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, May 31, 2010

The Facebook Exodus

Everyone has heard of and is talking about the privacy issues at Facebook.  According to a lot of tweets on Twitter as well as blog posts throughout the blogosphere there is supposed to be a mass exodus of Facebook users today to show their displeasure over the privacy issues.  Of course the recent comments from Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, calling trusting users of Facebook dumb f*cks hasn't really created any terms of endearment for Facebook users.  Honestly!  Talk about biting the hand that feeds you!  Mark, sorry bud, but you seriously either need to grow up or take a course in public relations and from where I'm sitting you likely need to do both.  So war is waging against Facebook.

Facebook was being used by some bloggers to drive traffic to their blogs.  It like many social networks has the potential to drive quality traffic to your blog.  I like many bloggers have a Facebook account however unlike many bloggers I have never used mine for anything other than set the privacy settings.  Back when I first set up my account I wasn't impressed with the privacy so I decided to let the account sit in limbo where it still sits.  Now I'm glad I did but for those bloggers who did use Facebook for blog promotion I suspect after today there will be a few repercussions with the main effect being loss of blog traffic.  The fall-out from a mass Facebook exodus could be significant but I suspect it will affect Mark and his merry men a lot more than it will bloggers!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Blogging Experiment Twitter Feed Follow-up

I have been conducting a blogging experiment the past month to see how adding a twitter feed to my blogs affects traffic.  Up until a month ago the Twitter feed was on 2 of my blogs so I added the Twitter feed widget to all of my blogs.  I liked that the new widget design could be customized to my blogs theme colours.  As promised here are the results of that experiment. 

I am not as active as I could be on Twitter.  I usually tweet new blog posts via tweetfeed, current events and chit chat with others on Twitter.  From time to time I tweet older blog posts to help promote my blogs.  I currently have 827 followers.  Just a quick note on followers, not all followers are active in that they may read your tweets but they may not respond or click on links.  Some followers haven't been active on Twitter for a few months as well so at some point I will clean up my stream to remove these but it is quite common for someone to take a longer break from Twitter then become active again so deleting too soon likely isn't a good idea.  I do not solicit followers using some of the dubious gain 1,000 of followers if you join here type of thing.  I think letting my followers grow naturally will result in a following that is actually interested in what I have to say.

During the month (April 28 - May 28, 2010) long experiment I received 27 visits to my blog through Twitter.  That works out to almost 1 visit per day to at least one of my blogs.  Of those 27 - 17 were directly from Twitter and 10 were directly from the Twitter feed.  By far my cooking blog received the most visits via Twitter (13) and the Twitter feed on that blog sent traffic to some of my other blogs.  This doesn't sound like a lot of traffic but it is still 27 visitors more than I had before.  I noticed that the number of no referring link in my stats increased with some of those having an entry page from Twitter feed.  So the Twitter feed is bringing traffic to my blogs between the six blogs and within the blogs.  What I also noticed in the cooking blog stats is readers had clicked on a link in the Twitter widget to go to another post I had tweeted the link.

Twitter traffic tends to be sporadic but my theory is the more active you are on Twitter the more traffic it will bring to your blogs.  The Twitter feed helps to bring traffic between my blogs and within them so this is one way to direct readers to certain blog posts of interest.  I will be leaving the Twitter feed widget on my blogs and continue to monitor their effectiveness.   My experiment for June will be increasing my blog promotion tweets and Twitter presence with a goal of several tweets daily.  I'll report back on the results the first week of July.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Winding Up Our Vacation

Writing the last blog post from our vacation home was a bit bittersweet.  It was an extremely exciting vacation one that was filled with work yet with plenty of time for blogging while gathering an abundance of blogfodder.  It amazes me how just a simple change of scenery can get the creating juices flowing.  There are so many things I want to blog about so will likely be doing a bit of blogging on the trip home but the final post here on this our first visit was special.  Not that the post itself was all that just that the feeling here can't be captured at home or anywhere else.  I will likely be blogging while waiting for the plane.  Surprisingly I actually don't mind blogging amongst the hub bub even though I prefer a quiet setting when blogging at home.  At any rate our vacation is winding down so it will be back to normal for a couple of weeks when we may take another vacation.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Blogger's Problem On Vacation

I've been blogging now for over 4 years.  In the early days when we went on vacation my main concern was finding an internet connection to at least moderate and respond to comments.  Occasionally I would blog but it really wasn't a high priority so my blogs would mainly go with no updates while we were away.  Now in reality the day of departure and day of return are pretty much write-off days so in some cases this meant no new updates for as long as 16 days.  My how times have changed in 4 short years!

