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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Monday, November 30, 2009

A Few Important Blog Considerations

When you first start blogging you are naive which likely works to your advantage because you really are doing things to please yourself. It doesn't really matter to you if someone doesn't like your blog or something you said. It doesn't matter if they like your content or overall theme. At some point though all that changes. You suddenly realize if you do something a bit different it gets you more traffic and bloggers love traffic. However, it is very important to get the attention of search engines as well.

So you do all the recommended SEO which is never really enough. You are consistently adding new but not duplicate content to your blog. You are not using any black hat SEO. You are advertising your blog through blog advertising such as CMFads and Adgitize remembering to stay away from blog advertising you can't control content on the widget (eg. 125exchange, Spottt, Entrecard) and you are not using any form of pure traffic exchange. How do you gauge your effectiveness?

  • your stats - Every blog should have some type of stats tracker. I personally like StatsCounter but there are others available. This involves registering on their site then adding a piece of code designed specifically for your blog. From there you can check your stats daily to get a better picture of not only the traffic but the bounce rate and keywords used to find your site.
  • Technorati - Technorati rating is a must if you are blogging. Sign up then claim your blog following their directions. Once you have claimed your blog you can check the Technorati rating, any increases or decreases in rating as well as keywords and site load time. You can also become involved in the community which may help your rating a bit. At any rate do not overlook the importance of the Technorati rating. At one time it was advisable to ping Technorati every time you updated your blog but a couple of weeks ago they announced they were no longer accepting ping but instead would be crawling blogs. That means you must have your meta tag fpr ROBOTS set to content="All" otherwise they will not crawl your blog.
  • Alexa - Alexa rating is almost a given but what you need to do is check your blog's Alexa rating from time to time. They analyse your blog traffic giving you key information and and automatic visualization of how well your blog is doing in comparison to other websites. There is a lot of valuable information there on your blog so use it to improve your blog's performance.
  • Google Analytics - Google Analytics is an extremely valuable resource that shows you your blog's performance. This is a must use tool especially if you have any advertising on your blog.
  • subscribers - Blogger allows you to track your blog followers (subscribers) as does Feedburner. A higher number of subscribers means you have an interesting blog that the subscriber will more than likel visit again and often become a regular reader.
  • comments - Quality comments received on your blog posts means someone has stopped to read what you wrote. Spam comment on the other hand means the spammer was just interested in his or her own agenda and more than likely didn't even see your blog if it was a spam bot. Always encourage the quality comments and never let the spam comments through. The more quality comments you have is a good indication of the effectiveness of your blog.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Decorating for the Holidays

One blogging trend is decorating your blogs for holidays. Some bloggers go all out changing their backgrounds and modifying headers and/or titles to match the holiday theme. Others simply add a few free graphics in celebration of the holiday. Bloggers with more than one blog may go all out on one blog but decorate less on their other blogs. By far the biggest decorating for the holidays with respect to blogging is for the Christmas holidays. Blogs become a reflection of how the blogger has or how they would decorate their home. It's meant as a fun, seasonal yet temporary change. There are a couple of things to go lightly on or stay away from all together:

  • too much blink - There are all kinds of seasonal blinkies out there. In general most readers don't like blinkies or blinking backgrounds or backgrounds where it looks like snowflakes are falling. The reason for this is too much movement detracts from the content. The movement also causes them to lose their concentration so they are more likely to click through rather than stay and read your posts.
  • certain widgets - Every year there are holiday theme widgets. Last year there was a cute Christmas tree that just about every blogger used so it got a bit boring after seeing it a couple hundred times a day. The second problem was half the time the widget either wouldn't load or caused loading problems. Unless you are sure of the widget's response it's best to not use it.
  • holiday music - Any auto play on load music should not be on your blog. This is rude and inconsiderate to those on low speed connections.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Technorati Claim Token

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Blog Changes

There are so many ways you can change your blog. It is important that you continuously tweak and make changes to your blog because this keeps your readers interested. However you have to be careful when making drastic changes. If the change is too drastic it may cost you readers. It's better to introduce drastic changes in stages to avoid losing readers. When it comes to changes one of the most drastic changes you can make is to the template.

