Written on January 7th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 01:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Reflections on enternetusers Summer Series

enternetusers Site News 26 comments

All good things must come to an end and my two week holiday is almost over. We’re back at home after a great time away and I’ll gradually be resuming my blogging activities here at enternetusers on Monday (there will be a couple more guest posts in the next two days).

Thanks to those who submitted posts for enternetusers’s Summer/Holiday Series. I can say that without a doubt it’s been an incredible success on a number of levels.

Traffic

Picture 3-3

My last live post was Christmas Day and the guest posts kicked in midday on 26th. You can see for yourself the results (feels kind of strange to see your blog do so well when you ignore it!). A number of the posts (some of my own advance ones, but mainly guest posters) were picked up on del.icio.us, tech.memorandum and lifehacker (among others).

The secondary benefit of the increased traffic and large link ups is that the number of other sites linking to enternetusers.net over the past two weeks has increased also. My ranking on Technorati has moved from 110 to 87 which is a result of two factors:

  1. Increased incoming links
  2. Less linking to other sites over the Holidays (ie when other blogs are less Active there are benefits of having an Active one yourself).

Blog Participation



The second thing I’ve enjoyed about the past two weeks (not that I was really here to see it) is the increased participation in enternetusers by readers. This has been on two levels.

1. Guest Posters - Obviously the main area is that readers have been given a more prominent voice. I’ve had emails from a number of guest bloggers (I’m yet to wade through all 3000+ emails/comments from the last two weeks) saying they enjoyed the extra exposure, traffic to their own blogs and dialogue. This means that 15 or so people now have a slightly larger sense of belonging and ownership here at enternetusers - something that I love.

2. Comments - A cursory look over the blog’s recent posts shows a fairly high level of commenting. This is probably for a number of reasons, ranging from their being less posts on the blog (this always increases comments per post averages), some people disagreeing with guest posters and some, increased traffic and people just enjoying the variety of voices on the blog.

Last time I left my blog in the hands of others I got a lot of feedback that people missed my voice and felt that there was too much inconsistency having others take over. This time I controlled the flow of my own posts and guest posts (via advance posting) and think I probably got a better mix as there has been no negative feedback yet (although I’m happy to hear it).

Good Break



I love enternetusers - it’s a blog that gives me so much in terms of energy and inspiration. Having said that it also is a blog that takes a lot of time and energy to run. I put more time into this blog than any of my others.

As a result I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the break and greatly appreciate the work of those who submitted posts.

Tell me what you Think



I’d love to hear regular readers reflections on the past couple of weeks here at enternetusers. I’m always trying to fine tune what I do and improve my blogging and part of this is to find better ways to manage things when I’m not hear. Give your honest feedback - I know that some will not have enjoyed the period as much as others and don’t have issues with hearing so.

Written on January 7th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 03:01 am by Darren Rowse

My Technorati Problems

Blogging Tools and Services 76 comments

I’ve had an increasing number of emails from readers over the past few months telling me about problems that they have with Technorati.

Now I’m not wanting this to turn into a bitch session - I personally have a lot of time for the Technorati team who have developed a very useful tool in a relatively short period of time - however I’ve had my own frustrations with them in the past months also and am not having any luck in getting any attention from them.

Now on one hand I’m not too worried because in the scheme of things it doesn’t matter - but on the other hand when there is a tool that has a lot of potential like Technorati I’d be stupid not to want to get the most out of it.

Here’s four of the issues that I’ve been having:

Pings Not Working - No Indexing

Technorati-Problem-1

When I look at the blogs I’ve claimed at Technorati on my Ping form it shows me that enternetusers hasn’t been updated in 198 days. In fact this is the case for all of my blogs (only one seems to be up to date). As I look at the last 10 or so posts on this blog I notice that none have been indexed despite me pinging Technorati every time I post via ecto and despite me having tried to manually ping them via the web based ping service.

I’d really love to get indexed by technorati - but it’s been months from what I can tell since I have been on any (at least the one’s I’ve checked) of my 20 blogs (with the exception of 1). As a result when I’ve used Technorati Tags (something I’d love to be able to utilize better) they’ve failed to be indexed also.

