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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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Tweaking My Blogs

A few days ago I uncovered a bit of a blogging problem with this blog, my newest blog. Now this blog has only been in existence since late November. So of course I've used what I've learned from my other blogs to get this one off to a start focusing on building content first. I knew it would take a bit of time to get noticed by Google but it would have made it a bit easier had I remembered to submit my url to them. What I came across that was interesting was submitting to Yahoo's search engine. Did you know if you submit your RSS feed to your My Yahoo it will get your blog indexed in their search engine sooner? Another thing I found out is from time to time you should search for your blog to see if it appears in the search engine you are testing. I spent a bit of time doing a bit of tweaking and checking. Overall I expect this will improve the traffic to my blogs. That's what blog maintenance is all about, discovering or recognizing a problem then correcting it in the hope of improving performance.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Why Isn't My Blog Showing in Search Engines

When I first started blogging I really had no idea how to go about getting search engines to notice me and in some ways I really wasn't concerned about it. You see with any type of business or hobby or new activity there is a natural growing period. The average time it takes to build a new business to get to the point you start making money is 3 years. The learning curve for some hobbies can be a lifetime. Heavens there is no way I will ever know everything about Photoshop! Learning to design your blog and do the actual blogging really takes little more than a couple of weeks if that. Where the real growing period comes into play which I quickly learned is getting the attention of the search engines and in particular Google.

The big problem is even after you've done everything correctly your blog may still not be indexed by the search engines. In this case and something I only learned after authoring 3 blogs is getting the attention of search engines is 3 fold. These are:

  1. regular content with good keywords
  2. ping after each addition of new content to your blog
  3. submit your blog to the search engines
Get your blog noticed by Google quicker by going to http://blogsearch.google.com/ping and entering your blog url. Submit your blog to the major search engines in addition to Google. Realize that indexing can take 6 to 8 weeks depending on the search engine.

Garden Gnome

Monday, March 29, 2010

traffic vs TRAFFIC

I saw a rather interesting comment with regard to traffic on another blog while I was surfing the other day. The premise was traffic of 10 visitors on average per day obviously was very good for that blog given the blog talked about building traffic. Now on the surface that number 10 doesn't look like much so I'm going to use a bit of an analogy.

Person A lives in a city in an apartment building. He has a lot of neighbours none of which he has met. He sees some of them in passing a few seconds a day if that. At most he may recognize one of his neighbours enough to say hello in passing but this doesn't happen very often and when he does make an effort they rush off to their busy lives with only a brief hello back. He makes no attempt to get to know his neighbours, they make no attempt to get to know hime but he does have lots of neighbours.

Person B lives in a small urban neighbourhood. He has a few neighbours but he know all of them by name. He sees each of them daily and even stands by the garden gate talking to them about their families and community events. Those he are even friendlier with will sit on the front porch, chatting while their kids play together. He has few neighbours but quality interaction with them.

In the analogy Person A is traffic. He has a lot of traffic but high bounce rate and any traffic he has is not quality traffic. It doesn't generate subscribers, loyal readers or any type of interaction. Person B clearly represents TRAFFIC. His stats may say his visitors are only 10 daily but it is quality repeat traffic. It represents loyal readers and subscribers with low bounce rate. So which one is better? Person B's traffic is far superior to Person A's traffic. Why? Unless Person B does something like totally offend his readers they will remain loyal to him while Person A's traffic is basically pass through traffic with no loyalty whatsoever.

Some networking programs like Entrecard can give you great traffic much like Person A but it is not quality traffic and as soon as you quit the program you will find most of that traffic gone. Instead of wasting time mindless clicking to get traffic the time would have been better spent getting to know other bloggers to create loyal traffic like Person B. Do keep in mind that high traffic numbers do not equate quality TRAFFIC.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Can a Defunct Blog Be Revived?