In many cases it is best not to change the feel of your template. Tweak the background and the titles with customized skins and colours but keep the actual layout of the template the same. Tweak the size of the main frame and the side bar but keep them in the same positions. If your sidebar was on the right keep it on the right. This gives your readers a sense of familiarity that makes any changes you make easier to tolerate. They can still find what they want without getting frustrated. If you decide to make major template changes like moving elements from their normal position then make a note to that change to help your readers find that element easily.

One of the biggest changes you can make in your template is going from a 2 column to 3 column layout. A 3 column layout allows you to get more content onto your blog but this comes with a price. Some readers don't like the 3 column layout simply because if not executed properly the layout quickly becomes visual overload. This ends up distracting the reader from the very reason they came to your blog in the first place.

One thing to take into consideration is minor tweaking, changing backgrounds and colours and that type of thing will not have much of an impact on SEO but major changes will. For example I like the Rounders template so my blogs tend to be based around that particular template. However if I were to change to another quite different template to base my blogs on that does affect the SEO. Now if you only do it once a year it shouldn't matter much. If you do it several times a year expect your PR to decrease.


Sunday, November 22, 2009

Colours

Right from the very beginning when you choose a generic blog template colour becomes a huge influence. Something about that template appeals to you and more likely than not it is the colour or even absence of colour. Now absence of colour is still colour. Make no mistake your personal reaction to colours, your favourite colours and how colours affect your mood is going to influence your choice of colours for a blog template. It's your blog your choice but at the same time try to keep in mind how your colour choices affect your readers.

Colour choices with too much contrast can hurt your readers' eyes to the point they won't bother coming back to read. Strange colour combinations can also result in complaints. Sometimes you won't actually hear the complaint but rather will see the results by checking your stats. Keep in mind regardless of your colour choices you will likely at some point get some complaints. Make sure you have comment moderation set to always moderate then if you get a complaint regarding the colour theme that is constructive you can take those points into consideration and perhaps tone down the theme just a bit while keeping the colours. For example on my cooking blog I found a great test background in pink and black. After a lot of testing I toned down and texturized the pink, changed the black to grey and texturized then added customized graphics. What I ended up doing was losing the harsh contrast between the pink and black. So think along these lines always tweaking your colours until you get the right effect you want for the moment you are in while keeping your readers happy.


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Editing Images

I have learned so much about using images and pictures on blogs in such a short period of time. Some things work and some don't when it comes to editing pictures. Others are trends but the basics remain the same. So here are some of the things I quickly learned about using digital images and other images for use on my blogs.

  • size - My favourite size for all digital images is 640 px x 480 px. This fits nicely while showing good detail. I like using the medium setting for picture size on Blogger.
  • backgrounds - Backgrounds can actually detract from the picture. I quickly learned that plated foods look better with the backgrounds removed then replaced by a plain background because that puts the focus on the food where it should be. In other cases if there are identifiable people it is best to modify the background in such a manner as they cannot be identified. Blogger says you can upload gifs with transparent backgrounds but then it turns the background to white. The work around for this is to add a background layer the same colour as your blog main layer background then merger the layers and save as jpg. This way the image looks transparent even though it isn't.
  • details - I use a lot of food pictures on my one blog. I quickly realized salt makes the plate look like it has dandruff, butter gives an undesirable effect and sour cream very seldom works without a lot of tweaking so I take my pictures before adding any of these.
  • tone/hue/saturation/filters- Lighting really throws off a good picture. This needs to be adjusted by applying correction to the tone, hue, saturation or add a filter to either warm or cool the picture.
  • animated gifs - Blogger says you can upload animated gifs but I have never got them to work by going through Blogger. The only way I have got them to work is to upload to Photobucket then upload the link to Blogger.
  • frames - This really becomes a personal choice and your readers will let you know if you get too fancy. Frames can add a lot of interest to the image but the overall effect may be overpowering depending on the frame design and blog. If in doubt go with a simpler type of frame or use bevel and emboss to give a bit of a detail without over powering.
  • positioning - In general the main positioning for images is centre, right, or left. Again this is a personal choice. For consistency and flow of your blog choose a positioning style then follow that. For example on posts with multiple images I like using the left, right, left positioning but for at least one of my blogs I like the centre position. Try to stay as consistent as possible.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Blogger's Block & Finding Blogfodder