Top 100 List Not Up to Date

Technorati-1

This one’s probably got more to do with my own ego than anything else - but the past few months have seen enternetusers gradually climb in it’s Technorati ranking. In the past couple of weeks it’s gone above the magical 100 mark for the first time. This should mean it’s featured in the Top 100 blogs - one would think so wouldn’t they?

Today enternetusers is ranked 85th but the top 100 list doesn’t have any sign of it in that or any other position and hasn’t done so since the blog went past the 100 mark. It’s not a biggie - but it makes me wonder how many other blogs are missing in action from the ‘top list’.

Technorati-2

API problems

Perhaps linked to the last point - other services that draw on Technorati through it’s API are having trouble with enternetusers also. For example the Blog Network List that does a ranking of blogs in networks and networks doesn’t pick up enternetusers in it’s Technorati lists. I’m told that this is something that is happening for a number of blogs that should be featured on the list and is something they’ve approached Technorati about to no avail. Matt from the list tells me that the API is just not reporting the data. I presume this is the same process that isn’t working with the Top 100 list. Once again it doesn’t both me that much except that it leaves holes and inaccuracies in the work of others.

Customer Support Silence

I cannot imagine the masses of incoming email and requests that the Technorati customer service department get so it doesn’t surprise me that apart from a number of automated thank you emails acknowledging my enquiries I’ve not heard anything from Technorati when I’ve asked questions on a number of occasions about the above issues.

While I have these frustrations I continue to use Technorati’s services every day on a number of levels but unfortunately the way I use it is for finding content on others blogs which is only half the purpose of it - I’d love for others to find my content via it also.

Hopefully surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.will be a year of ironing out some of these difficulties for the team at Technorati.

Update: I’ve posted an update of my Technorati Problems here

Written on January 7th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

Turning Off-Line Into On-Line Content

Writing Content 3 comments

Tammy Powley is a weblogger and freelance writer from South Florida.

One of the first content collecting tips most bloggers pick up is signing up for content helpers like google news alerts. I have to admit to doing this myself, and I use a lot of them. News alerts (no matter if they are from google or CNN or wherever) are wonderful tools for automatically gathering content related to your blogging topic. Of course, it takes time to go through all those alerts. For example, much of what I write about is related to jewelry, beading, and jewelry making. So, I would say about half of the alerts I get are about people stealing jewelry, not exactly something my readers want to know about, even think about! But, while these web tools are great, there are other ways to gather content ideas off-line and incorporate them into your on-line blogging needs.

Here are a few tips for finding information related to your content in the off-line world.

  • Subscribe to related magazines. Now, I know some folks are going to say they don’t have time to read all the magazines that deal with their topic, and that’s not exactly what I’m suggesting. However, select a few magazine that are the better-known titles in your industry. I have to admit to being a real sap when it comes to magazines - I truly love them - but I have learned that I just don’t have time to read them all, and they all don’t have information that my readers care to know about. Therefore, I’ve tried to narrow them down to a chosen few. One example is the publication BeadStyle. For me, this is the perfect magazine because it covers jewelry making, beading, and jewelry fashion. By just skimming through the ads and table of contents, I usually come up with at least a half dozen content ideas for my blogs.
  • Read your local newspaper. Again, don’t feel like you have to read the whole thing, but skim read the headlines. The local paper is usually pretty inexpensive, and it has local as well as national news. Even with jewelry, every once in a while, I’ll find a related article, maybe something about a new fashion trend, a celebrity designing jewelry (oh, yes, Paris Hilton comes to mind), or yet another story about a beader turned entrepreneur. Most people read the paper, at least on the weekends any way, so this idea isn’t much of a stretch to consider.
  • Look off and then on line. Most periodicals these days have web sites, especially the larger ones. Once you locate some content ideas in a hard copy, remember that you can also find links on line as well. Look for the URL in the publication’s header or in the first few pages where editors and other contributors may be listed. Look for key words within articles as well. If you are writing about Donald Trump, then google him and see if you can locate his web site. (By the way, it happens to be www.trump.com/main.htm and it’s actually pretty cool.)
  • Find frugality at your library. Hardcopy publications can get pricey, especially if you are writing about topics such as business or finance. Unplug on occasion and make a trip to your local public library. Bring along some change. While many libraries allow you to check out magazines, some will not allow you to check out the most recent issues. They also have some materials that are only available in the reference area in the library rather than circulation, so again, you can’t check them out. However, you can photocopy them.

