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, May 18, 2013

Beneficial Spam

I'm not a huge fan of spam of any kind.  With respect to blogging, spam is usually comment spam or some type of solicitation like trying to get me to blog about whatever they are selling, selling being them wanting me to blog about their latest, greatest topic or promote them in some fashion.  Well, yesterday I received a rather interesting piece of spam.  This spam 'technically' was an offer for me to join their services to gain organic traffic to one of my blogs.  In this case, it was a simple piece of spam surprisingly addressed to my blog team that ended up turning out to be rather informative.  What they did is include five points that they felt my blog was lacking that was affecting the organic traffic I was receiving from search engines.  I don't know if they actually analyzed my blog or it was just a generic five points that would be applicable to most blogs. 

Some of the major factors which can be overcome for your website to rank well in SERP organically and increase your social media presence are:
1.       Seems like your website carries a lot of technical errors which prevents search engine to crawl and index your website properly.
2.       Your website needs a proper keyword selection and optimization.
3.       Your website is not well furnished with enough quality and theme based back links.
4.       Your website should be more inclined towards Social media promotion and a regular updates in major social networks.
5.       Missing quality web and promotion contents (Article, Blogs etc.) which is preventing your website to gain more authority and ranking in Web Market.
The five points were gave me a something to ponder.  I'm not sure what the technical errors are as I have meta tags and Blogger is rather good at providing the necessary ground work to allow search engines to crawl and index blogs within their system.  Keywords are based on the content of each blog post and while I do pay attention to keywords, I don't write blog posts around keywords.  Rather, I use keywords naturally as I would in discussing that topic.  The quality and theme based back links may be something to work on.  However, back links are not something I tend to solicit.  I let them happen naturally.  Occasionally I leave a link back one of my blogs when commenting but even that is almost a waste of time since many bloggers have these types of links set to rel='no follow'.  Most of the back links I get to my blogs is from other bloggers liking what they have read enough to share with their readers.  I have social media buttons on my blog and promote them on social media as well so without spamming via social media I can't really do much more.  The last point is just a bit insulting because let's face it any blogger who is trying to make it in the blogosphere including myself is writing what they consider quality content.  Furthermore, I include quality content such as quotes and other interesting tidbits.

In all, this was likely a generic list aimed to get me to sign up to their services and part with a bit of hard earned cash.  Well, their marketing ploy didn't work but it did get me thinking a bit.  As always, there is room for improvement in my blogging so perhaps it's  time to formulate a new strategy and try a few new things.  After all, becoming stagnant in the world of blogging is never good!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Google May Penalize For Cross Linking Between Your Own Blogs

A couple of weeks ago, I read an article that started out saying that Google may penalize if you cross link between your own blogs.  While this may be the case, what Google really is saying is if you have a couple of blogs and occasionally do a natural link from one to another, there isn't a problem.  What they don't want is someone who has twenty blogs, consistently cross linking between them.  So, in my case where I author six blogs, it would be fine for me to link to one of them if blogging about a topic related to the that blog.  For example, a link to a tomato sauce recipe on my cooking blog from my gardening blog if I were discussing tomatoes on my gardening blog and mentioned a particular variety was ideal for making a sauce would be acceptable.  Also acceptable is something to the effect 'I also author' or 'Author of' and links to your other blogs in the sidebar which would by search engine standards result in one link to each of your other blogs similar to a blog roll.  What is not unacceptable is excessive cross linking especially those cross links that are not natural.

Back when I first started blogging a little over seven years ago, it was a common practice for those bloggers interested in making money from their blogs to set up a number of blogs.  Excessive cross linking was widely done even though it likely wasn't acceptable back then either.  My youngest blog is almost five years old and yet despite authoring six blogs, I seldom link between them.  I have links to each in the sidebar but other than than there are very few times I will make a link from one of my blogs to another.  So, for me excessive cross linking between my blogs is a non-issue but for those who do, they may find themselves penalized.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Promoting a Blog with Contests

A couple of years ago when I was active in the now defunct blog advertising networks and visiting a multitude of blogs on a daily basis, I noticed some bloggers used contests as a way to promote their blogs.  I'm not sure how this method of promotion worked for them but at the time I set the notion aside.  Back in March I was offered an opportunity to run a sponsored contest on one of my blogs.  The sponsor supplied the giveaway and was responsible for sending the gift to the winner.  All I had to do was blog about the contest and determine a winner.  I was rather impressed at the results with 60 comments on that one post.  Oh sure, it's not near as many comments as some bloggers get but I thought it was rather good.  That post brought me rather good traffic as well as a few Facebook likes.  So the results were good!