If a blog has gone without any updating for a 3 month period it is what I would consider a defunct blog. At this point the blog is getting very little traffic and has likely lost all readers. It's lost its PR, increased its Alexa ranking and diminished any hope of earning more than a few pennies in ad revenues if that. The question becomes can a defunct blog be revived? The answer is two fold.

A defunct blog cannot be revived if:

  • the reasons for it becoming defunct in the first place still exist
  • the blogger is not willing to do a bit of hard work
  • the blogger is not willing to commit a reasonable amount of time to their blog
  • the blog itself does not have a foundation on which to build
A defunct blog may be possible to revive if:
  • all of the notations above are corrected
In most cases it is likely better, in my opinion, to forget the defunct blog and establish a brand new blog. The actual creation will help the blogging experience and the old blog will not hinder it. That way you are starting with a brand new canvass. Borrow from your previous blogging experience and move forward.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

What Happens to a Blog That Isn't Regularly Updated

Once into the blogosphere and blog hopping I quickly realized that blogs die. Did you know the average lifespan of a blog is 3 months? Well it is and that is because the blogger either realizes that blogging is hard work or gets bored or life gets in the way. What happens to their blogs?

First off these blogs likely weren't updated a lot even when active and second there is a school of thought out there that a blog should not be deleted but rather left in limbo perchance you want to revive it at some point. So several things happen when a blog isn't updated regularly and at some point even becomes dormant:

  • The blog loses readers and subscribers. Would you seriously read the same magazine over and over even if it were 3 months old? NO! Well blog readers feel the same way so they move on.
  • Traffic decreases to a trickle.
  • PR drops to the point that search engines send little to no traffic.
  • Earning potential of any ads becomes zero or nears zero.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Daily Blog Posts

The topic of daily blogging is always an issue with most bloggers including me saying that daily blogging is not always a good thing. Sure you can do short spurts of writing daily for perhaps a week or two but longer than that and you run the risk of developing blogger's block. To lessen the chance of this happening I use the scheduling method where I may write several posts over a 2 or 3 day period then schedule them to post as desired at later dates. The beauty to this method is I don't write blog posts daily and in fact I can go several days without actually writing any blog posts yet my blogs appear to have regular and quite often daily new content. Is there a benefit from having new content appear on your blog daily? In my opinion and according to my recent experiment, there definitely is a benefit. Across all 6 of the blogs I have noticed:

  • consistently decreasing Alexa numbers
  • increased comments
  • increased number of subscribers

Thursday, March 25, 2010

That Wonderful Downward Slide

Most bloggers use some type of monitoring to see how well their blog is performing. In most cases this data is in the form of numbers and generally the higher the number the better the performance. However, when it comes to your Alexa ranking the lower the number the better. If you recall Alexa is a traffic ranking score. You are aiming to get at least below 100,000 and then as low as possible. The lower your Alexa score the better your blog is doing in terms of traffic and quality traffic to your blog is what it is all about. There is nothing better than to check your Alexa ranking to see a constant downward slide in the number!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Blogging to Traditions

Did you know that traditions can be excellent blog fodder for some blog niches? Why? Think about it. People love traditions especially those involving holidays. There's the Easter ham, Easter bonnet, and Peter Cottontail all perfectly good blog fodder for a cooking or recipe blog, personal or clothing blog, animal or personal blog. Then you can extend those traditions to religious and political blogs, family focused blogs, home decor blogs and the list goes on. And that's just one holiday! The best part is there is some type of holiday or special day each with their own traditions every month of the year giving you plenty of blog fodder. Have fun blogging those traditions :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Backing Up Your Blog in Blogger

Until recently there was not an option to back-up your entire blog posts in Blogger. What a lot of bloggers were doing was exporting their blog posts to Wordpress as a form of back-up. In addition to that many bloggers set their Blogger settings to send a copy of each post to their email as a back-up. Blogger has now added the ability to back-up your blog posts by creating a file that can be downloaded to your desktop. Note that this differs from the blog template back-up in the layout section. To back-up your blog posts:

  1. Go to your dashboard and click on settings for your blog.
  2. Click on the first tab basics.
  3. Go to the first line in the tab basics called Blog Tools.
  4. Click on export blog.
  5. A window will pop-up with the file name and destination on your computer. I recommend saving to the desktop. Click ok. Your download will start. Expect the download to take a few minutes depending on the size of your blog.
  6. When the download is complete, rename the file to distinguish from other blog back-ups which especially helpful if you author more than one blog.
That's it. You have now backed up your blog posts and comments. In the event your blog goes down you can now restore your blog using the import blog function on Blogger under Blog Tools and choosing the back-up file from your computer that you want to use. It is important to note that only posts and comments that have been published will be backed up. Be sure to do a blog back-up on a regular basis preferrably after each new blog post or at least weekly for a regularly updated blog. It is also a good idea to download a back-up of your template before and after each time you make any changes to your template.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Trending Topics

If you are stumped for a topic to blog about check the trending topics in various mediums such as Twitter and Yahoo. The trending topics will be listed as trending now, most popular, hot topics, trending or similar usually highlighted in some fashion to get your attention. There are usually about 10 in the list and in some mediums will be country specific. For example if you are on Yahoo Canada the 10 trending now topics will be of interest to Canadians whereas the Yahoo US site will have American topics. Use the trending topics as blog fodder. Why?

People are already talking about the trending topics. That means those looking for information on that topic will search on that topic. If you blog about that topic using good and appropriate keywords you are bound to get a bit of search engine traffic. Every visit to your blog via a search engine is a potential new reader and/or subscriber. A good strategy to use when blogging about a trending topic is to try adding to the knowledge base if at all possible. This will make your post stand out a bit more gaining you extra traffic from the search engines as well.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

I'm a Serious YouTube Junkie!

Shortly after starting to blog I discovered using YouTube videos as a blogging tool. If I want to make a statement on a particular societal issue I turn to YouTube, specifically Rick Mercer or This Hour Has 22 Minutes. If I want a cooking demo, I turn to YouTube. If I want [insert whatever here] I turn to YouTube. And if I want to show videos I created myself I upload them to YouTube then use them from there. So I am a self declared YouTube junkie.

YouTube is an ideal tool for blogging. The videos can say so much more than you can while enhancing your blog. You can customize them to fit the feel of your blog as well. At the same time you can use your own videos in a format that others can easily view. Not only can a video enhance your blog it can inject feeling into the blog something that is not always easily done through the written word alone. If you haven't tried using videos on your blog then do consider it as one way to enhance your readers' experience of your blog.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

One Size Does Not Fit All

There are so many websites and blogs giving advice on blogging including this one. The real lesson to learn from all this advice is that one size does not fit all. A new blogger could set out and make just about every mistake possible going against every piece of advice out there and yet might find themselves with a very successful blog. Another new blogger could follow the most sage blogging advice and yet find their blog fails. So what makes the difference? In all honesty sometimes it is just luck mixed with the blogger's personality.

Any advice on blogging or how to blog needs to be taken with a grain of salt. If the advice appeals to you and looks like something that might help your blog then by all means try it but don't hesitate to change it if you find that advice is not working for your. In the end the only thing that really matters when blogging and that applies to advice as well is if it works for you and gives you the results you want then use it otherwise find something else that does work.

The only rule when it comes to blogging is one size does not fit all.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quick! Answer this Blogging Question

When is the last time you pinged your blog? If you can't remember then you are not taking advantage of an excellent blog promotional tool. Ideally you should ping with each new blog post or update. If you update daily you should be pinging daily. However, if you are using scheduling especially when away then pinging is not always possible with each update. If you know you are going to be away, ping your blog the day before leaving then ping the day after returning. Ping at least once a week unless you have not added any new posts.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Using Keywords Effectively

Keywords drive SEO so it is essential to use the most relevant and important keywords throughout your blog. One way to determine keywords for your blog or post is to ask yourself what words you would use to fine the information in your blog or post if you were searching for it yourself. Quite often more than one keyword will come to mind so use all of them but not all in one area. For example you make a post where 4 good keywords come to mind. Scatter those a couple of those keywords throughout that post then use the other keywords under your labels or elsewhere. The reason for doing this is various search engines give a higher relevance to certain parts of the HTML document than others.

