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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Monday, January 28, 2013

Stat Counter Adds Google Ranking on Google Searches

I've been a long time user of Stat Counter.  Today I noticed a new feature on visits from Google searches.  There is a small icon that displays =number (eg. =4).  This tells you where your page ranked in the Google search results.  Ideally the number should be 1 meaning you have written a good blog post that comes up as number 1 in the search results.  Realistically, as long as your blog post shows on the first page of the search results, you are doing good.  Even if blog post shows as a 15 in the search results, it still means you have either used keywords or written a blog post that the search engine brings up for those searching on that topic.  I'm not exactly sure how to use this information.

I suppose if a blog post consistently comes up with a high search ranking meaning it is not on the first page of the search results, then the post could be tweaked in terms of keyword or key phrases in the hopes of gaining a better ranking.  However, the fact that someone still visited your blog regardless of the fact it didn't show on the first page of the search results really is still rather good.  Whether that post ranks number one or number fifteen doesn't matter in the big picture because you still got traffic from it.

Bloggers aren't mind readers and while most keep the importance of keywords in mind, good blog writers don't write a post around keywords.  Rather, keywords occur naturally as you write the post.  Guessing what keywords or phrases someone looking for information is almost impossible although you can make an educated guess.  Part of the problem is linguistics.  Terminology varies from country to country, and within regions in countries.  For example, one person may say hat while a Canadian will say toque and others may say cap or beanie.  So if I write a blog post about the toque I just knit, it wouldn't come up if the searcher used the keyword hat.  I often ask myself what term or keyword I would use if I were searching for information on that topic but that in no way guarantees that is the same term or keyword someone else would use when searching for information on the same topic.

That's one reason why I don't like Google's new encrypted searches that give no information on what the search term was or what the reader was looking for.  The unencrypted search terms at least give you an idea of what the reader was looking for and perhaps even provide information on how you could expand that topic if so inclined.  The search ranking is a touchy, goodie, congrats you made the first page of the search results that doesn't help you improve your blogging.  I don't see it of much use to bloggers.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

And Life Happens

I am sick, seriously sick and have been sick for the past two weeks.  Somehow, in between puking, snotting, sneezing and coughing AND providing I'm awake, I'm fitting in a bit of blogging.  That does not mean I am making long or drawn out posts or even making sense when I'm posting but at least I'm posting.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

Internet Security

I originally started online activities with an old, custom built PC so at that time got to know a lot about internet security and safe browsing.  By the time I switched to Mac, I had AtGuard, Zone Alarm, Trauscan, the Windows firewall, McAfee and some other spyware program all running before I would go online.  Well, Mac made it easy so I didn't need all those programs.  Then I bought a new iMac partitioned for Windows and Mac with the Windows partition never allowed online.  The only reason I still needed Windows was for my genealogy software that I really like but they refuse to make a Mac version and so far I have found nothing that compares to the function of Legacy.  It was the best of two worlds and still is for the most part although according to Apple my iMac is getting a bit old at a ripe old age of 6.  Our cell phones and tablet are Mac as well which makes worrying about viruses minimal.  However, when we bought laptops we bought Toshibas (Windows).  The fact is, we bought my husband's 17" and my 15" laptops for a total cost less than what it would have cost for a new MacBook or iMac.  Mac is certainly an excellent product but along with that comes price.  We needed the laptops for the office and travel purposes.

About three years ago, I was using my husband's old Toshiba at our vacation home when suddenly things went to a very slow crawl.  I was doing my drops for Entrecard so thought it was just overtaxing the system.  I shut down and rebooted but for some reason something told me to run the virus scanner.  Well it was running all the time anyway so I thought why not.  I ran the virus scanner and sure enough had picked up a virus.  It was quickly cleaned and things returned to normal but still served as a firm reminder.  About a week later, reports of viruses coming through sites in the Entrecard system started emerging.  I was doing my drops and suddenly my AV went off.  That basically was the last straw for me in addition to the other on going issues so I quit.  At any rate, I'm back learning all about internet security once again.