Once you start looking around in your off-line environment, you’ll be surprised at what you can find to help generate content related to your blog topic. It’s easy to get so caught up in the virtual world of the net that we forget some people still actually read hardcopy publications, and in fact, these publications can be useful to even the most devoted weblogger.

Written on January 6th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 02:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Four easy steps to add your own Del.icio.us link in Typepad

Blog Promotion, Blog Design 11 comments

This post was submitted by Vic Correro from Writesville.com.

I have to give credit where credit is due. I first saw Darren’s use of the ‘Add this post to del.icio.us link a while back and decided that I would like to do the same to Writesville.com. I think this is an excellent idea, as del.icio.us is a wonderful resource. Also, Nick Wilson over at Performancing.com gave the additional push I needed to include this feature through his post and free PDF about del.icio.us.

For those of you who are familiar with Typepad, or are using it, the following information will require a tad bit of knowledge with Typepad’s advanced template structure. If you want more information on this, see: Advanced Template Sets and Template Tags. Understanding of HTML will also be helpful here.

Now, before I continue. I do want to mention that this is the way that I accomplished the task. As the saying goes: ‘There’s more than one way to skin a cat’.

So, let’s get back to the topic. If you want to create your own del.icio.us link embedded somewhere in your post, you will need to do the following:

Step 1

Create your own template module (call it what you want, but remember the name) that contains the following content:

<script language="JavaScript">
document.write("<a href='http://del.icio.us/post?url="+document.location.href+"&title="+document.title+"' target='_new'>Like this post? Add it to del.icio.us!</a>");

</script>

In this case, I called the above template module ‘delicious-footer’. Notice the section of the above JavaScript code that reads: ‘Like this post? Add it to del.icio.us!’ Replace this line of text with whatever you want to read as the link.

If you don’t want this link to pop up in a new window, take out the section that reads: target=’new’

Save the file when you are done

Step 2

If you want a separate CSS setting for your link, you’ll need to define that in your Styles.css file. For instance, here are my settings for that particular link:

.my-delicious-background
{
       margin: 0;
       padding: 5px 15px 5px 15px;
       background: #E7E3C6;
       font-size: 10px;
       color: #000000;
       text-align: center;
}

To get more information on CSS, and its uses, check out this CSS tutorial.

Save the file when you are done.

Step 3

The next step in the process is to reference your module from Step 1 through the ‘entry-individual‘ template module. The entry-individual template module is where the formatting of your individual posts is stored. This is where your knowledge of HTML will come in handy.

This will probably be the toughest part for those unfamiliar with this structure and HTML. You will need to figure out where, position wise, you will want the link to appear. If you notice my site, the link appears near the footer of the post (right above the comments and Adsense ad). This part is completely up to you. However, when you decide where you want to have your link, you’ll need to include the following code in that section:


<p class="my-delicious-background">
<$MTInclude module="delicious-footer"$>
</p>

I used the paragraph (<p>) tag here, but that could very well be some other tag of your choosing. Notice that steps 1 and 2 are included in this code (’my-delicious-background’ as the CSS style and ‘delicious-footer’ as the template module).

Save the file when you are done.

Step 4

Publish your blog. You will need to ‘Publish All Files’ as any major changes (such as to template modules) will need to involve republishing of the entire site.

That’s it! You should now have a del.icio.us link added to your individual posts. Now, as far as having people use it, well, that is up to you and your marketing capabilities. That’s the part that I haven’t quite figured out yet. :)

Written on January 6th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 03:01 am by Darren Rowse

7 Ways to Get to the Top of the del.icio.us Popular Page

Blog Promotion 84 comments

I’ve been watching the del.icio.us Popular Page quite closely lately. I’m fascinated by the list for many reasons - for one it’s a great source of content ideas and links, secondly it helps keep a finger on the pulse of what people are into at any given time and thirdly it’s a highly trafficked page that has the potential to send out large quantities of traffic very quickly and is increasingly being targeted (along with other social bookmarking pages) by bloggers who are doing quite well from the traffic it sends them (in fact I know of three bloggers who credit del.icio.us and digg.com as kick starting (and feeding in an ongoing way) their blogging careers. I know last time I hit the top of the list I had an extra 8000 visitors that day directly from it and the links from others who saw it there.