I can easily use Blogger's scheduling tool to write several posts to run while I'm on vacation.   Finding an internet connection is rather easy.  There are so many Wi-Fi hotspots even in airports so blogging is ever so easy even while waiting for a plane or eating in a restaurant.  Another blogging problem enters into the picture and that is blog fodder overload combined with vacation exhaustion.  What ends up happening is there is so much blog fodder at the end of a vacation that in itself can render a blogger with the dreaded blogger's block. At the same time you are tired from the vacation and trying to get back into your normal routine so blogging is rather easy to overlook.  Sure it may only take you 15 minutes to write a blog post but when getting back into routine this is an easy 15 minutes to do without.  An easy solution is to schedule a blog post or two to run after you get back to give you a good day to get back into your normal routine.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Adgitize is Running a Special Promotion until July 31, 2010

Adgitize is a blog advertising network. Traffic from Adgitize is rather good with a low bounce rate and members so it is one of the blogging networks I do recommend. Adgitize has been very good at listening to their members to make the network better. They are currently trying to increase the number of advertisers by 25 for June and July. Points are earned in this system by participating via advertising, visiting 51 blogs daily and posting daily to your blog. They are running a special promotion through July 31, 2010 that will benefit advertisers scoring more than 300 points a day. Any day that you score over 300 points you will earn a minimum of 47 cents. This represents a minimum earning potential of $14.57 per month. If the promotion is successful, it may be extended. If you put it in perspective advertising costs $14 per month so at the minimum you are ahead by 57 cents but you've had all the exposure of advertising for the month. All in all it is a good deal and kudos to Adgitize for coming up with one more incentive to participate in their network.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Make a Clean Break From Blog Networks

My gosh ever since starting to blog I have visiting a large number of blogs on a daily basis.  A couple of years after starting to blog I joined a blog network called Entrecard.  My experience was negative so I will leave it at that other than to say I dropped their widget from all of my blogs at that time.  This post is not an Entrecard slam although I could certainly turn it into one quite easily.  What I have noticed is some bloggers still using Entrecard are posting graphics such as "no paid ads" and "I'm sorry entrecard uses this widget for advertisements I don't agree with".  Hello!  Anytime you have a widget on your blog it is assumed you agree with the content being displayed.  You can't have it both ways.  Therein lies the problem of displaying widgets on your blog that you can't control content on.  If you don't agree with the widget content, remove the widget and move on otherwise remove the disclaimer!  No one wants to read the underlying message that says I don't agree with this BUT I'm letting it through because I'm shallow enough to believe that is the only source of available traffic.  This sends a negative message to your readers and other bloggers.  Essentially if it is on your blog you approve of it otherwise get it off!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Generating Backlinks Encourages Comment Spammers

As a new blogger I quickly learned the importance of getting a link to my blogs from other websites and blogs.  One of the easiest ways to start getting backlinks is through commenting on other blogs.  The majority of commentators make comments relating directly to the post they are commenting about and they do not abuse leaving links.  A small subset though have become comment spammers.  Comment spammers, in my opinion, fall into two categories - intentional link spam and malicious link spam.

The intentional link spammer is only interested in getting their link onto as many blogs as possible.  The don't read the blog but only zero in on the comment to make some insincere comment like "nice blog" and their link.  Their only agenda is link building.  On the surface this seems rather harmless.  Consider though that by allowing their link you are creating a hole in your Page Rank bucket without getting any benefit from allowing the link.   Allowing one or two blatant comment spams through only encourages other comment spammers.  The best way to deal with this type of link spammer is via comment moderation.  The best course of action is to reject the comment.

