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!

Search this blog:

Loading...

Friday, December 31, 2010

Last Blogging Day of 2010

Today is the last blogging day of 2010.  I find myself needing posts across all six of my blogs!  The reason for this is despite careful planning and pre-scheduling a large number of posts to run during the holiday season, I did not have enough posts to get through the entire holiday season.  Back to the drawing board for planning on how to deal with extended vacations...

One of the most common questions this time of year is 'what are your new year's resolutions'.  I normally don't write hard, fast resolutions but rather more generic ones like I'm going to spend more time enjoying sunsets.  When it comes to blogging I do have a few ideas for 2011.  I've set the following goals for my blogs:

  • increase to daily posts across four blogs (currently achieved across 3 of them)
  • increase traffic 
  • increase advertising my blogs
  • stick to a set advertising budget
  • more blog promotion for my other blogs that aren't promoted as much as my popular blog
  • increase commenting on other blogs


Thursday, December 30, 2010

A Look Back at Blogging in 2010

My gosh I think blogging in 2010 has been such an interesting but challenging year for me.  As a blogger I gained perspective and the knowledge that I was no longer an inexperienced, new blogger.  I have been blogging since 2006 gradually adding blogs until I now author 6 public and 2 private blogs so blogging is no longer a hobby.  The first part of the year saw me striving to take my blogs a bit further in terms of monetizing.  That meant increasing content across all my blogs so I focused on getting daily content on my 6 blogs.  I was quite successful at this until summer hit then struggled the rest of the year to get back on track.  I managed to maintain daily posts on three of them with fairly regular posts on the other three.  Obviously that will be something I work harder at in 2011. 

Mid-year my most popular blog began taking a slightly different direction in terms of advertising.  I started accepting my first private ads and in October accepted a long term exclusive, advertising contract.  As a result I no longer run Adsense on that blog which in many respects opened up a lot more options for me with that blog.  I'm still enjoying that aspect.  I continue to run Adsense on my other blogs.

I tried a lot of different things to help my blogs over the past year.  Some worked, while others did not.  Overall though, I am pleased with how well my blogs performed over 2010.  I have a lot of ideas for 2011 so am looking forward to another productive blogging year!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Blogging Through the Holidays

Blogging through the holiday season is a bit more challenging as other demands on our time increases resulting in the amount of time available for blogging to decrease.  At the same time there is the preconceived notion that others are also busy during the holiday season so adding new content to your blog is almost a waste of time.  This really is not the case.  While traffic can and does decrease from some sources over the holiday season, it is a good time to attract readers who find themselves with extra time to your blog.  It's important to realize that not everyone celebrates the holiday season.  A simple holiday greeting on your blog is nice for your regular readers but one that extends that greeting by adding content is better. 

Many bloggers will post a holiday greeting near the start of the busy holiday season then post nothing during the holidays at all.  This can result in a posting gap of 12 or more days which is fine for some blogs but not others.  Writing a series of pre-scheduling posts to run during the holiday season is one way to keep the content coming that will attract new readers.  Taking 15 minutes daily to write a blog post is also effective and can provide a little down time from the hectic holiday season.


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Beauty of Blogging

The beauty of blogging is you can blog about anything under the sun!  I'm serious!  There really are no topic restrictions when it comes to blogging providing of course you are not going against the TOU of your blog host.  Basically as long as you are promoting anything illegal or insinuating hatred you can talk about what you want.  Note that you can talk about hate crimes or things that are illegal as long as you are promoting them.  That leaves you a whole lot to blog about.  Even if you niche blog you can still come up with a lot of topics in that niche.  When it comes to blogging, the world is your oyster.  All you need to do is find the pearl!


Monday, December 27, 2010

Blogging & Privacy Issues

Many say that privacy is nothing more than a myth in current times.  That may be to some degree but privacy within our homes and what we reveal about ourselves for the most part still exists.  In many ways we live in troubling times with higher crime rates.  Just as we are cautioned to be aware of our surroundings at all times, we really need to be aware of our online activities especially blogging.  Blogging has become increasingly complex even since I started blogging in 2006.  As our privacy continues to erode it is important to take a few common sense measures to protect ourselves and our family when blogging. 