Back when I was using all the security programs, I think all of them were free except Trauscan.  Of the top ones were AVG, Norton and McAfee.  There were free and paid versions.  Well, unless I'm looking in the wrong spot, all the AV are now free for a trial period of 30 days then you have to pay. Norton came with my laptop but I did try our McAfee and AVG before settling on Norton because that's what my husband uses at the office so I can go under his license.   I really liked AVG for being user friendly.  Both Norton and AVG offer safe surfing which is really a nice feature, something that wasn't there before and Norton makes it quite visible so you can easily tell what a site is doing by toggling the drop down menu.  They also offer antiphishing, another nice feature that reports any problems with phishing on a site.  Norton has a set-up vault and a login assistant to safely store your passwords online in a vault called Norton Identity Safe.

I really don't feel we need much more protection given the way we use the computers.  Gone are the days of dropping over 300 cards in a day and let's face it, that was risky at best to begin with.  True the sites had been checked by admin when they first entered the system but there was a lot of shady things going on by some members who were only out to make a buck.  In addition to using Norton, Google Chrome offers a heighten security through the settings but then most new browsers allow you to tweak the settings to ensure safe surfing.

If you want to test you computer, try Shield's Up by Gibson Research Corporation, the makers of Zone Alarm.  On my old PC, I had to manually close a few ports but this computer test results are full stealth mode meaning my computer gives no reply to pings or probes, remaining silent even when prodded so there is no sign my computer is even online!  There's no open ports or other security holes which is a really nice thing.  If you find an open port, the site will tell you how to deal with the problem.  There is a lot of good security information there as well including a password haystack to determine the strength of your desired password.

It is rather interesting to see how internet security has evolved in such a short period of time.  In many ways, online security is getting easier and more sophisticated.  That's likely a good thing given the ever growing need to be connected and the use of free Wi-Fi.  Still, it is a good idea to keep your computer and data protected!


Friday, January 25, 2013

Facebook

Honestly, I had a Facebook account for a couple of years before I actually started using it.  The only reason I started using it was to keep up to date with our kids.  When travelling, Facebook is just so easy if you have free Wi-Fi, even easier than email and a lot less expensive than using cell phones.  We get to the airport and leave a message for the kids on Facebook then another when we arrive at out destination.  The nice thing about Facebook is you can send private messages as well.  So after we got used to using Facebook, I discovered Pages.

Anyone with a Facebook account can create a Facebook page.  It is connected to your main account but goes under the name of the page, not your account name.  So I created a page for my one blog.  Then I put the Facebook 'like' button on my blog.  I have to tell you, I am impressed!  Readers are not only 'liking' my blog meaning an increase in readership, they are also connecting with me through the Facebook page.  Some readers actually like connecting through Facebook rather than leave comments on my blog.  Facebook is actually increasing my traffic, something I did not think would happen but it is.


Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pinterest Revisited

I joined Pinterest in the summer of 2012.  It was a new social thing that looked interesting and what I really liked was Pinterest spans all age groups.  All it really is, is a way to bookmark where others can see what you like.  They can like the bookmark, repin it or comment on it.  So it is another level of social networking.

When Pinterest first came out the complaint was the backlinks were set to rel=no follow and to my understanding they still are.  However, if someone clicks on one of your pins, it does bring them directly to your blog meaning a good Pinterest following can gain you a fair amount of traffic.  I am actually getting some rather good traffic from Pinterest.  So while the original pin on Pinterest is rel=no follow you still get good traffic if you have interesting content.

This really is a good thing to get into bloggers.  Seriously!   It will bring traffic if you have the type of content others are interested in for re-pinning.  It is better than Digg or Stumpleupon and it does have a huge following so get in on it if you can.


Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Splogs

Back when I started blogging in 2006, all I had a vague idea about was blogging.  To me, blogging was a creative outlet to share ideas, thoughts, pictures and just have fun.  Blogs are essentially a souped up version of homepages that many ISP offered their customers but blogging platforms made is so easy that you really didn't have to worry about FTP or HTML.  What this really meant is the regular Joe Friday could blog using a nice WYSIWYG format without any of the behinds the scenes details.  Not that it didn't help to know at least HTML, it just meant you didn't have to.  I'm not sure if that was the time of the growth spurt for blogs but I suspect it was.