While I haven’t done an in depth study into del.icio.us - it is interesting to note the type of links that consistently get to the top of the del.icio.us popular page. Here are seven of the characteristics that are often present in these popular links (often more than one of the following apply in each instance) which could improve the chances of getting into the mix as a popular link:

  1. Make a List - Just by scanning the current popular links titles it is evident that lists dominate the… list (they make up over 40% of the current links). One of the first times I made it to the top of del.icio.us was with a list (fittingly it was a list of why lists are good for getting traffic). Of course some people are ‘anti-list’ - they argue that breaking things down into lists ‘dummifies’ the content. While I’ve seen plenty of lists where this is the case - I would also argue that lists that are well crafted can be just as meaty as other forms of writing.
  2. Number your List - It’s not just any old list that gets popular but quite often lists that have a number in the title. I’m not quite sure what it is about numbers that capture the attention of del.icio.us users - but they do. I can’t remember the last time when there wasn’t a title in the popular list like ‘10 rules for…’, ‘5 ways to…’ , ‘6 trends that…’, ‘50 tips on….’. There is obviously something about quantifying a list that readers respond to. How many points is ideal? The jury is still out on this one. As I look at the current popular page I see a list of 50, numerous lists of 10 and a list of 3.
  3. Write a ‘How to…’ - Another type of link that is often popular is the ‘how to’ post. Walk your readers through a process that teaches them how to achieve a goal they might have and they’re more likely to want to bookmark it. Again as I scan the current list I see a number of titles that indicate that the links will teach or guide readers through a particular issue. Often the titles use the actual words ‘how to…’ in them. Others use ‘Guide to’, ‘Tips to…’ or ‘Tutorials’ etc. On the flip side of the ‘how to’ I also regularly see ‘how not to’ type articles or articles that talk about ‘common mistakes’ that people make.
  4. Make Big Promises and Claims - It’s interesting that the del.icio.us popular page relies totally upon the title of the link to get people to click on it (ie there are no descriptions to draw readers to visit - just the title). As a result the way titles are constructed has a lot to do with converting the link into visitors. One strategy that some successful del.icio.us links use is to make a big promise or grand statement. A recent post on enternetusers that did this that got into the popular list was Three simple actions that doubled my website traffic in 30 days. While it’s not a promise - it’s a title that certainly got some attention (well worded Adrian). Of course a good title isn’t enough, unless you have something worth reading you’ll not get the necessary bookmarks to create the social bookmarking wave to surf to the top.
  5. Get Technological - The vast majority of links in the popular list as I write this post have some sort of technological bent. It features links about SOAP, Powerpoint, video games, AJAX, CSS, Blogging, Top Websites, Linux, Microsoft, Cell Phones etc. Obviously del.icio.us users are tech savy folk - so to get their attention you’ll want to tickle their tech bone.
  6. Inspire - I notice here at enternetusers that sometimes my most helpful ‘how to’/techie posts are not the only ones to get attention from readers - in fact probably the most linked to and bookmarked posts at enternetusers fit more into the inspirational/motivational category rather than an educational one. People like to be inspired and touched on an emotional level.
  7. Use Humor - Of course it’s not only techie or inspirational posts that get to the top of the del.icio.us heap. Sometimes it’s links that go for the funny bone that are also popular. Ten Simple Rules for Dating My Daughters was a link that caught my eye a few days back for this reason - it got close to the top of the popular page. Of course if you can use humor in the form of a numbered list on a techie, inspirational topic and make a big claim at the same time you’re set!

I’m sure there are plenty of other characteristics of del.icio.us links that make it to the popular page - interested to hear what others think.

Written on January 6th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

How to Decide How Many Columns are Best for your Blog

Blog Design 18 comments

‘How Many Columns is it best to have on a blog?’

Now there’s a question that must be in the top 10 that I got asked in 2005. It’s one of the biggest dilemmas that bloggers tackle when putting together a blog.

There are of course no right or wrong answers to the question. I’ve seen wonderful two, three (and even one and four) column blogs that have met the goals of the blogger. Really it’s a question that needs to be asked on a blog by blog basis.