Every blogger will experience blogger's block from time to time even if you are niche blogging. The reason for this is quite simple. Some days you just can't think of anything to blog about. If this is the case it is better not to blog at all. This will be fine for a day or two especially if you take advantage of scheduled posts or special day posts (eg. Wordless Wednesday) however, there will be days you need a blog post but can't think of what to write. In this case perhaps a few of my trips for blogfodder will work:

  • check the news - There's usually something going on that will provide a bit of inspiration. As long as it fits your niche, blog about it. Your readers really like this because you're blogging about something that is of current interest. Don't make the mistake of blogging about something that happened in the new a couple of years ago. Keep it current to keep your blog interesting. For example three things are in the news here: H1N1, the proposed HST in Ontario and the proposed TV tax in Canada. These are providing some rather interesting blogfodder for some of my blogs.
  • check other blogs - Checking other blogs for the topic du jour can be quite inspiring especially if you run across several bloggers all posting about the thinly disguised paid per post of the day. Assuming you don't do paid per posts which you shouldn't do if you want a good PR these kind of posts can provide some seriously humorous blogfodder. At the same time you can see the current hot topics bloggers are talking about so take advantage of that.
  • check television shows - If you watch closely television shows within a certain niche tend to group shows with a similar topic yet with a different spin together. For example on the food channel most of the shows will be about one topic (eg. polenta) on the same day. A lot of people watch the food channel so will go online searching for that keyword. That means if they are all talking about it you should too because your post will show up in the searches.
  • check Twitter - Twitter is one of your most valuable blogging resources! Check it daily for blogfodder. It's amazing the conversation you can find on Twitter that will give you an endless supply of blogging inspiration.
  • check the search terms in your stats - This will give you a good idea as to how people are finding your blog and what they are looking for. If you have an anchor post that got them to your site take that post to a new level in a new post that adds more information.
  • pay attention to real life - It is amazing how much blogfodder you can come up with just by observing those around you!
  • don't sweat it - Don't try forcing a blog post. The more you worry about it the longer the blogger's block will last so you can end up getting into a vicious cycle. Walk away from the computer or go on to do something else. Remember blogger's block will pass :)


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Blog Writing

I recently heard an excellent quote. It is better to write for yourself and have no public rather than write for the public and have no self. This is so true when it comes to blogging! Yes all bloggers want traffic after all thinking you are doing all the work of blogging seems like there is no pay off. So yes we want readers and more importantly regular readers. The first thing I realized about blogging is I really had to do it for me. The writing, the graphics, the template and the overall design had to be about me. What this really meant was coming to terms that while the public aka readers are important I have to be true to myself when blogging. That means I blog about what is of interest and important to me through my eyes and my words. It means I keep control over who can comment on my blogs not allowing nasty comments or comment spam. It means I control the colours, the fonts, the design and everything else when it comes to my blogs. The bottom line for me is my blog, my rules. While I'm always very conscious of my readers my blogs are very much about me. That's one reason I blog :)


Friday, November 13, 2009

Digital Images

For the most part any digital image you take needs to be edited prior to publishing on your blog. Cropping as well as lighting, tone, hue and saturation adjustments may be needed because you want to present the best image possible. Frames may or may not be appropriate. Looking back on some of my earlier digital images I think I made a lot of mistakes when first using my digital images. First I made the images a bit more complicated by using some rather fancy framework. Now this works for some blogs but not all blogs. The second mistake I made with some digital images was not removing the backgrounds. Sometimes removing the backgrounds puts the focus on the subject where it should be. I think my biggest mistake was not taking enough shots of the subject. Have since learned that 10 shots of the same subject may only result in one good, useable image so I try to keep this in mind when taking the images now. There are two notable considerations to keep in mind when posting digital images you have taken:

  1. Any image where a person can be identified should not be posted without their permission. If you don't have their permission don't use it!
  2. Any recognizable building (eg. Eiffel Tower) cannot legally be posted without permission of the owner of the building. If you don't have their permission don't use that image!