The malicious comment spammer has the specific agenda of trying to harm your blog's PR through the comment system.  Lowering the PR of a blog results in a reduced earning potential for that blog.  The reasons why another blogger would try to maliciously lower your blog's PR could be as simple as competition or maybe they just don't like or style or maybe they think knocking your blog out will give them more earning potential.  Any blogger who does not use comment moderation is setting themselves up for the malicious comment spammer.  In the matter of a couple of hours this type of spammer could do some serious link damage to your blog.  If you didn't notice for a day or two a hole consisting of a couple hundred links pointing away from your blog would likely be enough to affect your PR.  Prevent this by always using comment moderation.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Comment Spammers are Getting Greedy!

I have noticed a new trend with comment spammers recently.  The comment spam is constructed in such a way as to leave multiple links.  Now I may not be a pro-blogger but I know that this type of spam is just plain wrong.  The spammer is actually creating several leaks from your blog.  If you allow enough of this type of comment spam to go through it will end up affecting your Page Rank (PR).  I am taking two approaches to dealing with type of greedy spam.  If the comment is pleasant enough I strip the html from the comment then post it.  In blogger, this means doing a manual cut and paste of the comment without any html in the comment itself as well as posting with the name of the author without the link.  If and only if the comment spammer checks back to see if the comment was posted they will immediately notice the html has been stripped sending a clear message that while comments are welcomed, their link spam is not.  They will move on to another blogger who blindly allows all comments to post without moderation.  The reality is most comment spammers do not check back still this method may serve as a deterrent for other comment spammers.  If the comment is blatant spam with no reference to the post being commented on then I simply reject it.  Either way I block excessive link leakage by effectively using comment moderation.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Thoughts on Being an Amazon Affiliate

I joined the Amazon Affiliate program a little over a year ago as part of monetizing my blogs. This program works a bit differently in that they do pay you on a per click basis but rather give you a commission if someone clicks on your link then follows through with a purchase.  I have mixed feelings about this so here is my experience.  Take from it what you will.

I immediately placed Amazon ads on my blogs after being accepted.  The ads themselves are nicely designed and small enough to not take up too much blog real estate.  As with any affiliate I give a fair chance to see if they will make money or not so left them for 3 months.  Nothing!  I did not earn as much as 1¢ yet every visitor to my blogs likely saw the ads giving Amazon a free plug.  I decided to pull all the ads and replace them with affiliate ads that were a bit more promising.  At that time I was ready to walk away for Amazon ads but for some reason did not delete my account.  A couple of months ago Blogger added the Amazon Associates capability so I decided to try it again.

Blogger's Amazon Associates capability allows you to add a link, image or link+image easily while blogging by simply highlighting a word or two then clicking go in the widget.  The widget will then show several search results so you can click and add in the style you want.  I reasoned that this way I could use Amazon Associates without having to take up a lot of valuable blog real estate especially if I used the link feature.  I did add back a couple of stationary ads in the sidebar as well.

At the moment the verdict is still out on using Amazon Associates widget in Blogger.  I think a lot of the things I blog about really don't fit with what Amazon sells so at best I've used the link feature less than 5 times.  In checking my Amazon stats I found only 3 clicks from my blogs with no earnings after a month so will be removing the stationary ads.  I'm still debating the issue of continuing to use the link ads.  On one hand I will use so few of them that it likely isn't worth it but on the other hand it takes almost no effort and they don't take up valuable blog real estate like the picture ads.  I'll report back on my Amazon experience in another month.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

My Weirdest Place to Blog So Far

Last week I posed the question as to where was the weirdest place you've ever blogged. As a blogger I'm likely about as conservative as they come.  Until today I could not brag about blogging anywhere weird although I have blogged a lot from locations other than my home computer.  I am at the moment sitting on the bathroom floor facing the porcelain throne, laptop on the floor and definitely blogging.  Now I do have a perfectly good reason for doing so.  Before you think I am totally bonkers let me explain.