Here are a few places where your keywords should appear:

  • title tag - Your title should be 3 to 12 words with the keyword near the beginning.
  • anchor text - Aim for anchor text focusing on your keywords from inbound external links.
  • headings - Use keywords in the heading tag, keeping the heading precise with the keyword appearing first if possible.
  • domain name - Incorporate keywords into your domain name.
  • URL - Use keywords in the URL but don't over do it as you might be penalized.
  • post - Keep keywords to less than 10% of the total content.
  • beginning of the post - Have at least one keyword within the first 25 - 30 words of the post.
  • alt tags - Use keywords when labeling your images with the alt tag.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Scheduling Tip

I've talked a lot about how I use scheduling to keep my blogs active even when I'm not actively blogging. At any given time for any of my blogs I may have as many as a week's worth of posts scheduled to run on given days. However, I have found that even with pre-scheduled posts it pays to be somewhat flexible. This becomes quite important if there is some type of breaking news that needs to be blogged about. For example I have blog posts scheduled to run on one of my blogs through March 16, Early this morning breaking news came through that really needed to be covered on this blog so I wrote that post to run in tomorrow morning then changed the original post scheduled to run tomorrow to another date. That is another nice thing about scheduling. Once you have the post written you can easily change the date you want that post to appear.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Time to Blog

One of the questions I'm often asked is how I find so much time to author 6 blogs. The answer will surprise you. I don't find time to blog. Blogging finds me. I am by nature the biggest multi-tasker you have ever seen. I will routinely have 15 or more browser tabs open, Photoshop, iPhoto and Twitter on the go while watching a cooking show. Then I will be up and down about ever 10 minutes to do something like toss a load of laundry in the washer or fold clothes during a commercial or start dinner or set up the canner. I might check the garden, take pictures of the water and waterfowl, chit chat on the phone all while multi-tasking. I might be working on a recipe so while it is cooking may take the time to type out the recipe for the start of a new blog post. Or I might upload images from the camera then decide to do a bit of Photoshop which triggers a blog post. And so the day goes. Somewhere in between all that I usually (not always) write a couple of blog posts. It is surprising how much blogging can be accomplished within a 10 to 15 minute time frame. Once I have the post topic/idea and a title the rest just falls into place and often rather quickly.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Scheduled Vacation

Vacations are always fun to plan and enjoy. They usually involve travel with thoughts other than online activities. During travel time you may have sporadic internet access or none at all even though the number of Wi-Fi hotspots are growing. Once at your destination you may be gathering lots of blog fodder, taking lots of pictures, people watching and in short having a grand time the furthest thing from your mind is sitting at an internet cafe or in your motel room (if equipped with internet) blogging. Of course both depend if you even decide to take a laptop or handheld with you. In some cases leaving computer capabilities at home is desirable as well. If you know in advance you are going to be on vacation for a week or two where you may or may not be able to blog but you don't want to leave your blog that long without new content, then schedule a few posts to run while you are gone. How are you going to do this?

Let's say you have booked a 2 week vacation in the sunny south to get away from the Canadian winter. Your flight departure is 6 weeks away and you are planning on taking your laptop with you because it's a good way to watch movies in flight. You now have 6 weeks to prepare a few extra posts in addition to your normal posts. If you normally post daily you will need 16 additional posts or an extra 2.6 posts per week in addition to your normal posts. For example if you normally post 7 posts in a week increase that to 10 posts for those 6 weeks. Schedule the additional posts to run each day you are gone. Adjust this according to your posting schedule. Always add 2 extra posts, one for your departure day and one for your returning home day as you won't feel like blogging either of those days. Do not make the assumption that just because you took your laptop that you will have internet access or even feel like blogging. After all you are on vacation. Relax and enjoy yourself knowing your blog is looking after itself while you are gone :)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