Shortly after I started blogging I joined a blog network so got to know a few bloggers.  Then I joined one of the most popular widget blog advertising networks where I quickly learned about splogs.  A splog is a blog that has been set up for the sole purpose of making money via spamming other bloggers.  It can be identified by copious amounts of advertising, very short fluff posts in between paid posts, and essentially no content.  The biggest give away is the comment spam.  The sploggers are so intent on making money from their splogs, they will seriously leave hundreds of comments daily on other blogs with backlinks to their blog.  This is precisely how I learned very early in my blogging career that comment moderation is a must.

The sploggers were a breed onto themselves.  They were very active in the forums bordering on being abusive to other bloggers and if you so much as looked sideways they would complain about you.  Not only that, they complained constantly if they missed making a penny through the network.  They honestly had the opinion they could quit their day jobs and earn enough money to support their lifestyle simply by blogging.  Well, if they hit it very lucky they might possibly be able to earn a couple hundred dollars a month but really even that especially then was pretty far fetched and I don't know many that can live on that!

Now, I know for a brief period of time that particular blog network started deleting splogs from the system but that somehow changed so the splogs continued there.  Other blog advertising networks nipped the problem of splogs in the bud so it was mainly a non-issue with them.  Splogs weren't welcomed.  Then, and I can't be 100% because I didn't see an actual announcement from Google, it appears splogs were being de-listed from the search engines.

I honestly have not seen a true splog in awhile although I suspect some attempting to leave comments on my blogs may be.  Comment spam is usually fairly obvious so I don't check out their sites anyway.  I also suspect splogs are not quite as popular now all the widget based blog advertising networks are gone.  Seriously, a splog can't make money without traffic.  Essentially, all of the easy ways of generating blog traffic have been cut off so the sploggers are now forced to generate traffic the old fashioned way just like the rest of us.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Exclusive Advertising Rights

A little over three years ago, I went to exclusive advertising rights on one of my blogs.  What this means is by entering into the contract, no other advertising other than the ads through that affiliate can be shown.  There are pros and cons to doing this.  First, you are guaranteed to earn a certain amount of money depending on traffic.  In this case, I was paid only for traffic from the US.  Second, by going to exclusive advertising it really de-clutters your blog.  There's only one or two ad spots running rather than several as you see on some blogs trying to maximize their earning potential.  At the same time, there was a bit more freedom meaning I could discuss topics that are not allowed if using Adsense.  There was no minimum amount to earn for payment.  Payment was made the end of each month regardless of the amount.  It was steady income, considerable more than I would have made by running a few affiliate ad blocks.  On the con side was a reduced earning potential especially since I could not run ads from Adsense or some of the other affiliates.

Last October, I received a letter from them indicating that at the end of October, they were switching their advertising model to non-exclusive.  I had the choice to continue on with them under the new model but as of November 1 could begin using other affiliate programs if desired.  I agreed to continue with them because quite frankly they have been very good to me.  I still haven't added any additional affiliate programs back on to that blog.  I likely will at some point but only minimal.  For now, I like the uncluttered feeling without a lot of advertising!

I had a very positive experience using exclusive advertising on one of my blogs.  If given the opportunity again, I would certainly consider it.  Only you will know if an exclusive advertising offer is good for you.  In most cases, you will have to sign a legal and binding contract.  Be very sure you understand every detail of that contract before signing it!  Do some homework and check out the company making the offer.  At any rate, if done properly an exclusive advertising contract can be quite lucrative!


Monday, January 21, 2013

Organized Blogging

Within a few days of starting my first blog in 2006, I had the second blog up and running.  Posts were fairly regular but not daily because I was more concerned with design and learning the ropes.  As I started more blogs, I quickly realized I needed some type of system to help keep my blogging organized but it really wasn't until after joining a blog advertising network that encouraged daily posts.  My system was rather simple.