Warning, Tangent Ahead:

WardrobeAs I sit here pondering this question my mind goes back a couple of months to the day when we had a sales person come to our home to give us a quote on wardrobes. V and I had in our minds what we wanted in terms of design - we’d even drawn lovely pictures and diagrams to make her job easier!

But our wardrobe consultant (she was much more than a sales person as it turned out) had other ideas. She didn’t want to look at our designs - she wanted to look at our clothes. She spend the first half of our consultation purely measuring the space our clothes took up in our current wardrobes. It wasn’t until she had a good picture of this that she started to build a design. The design that emerged was, as a result, much more functional than the ideas we’d had previously. Once she had the basics in the design she asked to look at our ideas and was able to incorporate a few of the more cosmetic ideas we’d had.

Rather than starting with design elements she started with questions of function.

While we had all kinds of cool ideas for how we wanted our wardrobes to look, we’d forgotten that wardrobes existed for another purpose - to keep clothes in.

Sometimes I wonder if bloggers could learn a thing or two from this way of thinking when it comes to blog design.

As tempting as it is to come up with that cool design - it’s important to step back from the details of how it might look and ask some bigger questions before you go too far into the design process. Rather than starting with the ‘how many columns?’ question there are other important things to consider first.

1. What Design Elements Do you Want to Include in your Blog?

In a similar way that measuring clothes is important when designing a wardrobe, perhaps a good exercise for bloggers is to measure the size and space needed for the elements you want to show on your blog. Of course you’ll want to include content and a title - but here’s the start of a checklist for things that you might want to include (this is not a definitive list):

  • Contact Details
  • ‘About’ or Bio Details/Photo
  • Advertising (contextual, CPM, text links, Blog Ads etc) - with these try to think about the sized ads you ideally want to include.
  • Affiliate programs (image links and text links)
  • Archives by Categories
  • Archives by Date
  • Polls
  • Logo
  • RSS Feed Details/Subscription Buttons
  • Newsletter Signup
  • Search Feature
  • Blog Roll
  • Stats Buttons
  • Copyright statement
  • Disclaimers
  • Links to Webrings and other services
  • Acknowledgments to designer/blog platform etc
  • Recent Comments List
  • Recent Posts List
  • Links to older Key Posts
  • ‘Now Listening to’ or ‘Currently Reading’ lists
  • Amazon Wishlist
  • Paypal/Donation/Tip Jar button
  • Links to your other Blogs
  • Flickr photos
  • Links to other services or products you have to sell
  • Link to Your Shop

2. Prioritize

Once you’ve got a list of what elements you want to include it’s a good idea to prioritize them. In doing this you might consider asking some of the following questions:

  • Which are ‘must haves’ and which are negotiable - at times do a spring clean of my sidebars and realize I have a lot of fluff that is not really necessary and just clutters things.
  • How important it is to have each element in a highly visible place? (ie some might be less important and could be put lower on the page).
  • Can some of these things simply be links to other pages rather than on every page (ie ‘about’ or biographical information can be included in sidebars on every page but it can also be linked to as I do here at enternetusers.net).

3. Position

Once you’ve answered some of these questions you can begin to think about positioning. While this post is about columns and sidebars it’s also worth considering whether some of the elements listed above can actually be moved into other positions in your design including:

  • Footers - some information that is not vital to be seen can be incorporated into the bottom line of a blog. This might include information like copyright notes, stats counters, links to your other blogs etc.
  • Menus - a menu at the top of your blog can be an effective way to free up space in your sidebar/s. This can either be a single horizontal line of links (for example it might include ‘about :: contact :: RSS :: home ‘ etc) or it could be a more complex menu system or arrangement of links (for example I have a lot of my keyposts in my top menus - this not only frees up my sidebars but features some key posts prominently).
  • Inline - some elements might even be able to be included inline into and around your posts. For instance instead of putting a ‘recent posts’ section in your sidebar you could put it under your posts in individual templates. Similarly you might put a ’subscribe to newsletter’ link above or below comments etc. This is an especially good technique for advertising as ads tend to work well closer to content than in sidebars.

At this point of the design process I usually start to draw out what a design will look like and where different elements might fit. I usually use a whiteboard for this. I know some people who do this mapping out freehand with a pen and paper and others who do it on their computer using either design software or even just in photoshop or word.

