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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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Promoting a Blog Post on Facebook

There are three ways to promote an individual blog post on Facebook.  The first is putting a link which automatically ads a thumbnail on your personal Facebook page.  This is free and goes out to your friends as a Facebook comment.  You can also do the same thing on Facebook pages you like but this may be perceived as spamming so I don't encourage that.  The second is to put the link on your blog's Facebook page.  That will go to anyone who has liked your blog's Facebook page.  The third option is to use the post promotion option [Boost Post] below each post on your blog's Facebook page.

The Boost Post option opens a drop down menu where you can choose the desired audience, advertising budget and payment method.  Now this is a very nice feature but unlike the blog advertising bloggers were used to using with the now defunct blog advertising networks, this advertising is pricey.  It is however, reaching a much broader audience.  Unlike the blog advertising networks where advertising was done only on blogs within that network which was a rather small audience, advertising on Facebook is reaching out to thousands of people who tend to like sharing what they find with their friends who in turn share with their friends and so on.  Another huge difference between the blog advertising networks and Facebook Boost Post, is you aren't promoting your blog only one post on that blog.  So, for $5 you can promote a blog post on Facebook for a reach of 790 to 1,500 Facebook users.  That doesn't look like much.  But consider if 10% of the 790 share a link to your blog, then 10% of those share the link, well it does snowball.  In fact, if you are really lucky, a link to one of your blog posts could go viral.

The down side to the Boost Post option is of course the price.  Most bloggers are not making a lot of money with their blogs.  If they make enough to cover their costs, they are happy.  This certainly is not going to be an option most bloggers use for just any post.  Instead, I feel the Boost Post option is a good way to get readers to your blog via the extra special interest posts on your blog.   That may mean a blog post that is already a rather popular one on search engine results which means anchor posts.  For this reason, if using the Boost Post option, I think it is prudent to do a bit of blog analysis before buying a Boost Post option.

Here are my recommendations on how to use the Boost Post option on Facebook:

  • use your stats - Your blog stats will help to determine which posts you should use the Boost Post option.  Pay attention to the search referral for key words used to find posts on your blog.  The visit page will help you determine the anchor posts on your blog manually.  If you are using Statcounter, click on Popular Pages in the left hand column of your stats.  This brings up a list of blog posts according to number of hits over the last 18 hours or period of your blog log.  While this list will change certain blog posts will remain within the top 10 posts on your blog.  Those are the posts best used for the Boost Post option.
  • use an anchor post - An anchor post is one that has good content with information that readers are looking for so it consistently brings traffic to your blog via organic searches.  A blog may only have a few anchor posts even if it has a large number of posts.  The anchor post may be seasonal or event specific.
  • seasonal posts - If an anchor post is seasonal (eg. Christmas recipes, bbq recipes, canning tips) promote this post close to the start of that season.  Occasionally you may want to promote that anchor post again mid-season.  For example, one of my most popular posts during the busy canning season (mid-May to mid-October) is how to home can green beans.  This would be a post I would promote on Facebook using a Boost Post option about a week before beans are ready to start harvesting and since beans continue for awhile I would likely promote it again in 2 to 3 weeks time.
  • targeting - There are two Boost Post targeting options.  The first is to those who like your page and their friends.  The second is to Facebook at large.  I think Facebook at large is a better value for your dollar.  Those who like your page have likely already shared one or more of your blog posts with their friends.  Their friends and anyone checking out their profile providing it is public can also see their likes so your page will show that way as well.  In other words, this is free advertising via Facebook.  Targeting to Facebook at large will expose your blog's Facebook page to those who may otherwise not see it.  
  • thumbnails - If a blog post has one or more images, Facebook automatically creates an image for the url when the initial post is made.  Prior to posting, you have the option to choose whether or not to use an image and if so which image to use as the thumbnail.  Always choose the best image.  For example, if a blog post has five pictures showing various stages of the process with the final image showing it completed, choose the completed one as the thumbnail.  The reason being, it has more eye appeal and is more likely to get more interest.  
  • set a budget - Set a budget for your entire advertising costs for a month for your blog.  Advertising on Facebook using the Boost Post option will use up at least $5 or more of your budget.  The menu starts at $15 but you can change that.  
  • start small and go slow - See what you get for that $5.  If you don't like the results, then you can try again with another post or move on to something else without being out a lot of money.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Promoting Your Blog With Facebook