I had a notebook where I wrote the date, title of blogs across the page and under each title, the stats and 'need'.  So, if this blog tbr had need 1, 2, 3, 4 it meant I needed a post for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th.  If I was working ahead on scheduled posts for times I knew we'd be away, I just added a second need and dates as necessary.  If I had an idea for a post, I'd jot it down.  As I finished a post, I just put a line through that number and kept going, adding and crossing out as needed.  The system worked rather well to keep me focused.  There were days where I could easily write eight or more blog posts and other days I could omit writing to do a bit of behind the scenes work.

Over the past nine months or so, my system went by the wayside.  In general, 2012 was a bad blogging year for me.  It was hard to get motivated to blog despite the fact that I had too much blog fodder.  Blog advertising networks I had been with for a few years folded up and suddenly I was back in my little blogging bubble not interacting with other bloggers.  It didn't help that we were still trying to adjust to our new home, doing a lot of renovations which cut into my blogging time, and spending more time at our vacation home.  In addition to that, life decided to throw a couple of curve balls with my husband being hospitalized with an unknown gastrointestinal disorder and me having an injury accident.

It's time to get back on track so I started back on a modified version of my system.  There is no real need for me to track my stats so I'm just going to do the 'need' portion.  This will give me a quick visual of where I am at and which blog needs attention.  Hopefully, 2013 will end up being a better blogging year than 2012 by going back to my old system of organizing my blogging.


Sunday, January 20, 2013

Blog Traffic Building in 2013

I started blogging in 2006 and quite frankly building traffic was the furthest thing from my mind.  By the time I discovered BlogExplosion as a way to meet other bloggers and build traffic, new blogs were popping up everywhere.  The primary goal for some of these bloggers was making money so between 2008 through 2010 there were sites aimed at helping bloggers reach that goal.  They ranged from paid to post sites, blog rolls, directories, link exchanges, blog advertising networks, forums and basically anywhere the blogger could get their link out even if it was borderline to blatant spamming.  They were actually encouraged by some blog advertising networks spam, especially comment spam but it was never put that way.  Many of the sploggers (spam bloggers) and those into blogging simply for the money have moved on realizing that making their fortune blogging wasn't going to happen especially in their allotted three month period before boredom set in.  Many more have left the blogosphere when the free traffic sources from the blog advertising networks folded.  Bloggers are once again isolated in their own world of blogging, perhaps doing a bit of blog hopping and finding blogs via the search engines.  So where does that leave bloggers with respect to building traffic in 2013?  Here's a few of my ideas:

  • Focus on your writing and adding regular content.  The only way you are going to get readers and the attention of the search engines is through content.
  • Forget the notion of leaving as many comments as possible with a link to your blog.  First it is spammish, second aside of annoying other bloggers, it is seldom effective and third many bloggers have set comment links to rel="no follow".  Instead, when you come across a blog post you like, leave a comment that adds to the discussion or in somehow ads to the content of the post.  Do not leave an url in the body of a comment on someone's blog as that just tells them you are trying to circumvent any type of link control you have in place.
  • If leaving a comment that adds content to the post, you have two choices with respect to including your url.  First, you can leave a direct link to your blog or you can leave an indirect link that points to your Blogger profile.  Surprisingly, the indirect link can be rather effective as it's not viewed so much as spamming.
  • Let traffic build naturally.  If you have good content and show in the search engines then the traffic will come.  


Saturday, January 19, 2013

Why Blog Widget Advertising was Doomed

A method of blog advertising using site specific widgets that displayed a 125 x 125 ad (aka card) became rather popular with bloggers .  Each blog advertising network (eg. Spottt, Entrecard, Adgitize, CMFAds and there were others) had it own widget design that showed the card and a bar to click to visit that blog, although some went to showing only the card.  The all operated in the same fashion.  You signed up for the site, added your blog then waited for approval.  Once approved you uploaded your blog card and it would be place in rotation with other ads being shown of other members' blogs.  The requirement was of course that you used the widget on your blog so other members' cards would show in rotation.  From the get go, this advertising model was destined for failure.  In short, the sites failed to follow a good business plan that would keep a good balance between income and expenses while planning for growth.

