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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Saturday, March 31, 2012

Comment Issue in the New Blogger Update

The new blogger updated look either has a glitch the way it is showing comments waiting for moderation or any links in a comment does not show if the comment is accessed via the dashboard for moderation.  That means when you look at a comment waiting for moderation via the dashboard any links within the comment are not shown.  If you use only the dashboard for comment moderation you could end up with some rather undesirable links.  The current work-around is make sure your settings are set to send you any comment via email as part of your moderation.  The link does show up in the email version.  From there you can decide whether to approve the comment, strip the url or delete the comment. 


Friday, March 30, 2012

Should Search Engine Rules be Different for Bloggers?

In the real world, there a general rules that apply to everyone (eg. don't kill, don't drink and drive) and rules that apply based on certain criteria (eg. it is illegal to drink before a certain age, bylaws pertaining to the municipality).  For every rule, there are consequences for non-compliance but there maybe exceptions to the rules.  In comparison, the search engines have the general rule that you should not use blackhat methods to increase your rank in their search results.  One could question whether the search engines should have rules based on criteria such as big business websites verses blogs.  The reality is while some bloggers had the goal to make oodles of money blogging, most have not.  Some bloggers don't even monetize their blogs but they do put out good content.  Others monetize enough to cover part or all of their internet access costs.  At any rate, bloggers really don't need to do a lot of SEO and they certainly are not competition to business websites. 

I find it ironic that bloggers participating in certain blogging networks that Google had decided to de-index are being penalized for trying to get a bit of traffic and attention when the big company websites spend hundreds of thousands of dollars annually on SEO.  Again, it is the little person that gets penalized not the big companies.  It would be nice if bloggers had a bit more leeway especially when content is king and some bloggers have a heck of a lot more content than some company websites.  Many bloggers are routinely adding new content on a regular basis as well whereas company websites may only be updated once a year.  That being said, logistically could the search engines have one set of rules for business websites and others for bloggers?

I really don't think so.  Many bloggers have their own domains which makes it a bit more difficult for the search engines.  They would have to include some type of algorithm change to detect blogs and bloggers would need to add a meta tag with the word 'blog' in it.  The problem is larger companies and perhaps the seedier side of the websites could simply use that meta tag so the search engine crawlers would classify that site as blog as well.

Google itself, has indicated that it wants to level the playing field.  For that very reason, bloggers are going to have to abide by the same rules set out for business and other types of websites.  Once Google is finished this round of de-indexing, some bloggers aren't going to be very happy but others should see an improvement in the search engine ranking. 


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Is Google Right or Wrong Penalizing Those Who Pay for Backlinks?

It is quite clear from recent changes at Google that if you are using a paid backlinking network or paying for backlinks to your blog, you will be punished by being de-listed from their search engine results.  Let's be clear, paying to advertise your link is one thing but paying for a backlink is not.  Now this is a bit of a grey area.  In my mind it really is difficult to make a distinction.  If I pay X amount of dollars to advertise my blog that doesn't give me guaranteed hits but it does create a backlink to my blog.  Apparently that is ok.  If I pay X amount of dollars for say 50 backlinks, that is wrong but in reality that is just another form of advertising.  I don't really get it but I play by rules.  Is Google right or wrong?

Well, the short answer is, it's Google's search engine they call the shots.  Paying for backlinks really is a grey issue and quite frankly is a bit hard to determine especially if the paid backlinks aren't from an actual paid backlink farm.  But I have been one to give the early warning not to do anything that would ever associate your blog with any type of link farm, paid or free.  Don't even be tempted to accept a paid link on your blog.  Google just doesn't like it. 

In all honesty, paid backlinks are nothing more than advertising.  It is a way of getting a few visits and really how is a paid backlink any different from the advertising you can buy on Google itself?  You are still buying a link.  In this respect, Google is being a bit wishy washy in wanting to control who buys what.


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Google De-Indexing Paid Blog Network

Google de-indexed the popular Build My Link blogging network last week.  Well, it couldn't have been that popular as I had never heard of it which is a bit surprising given I usually stay in touch with what is happening in the blogosphere.  Essentially, this network was a paid link network for bloggers, something that Google really doesn't like.  This explains why I never used it so maybe at some point I checked it out, realized it was a big no no and moved on.  I just can't remember.