We are at our newly acquired vacation home and while some furniture was left behind a desk was not one of them so I have been blogging from a nice cross-legged position on the floor where the computer connections are.  What the heck I'm somewhat on vacation even though this trip was really one to get the house ready for the following year so blogging from the floor didn't seem all that bad and besides I figured I wouldn't be online a lot anyway.  The carpet cleaners came out today so being a rather prudent blogger and knowing my husband would be golfing meaning I would have a bit of online time, I quickly figured out how to get the internet connection from the carpeted room where the carpet would be wet to the closest room without carpeting.  That just happens to be the little bathroom.  So now you may laugh or snicker at the visual of a middle aged female sitting cross-legged with buttock slowly numbing while  blogging in front of the porcelain throne.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Blogging in Vacation Mode

I'm writing this post from our vacation home at an undisclosed but gorgeous area outside of Canada.  Now you know from a blogger's perspective I will be blogging about our vacation at least on my personal blog with spill overs onto my cooking and gardening blogs.  That's just a given.  A blogger on vacation is almost like a kid in a candy store.  There is so much and I do mean so much blog fodder especially the eye candy but at the same time there really isn't a lot of time to blog.  I may compose a post  before going to bed while the events are fresh in my mind or in the morning while sipping on hot coffee but really other than that there just is not a lot of time to blog.

I take a lot of pictures and while I could download photo editing software to my husband's laptop I don't have all the brushes, styles and goodies I'm used to working with in Photoshop.  I also don't want to spend a lot of vacation time editing pictures for blogs as there will be plenty of time for that later.  What I do as I feel the urge to blog is write a post with a [picture] tag inserted that tells me when I wrote the post there are pictures that need to be edited to include in the post then save that post as a draft to finish up when I get home.

And so it goes when blogging in vacation mode...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Blogging From A Distance

One of the beauties of blogging that I discovered is I don't have to be in my normal environment to blog.  I'm writing this post from our vacation home somewhere in an undisclosed location outside of Canada.  With the advent of laptops followed quickly by mobile devices being tied to a home computer for blogging is no longer a necessity.  In fact all you need is a mobile device equipped with Bluetooth, Wi-Fi hotspot and a few minutes of time to be able to blog.  I have blogged while at airports, on vacation, on the boat, from various marinas, at restaurants/bars, and too many other spots to mention.  If I can get a wireless connection and feel like blogging I will.  I think it is really nice that there are more opportunities to blog when the mood strikes!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alexa and YouTube Videos

I like using YouTube videos on some of my blogs and am careful to always add my perspective or commentary so it is not perceived to be duplicate content. The video itself is duplicate content but the commentary isn't so there's no search engine penalty. Now what I have noticed and find a bit interesting is on the days I use a video on one of my blogs my Alexa ranking number increases meaning less traffic. This could be just a coincidence but at the moment it seems fairly consistent. This trend will be one I keep a closer eye on. Inquiring minds want to know if using videos on blogs decreases traffic or not. Stay tuned!

Garden Gnome

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Look Back on Cloud Tags

A few weeks ago I posted about using cloud tags in Blogger.  This really is a nice feature one I'm sure many readers appreciate.  However, shortly after adding cloud tags to my blogs I realized I really needed to consolidate some of my labels to reduce the size of the cloud tag and eliminate labels that may have been useful to me at the time but may not be as useful to my readers.  So I started going through my labels, editing and eliminating unnecessary ones, merging labels and in some cases adding new labels.  This appears  to be an ongoing process that will become part of regular blog maintenance for me.

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Fallacy Some Bloggers Buy Into With Comment Spammers

I learned early on in blogging that comment spam is not always easy to detect.  At the same time I kept my blogs set to moderate comments something that does curb comment spam.  I also learned how to strip a comment spammer's URL so they don't get any link love.  Without link love a spammer will move on providing it isn't a bot.  However, some bloggers let every comment go through falling the fallacy that the more comments the better.  It is not true that the more comments you have on the blog the better.  Sure it gives you a bit of cheap traffic but at the same time it cheapens your blog.  If every blogger blocked comment spam the spammers would move on making life a bit more pleasant for all bloggers.