In the brick and mortar world, a business takes years to grow and establish good will.  Most start-up businesses fail within the first year simply because they do not know their market or whether there is a demand for the business.  They fail to consider the importance of repeat customers, word of mouth, many don't take overhead costs into consideration and they aren't ready for growth when it happens.  All of this can be seen with the blog advertising networks.

All of these networks were based on free membership.  A new blog is lucky to last 3 months before the blogger realizes it is hard work and moves on to something else.  Now, if you were to walk into a bank and tell them you had a plan to start a business with no perceived income and a 3 month lifespan for each customer, they would think you are totally bonkers.  You certainly would not get any money from them.  So, these networks were started with an investment from the founder which would include the costs of the domain, software and servers or storage.  Then the founder would be faced with equipment costs, routine maintenance costs, and all costs associated with running that network (aka business).  All of these funds came from their own pockets or perhaps via loans or donations but essentially with no income, the founder had to find some source of revenue.

The option to switch over to a paid only service was never really there.  The members themselves were not a good source of revenue.  Only a small percentage of the membership would pay for advertising while the remainder were more interested in making money from the system, some who would even cheat the system to do so.  Attracting outside advertisers was difficult because the model was based on bloggers who have low traffic, not necessarily the best use of their advertising dollars.  While that could have been compensated for with a large membership, the widget networks were too small to attract big spending advertisers or backers.

The admin faced the problem of keeping these networks up and running 24/7 which is a huge demand on one person. Enlisting friends and family likely helped initially but the reality is with growth comes the need for support staff.  Members want their problems addressed quickly otherwise they will move their free membership elsewhere.

Finally, the admin faced the problem of disgruntled members and believe me there were a multitude of problems.  If the problem was big enough, there was a mass exodus of members some who would go on to start their own widget based blog advertising networks creating competition.  While the admin could censor comments on their forums, they could not control what other bloggers wrote about them on their blogs, forums, Facebook or Twitter.  In that respect, they failed to realized the power of bloggers, especially bloggers who felt they had been wronged by the system.  The problems came not only through the lack of PR skills and narcissistic behaviour from some of the admin but from outside forces in the form of malware and viruses on blogs within the system.

As members encountered more problems with the widget based networks, saw their bounce rate increase and realized that at some point they could be penalized by other advertising affiliates, they stopped using the networks.  The smarter admins gave their members notice they were closing and left on good terms which means if they were to ever start up again, some of their loyal followers would return.  Others simply left their members high and dry, shutting down without notice.

Back in the hey day of widget based networks, about 2008 to 2010 and dwindling after that really was a different time for bloggers.  Blogrolls, memes and link farms (via Mr. Linky et al) became very popular.  The focus for a lot was on making money via their blog rather than blogging.  Social interaction was encouraged by the widget based networks by dropping cards, participating on their forums, actively leaving comments on other blogs and even supporting other members on Twitter, Digg and Stumbleupon.

In the end, all I can say is it was interesting while it lasted even though it was an incredible waste of time that would have been better spent on building blog traffic via other methods.  Of all the time and effort I spent on a daily basis on some of these networks, there is very little to show for it.  Readers and visitors dried up within a week of not using the network.  I don't miss the daily dropping but I do miss visiting some of my favourite bloggers that were in the system.  The mind numbing dropping combined with little if any lasting results will likely serve as a reminder that these types of systems were doomed before they even got started.




Friday, January 18, 2013

ExposeYourBlog Closing Down

ExposeYourBlog was the brainchild of Don and Anji, two bloggers who had been active in the now defunct BlogExplosion and several of the other blog advertising networks.  The site was set up similar to BlogExplosion with a surfing ratio of 2:1 with a timer so for every two sites you visited, you would get a visit in return.  In that respect, it was a traffic exchange.  You could earn credits or buy credits then exchange them for traffic or banner advertising.  Don sent out an email on January 13, 3013 announcing the closing of ExposeYourBlog on February 13, 2013.  He cites the reason for closing down is other time commitments for both himself and Anji, so they will no longer have time to run the site properly.  There is an offer to sell the domain name, software and site to any interested party in the hopes of keeping it going.  Despite having a small number of members, Don and Anji did a nice job.  I wish them the best on their future endeavours.