I had a Facebook account for a few years before ever actually using it.  However, when we started traveling between our vacation home in Florida and here in beautiful Ontario, Canada, I quickly realized that Facebook was an ideal way to keep in touch with our family and friends especially during the travel period.  There are numerous free Wi-Fi spots en route and it's free access at the airports we use.  One airport I think has now gone to pay per day but if you sit in one of their bars, it is still free access.  Anyway, we can keep the kids up to date as to where we are so they know we have safely arrived at that point in our destination.  Then when we arrive at our vacation home we have full internet service and free long distance in North America but Facebook is still a lot easier for certain things.  On that note, about a year ago, I set up a Facebook page for my most popular blog. 

You do not need a Facebook page for your blog in order to get your blog noticed on Facebook.  As long as you have a Facebook 'like' button on your blog, preferably after each post, a reader can like that post to share with their Facebook friends.  So, the simplest way to promote your blog with Facebook is to include the Facebook 'like' button.  A Facebook page takes blog promotion a step further.  You must have a personal Facebook account whether or not you are active to create a Facebook page.  This makes you the admin of your Facebook page.  From there, you can set up you page which is laid out Facebook style.  You can add your blog badge (125 x 125) as your Facebook page profile picture which differs from your personal profile picture.  You can add a cover photo as well.  The cover photo cannot have permanent words or encroach on anyone's copyright.  You can change the cover photo as often as desired either by uploading a new image or using one you have already uploaded.  Once your page is set-up you can invite friends who may invite their friends and so on.  At the same time, the Facebook 'like' button on your blog allows readers to follow you Facebook page as well. 

I only have 143 likes for my Facebook page but that is 143 folks that keep up to date with my blog via Facebook.  Just as with your personal account, you can post to your Facebook page including links to specific blog posts.  It is a great way to interact with your readers as well. 

Now it gets interesting and this is where Facebook can help.  You can promote a blog post simply by clicking on the promote and choosing the amount of money you want to spend.  I spent $5 to promote one post that resulted in 903 impressions and 39 clicks.  At 13 cents per click this is a bit pricey as far as advertising BUT out of those 39 clicks, I got two new followers to the page and I know they shared the link to both my blog and Facebook page because there is increased traffic coming from Facebook in my stats.  In addition to paying for blog post promotion there are other advertising options like bidding for clicks and getting more page likes.  Note that the bidding per clicks is clicks to your Facebook page not your blog so it is perfectly fine to use if you have Adsense on your blog.  By advertising your Blog's Facebook page, you are in essence advertising your blog so each advertising campaign should bring traffic to your blog which may increase readers to your blog.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Page Rank & Adsense

Yesterday, I checked my Adsense account to be greeted with the updated Terms & Conditions which I agreed to.  So I decided to do a bit of checking to see what else had changed.  Under Adsense Program Policies I found:

"Do not include deceptive or manipulative content or construction to improve your site's search engine ranking (e.g. your site's PageRank)."
I know I did not see this before!  Every blogger has been displaying PageRank and Technorati rating badges for years.  Not once did I ever consider having either badge as being deceptive or manipulative or in fact in any way anything to do with search engine ranking.  To me, the badges served two purposes.  First, like the McD's billions served on their sign, the badges were a way of advertising to readers that hey, this blog is doing ok.  Second, the badges were a quick way to assess another blog if I wanted to buy advertising on it. 

I'm going ahead and removing both PageRank and Technorati badges not because of Adsense but because Adsense gave me the excuse to remove them.  I never liked the badges in the first place.  Most readers don't care about the numbers to begin with and they take up valuable blog real estate that could be used for much more interesting content.  At any rate, if you are displaying either badge or anything similar and using Adsense, you may want to consider removing it before you are forced to.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Traffic Exhanges & Adsense

Traffic exchanges work on the principle that for every 2 sites you visit you receive one visit to your site in return.  There are variations to this but in general that is how they work.  If used in this manner, a webmaster or blogger can easily inflate the visits to their website or blog which is clearly against the TOS for Adsense.  One reason why BlogExplosion, ExposeYourBlog, Entrecard, CMFAds and Adgitize were destined for failure is all had elements of being a traffic exchange, a couple more so than others.  However, traffic exchanges can still be used by bloggers without violating the TOS for Adsense.