Last week I hit a day where I really, really felt like blogging. Things have been very hectic with our decision to sell our house and trying to sell it privately for a couple of weeks before listing it with a realtor. That has meant a lot of work. When I sat down all I really wanted to do was blog! Knowing that this urge would pass I took advantage of it by polishing off 11 posts in one day all scheduled and started one post that I finished up the following day . Even for me that is a record! It wasn't like I was sitting continuously to write either. I'd write a post then get up to putter when another post idea came to mind so I'd write that up and so went the day. The surprising thing was the urge to write continued for a couple more days. So I did what any blogger would do, write and write. This little writing spell gave me a nice cushion for those days ahead when I have nothing to blog about or don't have the time to blog.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Reducing the Size of Embedded Video

If you use videos from YouTube some of them are set to 500 x 315 pixels as the smallest size. This is too wide for some layouts. In order to reduce the size, click on the customize icon under the embed code on YouTube. Add any border you want then copy and paste the code into your blog post. Switch to edit html for the post. Check for the following that appears in 2 locations in the embed code:

width="500" height="315"

Change the width to 340 and the height to 285 in both locations. Hit preview to see your new reduced size. To centre the video in the blog post place
at the start of the embed code and
at the end of the code.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Polling Your Readers

Why do you poll your readers?

  • want to know what your readers are interested in
  • trying to expand a topic you want to blog about
  • creating blogfodder from the answers
  • actively engaging your readers
  • to ad new but transient useful content to your blog
  • to invite new visitors to your blog
  • boredom and nothing better to do on your blog
  • none of the above
  • all of the above
What is the correct answer? Surprisingly for most bloggers the correct answer will be all of the above. Polling your readers is an excellent way to find out what they are interested in as well as expanding ideas you may have for blog posts. Be sure to use this valuable blogging tool!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Blog Awards

When I first started blogging and visiting other blogs I noticed a variety of blog awards. A blog award is passed on from one blogger to another as a way of saying I think your blog is great and deserves this award. It really is the ultimate in blog recognition because the compliment is coming from another blogger who enjoys reading your blog and in turn are recommending your blog to their readers. A blog award is essentially an excellent way to generate free targeted traffic!

Most blog awards consist of the actual award graphic and a link to your blog. Most have some type of requirement for accepting the award usually consisting of something like 'name 10 things you enjoy' along with 'award 10 other deserving bloggers'. Blog awards should always be accepted graciously by leaving a comment thanking the blogger. It is in very poor taste to not accept the award. Some bloggers have made a point of accepting via commenting on the blog but not carrying out the terms of the award and some bloggers blatantly refuse to participate in blog awards. In my opinion this is detrimental to your blog because just as in real life, snubbing an award is a sure fire way to cause hurt feelings. In the blogging world this means a good possibility of losing that blogger as a reader.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Traffic vs Targeted Traffic

When it comes to blogging there are really two types of traffic. The first is traffic that arrives at your blog through any means and the second is targeted traffic that arrive there because you drove that traffic there. By far the most beneficial traffic for your blog is targeted traffic. Why? Well lets consider a couple of brick and mortar stores, Store A and Store B. Store A puts out all kinds of ads flooding the entire community and then some with generic ads with the intent of drawing in potential customers. Store A makes the mistake of making those ads generic rather than specific but no problem because they have lots of people coming into their store. The store is flooded with all kinds of customers but none interested in what the store is selling so they leave without buying anything. In blogging terms this is the bounce rate. Store B does a bit of homework. It knows that a certain subset of consumers in the community would be interested in widget X. It designs a very specific ad about widget X and markets that ad directly to those customers who come into the store and buy widget X. Clearly Store B with making sales even though less people came in was the successful marketer.