Sunday, May 16, 2010


When I first started blogging I was amazed there was a whole new lingo.  Suddenly I was blog hopping through the blogosphere.  I think at some point every blogger indulges in blog hopping.  Blog hopping is simply going from one blog to another.  As a somewhat veteran blogger of 4 years I have developed my own blog hopping style.  Here are some of the ways to blog hop:

  • web rings - Web rings were likely one of the first ways to blog hop.  Joining a web ring includes adding your blog link that will appear is succession as the links are clicked.
  • blog rolls - Blog rolls are and ideal way to blog hop.  They often are niche oriented so you have the opportunity to surf blogs that are in your interest. 
  • blogging networks - This includes blogging networks like 125 ads/exchanges but also Blogger bar, and any other network that allows you to go from one blog to another.
My favourite way to blog hop is to land on a blog post that I want to leave a comment on.   Once I leave a comment I will click on a couple of the other commenter's links to check out their blogs.  From those blogs I may or may not leave a comment but will check out a couple more of the commenter's blogs.  A lot of my blog hopping comes from using this method.  It works well for me.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

You Can't Please Everyone

I honestly can't tell you where in my earlier blogging days that I realized you simply can't please everyone. I think it was likely somewhere around the time I started getting interested in generating traffic but I'm not sure. I remember thinking I can please myself with my blogging or I can try to make everyone else happy. Blogging is ultimately about the blogger. Now everyone as in readers and visitors do matter but quite frankly if I'm not happy blogging then my blogs will cease to exist. At some point as a blogger I think you do have to realize the only one you really need to please is yourself.

Friday, May 14, 2010

A Google AdWords Invite

As a thank-you for using AdSense a few days ago I received an invitation from Google to try AdWords. Included with the invite was a $100 gift card to get me started. All I had to do was sign up for AdWords, create a campaign then pay a $10 non-refundable administration fee and use my coupon code to pay for my advertising. The advertising can be set to any amount daily that I want to spend as well as the CPC which is only deducted from my balance if someone clicks on the link. The ad can be suspended anytime I want and once the $100 is gone I can opt suspend the ad, add funds to have it run longer or cancel my AdWords account. I can also try different types of advertising including geographically targetted and CPA. Now from a blogging standpoint this is a win:win opportunity!

Imagine how long it will take someone like me, a frugal person, to spend that $100. So I have a $100 to play around advertising on Google SERPs. It might bring me a bit of extra traffic but then again it might not. The most it will cost me is the $10 administration fee if I decide to not use AdWords any longer. I will report back on how well this free promotion worked for me as soon as my $100 runs out.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Using Alt Tag in Blogger

The alt tag should be used for all graphics on your blog if you want search engines to index them.  It is also a nice courtesy for your readers in the event the image doesn't load at least they have a description of what the picture is.  I posted earlier about using the alt tag for graphics used on blogs. Under the Blogger old editor the alt tag is there in the image html as:


A couple of weeks ago I opted to allow Amazon links* on my blogs which resulted in Blogger changing my blogs over to their updated editor.  There are a few great features with the updated editor some of which I am really enjoying.  However, in their ultimate wisdom Blogger for some reason removed the automatic alt tag.  This is most annoying because now when I add an image I have to go into the HTML and manually input the alt tag.  If you are using the updated editor after adding an image click on Edit HTML tag in the editor.  Scroll to where you see:

Insert your alt tag as alt="your image description" after img leaving a space after img and before border.  Continue composing in HTML or in Compose tag to finish your post.

*My views on using Amazon will be the subject of a future post.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

If You Use Photos on Your Blog Take Lots of Photos!!!!!!!

Looking back to my early days I honestly cannot believe what a noob I was!  Right from the start I knew most of my posts on both blogs would have one or more photos.  As the number of blogs using photos grew from two to five you would think I would have learned a thing or two.  Well I have but sometimes I still forget the number one rule to taking pictures to use on your blog.  The same rule applies to taking pictures for scrapbooking.  Take a lot of pictures of the subject! 

My husband is an accomplished amateur photographer who knows how to apply this rule effectively.  I, on the other hand, do not because I can get so interested in the subject I forget to press the camera button.  Where my husband can easily go snap, snap, snap getting a good dozen or more pictures of the same subject I am lucky to get 3 or 4.  The problem is I end up with a lot less pictures to choose from when it comes to using them on my blogs resulting in a bit more frustration and photo editing.  My hard learned lesson is to take as many pictures of the subject as possible.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Generating Traffic is Work

In my early days of blogging I wasn't all that interested in how much traffic I received or how to generate it. At some point though I did become interested in traffic to my blogs and how to generate it. The very first thing I realized is generating traffic to blogs is not quite as easy as it would appear. More importantly generating quality traffic to blogs is work! Basically I found generating traffic involves 4 methods:

  • word of mouth - This includes friends, family, forum participation, newsgroup participation, backlinks, leaving comments on other blogs and social networking.
  • free advertising - This usually is in the form of a 125 x 125 badge exchange.  Some of these programs require an large time commitment to be effective and as soon as you stop the program the traffic dwindles off.  
  • paid advertising - This includes programs such as CMFads, Adgitize and Adwords.
  • link exchanges - While these do work they are not to be used with certain affiliate programs and they tend to boost your bounce rate. 
The bottom line is generating traffic is work.  You are either paying for it through time and effort or you are paying for it via advertising fees.  Either way there is a cost involved.  In many respects coming right out a paying actual money for advertising is a lot less effort than spending time earning credits that can be used for future advertising.   However the most effective way to generate traffic to your blog is a combination of the first 3 methods.  My experience has been that paid advertising does give better results but only when combined with word of mouth and free advertising.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Where is the Weirdest Place You've Ever Blogged In?

I recently came across a blog that talked about blogging in a public washroom. Now I haven't blogged in a public washroom. The worst I've done in a public washroom is drop my cell phone in the toilet while multi-tasking but that's another story. As an aside my cell phone had an affinity for water surviving that dunking but not the swim it took over the boat. The 3 day old iPod did survive it's swim though. Most of my blogging is done either on the home computer or the laptop so I don't tend to blog in really strange places. Besides my husband wouldn't exactly be impressed if I dropped the laptop in the toilet. I'm just saying it could happen. I've blogged from the dock, the boat, the airport, and a few Wi-Fi hot spots as well as our kids' homes. So I can't lay claim to have blogged from any weird or strange spots. I think one of the neatest places I would like to blog is from the bows of a tall tree shaded from the hot sun with just a gentle breeze blow but something tells me that wouldn't end well. I'm picturing broken body and computer part here ;)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Multi-tasking and Blogging

I seriously win the title of Queen of Muli-tasking not just when blogging but in all faucets of my life.  So when blogging I will have several tabs open doing other things or working in Photoshop® while pages load.  See we have satellite internet that is so fickle it does go out if a mosquito flickers through the beam .   Recently I added knitting while pages were loading something my husband finds absolutely hilarious and since I don't need to watch my work while I knit unless working an intricate pattern there happens to be a recipe book in front of the keyboard so I can check out recipes flipping the pages at the end of each row.  When my husband saw this he laughed so hard he had tears in his eyes.  So if you've ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of blogging now you have an idea ;)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

That "Oh No!" Feeling

Early in my blogging experience I quickly realized that blog fodder is not all that easy to find. Take my cooking blog for example. I do a lot of cooking from scratch but once you blog about a meal or recipe unless you make some type of change there is nothing more to blog about. I also quickly found out with my gardening blog that when the gardens were under a foot of snow there wasn't much to blog about. The oh no feeling differs from bloggers block in that you have every intention of blogging and want to blog but there is nothing to blog about.  Back then the oh no feeling really got to me especially when I realized that some months I was lucky to come up with something to blog about a few times a month which happened more than once with my gardening blog.  Rather than scrambling to try to find something to blog about I would just let which ever blog was without anything to blog about in temporary spurts of limbo.

Now I have 6 blogs with a goal of one post on each per day although that is not a rigid, must do just a goal more to see how it affects my blogs.  So I'm sitting here having an oh no moment because in my ultimate wisdom I have no post for my cooking blog for tomorrow.  I have several pre-scheduled posts so if push comes to shove I can move one of those up to tomorrow which is a nice benefit of scheduling but I would prefer not if I don't have to.  The alternative is to get into the kitchen and make something I haven't blogged about before which is likely what I will do.  In this case the problem will be easily solved but for some blog niches that oh no feeling can really hit home!  To prevent that oh no feeling I find having a back-up of 3 to 4 posts that can be scheduled to run on the day when you have nothing to blog about. 

Friday, May 7, 2010

Will Google's New SERPs Result in More Traffic?