Consider some bloggers who blog about their families.  It is astonishing as to how much they reveal about themselves and other family members.  Some routinely post current pictures of themselves, their spouses, their children, other family members and their friends.  They post where their kids go to school, the name of their church and where they like to shop.  They post their names, the names of their spouse and kids as well as other family and friends.  They post the name of town or city they live in and what hospital they go to.  All this makes every family member and friend mentioned a sitting duck for online predation.  Heck any internet predator could easily track down the family and/or kids armed simply with the information the blogger freely gave on their blog.  As if that isn't bad enough they blog in real time about being away from their home opening themselves up to potential break-ins or worse.  Geo-targeting is very real with information as to exact location even being uploaded via images uploaded by some digital cameras. 

Here are a couple of my safety tips for blogging:

  • no current pictures of family members including yourself -  For the most part I refuse to use any identifiable picture of myself, my spouse, my children or my friends.  At most I have used very early baby pictures and body parts (eg. hands only) but that is it.  Legally the picture of anyone else including those in public should not be posted online without their consent.  I either blur the image of anyone so it is not identifiable or use another picture.
  • don't reveal too much - No one needs to know if I am home alone or where I'm blogging from.  If I feel it necessary to add to the blog post it is always done well after the fact, never before or during.  I'm sorry but real names are not necessary when blogging and definitely never, ever include your surname on any post, greetings and in fact I don't reveal my real name online at all. 


Sunday, December 26, 2010

I'm Loving Real High Speed Internet

A few years ago just after getting DSL we bought a house where the only internet service available was dial-up.  Now that was a real bummer!  Then we bought this house that had two internet service choices, dial-up or satellite.  The satellite is faster than dial-up but you are subject to mosquitos flying through the beam, meandering clouds and FAPing so at best you end up with slight faster than dial-up service.  At worst you have nothing and you pay through the nose for that nothing! 

Our vacation home has real high speed internet!  I'm not kidding.  This connection is amazing!  I can easily do a good portion of my traffic building strategies for my blogs in well under a half hour at our vacation home while at home it would take me the best part of a day, easily to accomplish the same.  I'm amazed at how much more productive I can be just at blogging!  It does make a huge difference.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

YouTube's New Video Format

I love using YouTube videos as blog fodder.  Some of the videos are those I took myself and others are good videos that I use to make my point.  Now YouTube has changed their display format a bit.  If you notice there are still the two tone colour choices but the video no longer displays with a frame around the entire video.  I liked the full frame as it created a mini television display with a nice finished touch.  Now only the bottom portion of the frame displays making it look somewhat unfinished if you ask me.  YouTube it would be really nice if you just brought back that one nice feature I really liked, please?


Friday, December 24, 2010

LinkShowOff

A few months ago I noticed a new widget appearing on blogs called LinkShowOff.  I clicked the link and signed up.  The premise is you buy a link on someone's blog displaying the widget.   Up to 20 links are shown on the widget.  As a new link is added the oldest link rolls off the widget.  The blogger displaying the widget determines the price they want for displaying the link.  In return LinkShowOff keeps a small commission.  Essentially the widget is a limited blog roll except you pay for a link.

The widget is somewhat customizable but colours are limited.  The number of characters for the link are limited as well so this is not the ideal solution for those with longer blog titles.  Given the way the widget works $1 could buy you a long term bit of advertising especially if the widget is not very busy.

I initally had a LinkShowOff widget on each of my blogs although I did not sell any advertising on them.  I also advertised one of my blogs on another blogger's LinkShowOff widget.  The LinkShowOff widget raises a few concerns for me.  First, I'm not sure whether Google will view this as being a link farm even though the links are nofollow and according to the site you will not be penalized for selling nofollow links.  It's hard to say though and with LinkShowOff having a PR 0 it is definitely cause for using caution.  I'm also not sure how Google views paid links but quite frankly you could have tons of paid links on a blog with no indication they are paid links.  This widget makes it very clear they are paid links so whether Google views the links as advertising or paid links is anyone's guess.  Second the widget sitting empty takes up valuable blog real estate that could be put to better use.  Third, while the concept is good, running a paid link or links on your blog is easy enough without involving a third party to get part of the cut. 