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Entrecard is No More

Well, those in the loop likely already knew Entrecard ceased operations in September of 2012.  I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of it's demise but am surprised it lasted as long as it did.  Entrecard, founded and operated by a very narcisistic individual had be plagued with problems well before I left it back in early 2009.  About 6 months before I left as the continued implosion of the owner escalated, there was a mass exodus of formerly loyal Entrecard supporters.  The problems got worse with forum censorship and personal attacks.  Well, it was finally announced the business was sold but many of us felt is was a cloak for the owner to remain in control of Entrecard just under different financial backing while calming some of the negativity.

To my understanding, Entrecard continued to decline even after the sale.  One comment I read said it had been pretty much abandoned for the past three years I heard bits and pieces about it throughout the blogosphere but really didn't keep up on what was going on.  Unlike other blog advertising networks who gave their members notice that they were closing down,  Entrecard did not.   They just closed down.  Bloggers attempting to do their drops found the widget empty and drop button missing.  Checking the site just confirmed it was gone.  This type of thing really re-enforces what many of us thought back when Entrecard was sold.  

At any rate, simply shutting down the site without any notice was rude.  Like any other website, Entrecard did go down from time to time so bloggers checking their site to see the widget not working likely suspected nothing until they went to sign-in to do their drops only to find the site gone.  Some likely had blank widgets on their blogs for a week or more if they didn't check them daily which is too bad.  What a way to find out!  That just goes to show what Entrecard really thought of their members and supporters.



Saturday, January 12, 2013

Comment Backlinks

When I started blogging almost seven years ago, backlinking wasn't a huge concern.  However, when I joined blog advertising networks (eg. Entrecard, Adgitize, CMFAds), there was a big emphasis on leaving comments on other blogs with a backlink to your blog.  In the ideal world, this may have worked but in the blogosphere, it promoted a lot of comment spam as bloggers tried to get their link out there.  Sploggers (blogs set up specifically to make money via spamming) were all over the concept of leaving their link in the comment section of other bloggers who were really just trying to blog and hopefully get a little attention by blogging.  Those most hurt were bloggers who did not have their comments set to moderation.  A splogger could stumble upon one of the blogs then send out hundreds of the same spam comment with same spam link before the blogger actually realized it was happening.  Some of these bloggers lost PR and were even delisted by Google while the sploggers went on their merry way to attack another innocent blogger.

In fairness, bloggers were told comment moderation was a form of censorship and shouldn't be used because it hindered two-way communication on the blog.  I'm sorry but I think this ideal was wrong from the start.  I also think it was bad advice for bloggers to get their link out there anyway they could especially via comments.  There are a multitude of valid reasons why a link to your blog should not be on certain websites or blogs.  Besides, you can still leave a comment on the website or blog just without a link back to your blog.

I am very, very picky about where I leave backlinks to my blogs.  Unlike some bloggers, I'm not a huge backlink builder which likely is a good thing now that Google is a bit more stringent with respect to links, both outgoing in incoming.  The reality is, I leave very few comments and even then fewer links to my blogs in those comments.  I prefer to let my backlinks grow naturally.  If another blogger really likes my blog(s) they will leave a backlink without me forcing it onto them via a comment or asking for a link exchange.  I think it is a more natural approach as well that will help build good backlinks.



Friday, January 11, 2013

Exact Match Domain & Panda Updates

Google did an EMD (exact match domain) update that could see some domains penalized if they are an exact keyword search.  As always it appears to be a bit cloudy as to whether or not a site using a EMD will be penalized.  If the site uses an EMD but does not over stuff the site with those same keywords, then it sounds like it will not be penalized.  If it uses an EMD and over stuffs with the same keywords (aka keyword padding) then it may or may not be penalized.  So, it is clear as mud.  I doubt this is going to be an issue for most bloggers and I know it is not a problem for any of my blogs.

One thing I did find interesting is the Panda updates mentioned in the article.  It is possible to check your stats to see if you noticed anything different especially reduced traffic from Google on those dates.  If there was, then chances are your blog was affected by that particular Panda update.  I also was relieved to find out that unless you receive a notification from Google in your webmaster tools account that you have been penalized for unnatural links, then you haven't been manually penalized by Google.  There is a tool called Disavow to help remove the links but it does stress to use caution when removing links.