Google has recently redesigned their search engine results pages (SERPs) so users have no choice but to notice the available options.  This means that any SEO you have already done needs to be re-evaluated because Google has offered users more options in the left-panel.  There is a very good chance that users will use these options.  As a blogger the redesigned SERPs may result in more traffic to your blog.  That's the good news!

The next bit of good news from the new SERPS is social networking becomes more important. Real time searches for Twitter will be available as will more results from forums. Previously forum participation did not show as much in the SERPs but now it will. This means that forum participation will now be another way you can drive traffic to your blog.  What we are seeing is that while SEO is important, social interaction is going to take on a larger roll for Google ranking.  If you aren't into Twitter or Facebook this is a very good time to get involved.  

From a personal perspective, I am involved in several forums that for the most part give be good quality but low volume traffic.  I like that forum participation will now be part of Google's SERPs.  I am fairly active on Twitter so also like that my tweets will now be available on Google although I was sure they already were a couple of months ago.  I think the newly designed SERPs is going to help increase traffic to blogs as a whole.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Does Forum Participation Increase Blog Traffic?

One of the most often recommended ways to boost blog traffic is to participate in forums. Most forums will allow you to use your avatar and add a sig that points other forum members to your blog. On the surface then it would appear that the more you participate in a forum the more traffic your blog will receive. The real question becomes is, does this actually happen?

Forum participation may or may not boost traffic to your blog. The reasons for this can be many and as varied as the forum members. The fact is many who participate in forums simply are not interested in clicking links for any number of reasons. Some are not interested in reading blogs at all and others don't click links because they are concerned over computer viruses. A major factor in whether another forum member will visit you blog is of course you're persona within the group. In this case if you are a trouble maker you may see traffic from the forum to your blog or if you are an extremely liked poster you will more than likely see traffic to your blog. The first scenario will likely give you a temporary traffic spike while the second may give you a more subtle but consistent traffic from the forum and may even give you a subscriber or two. Anything in between and you will likely at best see occasional traffic from the forum to your blog.

I don't see forums as being huge traffic generators so I don't recommend joining a forum simply to generate traffic to your blog(s). I get a bit of traffic from various forums some more than others and all of it greatly appreciated. I have noticed what traffic I do get from forums tends to be quality traffic staying on my blogs longer and commenting more so that is rather nice.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Oh My Gosh! Step Away From the Keyboard and Sit on Your Hands!

Have you ever had the urge to talk about the bodily functions of Aunt Tillie on your blog?  What about sharing some of that juicy office gossip your heard on break around the water cooler.  Or hey, you really hate your boss who quite frankly makes your life a living hell and you would move on if you could find a job that paid better so in the meantime blogging about his inadequacies and or other flaws including his latest floozies might seem like a pretty good idea.  Or what if you just really can't stand your MIL but you tolerate her for your husband's sake?  Then there's you nice neighbour who tips the bottle a bit too much and runs around the yard occasionally in her housecoat chasing the squirrels from the bird feeders.  And the list can go on for as many senerios as you could think of.  Here is the deal.  If anything in any way, shape or form that you blog about can come back to bite you on the toosh don't blog about it!  Step away from the keyboard and sit on your hands until the feeling has passed but do not blog about it in an incriminating manner.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Weather Conditions Affects My Blogging

The beautiful sunny, warm spring days beckon me outdoors which really provides me with more blog fodder.  The weather conditions though can often be quite detrimental preventing me from blogging online often for as much as a couple of hours at a time and sometimes longer.  The only highspeed [sic] internet service available to us is satellite because of our rural location.  The speeds are impressive at up to 512 Kbps (12.8x faster than dial-up) and upload up to 128 Kbps.  We pay $49.99 plus taxes per month for this service that they only have to give you 40% of what they promise.  The only other available package available would give us 1 Mbps (25x faster than dial-up) download but the same upload for $79.99 plus taxes per month. Note my sarcasm here.  Satellite internet is most discouraging because when we aren't getting FAPed (throttled down to the speed of dial-up for the remainder of the hour) the signal can easily be disrupted if a mosquito flies through the beam!  Just imagine what a big, bad rain cloud is capable of doing and it doesn't have to be in our actual geographical location.  Oh no!   If it is anywhere near the tower where our beam comes from some 3 hours away from us it will affect our signal.  As you can tell I am thoroughly impressed with my internet service!