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Graphics

Right from the get go I started using my blogs as a way of sharing my digital images and some of my blogs include a graphic of some type with almost every post. In most cases digital images will need to be edited and resized for web use. This requires photo editing software such as Photoshop®, Photoshop Elements® or Paint Shop Pro®. I use Photoshop® CS which works well for me.

All of your digital images and any graphic you create should be copyright protected. This can be subtle or quite blatant. There are many ways to do this so choose a method that works for you to protect your images and graphics. Free clipart and other graphics are available online. If you use these be sure to read the Terms of Use (TOU) for those graphics before using them. Some require permission from the creator and/or linkbacks while others may have no TOU. Always comply with any TOU and never claim copyright for the image or graphic. In this case make a small note that the image is not yours. If in doubt do not use the image.

Graphics include clip art, digital images and any images you create yourself including animated gifs. Graphics add a lot of interest to your blog but search engines don't view graphics as images. What you have to do is take advantage of the alt="" tag in image html. Upload your graphic in the normal fashion. Then click on edit html in Blogger where you will see the code for your image. Insert your image description as shown using accurate keywords.

alt="your image description"

Your image will now be indexed. Click back to compose if desired or stay in edit html to finish writing your post.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How Often Should You Update?

One of the biggest concerns new bloggers are faced with is updating. If you want good traffic it stands to reason that you have to consistently add new content to your blog in the form of new posts, polls, links and anything else your readers may be interested in. Adding new content stops your blog from becoming stagnant. By far adding new posts is the most important aspect of updating so the question becomes how often should you add blog posts? Unfortunately there is no cut and dry answer to this question but do keep in mind most blogs cannot survive by only updating once every 3 months or less. Once a blog goes stagnant it takes a fair amount of work to revive it. To put it in perspective if you turned on your favourite television show to see the same episode over and over for 3 months how long would you keep being interested in the show?

Some bloggers add new posts once a week, others add once a month while others add multiple posts every day. The bottom line is add new posts when you feel like writing. If you are having a bad day rather than forcing a post simply for the sake of adding a post, sit on your fingers and refrain from posting. Your blog will not suffer if it misses a day or two of posting. So while there are no hard rules with respect to updating, do what works best for you but be consistent.

I aim for a post every 1 - 3 days across my blogs ideally but that doesn't always happen. On a couple of my blogs daily posts are pretty much the norm but they will survive if I miss the occasional day. One of my blogs gets a lot of updates during the gardening season but fewer during the off season yet it works. What does work well for me is using Blogger's scheduling feature so when I'm in the mood to write I can do a fair amount of posts scheduled to run as desired. So do keep scheduling in mind as a way to help keep new content being posted on a regular basis.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

How to Remove Blogger Navigation Bar

As you know Blogger automatically puts a navigation bar on your blog. This allows for easy navigation through other blogs as well as reporting those blogs that are against Blogger's TOS. If you want a bit more professional look while using Blogger you can remove the navigational code by adding the following to the html of your blog.

#navbar-iframe {
height: 0px;
visibility: hidden;
display: none;
}

This code should be added just under the blogger template style description and before the /* variable definitions line near the top portion of your blog html code.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Traffic

It honestly doesn't take a new blogger to become obsessed with getting traffic to their blog. Here is the reality. It is a blog! Building traffic takes times and more so for personal blogs. Most blogs fail or are abandoned in the first 3 months of going live. If you survive long enough to get any kind of page rank that means you know your stuff. Most blogs will not gain page rank. If you can push your blog to the point you are consistently getting good traffic that means you know your stuff. Most bloggers are happy if they can get 20 or so visitors a day. Knowing your stuff doesn't mean you are applying it consistently. Keeping both page rank and your traffic level takes work. Slack off just a little and you may find your traffic dropping.