4. How Many Columns?

After considering the above 3 questions you are now ready to tackle the question of how many Columns. If you’ve put put as much as you can in a top menu and footer but still have quite a few important things that you want to be above the fold (visible to visitors without scrolling) then you might need to consider a third column. If you don’t have much you might be able to get away with just the two columns and have a blog that is a little more open and clean.

Once again - try to actually draw it visualize it by drawing it in some form. As you do experiment with a variety of ways of incorporating everything. I try to come up with at least three options to choose from.

At this point I usually go to a designer (I’m hopeless at design) and show them my ideas. I find they are most appreciative of giving them details of what you want included but also when they’re given a little creative license and freedom to find their own way to fit everything in. This will vary from designer to designer.

Usually pretty quickly into the process with the designer it’s pretty obvious as to what the blog’s format will be and the question of how many columns is actually answered.

Written on January 5th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 04:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Blog Design Satisfaction

Blog Design 12 comments

The Following post was submitted by Dave from PSP Culture

What are you trying to achieve with the design of your blog?

  1. Income from Advertising Streams
  2. Reader Loyalty
  3. Personal Satisfaction

For a while I believed all three points above were mutually exclusive. That is, pursuing any one of the above points automatically ruled out the other two.

With simple planning before you create your final blog design, there is no reason why you cannot ensure a good revenue level from advertising whilst maintaining reader loyalty, and most importantly, gaining personal satisfaction from your blog.

You may consider personal satisfaction a non-essential element of your blog, that in the long run it doesn’t matter and will have no impact on your income level or reader loyalty. In actual fact, the inverse is true - if you have no desire to work on your blog because you find it a drain, and it gives you no pleasure, it will never yield a reasonable level of income, and your visitors will show you the same level of respect and interest as you have shown your blog.

So how do you gain personal satisfaction from your blog design? Simply by making it something you want to look at yourself. If you look at your blog and find it confusing, fussy, over-detailed, over-filled, and worst, useless, your visitors are likely to see the same thing.

If you are using wordpress, or one of the many other off-the-shelf blog packages, its relatively easy to integrate a new design with the blog software to give yourself a site that is both good looking and functional. You could use a standard template for your blog package, there’s plenty available to choose from, but these aren’t tailored to your exact needs, and will not help make your blog stand out from the crowd. Visitors who have seen the same template used elsewhere will either confuse your site with another, or assume you have nothing original to say.

So sketch out your blog design, look at what information you’ve currently got to present to your visitors, and work out how best to lay it out. Convention dictates that you use two or three column layouts - thats fine but think about your advertising methods, and how these best fit in with the look of your site. Fortunately most of the big advertising brands (google adsense, chitika, yahoo) all use similar ad sizes, so switching from one company to another isn’t difficult, and doesn’t mean a complete rewrite if you were to switch.

Now is the time to decide how well to integrate your advertising into your site, and the impact this has on reader loyalty. You may be wondering why one has an impact on the other, but consider the first time visitor who may be misled into clicking on an advert because its badly placed or blended into a site design so well it assumes the look and feel of the sites navigation. Whilst these types of ads may yield high returns, it also ensure your first time visitor will forever remain a one time visitor, and in the long run, this will not benefit your blog.

Ideally you want to ensure your first time visitor is converted into a regular visitor whilst retaining a click thru rate on your adverts that ensure a reasonable income. Click thru should be maintained by presenting the visitor with good quality and applicable adverts, which is normally handled quite well by the advert provider.

By being sympathetic to your visitors needs by providing the information they require clearly in a good and useable blog design, while ensuring appropriate adverts are present should ensure that not only do you get the high income you wish for, but you get a loyal readership and, best of all, personal satisfaction from your blog.

So, is personal satisfaction a requirement, and does your blog provide it?

Written on January 5th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

Technorati Juice

Blogging Tools and Services, Blog Promotion 41 comments

This post has been submitted by Croak from The Bavarian Falcon.

Technorati is getting a lot of attention these days, good and bad. But as a portal into the blogosphere, it is fairly prominent, and more and more readers are coming to rely on it, especially for its tag search and content search.

As a enternetusers, you should be ready to leverage what Technorati can do for you.