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Blog Advertising

When it comes to blog advertising I've noticed that there are 4 main blog advertising networks - CMFAds, Adgitize, Project Wonderful and Entrecard.  I have used all four and continue to use all but Entrecard.  This actually gives the impression that there are only 4 ways to advertise your blog but that is so wrong!  If you do a quick Google search of 'free blog advertising' comes up with 294,000,000 hits and surprisingly the four main blog advertising networks aren't even on the first page of the search.  In addition to all of these possible blog advertising sources there are email campaigns and private advertising.  The possiblities for blog advertising are practically endless so don't restrict yourself to using only 4.


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Making an Income From Your Blog

I have noticed a growing trend in bloggers wanting to make money off of their blogs.  Well really in some respects it is a reasonable expectation.  However, a real life  (for lack of a better term) will take a good 3 years to make a profit and likely about 10 years or more to make enough to live off of if ever.  Many bloggers don't understand that the same business principles apply to blogging.  It is an unreasonable expectation to set up a blot expecting to make income enough to retire on.  I should clarify this though, if the blog is part of an actual business as one of my private blogs is, it can bring in a substantial amount of monthly income.  For the purposes of this discussion though, I'm talking about the regular, run of the mill blog looking to make money online.

Blogs can earn two types of income:

  • passive income - Passive income is earned by placing a piece of code on your blog usually advertising like Adsense or a blog advertising widget like Adgitize then leaving it alone and doing nothing further.  Essentially you end up earning a few cents here or there to even a few dollars every month simply by having that code on your blog.
  • active income - Active income is earned by doing something active like clicking on widgets to earn a bit of income from your blog or in direct relationship to your blog.  
Active income strategies such as building traffic to your blog affect not only active income but also passive income.  However, passive income will not affect active income.  In reality if you want to make money from your blogs you really need to generate both forms of income.  As time goes on you may have to rely less on active income but in most cases from what I can see generating income from blogs requires using some type of active measures.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Decorating Your Blog for the Holidays

I started blogging in the spring of 2006.  At that time it was the rage to decorate your blog for the holiday season.  There were all kinds of widget and Christmas animations for decorating your blog.  I see some still decorate their blog changing the theme completely however, this may not be in the best interest with respect to your Page Rank.  Instead it may be better to make a few seasonal changes without doing a complete theme change only to change the theme back after the holidays.  What do you think?


Monday, December 20, 2010

Niche Blogging

In my experience, for most intents and purposes it is better to narrow your blog down to a particular niche.  Niche blogging helps to keep the blog itself focused making it easier to write articles.  However, some nice blogging is not without problems.  For example when I started my cooking blog little did I know that coming up with post topics can become difficult because once I've posted about a recipe unless I change it somehow there really isn't more to say without being redundant.  So even though it looks like an easy niche it is a bit more difficult that it appears.  Another example is my gardening blog.  Essentially from spring to late fall there is lots to talk about then after late fall nothing!  The topics just dry up. 

I think for me recognizing that sometimes there are problems with niche blogging was a real positive step into understanding the realities of blogging.  If you want your blog to do well it means regular content but understanding that sometimes that isn't as easy as it sounds helped me to focus a bit on solutions to those nice blogging problems.  Part of the solution I came up with was to establish 'special day' posts like Frugal Kitchens 101 (Mondays) and Kitchen Quick Tips (Thursdays) on my cooking blog and I have just recently started a new monthly feature to run on the last day of the month with my 2 picks for the best dish or recipe made.  So out of a 30 day month I already have 9 posts!  The garden blog has been a little more problematic to solve in the sense a regular feature wouldn't work well through the busy gardening season.  It's still a challenge that I'm working on trying to get regular posts out without going from November to March with no posts.  I will help a bit that we will be at our vacation home at some point during this time frame so that will give me a bit of gardening blog fodder. 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Blog Advertising Outside of the Blogosphere

When it comes to blog advertising a lot of bloggers really narrow themselves to just the blogosphere.  In reality a blog is a website like any other just constructed a bit differently and usually updated on a regular basis.  I really don't think there is any reason to restrict blog advertising in such a fashion.  I am taking the approach with blog advertising for my blogs to maximize my exposure while gaining readers and subscribers.  Here is what I've discovered:

In short there are two main types of blog advertising:

  • free - may not be entirely free as there may be a time commitment involved to earn credits to exchange for advertising
  • paid - a monetary value is paid for the advertising that can range from 1¢ per day to $20 or more per month
At the bare minimum you will need:
  • a blog - make sure it is a blog not a make money website or simply a collection of videos or photos
  • an advertising budget - trust me at $10 per month advertising in one location you really need a realistic advertising budget; if you are using free advertising that requires a time commitment then that becomes part of your time management budget
  • a different perspective - advertising to other bloggers is great and by all means should be part of your marketing strategy but if you want to drive you blog further you need to think outside of the box
  • advertisements - you will need a 125 x 125 badge and a 480 x 60 banner that are reflective of your blog's content including your blog's name, in some cases you will need to make a custom made size based on the requirements of the site you want to advertise on
  • value for your dollar - every single site where you want to display your ad should be checked out using Page Rank Checker, while some sites with a lower PR than your blog are fine to get the exposure you need to aim to get your advertising on sites that have a higher PR than your blog
  • patience - in many cases you will be dealing one on one with the owner of the site you want to display your advertising on which means it make take a few days to get the advertising in place


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Comment Policy

I have noticed while blog hopping that some bloggers have comment policies in place while others do not.  Some are rather detailed policies while others are simple statements like "your comment will be posted after owner approval" on the comment form.  Do you need a comment policy?

The short answer to this question is no, a comment policy is not necessary unless your blog is part of a commercial endeavor.  So if you are blogging on behalf of a magazine or restaurant or similar than a comment policy would be appropriate.  If you are writing paid posts including a comment policy may be part of the TOS for that particular program.  If you have a popular blog or a problem with comment spam you may want to spell out your comment policy but really there is no need to. 


Friday, December 17, 2010

Getting Tough on Comment Spammers

I have decided to get a bit tougher on comment spammers across all of my blogs.  I don't know if there is a correlation with the holiday season but I have noticed comment spam increasing somewhat.  In the past if the comment was borderline it would be allowed quite often with any link, with the link stripped only if really on the border.  What I have decided to do is to strip the link from any borderline comment and delete comments that just say 'nice post' or 'good information' with nothing further to indicate the post was even read.  I am especially going to be paying attention to the somewhat questionable spammish comments where the link leads back to the author's Blogger profile stripping that url as well.  I'm not kidding, on one of my blogs I have at least one reader that leaves borderline comment with each comment pointing back to the Blogger profile.  One or two comments wouldn't be so bad but one each day really ads up to a huge hole with respect to Page Rank!  In fact I may even go back and strip the urls from the comments already posted.  Somehow I have to make it quite clear that these kind of comments just will not be tolerated!


Thursday, December 16, 2010

Meta Tags Revisited

According to some sources meta tags are not all that important but my experience was accidently deleting them off of one of my blogs resulted in an immediate drop of traffic.  Since that happened I've been paying attention to the meta tags on my blogs.  Even if Google doesn't acknowledge meta tags, other search engines likely do.  So it is a good idea to have meta tags on your blog just to help get the attention of other search engines. 

Meta tags are a bit more complicated than they appear especially the keyword meta tags.  These tags in particular need to be updated on a regular basis.  The reason being is keyword search terms change so you want to keep you main tags up to date.  Even just changing out these tags to better reflect your blog is a good idea from time to time.


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Lot of Little Things Add Up

A few days ago I'm going through my blogs checking for any problems that would get in the way of search engine optimization.  What I quickly realized is it really is the little things that add up rather than one big thing when it comes to getting traffic from the search engines.  Something as simple as a couple of dead links can cause problems but the occasional link that looks quite benign to you actually can trigger the occasional problem as well.  So I spent a bit of doing a fair amount of behind the scenes tweaking across all six of my blogs.  It seriously is all those little things that go into SEO that really makes the difference.


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Should You Care About Where Your Traffic Comes From?

When it comes to blogging the more traffic you can generate the better.  More traffic means a better prospect of increasing readership and subscribers.  If you have monetized your blog it may mean an increase in revenue as well.  So as a blogger it is a good idea to generate traffic to your blog in any way that you can.  In my opinion part of good traffic generation is to use a variety of methods, never relying on one method only for generating blog traffic.  I also think that making an effort to generate traffic should be a daily activity if at all possible.  Notice I said daily not time consuming.  Ten minutes per day working on some type of traffic generation method can have a huge payoff in the end.