Now traffic falls under two categories: those staying for awhile to read your blog and those who land on your blog then move on in under 30 seconds without hitting any links. This is known as bounce rate. Bounce rate is usually expressed as a percentage of your traffic. Ideally you should aim for a lower percentage which indicates a lower bounce rate but it is a blog! Blogs have a higher bounce rate by nature. Over time the more content you get on your blog will help reduce the bounce rate but really that's no guarantee so you are left with the fact blogs have high bounce rates. So you can switch over to a traditional website or accept the fact blogs have high bounce rates. There's a few ways you can help reduce the bounce rate on your blog but basically blogs have high bounce rates. Your best course of action is to recognize this, try to minimize this then focus of what is important, blogging.


Saturday, November 7, 2009

Don't Take Things Personally

Blogging can seriously get you down somedays especially if you open up your stats to find you've lost a few followers over night or your are dealing with negative comments. Seriously take a deep breath! Readers will stop following blogs simply because life got in the way. It's nothing personal it just happens. So chill. As long as all your followers don't leave you all at once don't worry about it and even if they did it could be a problem with your feed or the site tracking your followers. Again, just chill as it will sort itself out. If you constantly track your traffic as I do, realize there are certain days of the week where traffic is normally lower and mine tend to be consistently Thursdays across all six blogs. There will also be dips in traffic during certain holidays although others may bring peaks so it does pay to follow the traffic trends but don't get hung up on them. Your main goal is to keep blogging and put out content. With good management the traffic will come so don't sweat the small stuff. When it comes to negative comments your mantra should be my blog, my rules. Assuming your are moderating your comments which you should be the only one who sees the comment is you. Reject the comment then let it go. Unless the comments are abusive or threatening coming from one individual of which you can track let it go. Don't feel guilty if you reject a comment. Don't feel you need to offer any explanations and do feel you need a blog comment policy on your blog. It is not necessary. It is your blog, your rules so always remember that!


Friday, November 6, 2009

People are Sheeples

I'm not kidding! People are Sheeples which really means people are predictable. They follow trends and following blogging trends is no different. If you don't take that into consideration then your blog traffic will suffer and you will more than likely lose readers. The current trend is moving away from the few basic templates offered by the typical blog host. At best, readers do not want to see the same template with the same colours over and over again. At worst, using a standard template with the same colours with no change will date your blog and depending on how that template is being used by other bloggers could hurt your blog. Put it in perspective. Two women show up at an event wearing the same dress. Now everyone knows this is a social faux pax. No self respecting woman would put themselves in this position and so it is with blogging templates. You template can be based on a basic blogging template but that is where it ends! This works because readers want the same yet different. So give them what they want and they will come. They want the same layout with a new skin, something that looks different yet has that feeling of similarity. At the same time you as a blogger have to pay attention to the trends.

Some of the current trends I have noticed:

  • basic templates are out - If you are using a basic, host provided template with no modifications it send the message to your readers that you don't care enough to go that extra step. Keep in mind there are very few blogs that can use a basic template without modification and get away with it if they want to get good traffic. Even though I used a basic template for this blog I still did a lot of tweaking and that is what it takes.
  • scrolling backgrounds - These are very easy to do and in fact I wrote a tutorial on making scrolling backgrounds. They are an easy way to customize your blog with minimal effort although you do need graphics editing software.
  • scrapbooking effect - The scrapbooking effect is huge in blogging right now! Everything from background to header to titles has to be co-ordinated but then it goes just a bit further. This is a direct effect from those who were into paper scrapbooking getting into digital scrapbooking as well as more women getting into blogging.
  • less is more - Readers are getting tired of sensory overload. They don't want blinkies or floaties. They don't want on load videos or music. They really want a nicely designed blog with good content with content taking priority over design just a little. If you think back to the advice when writing essays to go back editing to remove every linker (and, but, etc.). Well that is good, steadfast advice. Now apply that to your blog template. Remove anything that will slow the loading of your blog or irritate your readers. Basically if it moves or makes noise get it off your blog! Keep anything that moves as a special treat for your readers. Think holidays (animations) or special video but keep in mind your reader should never see more than one animated gif when they load your blog. No video should load unless the reader wants it to.
  • customized titles/headers - This is a huge trend. Very few blogs other than those starting out use generic headers or titles. Titles aren't as important as headers but customizing both are the trend.
These are just a few of the recent blogging trends I have noticed. I'm sure they will change depending on socialital influences. That's one thing that makes blogging so much fun. Just when you think you have it figured out the rules change much like raising kids :)