In blogging terms Store A is generating traffic but it is not targeted. If you are spending more than an hour doing things like dropping (entrecard) or clicking other sites to generate traffic back to your blog all you are doing is generating traffic. Stop dropping or clicking and the traffic goes away. You are getting all these people stopping by your blog but they aren't interested the content to begin with so you time is essentially wasted. Other hand a blog using targeted methods similar to Store B will gain valuable traffic because those visiting are already interested. Targeted traffic comes from search engines via keywords, compatible forums and groups in your blog's niche that you participate in, leaving comments on blogs within your niche, listing in appropriate directories and direct advertising of your blog within your niche.

While a little untargeted traffic may gain you a reader or two so can't be entirely overlooked the majority of your traffic generating efforts should focus on generating targeted traffic. In the end generating targeted traffic is actually less work and more rewarding than generating non-targeted traffic. The work spent generating targeted traffic will be time well spent as your blog becomes more popular.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Negative Blogger

Early on in my blogging adventures I figured the best way to learn about blogging was to read other blogs. I joined a few blogging networks and got to know other bloggers. I remain active in some of these networks while leaving others behind. Ultimately this means I am exposed to a fair number of blogs on a regular basis. A couple of days ago I clicked on a blog on one of my networks. Let me set the scene for you.

According to the blog description this is a blogger that ultimately wants to turn into a pro-blogger or at least stay a blogger. The blogger lists internet marking, making money online, search engines and blogging as topics for the blog and is obviously interested in making money given the advertising on the blog. The blog post on the day I visited was about staying on the blog and writing. Why? Reasons given:

  • bored of visiting other blogs - even included the blogger does not bother reading other blogs
  • does not comment on other blogs - complete with an explicit
  • not active in forums - well whatever, with his attitude that's likely a good thing
  • sick of twitter and people blogging about twitter - likely another good thing this blogger doesn't participate in twitter.
Ok, let's get nit picky here. I visit this blog in a blogging network for the first time. I actually read all of the above written in much more detail than I presented above. This blog is destined for an early death. He isn't visiting blogs so he isn't learning from other bloggers and he won't notice the changing trends in blogging. He isn't commenting on other blogs which means he isn't interacting with other bloggers and with his attitude I doubt they will want to interact with him. He isn't participating in forums meaning he is giving up a good opportunity to drive traffic to his blog. Finally, Twitter is one of the most effect ways to drive traffic to your blog currently. Bashing Twitter shows a lack of understanding what social media can do for your blog. He's essentially given the nails to other bloggers to seal his coffin.

I go back to the blogging network and click reject to make sure this blogger's blog will never be advertised on my blogs. I've made a mental note of the name and card design so I will not visit this blog again. My guess is there will be a few other bloggers across the network that does the same thing.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Post Labels

Imagine for a minute that you went into a grocery store. All the food is packaged in the exact same packaging all neatly lined up in rows on the shelves. There is no way to distinguish green beans from peaches or fish from beef. Adding to this perplexing problem there is no one to ask which product is which. That is exactly how your blog appears to readers if they have to rely on your post archives alone if you haven't used labels or provided a blog search box. The consumer becomes frustrated in such a grocery store so simply leaves moving onto a store that has foods labeled. The same thing happens with readers to your blog. Sure they may be interested in your most recent post but if they like what they see they might want to explore a bit further. At the very least make sure each blog post you make has a label. If you have older posts without labels, take some time to go back an add labels. Your readers will thank you by staying on your blog longer.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Number Crunching

When I first started blogging I knew enough to add a traffic counter to my blogs simply because I had websites previously. As I started learning more about blogging it quickly became apparent that there were a lot more numbers to be concerned with. In fact some bloggers were so concerned about certain numbers it seemed as if that is all they could talk about especially in the forums. Over and over I read where the only number that determined the success of a blog was Google's PageRank even though Google says that is not the case. Bear with me while I use a recent analogy to show why Google is right.