I came across a question in one of the forums regarding where traffic comes from.  Should you care about where your traffic comes from?  The simple answer is no.  Traffic is traffic so each and every visit to your blog is a potential loyal reader or subscriber.  The more complex answer is yes.  If any of the following apply to you then yes you will want to know where your traffic is coming from:

  • You are conducting a directed (eg. geo targeted) ad campaign.
  • Blog revenue is based on hits from one particular country.
  • You've picked up a comment spammer or blog stalker.
  • You've started a new traffic generating method so want to track the effectiveness.
  • You are trying to target your blog content to a particular geographical audience.


Monday, December 13, 2010

Find and Make Dynamic Web Widgets

Even though I use generic templates as the basis for my blogs I like to customize them with graphics and backgrounds I have made.  Making customized widgets is easy with the online resource Widgetbox.  You do have to join the site in order to be able to create and save widgets.  You can choose from basic or pro with basic being free (limited features) and pro being paid subscription (full featured).  Widgets include slide show, forms, YouTube and more plus you can search for already created widgets.  You can also develop a widget from scratch in a few different formats including The widgets you create can be saved in your widget folder for easy use later.  This is just a handy little tool for those wanting to add more customization to their blogs. 


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dropping Via Blog Advertising Networks

The three main blog advertising networks (Entrecard, CMFAds, Adgitize) involve 'dropping' on other blogs.  Essentially this is a traffic building strategy via advertising using blog badges.  There are a couple of things to consider when dropping though.  If you want to drop effectively to give long term, lasting traffic results you need to leave comments on blogs as possible that you drop on.  This is not always feasible in the sense if you drop 300 on Entrecard, 100/51 on Adgitize and whatever number of spikes there are on CMFAds, you cannot possibly leave upwards of 400 plus quality comments daily.  If you can more power to you.

My goal is to leave 5 quality comments daily.  By quality I mean a comment that actually relates to the post not something like 'nice blog, please visit my blog".  I seriously hate those types of comments!  I don't do Entrecard so that frees up a lot of time and 5 comments across 6 blogs is not really a lot.  Some days I make more comments sometimes less but that is my daily goal.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

15 Ways to Promote Your Blog

When I first started blogging I did not worry about blog promotion simply because I was naive when it came to blogging.  Blog promotion is important if you want to get traffic which in turn leads to readers and subscribers.  Here are 15 ways I've found to promote my blogs:

  1. blog advertising networks (eg. Entrecard, Adgitize, CMFAds)
  2. banner advertising
  3. text link advertising
  4. email campaign
  5. signature file for forum or group participation 
  6. niche forums
  7. traffic exchanges
  8. directory submissions
  9. pinging search engines
  10. word of mouth (eg. family, friends, co-workers)
  11. reciprocal links
  12. RSS feed
  13. social networking (eg. MySpace, Facebook, Twitter)
  14. article submissions with link back to your blog
  15. guest blogging


Friday, December 10, 2010

A Low Maintenance Blog

As the author of six public blogs I am the first one to say that no blog is maintenance free.  The reason being in order for a blog to be successful there is always a bit of behind the scene maintenance that is necessary.  What really is nice when authoring multiple blogs is to have one such as this blog that really is lower maintenance.  There aren't a lot of custom graphics other than the header.  The design is clean and basic.  I haven't done a lot of tweaking so the only real maintenance is to check for dead links, adding links and keep the content coming. 


Thursday, December 9, 2010

How Important is Page Rank?

So many bloggers put Page Rank (PR) on a pedestal as if it is the only measurement of a successful blog.  The reality is PR is only one measurement of a successful blog.  When it comes to a blog if you are able to get any PR even a PR0 you are doing good.  So relax and just keep doing what you are doing and things will be fine.  Here's a few things to know about PR:

  • PR has nothing to do with your popularity as a blogger, your blogs popularity or anything else other than Googles ranking of where your blog is on search results.
  • PR applies only to how Google sees your blog's placement in search results and nothing else.  The higher the page rank the higher up your blog will be in the search results.
  • Google often changes the algorithm than calculates PR so depending on the change your PR may fluctuate up or down by 1.  Don't worry!
  • An algorithm change may result in all of a sudden your blog has no PR.  DO NOT PANIC!  As long as you haven't changed anything you are doing, carry on as normal.  DO NOT CHANGE ANYTHING!  This happens from time to time when Google is testing a new algorithm and it is a pain but as long as you are not using any black hat methods your PR will be right back up there the next algorithm change.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A Downside to Selling Advertising on Your Blog Yourself