Thursday, November 5, 2009

My Top Ten List of Blogging Mistakes

Once you start blogging it's natural to start discovering the wonderful blogosphere with all its good, bad and ugly. One of the best ways to do this is blog hop using one of the many blog directories or blogrolls. Once you have visited a hundred blogs or so it will quickly become apparent that some bloggers do things that are just down right irritating. These are blogging mistakes that will cause readers to not want to read any further. Every reader will have their own list of things they just don't like when visiting blogs. Here's my top ten list of blogging mistakes:

  1. auto-playing music or videos on load - I'm sorry but this is just rude, offensive and inconsiderate. Quite often readers are already listening to their own music so it is irritating when auto-play music or videos interfers. Auto-play music slows down loading and for this still on dial-up it is painfully slow. Some readers pay by the bandwidth used so auto-play music costs them financially. Readers using satellite internet connections get FAPed (slowed speeds) for as much as 24 hrs if they exceed a certain bandwidth something that music can quickly put them over. If you want to share your music and video choices with your readers do so in a way where the readers have the option whether they want to listen to it or not.
  2. floaties - Floaties are little graphics such as leaves or snowflakes that give the appearance of them falling from top to bottom of the blog. This is quit distracting when trying to read the blog posts.
  3. paid posts - Paid posts are not ok when the entire blog consists mainly of paid posts. These blogs are quite obvious as the blogger is just thinly veiling that they are trying write an ad in which they get paid to write about a product they really know nothing about. For example I read a blog post about injury lawyers in Chicago written by a Filipino blogger. It was obvious it was a paid post as the blogger knew nothing of the subject and from the sounds of it had never been out of the Philippines!
  4. splogs - A splog is a blog that has been set up for the sole purpose of making money. They seldom have any decent content and in some cases the content has been blatantly stolen from another blogger.
  5. memes - A meme is a post where the author answers a series of questions about themselves. Some are can be quite long and after the first few questions they become quite boring. Memes tend to make the rounds where one blogger participates then passes the questions on to a set number of other bloggers who also pass it on. So what happens is you get to see the same meme over a large number of blogs. There is nothing worse than trying to read a blog where the majority of the posts are memes.
  6. poorly designed graphic - Nothing looks more amateurish than poorly designed graphics that do not fit their intended placement. Graphics should work flawlessly with your blog template. Graphic editing software is a must. If you cannot figure out how to design a graphic to fit the desired placement get a bit of free help from other bloggers who will give you a hand.
  7. neon font - For awhile some bloggers used black or red backgrounds with brilliant, mulit-coloured neon font and you still see it from time to time. This is extremely annoying for reading with the font almost burning your eyes. One of the worst I recently saw was a neon purple background with neon orange header and neon yellow font. It was simply hideous but more importantly I took one look then left the blog increasing their bounce rate.
  8. irregular updates - Blogs do not need to be updated daily but they do need to be updated often enough to keep your readers interested. Too few updates will lose readers as well as stop search engines from indexing your site.
  9. negative and/or daily rants - I can understand the occasional rant but readers tend to get put off by a blog with posts that are only negative and/or ranting. Yes your life might be really in the gutter but your reader's life might actually be worse. Most readers view blogs as a source of entertainment or staying in touch. So to keep readers coming back refrain from making your blog all about these types of posts.
  10. excessive profanity/obscene content - Most adults have heard just about every profane word out there so it doesn't impress us much other than to leave your blog. I'm not a prude but I seriously don't need to read a post that has more eff words than it does other words! When it comes to obscene content well that may get some traffic from dubious sources but no traffic worth getting. If you have to resort to either perhaps another medium besides blogging is best for you.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Comment Spam

I recently discussed the comment issue with part of the problem being comment spam. One of the biggest problems with comment spam is that it does affect your Page Rank. What happens is search engines specifically Google view links going out as a drain from your blog so every time someone leaves a comment spam meant only to plug their blog you lose. What matters more is your readers lose. You can write the best blog with the best content presented in a wonderful manner but if you don't have readers it means nothing!