I'm running another contest on the same blog this month.  This time I am sponsoring the giveaway myself.  It isn't an expensive giveaway at a value of $10 but it is on topic for the blog.  So far, that post has 6 comments and it is only a couple of days old with the contest ending on May 29 giving plenty of time for more comments. 

I think contests or giveaways may be a good promotional tool for certain niche blogs. It is an excellent way to advertise if used correctly.  The only way to determine if they are beneficial for your blog is to try running a couple.  In order to run a successful contest, here are a few things I consider:

  • the prize - The prize should fit the blog niche (eg. cookbook for cooking blog).  Keep the prize small for ease and cost of shipping or have the item shipped directly to the winner from where you buy it online.
  • sponsorship - You can buy the gift yourself and take care of all the details.  An alternative is to find a sponsor to supply the gift for the giveaway.  Both will take time and effort on your part however, getting a sponsor may actually gain you more in the terms of future sponsorships and support for your blog.  These sponsorships can lead to future opportunities with the sponsors.
  • the details - Clearly outline the details of the contest like who is eligible, contest end date and what the reader has to do to have a chance to win.
  • length of time- Allow enough time for the actual contest.  Two to three weeks is sufficient.  Then allow time for the winner to reply once contacted.  Forty-eight hours should be sufficient.  At that time, if you don't hear from the winner, choose another and notify them.  
  • promote the contest - Promote the contest via social media.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Blog Advertising

With the demise of several smaller blog advertising networks (eg. Adgitize, CMFAds, Entrecard) there are very few avenues for advertising a blog.  There are of course a few free sites where you can advertise your blog or promote a blog post, mainly social media sites like Twitter and Facebook.  There are paid sites like Project Wonderful and BlogAds as well as blog networks like BlogHer and BlogFrog.  There is also the option of running paid ads on Google, Facebook, Twitter, and traffic exchanges as well as private ads.  So, with a limited budget for advertising, what is the best way to advertise your blog?  Here are some methods I have used:

  • Facebook (low to high cost) -  Paid advertising on Facebook starts at $5 for promoting a post, getting traffic to your blog's Facebook page, or getting more likes for your Facebook page.  For blog advertising, this is low priced but can quickly get expensive depending on what type of campaign you are running.  I have had good luck with the Boost Post option to promote a post and am now just trying out a campaign to get more likes for my Facebook page which hopefully will bring more traffic.  I will be reserving the Boost Post option for promoting anchor posts.
  • Twitter (no cost) - Advertising your blog and/or specific posts on Twitter is as simple as making a tweet.  It costs nothing but time.  You can even use a service like Tweetfeed to use your RSS feed so each post made to your blog appears on your Twitter timeline.  Be warned, some followers don't like those who only try to promote their blog.  I have found that active participation gets me more traffic from Twitter than just using Tweetfeed.
  • Pinterest (no cost) - Promoting a blog post on Pinterest is as simple as pinning it and the best part is you don't even have to pin it yourself!  Just have the Pinterest button somewhere on each post and readers who like it will pin the post for you.  In fact, that is how I discovered Pinterest myself.  I noticed traffic from Pinterest in my stats, checked it out then joined myself.  It really is a great way to get exposure for individual blog posts with little effort.  
  • Project Wonderful (no to low cost) - Members of Project Wonderful are paid to display advertising graphics (banner, button, square, half banner, rectangle, leaderboard, skyscrapper) on their blogs by the winning bidder.  A member bids on that ad spot then if successful the ad is shown so you can earn a little, and I do mean little money running ads.  Members can also bid to advertise their blog on other sites in the system.  Bidding is from $0.00 to winning bid over whatever is maximum at that time.  Now it does get a bit confusing until you catch on.  If the max bid is $0.00 you have to bid $0.01 to win but the ad will display at no cost unless someone outbids you.  They would have to bid $0.02 to become winning bidder.  If their ad time is less than yours and time or their funds run out you become winning bidder again.  You will get a lot of notices as to you are high bidder, you have been out bid, you are now high bidder.  I tend to just ignore them because on any given day it can really bounce around.  The payout threshold for any money earned from running ads is $10 which I have cashed out several times but I do keep around $5 in my account just to do a bit of low cost advertising.  Project Wonderful can help get a bit of exposure for your 125 x 125 or if you decide, larger size ad.  My experience has been that while it gets exposure with folks seeing the same graphic on different blogs or sites, it does not necessarily bring you any traffic.
  • traffic exchanges - Traffic exchanges can be used for advertising purposes only.  Advertising includes text and banner ads.  In general, you buy a given number of impressions so your ad is shown that number of times.  It does not mean you will get any traffic from either type of ad.  It will gain you exposure for your banner ads which can help build traffic especially since I have noticed a lot of familiar faces in the traffic exchanges that used to frequent Entrecard.