Again, most bloggers shouldn't have a lot of problems with links to the point of getting a manual penalty from Google.  It is even less likely if you don't allow links in comments as well as use due diligence when linking to other blogs or websites.  It is a good idea to go through any links to be sure they aren't to link farms or link exchanges and if you used a link service like Mr. Linky, I would highly recommend removing it and all links.  Clearly Google is concerned about the quality of links.  I personally don't trust the rel=no follow tag either since Google was honouring it, then wasn't and now is supposed to be honouring it again.  If in doubt, leave the link out.


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Some Things Shouldn't be Blogged About

I blogged about a couple of interesting entries in my stats from the Department of National Defence both checking out a hot sauce recipe clone.  While this was likely just an employee on break doing a bit of surfing, it serves as a reminder that you do have to be careful when discussing certain topics on blogs.  Well, quite frankly I didn't think that was as much of a case with a cooking blog but even a cooking blog can draw attention depending on the nature of the post.  That really could be the case if I were detailing how to distil liquor (illegal) or how to use a recipe in an illegal manner.  Sharing how to brew beer, make homemade liquors, make wine or how to make wine jelly are all perfectly legal.  The discussion of certain herbs could draw a bit of attention or even growing methods.  However, all could get the attention of those checking for suspicious or  illegal activities.  That is why bloggers must be careful as to what information they share and how they share it.

Aside of the TOS and AUP of your ISP and blog host, bloggers really have an ethical responsibility to their readers.   That means full disclosure with respect to data collection, advertising and that type of thing.  At the same time, it means you don't share certain information that promotes hatred or illegal activity.  The bottom line is sometimes you can't say what you want to say and sometimes you shouldn't put what you think or know into print.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Should I Start Worrying?

Oh my gosh, there are days my blog stats read as who's who!  I was checking my cooking blog stats and noticed several visitors from the Department of National Defence (Ottawa) all landing on a post about making home-made hot sauce, specifically a clone recipe for Frank's Original RedHot Cayenne Pepper sauce.  I couldn't help but chuckle!  It more than likely was an employee on their break looking for a clone recipe but still it makes me wonder.  Seriously folks, there is nothing sinister or illegal with making your own hot sauce to use on eggs, tacos and so much more much the same as making your own ketchu.  It is tastier and less expensive than store bought and a great way to use up excess hot peppers from the garden.  It is purely culinary and nothing more.  Still, should I start worrying?  All in a day's blogging...


Friday, January 4, 2013

Google Deliberately Strips Out Keyword Search Information for Logged in Users

I was going through my stats and came across an entry that said Search Referral: Search Encrypted with an I in a blue circle.  The location, number of visits and IP all showed.  So I hovered over the information circle to see a balloon that informed me that it was a "Google Encrypted Search - Google deliberately strips out keyword search information for logged in users.  More info on their official blog announcement."  According to Google SSL was done to make their users searches more secure especially over unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots and increase privacy.  While the announcement was made in October 2011, it is now just showing in my stats as search encrypted although I have seen no referring url for some time so perhaps that is the same thing just less blatant.

However, this measure will also lessen keyword optimization for webmasters and bloggers.  I honestly think lessening SEO was part of the goal behind the SSL.  In the past, bloggers could go through their stats to gleem what keywords were bring visitors to their sites simply by looking at the  search referral.  Now, if someone reaches your blog but the search is encrypted, unless the land on a specific page, you have no idea how they found your blog other than they did a Google search.  There is no information that can be gained to use as keywords.  For example: if the landing page is yourblogname you gain no information on what keywords they used to find your blog BUT if the landing page is yourblogname:  specific blog post then you might be able to make an educated guess as to what keyword they used BUT it won't tell you if they used any type of term like "how to use this searched keyword" or "where can I find this searched keyword".  In short, you gain no information on how the visitor found your blog or what they were specifically looking for.