When I first started blogging comment spam was quite obvious. The comment was either very short as is "great info" with their link or just a blatant reply with no reference to your blog post along with their link. Either way it was comment spam. A new form of comment spam has recently surfaced as a direct result of bloggers getting wise over comment spam. What comment spammers are now doing is trying to build a bit of trust. So they will leave a comment or two with no outgoing link. If those comments go through then they may leave a couple of more. What they are doing is trying to get their nic (nym, online name) recognized before they actually start the real spamming.

Once you realize a comment is comment spam you have three choices. You can ignore it and let it through that will ultimately hurt you and your readers in the end. You can use moderation so your readers never see the comment yet you keep complete control. If comment spam from any one spammer is a problem as in several repeat spam messages you can report it to their blog host and ISP. Comment spam in my opinion should never be tolerated!


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Scheduled Posts

Anyone who blogs will come across the problem that life gets in the way. There really is no way around this blogging problem. What can minimize this blogging problem is scheduled posts. This is a newer feature some blog hosts offer. What you can do is when you are on a writing roll is sit down and write several blog posts scheduled to run when you want them to. The real benefit to this is if you are on vacation or life simply gets in the way the scheduled posts ensure your blog continues to get that all important regular new content to keep your readers happy. So do take advantage of scheduled posts if your blog host offers it.


Monday, November 2, 2009

The Importance of Page Rank

I think the first time I heard about page rank I had been blogging only a couple of months. I understood it partially but my blogs weren't monetized then so I didn't think it mattered all that much. I could not have been more wrong if I tried. Page Rank refers to how search engines see your blog. The higher the ranking the closer to the front page of the search your blog will appear. Why does this matter? It's proven that most people when doing a search will check the first page and some might check the second page of the results. If your blog is buried on page 4 well searchers simply won't see it. So first you want to take the necessary steps to get page rank and continue improving your page rank.

Each search engine uses their own form of page rank but the biggest search engine is Google. I'm sorry if you do not pay attention to Google's criteria you are not going to get page rank from them and that will result in very poor traffic for your blog(s). That's the reality of blogging is the higher the page rank the more traffic you will get and you won't get the traffic without the page rank. The number one biggest mistake new bloggers make is blogging to increase page rank without taking other factors into consideration.

To understand page rank your page is a pitcher. It has a certain number of holes in the form of links out. It has a faucet of links in. Ideally you want more links in than links out but it gets more complicated. Links out are and endorsement you agree with what is on that link. Inappropriate information can cost you and definitely linking to a banned site will cost you. This is another good reason to moderate comments especially comment spam. On the other hand links coming in can't be controlled so they have a lesser effect on page rank. But page rank is not all about backlinks and it's not all about content or design or keywords, SEO or even the blogger's personality is is a combination of all of these factors. If you are lacking in one area it will be reflected in your page rank.


Sunday, November 1, 2009

Anchor Posts

Very early in blogging I realized I wanted to get more traffic to my blogs. Like anything else I did a bit of research to find out how to do this. Over and over the recommendation was to create anchor posts. Now here is the problem as I see it. You don't know a post is going to be an anchor post until you see how it is received. I have written some very good posts that by any stretch of the imagination should be anchor posts. They have good content and keywords but when I look at my stats those posts do not come up as the most popular or even the ones hit the most by the search engines. On the other hand on one of my blogs I made an off hand post about the Bristol zoo parking lot attendant hoax email and my traffic doubled that day and that silly off hand post continues to bring me daily traffic. Another case in point on my cooking blog I posted about canning green beans and another post about pea meal bacon. Those two posts became anchor posts on that blog. They bring in good search engine results on a daily basis. In my experience anchor posts just happen and you never know which one of your blog posts will become and anchor post. I also think that the effectiveness of anchor posts is transient. Over time the popularity may go from very high to waning to at some point becoming popular again. So anchor posts change and while I understand the need for them I never write with the purpose being creating an anchor post.