There are a couple of work-arounds I use to combat this problem.  The first tool is scheduling posts.  On good internet days I can write a few posts then schedule them to run as desired to give a bit of a cushion when the internet is down.  The second tool is using MS Word for Mac to write off line then cut and paste into the post editor.  Then I readjust any formating necessary and upload any pictures then schedule to post as desired.  Working off line is a practical solution for my particular blogging problem. 

Monday, May 3, 2010

A Couple More Thoughts on Twitter and Blogging

This month I'm focusing on analyzing what Twitter is doing for my blogs. All of my blog feeds go through TwitFeed automatically each time they are updated which is something I recommend doing. At the very least your feed is getting out to your Twitter followers giving you a chance at a retweet so getting your feed out to more people. I also added Twitter feed widgets to all of my blogs so readers can click on one of my tweets if they are interested. This adds a greater degree of interaction between my blogs. I'm active on Twitter posting more than just links to my blogs so occasionally will choose one of my blogs to highlight and post a maximum of 5 links to that blog. This approach does appear to be effective but not necessarily high traffic generating. It is very much a targeted approach so out of my followers if I get a click or two I'm happy.

One thing I have really noticed about Twitter is cleaning the stream is quite important. When I first joined Twitter I would follow anyone who followed me and I no longer think that is a good policy because often what happens is they get the follow then immediately unfollow. Another problem is some in the Twitter stream especially in the early days are there simply to spam. I find taking a few minutes to clean up my stream from time to time gets better results with a greater likelihood of followers clicking on my links because I click on theirs.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

A New Blogging Network

A few days ago on Twitter I saw a link for a new blogging network so decided to click on the link. After a few minutes of exploring I liked what I saw. The network is called BlogFrog.  I really thing this new network has a bit of potential since it works a bit different than other blogging networks.  You can join free or you can pay for a premium or platinum service.  Premiums costs $4.95 per month and shows your ad across 20,000 blogs.  I bought that one just because for the price it is a good bit of exposure for the price.  There is a choice of two widgets (recently visited, visit my community) both customizable for size and colour.  Now this is a bit of a different blogging network as far as I can see.

You can use either free access or pay to have your blog promoted essentially adding a blog advertisement aspect at a low cost.  What paying for promoting your blog does is push your blog to the top and your blog will show as a promoted blog in widgets.  So in terms of advertising it is one of the cheapest available.  As far as traffic generated from using the premium service I can't say right now as I just started it.  What I really like about this blog network is it takes some of my favourite features and combines them into one service into more of a social network.  You can create your own community comprised of other bloggers who follow you.  Then you can customize your community and add a forum so it acts as your own community communication system but it also ties into Twitter as well as building followers and friends much the same as Twitter. 

I'm still trying to figure out all the benefits of this blogging network.  I have my cooking blog on it right now as the test blog.   The down side is if you have multiple blogs you will need multiple accounts as far as I can see.  The widgets in themselves should generate some traffic just through blog hopping.  I think the real benefit to this network is encouraging blogger interaction without focusing on building traffic.  Any traffic you get from this network should be real because there are no credit incentives at all.  From what I see so far I really do like the set-up.  I think it has a lot of potential.  I have not seen a dramatic increase in traffic but this is only day 3.  I will report back when I know more.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

A BlogExplosion Update

I posted almost a month ago a heads up regarding BlogExplosion. Honestly I would like to be the bearer of good news but it isn't good new.  As it stands right now BlogExplosion is is suffering a very painful, slow death.  The owners, Live Universere are not answering letters from the few remaining volunteers or members.  Their website is being reported as not being found, at least one spammer has basically taken over the forums and new blogs are now longer being approved.  A few die hards are trying their best to keep things going by participating as much as possible but even that is difficult with no sites to surf.  Basically the only features still working there are BlogRocket, Battle of the Blog and Scratch Cards.  In essence as credit earning potential decreases so does membership compounding the problem.  Bloggers are simply moving elsewhere.  Like them I'm using up my credits then saying good-bye.  It really is so far gone that it would take a miracle to bring BlogExplosion back.  I've been with BlogExplosion for 4 years now so it is sad to see what was once a great blogging resource die like this. 

Garden Gnome