The very first thing you should do is create a Technorati account. If you’re problogging, it might be a good idea to think about what name you would like displayed (your own name, the name of your blog, your pseudonym, etc.). What you decide depends on the subject matter of your blog, but it is important, as it’s one of the three ‘linked’ results that show on a Technorati search, and it takes searchers to your Technorati profile page.

Spend a minute or two filling in your profile (or make plans to come back to it), but don’t upload your portrait yet (see below).

Once you’ve created an account, you can ‘claim your blog’. It’s a relatively simple process. You enter your blog details (name, URL), and depending on your blogging platform, you may be done, or you may need to paste a little javascript line into your blog template for ownership verification.

Technorati will may crawl your blog if you’ve claimed it or not (if it’s been pinged), but with a claim comes the ability to add details to the search results, and perhaps most important, it allows you to add up to 20 ’static’ tags to your blog, for use with Technorati’s ‘Blog Finder’ service (which lets you search blogs based on those 20 static tags). You don’t need to use all 20 tags, and you can always edit/tune them later, as well as the blog description.

Technorati Blog Configuration Page

TAG, YOU’RE IT!

When Technorati crawls your blog, it is looking for tags. Your best bet for a successful Technorati crawl is to use the tagging format that Technorait prefers:

* a href=”http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]” mce_href=”http://technorati.com/tag/[tagname]” rel=”tag”[tagname]

Technorati doesn’t care if you link to them or not, you can also link to any URL that ends in the tag name, like:

* a href=http://www.enternetusers.net/tag/chitika” rel=”tag”>Chitika< -don't try to navigate here, it's an example, not a real page on enternetusers

There are countless blog plugins and tools for automating the tagging process when you create posts, and Technorati is smart enough to use many pre-existing formats (Wordpress ‘Categories’ for example).

But whatever method you use, you should be serious about tagging your posts. Without the tags, Technorati is ineffective. Obviously it’s easier to tag as you go, but it’s worth the time and tedium to go through your archives and tag them as well (more on that later).

Another benefit of tagging (and displaying those tags) is that readers who bookmark you to del.icio.us can see what tags you’re using, and will often copy them.

Use relevant tags, and if possible, keep them to one word each. Don’t go tag crazy and add a tag for every word in your post.

IMAGE IS EVERYTHING

Getting back to the portrait: You should create an attrActive/catchy 100×100 (or thereabouts, but keep it square) logo to use on Technorati. Technorati will reduce images down to a 60×60 version for your profile page, and a 40×40 version to use elsewhere, but the higher quality 100×100 original (or larger if you’d like) is nice to have for other uses

A good logo is a worthwhile time and/or money investment. Besides using it for Technorati, you can also send it to Adsense for the “advertise on this site” link and site search results page banner, and it can be reduced down to an 8×8 favicon as well, though doing that requires some planning, what looks good at 100×100 is could be a pixel blur at 8×8.

- If you have the logo professionally done, be sure to ask for a.png file as well, rather than just a.jpg or.gif. This gives the ability to edit layers in the image later, and it makes it easier to create a modified version for shrinkage, etc.

Posting as an authority and getting a fair amount of Technorati tag listings on a particular subject is always very good. But getting those listings and making them instantly visible with a spiffy logo is even better.

When doing a tag search, most readers scan the tag “headline” (another reason you should write good post titles) then briefly touch on the contents if the headline seems to fit what they’re looking for. The problem is, Technoratiís content snippets don’t contain a lot of info, so the headline has to do most of the work for you.

Adding a logo, (especially when several of yours show up on a tag search) lends a lot of “weight” to the decision to click on your link in Technorati, and takes some of the burden off of your headline. If it’s a decently done logo, it also adds an air of professionalism to your blog.

Portraits (such as your handsome/pretty face) don’t seem to be as effective; people tend to screen out faces, especially when they’re in the 40×40 format. Much of that depends on the type of blog you’re running; a product blog doesn’t benefit much from portraits on Technorati, but a commentary or social blog could.

Do a Technorati Tags or Blog Finder search on “BMW” for an example, you’ll see that even though I’m not at the top of the list, my logo tends to make you want to do the clicky thing.

