain:

  • shortened url
  • better SEO
  • domain specific email address
  • professional
I'm paying $19.95 annually for each of my domains.  There is no limit as to the number of domains you can register and there is no time frame in which they must be used providing you pay to renew each year.   I will be changing one of my blogs to a custom domain shortly using the custom domain instructions on Blogger Help. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Should a Blog be Revived?

As I was pondering how I wanted to proceed with my blogs, the question whether I should revive them arose.  Mainly, this is self-doubt speaking.  Some blogging experts would say no.  Others would say yes.  The bottom line is, it's really up to you. 

An existing blog already has content so with a bit of tweaking, reviving it is merely starting to blog again.  It will require pinging the blog to be sure the search engines are picking the blog up but other than that, simply start writing.  An existing blog can have problems with poor content, poor design or a generic domain (eg. blogspot.com) but these are all elements that can be changed if desired.    In some cases, you may not want to revive a blog but rather start fresh.  That can be a hard decision but it may be best if the blog is such that you can no longer write content for it.  The blog topic may no longer be of interest to you.  In this case, it will be difficult to write good content to revive the blog. 

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Reviving My Blogs

Oh good gosh, where did 2015 go?  I've been blogging since 2006 and for most of that time, I was writing a daily blog post across all six of my blogs.  It helped that I was an active member of a few blogging networks.  Unfortunately, those networks have gone by the wayside.  There is little real blogging support out there which helped contribute to an extended blogger's block.  Even the bloggers who were members of the networks have moved on.  By the time 2015 arrived, life hit in full force.  Not that I hadn't blogged through moves, vacations and daily living before, it was more that my heart wasn't in it.  It wasn't that I decided to take a blogging hiatus either.  I simply stopped blogging.  Once in awhile I would publish a post but not consistently. 

My blogging hiatus has actually been a good thing.  I'm ready to get back blogging so it's time to revive my blogs.  I actually checked my blogs' stats today.  Surprisingly, they are still getting traffic and still getting the attention of the search engines.  It's not great traffic but for blogs, it's not bad traffic either.  This really underscores the importance of content.  All the years of blogging definitely helped during my hiatus.  For now, I'm just going to focus on content.  I'm not going to worry about anything else!  

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Page Rank is Dead

When I started blogging in 2006, Google's Page Rank was a huge deal.  This was a ranking system that gauged how good a blog was based on where it appeared in the search results.  A page rank of 10 was excellent while a page rank of 4 which is what the majority of personal blogs could hope for was fair.  The worst rank was NR meaning either Google had stripped the blog of its page rank or the blog was too new to gain attention from Google.  Both meant the blog was not showing in search results.   Every blogger had the page rank badge on their blog and they did whatever it took to increase page rank even if it meant resorting to dubious methods.  Advertisers actually chose whether or not to advertise on a blog based on its page rank.  If you had a good page rank then you had a better chance of attracting the advertisers that would pay so you would end up making more money from your blog.  If you didn't have a good page rank, some advertisers would not advertise on your blog even if you had high traffic. 

Google  then announced that they would be penalizing blogs that tried to manipulate the page rank system.  Bloggers were also penalized through dead, bad or undesirable links including those in comments as they basically created a hole in their page rank. Bloggers being concerned over this change either refuse to take exchange links with what they saw as undesirable websites so essentially were masking the natural linking process.  The problem with links has always been that the blogger can only control accepting that link, not what the link eventually points to.  Content can easily change or the link go dead without you knowing so that made a lot of extra work for bloggers who had to constantly check links or risk a fall in page rank. 

The quality of links still of concern however with page rank gone it opens the door to being a bit more laid-back with the links.  While you still don't want to link to sites contrary to the TOS for any advertising you are running or sites that promote certain activities or products, there is no longer the problem of linking to a good blog with great content that compliments yours but only has a page rank of 1.  Now you can simply link to it.  More importantly with the demise of page rank it means there is less concerned over where your blog is going to fall when somebody clicks on the search engine and more emphasis on producing quality blog posts.

Basically what this is done has taken blogging into a level where you're concerned about the quality of the post less concerned about search engine results, specifically Google search engine results.  There have always been a number of search engines and yet Google was the only one that apparently counted with some bloggers.  There has been a growing concern over tracking via search results so there has been a movement away from using Google search which tracks your every movement to search engines like Duck Duck Go that protects your privacy with no tracking.  If you concentrate on good content the other search engines going to include your blog in their search results. 

Friday, January 16, 2015

Using Dictation to Blog

I recently wrote about using Blogger mobile so this time I'm trying out dictating a blog post using Siri on Blogger mobile.  There's a few pros and cons to using Siri as far as I can see but it is a good start for writing a blog post when you're thinking of something to write about and really just don't know where to start.  You simply start talking about your topic of choice then edit from there.   You have to go back and correct any spelling and grammatical errors as well as add in punctuation and capitalization.  Customizing text with bold or italics can also be added later.  However, you can write the basics of a fairly extensive blog post quickly simply by just dictating.

Using dictation (eg. Siri) to write a blog post is something new to me.  I think it's going to be something that I like using for basic posts and creating a framework that can be extended later in the website editor. It will be  particularly useful for those times when I have a great idea on the tip of your tongue that I forget to write down or because it's inconvenient to write down at that time. This way I can get the idea down in in writing and then expand from there.  I think dictation will prove to be a valuable blogging tool for me!