I posted about selling advertising direct to the advertiser on blogs a couple of months ago.  This method can be quite financially rewarding but it is not without a few problems.  Essentially selling directly means knocking out the middleman so you do end up making more money.  You can use OIOPublisher to help organize and control your adspace or you can do it all manually yourself.  OIOPublisher will cost you a one time fee and you need somewhere to host it whereas the manually approach only costs you time.  As mentioned there is a downside to selling ads directly to advertisers.  Here a few cons:

  • direct interaction - In most cases the advertiser will contact you directly regarding buying advertising space on your blog.  This will likely be in the form of a link request but may include a graphic.  You need to be available to respond to these requests so this may not be the ideal set-up if you blog once or twice a month without checking your blog throughout the month.  It also means if you reject an ad offer for whatever reason you will have to deal with the advertiser if they don't like your decision. 
  • organization - Organization is key so you know when to contact the advertiser for renewal if they desire.  If the link is buried within your blog archives then you need to be able to remove the link upon expiry if the link is not renewed.  I find using a spreadsheet works nicely.
  • the waiting game - Sometimes an advertiser will contact you requesting an ad spot.   The emails may go back and forth several days then the advertiser will tell you payment is on the way but it never arrives.  By the way, payment should always be in advance and via Pay Pal.  Before you know it a week's worth of effort has gone into selling the ad spot but you don't hear from the advertiser for another week asking if they can still place an ad.  Another round of emails ensues.  This pattern may repeat itself a couple of time until the advertiser actually pays for the ad or you get tired of dealing with them.  At any rate it becomes a waiting game.


Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The Ping Effect

Back in September we were on vacation.   While had blissful real high speed internet so I could keep blogging in addition to scheduled posting, I neglected to ping my blogs for that three week period.  The simple reason for this is I simply forgot.   The effect of not pinging became apparent about a week into our vacation. 

Pinging is a very important component in blog promotion.  It is a way of letting blog directories and search engines know that you are still there adding new content to your blog.  Pinging helps to get your blog indexed that in return increases your traffic.  If you ping on a regular basis as I had been doing, the effects of not pinging is not noticeable immediately.  Rather the effects are gradual.  Unless you monitor your traffic trends it will take upwards of a month to start noticing a slight downward trend in your traffic.  Resuming pinging will not have immediate effects either so the effects of not pinging will likely last a month or more.

I learned a valuable lesson in blog promotion.  The good thing is in retrospect the decrease in traffic across all my blogs was minimum and recoverable likely because I had been making a point of regular pinging.  Resuming pinging solved the problem in a shorter period of time than anticipated so that was rather nice.  In future I will continue pinging even when on vacation.  Even pinging once a week during a vacation will take less than 10 minutes for all of my blogs while keeping the directories and search engines happy.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Bad Neighbourhood Link Detection Tool

I've been doing a lot of blog analysis lately.  I found this handy tool for helping to detect if you are linked to any bad neighbourhoods via text links.  It's called the Bad Neighbourhood Link Detection Tool.  Hovering over the icons beside the analyzed links will tell you what that icon means.  If you are a blogger expect to see the blog spam icon to appear which they said is normal.  If you get a caution symbol for a link it is an indication of a possible link to a bad neighbourhood.  However, it will tell you the link and why it was flagged.  On my cooking blog a link using 'food porn' was flagged which in the foodie world is a normal term but not so for search engines, I guess.  Removing any confirmed bad neighbourhood links is a good idea and it likely isn't a bad idea to scan your blog from time to time just in case.

Garden Gnome
©2009-2010


Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sitemaps

I have been racking my brain out as to why this blog has not gained Page Rank.  It's not like it doesn't have daily unique content and I've used basically the same technique getting it established as I have my other blogs.  So I wandered over to Google's Webmaster Tools.  I had been having a dickens of a time with the meta tag for my cooking blog so out of frustration I set it aside to work on later which really is always a bad thing to do when it comes to behind the scenes blogging issues.  After a bit of fiddling I got the meta tag to work then decided to tackle sitemaps.  A sitemap allows the bots to crawl your blog discovering pages they might not have found.  So I decided to add a sitemap to my cooking blog.  This is a bit more difficult in blogger but the easiest way to do it is to log into Webmaster Tools then click on add sitemap and add your atom or rss feed.  When you click add site map a popup will show http://yoururl.com/----- with the ----- being a space to add either atom.xml or rss.xml depending on your feed.  Ideally in place of the ----- use rss.xml?max-results=500&start-index=1 increasing the 500 if you have more than 500 posts in your blog.  Simply type that in and hit enter and presto you have added a sitemap for Google.  Pretty nifty, eh?