The Vancouver Winter Olympics closed on February 28, 2010 after a spectacular display of Canadian patriotism. By all accounts it was a huge success. So let's look at a few numbers for the Olympic Winter games. There were:

  • 5,500 Olympic athletes and officials
  • 80+ countries participating in Olympic Winter Games
  • 1.6 million 2010 Olympic Winter Games events tickets available
  • 10,000 estimated number of media representatives
  • 25,000 estimated number of Games volunteers
  • millions of people worldwide supporting the Olympics
Which of the above number spell the success of the Vancouver Winter Olympics? The answer is no one single number is indicative of the success. It is the totality of all the numbers that spell success.

So it is with blogging. No one single number whether it be your traffic count, a popularity rating, Alexa number, number of subscribers or your PR signify your success as a blogger. At best when taken together they give you an indication whether or not your blog is succeeding or failing. They may indicate you need to improve one area of your blog. The important thing is to watch the number trends not the actual numbers and don't get hung up on the numbers. In general you want to see traffic increase, bounce rate decrease, Alexa decrease, number of subscribers increase and at best get a PR even if only 0. If you see those trends then just keep doing what you are doing and enjoy yourself without worry about all those pesky numbers.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Page Rank Heads Up

I have just been reading about potential updates to Google's PageRank. Rumours are Google is going to start calling PageRank by another term. The writing was on the wall when they quietly retired page rank from the Google Webmaster Tools last year. Google has been saying for quite some time that there is too much emphasis put on PageRank. PageRank according to Google is not the most important metric to track despite contrary thinking.

Google has left PageRank in their Google Toolbar. Some experts are speculating that PageRank is too much of Google's brand for Google to let it go by the wayside. Others are saying that it may be time for Google to do a bit of re-branding. Even if they change the name of PageRank to a new term, that term will simply become the new focus for some defeating the name change.

In my opinion Google is quite right that PageRank should not be used as the only indicator as to how well a blog or website is performing. In fact some bloggers in particular put way too much emphasis on PageRank. The reality is if your blog has any PageRank at all you are doing something good. If you are a blogger it is more important to get PageRank than it is what number your PageRank is. Be happy and keep blogging.

Friday, March 5, 2010

An Unusual Downside to Paid Posts

At one time in my very early blogging I signed up to Pay Per Post, put the referral button on one of my blogs and added the review me button to a couple of posts but that's it. It seemed to be what every blogger was doing so I thought why not. Within a month I decided to not use PPP at all including referrals without ever writing a paid post. After learning all of the negatives about paid posts I'm glad I didn't write any. So that was my very brief experience with them. I think what really turned me off of paid posts is when I was with entrecard, I would often drop on blogs that were nothing but paid posts. The worst part of this was it was easy to see which bloggers were with which paid post program because there would be almost identical posts talking about the same thing changing little in the wording almost as if it were cut and paste.

Paid posts actually presented a problem I was not expecting. If you have been online and visiting blogs for awhile you will have seen all the ads and paid posts for a particular optical firm selling inexpensive eyeglasses. Now here is the kicker. If I find a product I really enjoy I will blog about it. I don't get any compensation for doing so. This is more of a way to help my readers by saying hey, I've tried/used this product and I really like it. Just before the rash of the aforementioned paid ads started appearing I actually ordered from this company and was so pleased with that order I went on to place 2 more orders. However, I could not blog about it! Why not? The blogosphere was inudated with all the insincere paid posts so my I'm a very pleased customer would have quickly been passed of as being another paid post. This was kind of a tick off because those blogging about it never bought the product and yet I had bought the product. In the end, the company needs to realize that they will get a lot further if they used actual testimonies and encourage real blog posts from satisfied customers. As it stands right now, they continue to come across as spammish thanks to the paid posts meaning a lot of potential customers won't even bother buying.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

A Fun Little Blogfodder Idea

I aim for daily content on three of my blogs and regular content on the other three. That means I'm always on the look-out for blogfodder. Here's a fun little blogfodder idea that works for me:

  • Shut your eyes and quickly think of your blog niche.
  • Write down the first thing the first word that pops into your mind.
  • Write a blog post for your blog that using that word.
This is a great way to get a bit of a different spin on your blog content. For example, I tried this with my garden blog. The first word that popped into my mind was snow. I blogged about our lack of snow and how it would affect local farmers and home gardeners. The topic still fit in with the niche for that blog but the post was refreshing in that it discussed an aspect of gardening that some may not have considered.