Google is taking a strong approach to these types of blog networks meaning more of them are going by the wayside.  Just last year we saw the ever slowing death of BlogExplosion continue as well as the demise of CMFAds and Adgitize.  Guaranteed Entrecard is going to be on Google's hit list.  The bottom line is when dealing with Google, you cannot pay for backlinks!  That is a cardinal rule.  You can pay for advertising but not backlinks.  Any blog network charging for backlinks is going feel the wrath of Google and it will affect any blogger using that network.  Be warned...


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Blogger is Unrolling it's New Updated Look

I logged into my Blogger dashboard this morning to see the announcement that Blogger will be updating all users to the new update.  It is a cleaner more streamlined look with functions like labels behaving a bit differently.  Scheduling is a bit easier using the drop down calendar.  Other than that the blogging features are pretty much the same.  The familiar royal blue is basically gone but I don't mind that.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Frustration Can be a Great Blogging Motivator

Years ago, I was teaching myself HTML so I could have my own webpage.  I cannot tell you how incredibly frustrating it was given my main computer experience had been with Fortran using the old punch cards.  But I'm not a quitter and frustration just makes me dig in my heels deeper.  I was reminded of how many times I was frustrated setting up my blogs just today when I was re-learning customizing brochures in Word.  I haven't done brochures in ten years so had forgotten some of the little tricks involved.  I'm seriously pulling my hair out here and yet it reminds me so much of the blogging learning curve!  Many a night I was up pushing myself out of frustration just to get one of my blogs to look a certain way.  I can't tell you how many times I was frustrated over learning how to use Photoshop something needed for images and graphics on my blogs.  So essentially I was learning two programs at once.   Frustration can be a great motivator especially if you are like me ...


Friday, March 16, 2012

Oh My Gosh - Recent Comment Spam

Some days I open my blog comment spam and just have to laugh!  Recently someone left a comment on one of my blogs asking 'where Canadiana was located'.  I think it is right next door to Americana but I could be wrong .  


Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Sense of Being Alone in the Blogosphere

When I started blogging back in early 2006, it did not take me long to find actual blogging communities like BlogExplosion, Entrecard, Adgitize, CMFAds and ExposeYourBlog.   Adgitize and CMFAds are no more, BlogExplosion is dying a slow and painful death with most links not working or not working properly, Entrecard seems to be doing ok as does ExposeYourBlog.  There really is no sense of being part of the blogosphere using Entrecard.  It is just mindless clicking to get traffic that goes away as soon as you stop clicking.  There is no sense of community, no forum, just traffic with Entrecard.  There is a sense of being alone in the blogosphere without these connector programs that brought so many bloggers together.  While blogging continues it isn't the same.  I'm sure after adjusting it will be just fine but in the meantime, I'm sure many bloggers are struggling...


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Too Much Blog Fodder

Sometimes having too much blog fodder is as bad as having not enough.  There have been a lot of things going on since we returned from our winter vacation in late December.  The blog fodder is piling up while time for blogging is less.  Honestly, just yesterday our custom woodworker and crew were here yesterday doing the finishing work on the kitchen, installing a garage door opener and central vacuum along with doing a couple of minor repairs.  They arrived at 9 AM and didn't leave until just after 8 PM. That was a big chunk of time for me to lose!  The good thing is I managed to take a fair number of pictures so have ample blog fodder just from that one day.  The problem is yesterday is almost a repeat of what days have been like here since the first of the year.  It's nice that we are getting a lot of the indoor work done before the real nice weather but it has been unseasonably mild here so outdoor work has started as well.  So the blog fodder is piling up to the point when I have a chance to blog, there's so much of it I don't know where to start!


Friday, March 9, 2012

Google Announces 40 New Changes

Well, as if Google's Panda update didn't slap enough wrists, they have announced 40 new changes that will affect websites including blogs.  In their quest for quality content, they will now be analyzing links meaning you could get penalized for having what they consider (and that hasn't been disclosed) inferior links.  The criteria for the links is bound to be more stringent than just linking to a site using black hat methods or selling links.  While there is some speculation as to how the changes for links will be seen by Google remains to be seen, guaranteed they will affect page rank.  The good news is, with Pinetrest, images are becoming more important in the eyes of Google.  That means you must, must, must use the alt tag for all images as well as optimization.  Images are a great way to get your blog noticed!  Regular content is a must under the new changes.  Apparently under the new rules, the fresher the content the better!   Make sure the content is dated so Google picks it up and ping after each update.  Other than that, just keep on blogging.  I honestly don't think the changes will make much of a difference to those bloggers who are already using these practices anyway.  It will affect those who haven't updated in over a month as well as those not taking advantage of the image alt tag.  For the most part though, the changes will have more of an effect on company websites.  Still it doesn't hurt to be aware of what Google is doing...