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Bad Neighbourhoods

If you care about your Page Rank, Google warns to stay away from 'bad neighbourhoods'.  Essentially what this means is don't link to websites that don't meet Google's Webmaster Guidelines.  Don't link to websites that spam, link farms or those hosting malware, trojans, viruses and other malicious content.  If in doubt before linking to a site check their PR.  A PR of 0 or more means Google has indexed them so they should be fine to link to.  A PR of NA can mean a variety of things from the site being relatively new to it being considered part of a sub-domain to it being in a bad neighbourhood to linking to a banned site..  If the PR comes up as NA use caution and check out the site well for anything that is contrary to Google's Webmaster Guidelines before linking to it.  If at some time you realize a site you linked to through a comment or otherwise is now considered to be a bad neighbour, remove the link immediately.

Be sure to check what a PR NA can be caused by.  If a site comes up as PR NA run a Google search of that site name.  If it shows up on the first page of the search the site is fine.  For example this blog has a PR NA but shows as third on page 1 of a search for "the blog report" meaning this blog hasn't been fully indexed yet aka I need to do a bit more pinging and likely promotion.  So don't discount a site because it has PR NA, simple check it over more carefully before adding a link to it.


Friday, December 3, 2010

Google and Links Schemes

I've posted before about using Mr. Linky, a rather spammish link widget directed at supposedly increasing backlinks to improve your Page Rank (PR).  Recently a website calling itself NYSILLY Link Farm has appeared in at least one blog advertising network I participate in.  The owner of this site actually left a message on this blog inviting me to advertise.  I let the comment go through but after reading Google's Webmaster Tools went back and deleted it.  Yes the site is currently a PR 3 but when Google realizes it is a link farm they will be penalized affecting everyone linked to them.  Directly from Google's Webmaster Tools:

Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank. In particular, avoid links to web spammers or "bad neighborhoods" on the web, as your own ranking may be affected adversely by those links1.
The real problem with the NYSILLY site is it does say that Google will index you faster because it is a PR3 site.  What happens when Google penalizes this site?  Your PR is going to drop like a ton of bricks!  The second problem is because the ad is being shown within a trusted blog advertising network other bloggers trust it so they are displaying the ad.  That's not a good thing!

If you care about your PR, stay away from any link schemes including Mr. Linky, NYSILLY and anything similar.  If comments have been left on your blog from any link scheme site, delete them.  It is better for your PR to have nothing to do with any link schemes and that includes running their advertising or widgets!


Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Rule Breakers

I do a lot of daily blog hopping and for the most part enjoy it but I'm telling you there are some days I just get so fed up dealing with the rule breakers.  For example while bloghopping today I saw:

  • alcohol and gaming advertising on blogs showing Adsense
  • three ad units on a blog in a blog advertising network that only allows two ad units
  • two redirects contrary to one blog advertising network's TOS
  • three popup and two pop-under ads contrary to one blog advertising network's TOS
  • blatant soft porn blog badges contrary to one blog advertising network's TOS
  • several using Adsense and traffic exchanges
And the list goes on.   What is it with the rule breakers?  They end up ruining it for the rest of us and yet they insist on breaking the rules?  Why?  Because they are the only blogger in the blogosphere trying to make a go out of blogging, don't you know!  They are above the rules so they can doe exactly as they please so it seems.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Google Verses Traffic Exchanges

Traffic exchanges can be extremely effective at bringing traffic to your blog.  The often mentioned warning is do not use a traffic exchange if you are running Adsense ads as it is against their TOS.  By definition the popular blog advertising network Entrecard is a traffic exchange.   So that brings up a few issues. 

Google is not against traffic exchanges.  In fact out of seven of the most popular traffic exchanges I checked, all had a PR with the lowest being PR 0 due to being new and the highest a PR 4 for two of the older traffic exchanges.  With respect to using traffic exchanges and PR the only caveat if you are not using Adsense is to make sure the traffic exchange conforms to Google's Webmaster Guidelines.  Don't use a traffic exchange that is in a 'bad neighbourhood' site and don't use a traffic exchange if you use Adsense.