Give it a try and see if it works for you :)

Garden Gnome

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Blogging is Therapy

Many bloggers use blogging as a form of therapy. The premise is getting your thoughts and feelings out into print can be quite cleansing, making you feel a lot better. This may be true but if you've ever come across a blog that does so it can actually be painfully uncomfortable to read. A modified form of this is posting the occasional rant which depending on how often you do this may or may not be effective. However blogging can still be used in a positive manner to get your point across or get things off your chest.

My trick is to write the blog post when I am upset about something I could easily rant about without holding anything back. Then I click save now and walk away from the post. The next day when I'm a bit calmer, I will re-open the post and read through it, editing as I go. Then I'll set it aside again for a period of time to edit again. By that time I either have a tamed down rant worth posting or have worked out things enough I don't even bother posting. Quite often the latter is the case simply because by then I've found something else a bit more interesting to blog about. Either way, blogging is cheap therapy :)

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Somethings Are Best Not Blogged About

All of the blogging hosting sites have a TOS that details what content is not permissible with their service. Some bloggers push right up to that limit while others blatantly go against the TOS. In recent news one blogger is in hot water with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for using the video of the death of death of Nodar Kumaritashvili, luge competitor. The IOC maintains they own the copyright to the video and all images as well as saying displaying the video on the blog serves nothing but to hurt his family. At best this blogger will likely end up having his blog shut down entirely which means all the work that he has put into building that blog will be wasted. I think it is best to not post about certain topics especially if components of that blog post goes against the hosing TOS.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Do One Thing Daily for Your Blog(s)

I recently wrote a post on how to make it appear you were creating new content daily even though you aren't actually blogging daily by using scheduling. Most bloggers who have blogged for longer than a couple of months will agree with me that writing blog posts daily increases the risk of blogger's burnout. This is something you want to avoid if your goal is a successful blog. So the title of this post is a bit confusing in that it implies blogging daily however it really means to do one thing daily for your blog(s) that will help you in your goal of establishing a successful blog. This does not mean you have to spend hours or even much more than 5 minutes daily on your blog(s).

I author 6 blogs so obviously writing daily posts is not a real option although it does not necessarily appear that way. I try to do one thing for each blog daily that results in a time commitment of 5 to 20 minutes daily if even that. Here are a few things I do:

  • I signed up to Twitterfeed that took me less than 20 minutes to add all of my RSS feeds. Every time I make a new blog post an automatic tweet is sent out on Twitter to tell my followers a new post has been made without me having to do anything. In fact once set up Twitterfeed needs only be checked occasionally to be sure it is still working correctly which is as simple as logging in to check the feeds.
  • I check my stats daily when possible. There's great information in the stats including repeat visitors and the url that directs them to your site. This is one way I find referral urls that I will visit and leave a comment if possible.
  • I'll take a few minutes to submit new posted content to Digg and do a bit of Digging.
  • I'll take a few minutes to open one of my blogs for a bit of a critical look as what can be or should be changed.
  • I take a few minutes to moderate and respond to any comments left.
  • When I'm doing a bit of blog hopping I watch for blogging trends as well as what directories other bloggers are submitting their blogs to. Submitting to directories should be manual but only takes a few minutes including adding the directory link back.
  • My family and friends read my blogs so I ask their opinions. It might not seem like much but a new pair of eyes and point of view can be a huge asset to a blogger.
  • I like to do a bit of behind the scenes work like checking for dead links, editing pictures and creating graphics.