First, let's consider a traffic exchange.  As mentioned, it can be used to get traffic via mindless surfing which is time consuming, increases your bounce rate and has very poor reader retainership.  I'm not saying you can't gain a few loyal readers from using a traffic exchange but if you participated in any of the blog advertising networks mentioned above, how many readers do you still have from those networks?  An actual traffic exchange is not just about getting traffic.  It is about networking in order to make money.  To that end, traffic exchanges offer advertising opportunities that can be used without violating the TOS for Adsense.  They also allow you to buy traffic (against TOS for Adsense) and buy advertising (not against TOS for Adsense).

Be warned, if you use a traffic exchange as 2:1 for gaining visitors to your blog, it can be detected and Adsense may give a warning or suspend your account.  Do not use a traffic exchange for traffic from surfing!  Buying traffic may also get you into trouble with Adsense because you are artificially inflating your traffic.  Some traffic exchanges actually pay members to click on sites which is also against Adsense TOS.  At this point, you may decide that using a traffic exchange is more trouble than it is worth. 

Traffic exchanges offer banner and text ads as well as splash pages.  You can earn or buy credits to use for advertising with is not against Adsense TOS because there is no guarantee you will get any traffic at all from those ads.  If you do, chances are very good if the reader liked what they saw they will bookmark your blog then visit again through your link rather than through the traffic exchange.  If you choose to use advertising resources on a traffic exchange and use Adsense make sure it is one that does not pay members to surf.  Now, if you want to use a traffic exchange to build exposure and traffic for your blog without any possibility of violating Adsense TOS, here's what you do:

  • set up a page for your blog on Facebook
  • set up an account on Pinterest, Twitter, etc.
  • set up an account on the traffic exchange of your choice with you page link pointing to your Facebook blog page
  • Once a reader lands on your Facebook blog page, they can like that page which has a direct link to your blog if they so choose.  While the initial traffic comes from the traffic exchange the actual traffic to your blog comes from Facebook.  This is all perfectly legal so no problem with Adsense.  You can do the same with Pinterest and Twitter.  Make sure your blog url is in your profile then use a traffic exchange to point to your profile where the reader can click on it if desired.  Again the reader is finding your profile via the traffic exchange but traffic to your site comes from the url in your respective profile.
  • One of the easiest ways to do this is to set up a splash page.  This can be done for free on some traffic exchanges.  On the splash page, have your blog title or logo and some interesting text to get their interest, blog url but no clickable link to your blog.  Include any desired social media button with direct links to your profile.  This same splash page can be used across a number of traffic exchanges all bringing traffic to your respective profile which may get you traffic to your blog.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Changes for Updating HTML in Blogger Template

I haven't had the need to update any of my Blogger templates lately. Yesterday, I realized I hadn't updated the copyright notice on a couple of my blogs which means uploading a new graphic then changing the HTML in the template from the old sig graphic to the new. It's an easy way to update the sig on all the posts in the blog with one minor update. So, I clicked on Blogger>template>html and what did I find? Previously, there was a button to click that would expand all the widgets. Now, instead of that button, the html with line numbers appear. There is a black arrow just after the line number that you can click to expand just that widget. The nice thing is, you don't have to wade through a lot of html just to make one minor change to one widget. I really like this new feature!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Updating Copyright Notice on Blogs

Blogging has taking a bit of a back seat this year because I have been rather busy with real life demands. My gosh, here it is the third week of April and I just realized I had not updated my copyright notices on a couple of my blogs. It really was an oversight simply because I was not blogging as much on these blogs. Adding a copyright notice isn't mandatory and some bloggers don't. The reality is, a blog is copyright protected whether it displays a copyright notice or not. A copyright notice just reminds readers, keeping the honest folk honest. Off to finish updating the rest of my blogs...