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Is the Lure of Blogging Fading?

I've been blogging for six years now and have to question whether the lure of blogging is fading.  When I first started it was just me then I joined BlogExplosion quickly followed by other blog promoting sites.  Now most of those sites are gone so networking between blogs is a lot more difficult.  The average life span of a blog is 3 months to begin with.  If a blog survives beyond the 3 month period it has a better chance of surviving the long term.  Many blogs were set up specifically to make money but when that didn't happen they were abandoned.  The reality is, aside of life getting in the way, bloggers are human.  They get tired of dealing with comment spam, ignorant emails, the constant work of blogging and all done for little to nothing in terms of reward.  It really saddened me today when I checked through the list of blogs I follow to see almost half of them haven't updated in over a year.  At some point I suppose there is the possibility that they might start blogging again but more than likely they will not.  The worst part is, some of these bloggers were top notch authors of quality content with unique blog designs so they had a lot to offer the blogging community.

The lure of blogging is not fading for me at all.  I'm saddened to see talented bloggers stop blogging and I'm saddened to see some of the top notch blog advertising networks gone.  But, I have no intentions of giving up on any of my blogs.  I admit to struggling a bit with the curve balls life has thrown me and the first two months of 2012 being a bit sluggish for blogging, but I'm still here and still blogging.  Hopefully, I will meet up again with some of my old blogging friends even if they just pop by to say hello.  If I don't, I wish them all the best and thank them for the enjoyment they shared through their blogs while they were blogging.


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Spelling & Grammar Could Affect Your Page Rank

Oh my!  A couple of days ago I read where Google may be penalizing blogs and other websites for spelling and grammatical errors.  The reason being is quite often both indicate low quality content or possible scrapped content.  Furthermore, apparently some were intentionally using common spelling mistakes as a way to get into the first page of search engine results.  I think this would be considered borderline black hat methods if done intentionally.  However, as a blogger who tends not to like proof-reading I have taken to using the spell check just so my blogs don't fall into the suspicious category. 

I make a lot of spelling mistakes due to dyslexia and impatience.  I want the post finished and published so often omit that important step of proof-reading.  What I need to work on is a system where it becomes automatic to spell check and proof-read.  In the end, it will improve my blogging skills that will hopefully be reflected in my Page Rank (PR).


Saturday, March 3, 2012

How Important is SEO for Bloggers?

A few years ago when I started monetizing my blogs, I became interested in search engine optimization (SEO).  SEO is rather complicated and the rules change quicker than some change their underwear!  But how important is SEO for bloggers? 

Bloggers whether they have monetized their blog(s) or not cannot afford to ignore SEO.  If they do, it can effect the earning potential and readership of the blog.  At the same time, bloggers should not focus solely on SEO.  Essentially a blogger needs to be cognizant of good SEO practices like the effective use of key words or key phrases but for the most part they should focus on building good content.  While good SEO practices will get the attention of the search engines, if the content is not there, it won't gain you readership.  As a blogger it really boils down to the readership and the more it is the better regardless whether they found your blog via a search engine or through word of mouth.  I seriously have seen some blogs that do not show in one or more search engines that have a nice following meaning even though they aren't showing in the search engines they can still make a bit of an income if they have monetized the blog.  

SEO really concerns big businesses with websites aiming at sales.  They want the maximum number of hits possible to increase their sales.  SEO really has a minimal impact for bloggers unless you get lucky and your blog goes viral.  If a blog goes viral, chances are it did so without SEO.  I'm just saying...


Friday, March 2, 2012

Regular Posting

One of the first rules of catching the attention of search engines is having regular new content aka regular blog posts.  What hasn't been defined is the meaning of the word regular.  Does regular mean more than one daily post, a daily post, a weekly post, a monthly post or what?  Well, I can't answer the question but I do know that the more quality posts on a blog the better.  A blog with a daily post may get a bit more search engine attention but only if it is a quality post aka a post that adds content for the search engines.  That means that some memes like Wordless Wednesday really don't count all that much as far as content goes.  Although if using a picture you took for Wordless Wednesday and you combine it with effectively using the alt="" tag for the image it may count as new content.  I aim for daily posts if possible and when life gets in the way, as long as I get a post out every three to seven days I'm happy.  It's the best I can do...