Notice how the icons stand out in the search results

Having a logo is also important for one other thing. Technorati rotates “Featured Bloggers” on the main page, and without a logo/portrait, you will not be included in this rotation. It’s a nice little bump to traffic (and ego) when you make the cut, though short-lived.

They like me, they really really like me!

HELPING TECHNORATI HELP YOU

For new Technorati users, (or those that just went through their archives and tagged everything), you should have the main page contain as many posts as possible (until the first Technorati crawl), so that all the relevant tags from the archives are found. (Technorati doesn’t seem to crawl archives, just the main page and posts that are pinged as recent).

Depending on your blogging software and where you placed your tags, you may need to expand your posts (remove ‘more’ tags, get rid of the ‘bump’.) so that Technorati can find them.

-There’s always the option of using ‘invisible’ tags, by hiding them in the meta keyword data, but that technique is frowned on by Google.

Once you’ve verified that your tags are live on Technorati (this could take a few hours), you can revert back to a smaller main page and redo your bumps.

It’s not really cheating, it’s just making sure your content gets found and indexed. The downside to this is that Technorati will see all those posts as new entries, and date-stamp them accordingly, so even though you wrote a post two years ago, Technorati will mark it as recent. The good news is, Technorati remembers URLs, so posts that are already indexed by Technorati won’t be repeated.

The main page expansion method is also a good way to get your tags listed on Technorati if it’s had a crawler hiccup (there are cases where Technorati stops crawling a site for some reason, usually because of excessive XHTML errors. When it starts crawling again, it will only look at your main page).

With a little effort, Technorati can be a valuable asset to the professional blogger, so there’s no excuse why you shouldn’t do as much as possible to maximize the services offered.

Get tagging!

Croak runs The Bavarian Falcon, a niche blog dealing with most things BMW that has been growing nicely the past few months thanks to tips from people like Darren Rowse. He has plans for expanding into other subjects with other blogs in the future.

Written on January 4th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 02:01 pm by Darren Rowse

Blog Costs - Open Mike

Pro Blogging News 54 comments

Someone once asked me to write a post on Blog Overheads and Costs.

I thought it might make an interesting open mike question for some discussion so I’ll throw it over to you the enternetusers community to write this post in comments below.

What costs do you have in your blogging business?

Written on January 4th, surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia397 zone.at 12:01 am by Darren Rowse

An Argument Against Blog Networks

Blog Networks 20 comments

I was chatting with Yaro recently in an interview he recorded with me (I think it’ll go live in January) and we got briefly onto Blog Networks.

I don’t remember the exact question that he asked me but as I answered I found myself saying that:

’some blog network owners should spend less time working on their network and more time working on their blogs.’

That might sound a little strange coming from someone who co-owns a blog network but bare with me a little while I attempt to explain.

While I am a big fan of the idea of blog networks and can see some real benefits of both owning them and writing for them (disclaimer: I don’t think that every blog should belong to a network but they do suit the goals and aspirations of some bloggers…. but that’s another post for another time) I do see some network owners falling into the trap of spending more time building up the network’s brand and image than building up quality blogs.

There are many factors that contribute to a network’s success - but one of them will always be the quality of it’s blogs. You can have a wonderfully branded network with great PR but it’ll never go anywhere unless it has substance at it’s heart.

I know of a number of individual bloggers who find themselves with a handful of their own blogs who see many networks starting and decide to bring their blogs together to brand them as a network. What I said to Yaro yesterday is that while there are definite benefits of networks that many of these benefits can actually be gained by keeping the blogs as non-networked blogs if the blogger is clever.

For example - one of the benefits of a network is that the blogs interlink and as a result build their SEO. This is a benefit that any blogger who owns more than one blog can gain from without a formal network. Another benefit of a network is the cross promotion that can take place in sending visitors from one blog to another - once again this is possible between two or more blogs that you own without spending many many hours creating a network. A further benefit of networks is that you can sell advertising as packages across sites - once again you don’t need a network to do this.

I could go on.

I’m not saying that networks are a waste of time - I know from personal experience the benefits of them - all I’m saying is that for some people considering the network option it might be a better use of your time and energy to put the effort into individual blogs rather than attempting to brand them as a network.

In effect building a blog network can be a distraction from the core business of building a profitable blogging business in some circumstances.

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