This puts bloggers at a disadvantage but they have been at a disadvantage from the get go with respect to generating traffic to their blogs.  Most bloggers don't have a lot of resources for advertising and the very few there were are now gone.  A bit of effective keyword use is necessary if only to get into search engine results.  I have gone through my stats and have seen some of the questions used to find my blog.  That has been used as blog fodder to directly address the question presented since if one visitor had that question likely others do as well.  For the time being, only those logged into Google will show as search encrypted but it is likely only a matter of time before anyone using Google for search will show the same.


Thursday, January 3, 2013

Blogging on the Fly

When I started blogging back in early 2006, I used an ancient PC which meant when we went on vacation I either had to find an internet cafe or go without blogging.  I was beyond excited to buy an iPod Touch a couple of years later that took my blogging a bit more mobile.  Oh good gosh, now that seriously looks amateur!  Now I have a lap top and iPad that will connect anywhere I can find free Wi-Fi plus they connect to home and our vacation home so for the most part I can blog on the fly.  Oh and my husband has an iPhone with a data plan just in case I can't connect but that is rather rare because I can always sign in with our ID to certain hotspots that aren't free and I've had good luck catching the free Wi-Fi en route.  I have actually been riding in the passenger seat, blogging on free Wi-Fi that my iPad picks up.  It's totally amazing and it costs me nothing.

For what it is worth, Wi-Fi signals on the interstate and Canadian highways are hit and miss but closer to cities and you pretty much can find something.  Many of the larger chains like McDonald's, Starbuck's and similar have free Wi-Fi.  Also, we have found down in Florida as well as in Michigan many stores especially Walmart has free Wi-Fi to enhance your shopping experience.  I'm not fond of shopping so I blog while my husband is shopping.  Airports can be pissy with some offering free Wi-Fi and other giving you just a taste for 15 minutes then chargring for the rest.  Trust me, if I have to I can write a blog post in 15 minutes!  Oh, and you can connect to any family or friends when travelling,

The world of blogging is changing.  I very seldom blog from my desktop anymore  It's the laptop, iPad and iPhone.  Seriously, the way things are going the laptop is going to be passe as well since carrying an iPad and iPhone takes up a lot less space than the laptop.  And you can buy cute little keyboards for them which reminds me my Sony Clie.  One of our friends just bought a 7" tablet with case and keyboard for $200 AND it does basically everything a laptop can do and then more.  It is so cute and just folds up small enough to fit in a purse.  I honestly use my iPad more than I do my laptop while the poor iMac sits collecting dust.  Now if Blogger would just make an app for that I go with just my iPad.


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Header Options in Blogger

Happy New Year!


Ok, I must have missed something or this is a way for Blogger to bring bloggers back into the SEO realm.  Blogger seriously makes it easy to blog but if you want to apply a bit of SEO like adding the header tags or even image alt tags until now you had to use html rather compose in the editor.  Actually the alt tags used to be a normal feature but for some reason Blogger took that away.  Anyway, for the average blogger who uses the compose editor never venturing into the seedy side of HTML, there was a disadvantage.  The problem is if you don't know HTML or XML, well that presents a bit of dilemma.

I honestly learned and taught myself HTML way back when I wanted a website and blogs were about the furthest thing from anyone's mind.  There was none of the WYSIWYG either .  If you did the coding right, FTPed it then checked your site with any luck it worked.  A lot of times it didn't.  Well, blogging and specifically Blogger changed that.  They really brought the WYSIWYG thing into instant publishing and really that is what a blog is, a publication.  

Still, in many ways, Blogger is behind the scenes and yet I like the platform.  One problem is, Blogger will not let you block certain IPs from accessing your blog although other blogging platforms will.  Now this whole issue of headers is nothing but SEO and since Blogger who is owned by Google introduced it to bloggers that means headers do mean something with respect to search engine optimization even if SEO is going by the wayside.

Now, there is a box in the editor that by default is set to normal.  But you can change that in the drop down menu to choose heading, subheading or minor heading which I think in HTML terms relates to the H1, H2 and H3 tags.  I do recall reading about the importance of using header tags so this just reinforces it.  Anyway, check it out.  Blogger is making a very easy to use option that really is saying, use it because Google is paying attention to the header tags - hint, hint.