Written on August 22nd, 2007 at 08:08 am by Darren Rowse

Blogger Ads Inline AdSense Widget

Adsense 29 comments

If you’re using Blogger as your platform and have wanted a way to put AdSense ads between posts then Blogger have added a widget that makes it easy. Get the full details at the AdSense blog’s post on Getting inline.

I can think of a few bloggers that will be pretty happy with this one!

Written on August 22nd, 2007 at 05:08 am by Darren Rowse

How do you link to yourself? Anchor Text for Internal Links Matters

Search Engine Optimization 30 comments

One of the most basic principles of search engine optimization is that the words that other sites use within the text of their links to you (called the anchor text) have an impact upon how your site ranks for those words.

For example - if you want to rank well in Google for the words ‘pink widget’ then it’d be more helpful for another site to link to you with the words pink widget than any other words.

The principle extends to internal links on your blog. When you link to yourself (for example linking to a previous link that you’ve written) you should consider doing so with descriptive words of the post rather than generic words.

For example - if I wanted to link to my previous post titled ‘blogging for beginners’ in a post rather than linking like this:

‘you can read my post on blogging for beginners here

it would be more powerful in terms of the search engine ranking of the post to link to it as:

‘you can read my previous post on the topic, blogging for beginners

It doesn’t sound like much - but it’s these small adjustments in the way that a blogger blogs that can add up to having a bit impact upon the ranking of that blog in search engines.

One more thing - it’s not just the links from within your posts that this matters for. Internal links from your navigation and menus matter too. For example if you link to your categories - think about the words you use there too.

Written on August 22nd, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Catch New Readers Up On The Basics of Your Blog

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 18 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2Sometimes after you’ve been blogging on your blog for a while it’s easy to forget that not all of your readers have been reading your blog since you started. While you’re familiar with every aspect of your blog and how to use it - your more recent loyal readers may not.

One way to catch new readers up on what your blog is all about and how to use it most effectively is simply to write a post telling them.

So what should you tell them?

Really it’s up to you - but here are a few suggestions:

  • Why Did You Start Your Blog? - the story of how, when and why you started the blog can help readers connect with and own your blog.
  • How is it designed to be Used? - while more and more people understand what a blog is and how it operates - some readers may not - particularly non tech savvy audiences. Explain concepts like comments, categories and any features that you’ve installed that might take a little explanation.
  • How Can Users Connect/Subscribe? - explain how to use RSS or subscribe via email. It’s amazing how many people don’t understand this - educate them.
  • How Can Readers Get More Involved? - if you have forums or a reader community area for readers to get more involved highlight them.
  • Where Should Readers Start? - point new readers to some starting points to read (use the Sneeze Page idea that we talked about a few days ago).

You don’t need to do all of the above in the one post - in fact picking just one or two might get your readers attention better and not overwhelm them.

What about Your Regular Readers?

Worried about what your regular long term readers might think of these types of posts? I was too when I first did them - so I decided to invite them to participate in the process to help new readers.

What I did was to ask long term readers to tell the story of how they found my blog and how they use it. In doing this I not only got them involved and distracted from the fact that I might be writing about something that they already know - but I got them participating and enthusiastically explaining to new readers how they love and use the blog.

I also found that a few long term readers told me that they learned something new about the blog that they’d overlooked for a long time.

Want an Example?

Last time I did this at DPS it was with this post - How to Connect with Digital Photography School. Feel free to share your own examples and experiences of this in comments below.

This post is part of the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project.

Written on August 21st, 2007 at 10:08 pm by Darren Rowse

“I try to leave out the parts that people skip”

Writing Content 15 comments

I recently wrote a post with 8 things to do with your blog when you get sick - number five on the list was to find a guest blogger to lend a hand.

This week on noticing a fellow blogger, Blog Bloke, was having a bad run with illness I decided to drop him a note asking if he could do with a guest post to lighten the load and help keep the blog ticking over.

BB accepted and the post just went live. It’s a post on brevity in writing a blog and being selective with what you publish. You can see it at Leave Out the Parts that People Will Skip. Feel free and leave your comments on that post.

Written on August 21st, 2007 at 05:08 am by Darren Rowse

5 Comment Management Plugins for WordPress

Blogging Tools and Services 32 comments

One more post on the ‘respond to comments‘ post that I wrote yesterday.

If you’re a WordPress user there are a number of WP plugins that can help with managing your comments and responding to readers. Here are some that might be worth exploring.

1. Better Comments Manager - this plugin allows you to respond to comments on your blog as you moderate them in the comments area of WP’s back end. So instead of seeing a comment come in, having to then visit the post and responding from there you can simply hit ‘reply’ from within the comments section and you’ll be taken to a page where you can leave a responding comment. It also puts a ‘view all’ link in your comments area that allows you to quickly see all the comments on a post - still staying in the back end of WP. Here’s the two links as you’ll see them in your comments area:

Bettercommentsmanagercloseup5

2. Comment Relish - this plugin sends and automatic email message to users on your website who have never commented before. I’m seeing more and more bloggers using this - generally giving a quick thank you for the comment, a link back to the post and blog and a mention of their RSS feed etc. Be a little careful of making your comment too ‘auto generated’ and if you want to make your emails more personal check out how my good friend Alister uses it. Here’s another similar plugin called Comment Email Responder.

3. Subscribe to Comments - this won’t help you respond to comments but will help your readers know when you have as it sends an email when new comments are added to a post that they’ve subscribed to. While I don’t use this here at enternetusers at the moment (in a previous version I had a bug) it is something I’ve used on other blogs and have found very effective.

4. WP Comment Moderation Notifier - get notified on your desktop when a new comment comes in that needs moderation. This is a new one that I only found today via John TP.

5. Threaded Comments - Ben and I have talked about using this in the new enternetusers design but have resisted so far as it can get a little messy. However it is one way of helping readers to have more dialogue in their comments.

Want more Comment Plugins for WordPress? Check out the WP Codex page for Plugins for Comments.

Which WordPerss plugins do you use to help managed your Comments?

Written on August 21st, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Make a Reader Famous

Featured Posts, 31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 37 comments

FameDo you want to be famous? Do you want to be noticed? Do you want people to know who you are? Do you want to have more influence?

I did an informal survey of bloggers at a workshop and asked them why they blog. The majority of answers had something to do with one of the above questions. While many bloggers also have some desire to make a difference in the world or to help others - to do this they also generally have a goal of being noticed and read by more and more people.

Today’s task in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project is to take a break from building your own fame and influence and to build the fame and influence of someone else - preferably one of your readers.

Pick a reader (and if you’re new and don’t have any yet - pick another blogger in your niche, preferably a less well known one) and make them famous in some way.

Here are a few ideas on how to do it:

  • Promote a comment to a Post - sometimes readers make incredibly insightful and wise observations and tips in the comments of your blog. While they will be read by a handful of people in the comment thread - why not pull it out and use it as the basis for one of your post - highlighting the wisdom in it and the person who made the comment.
  • Write a Post about their Blog - visit the blogs of those leaving comments on your blog and pick one that you resonate with to post about. Write an ‘unpaid review’ of the blog - highlighting the best posts and what you like about it.
  • Send Your Readers to Comment on Someone Else’s Blog - write a post that links to someone else’s great blog post and instead of asking your readers what they think about it on your own blog ask them to head over and comment on it on the other person’s blog. Shutting down the comments in your own post and saying that you’ve left a comment on their blog already can help make this more effective.
  • Give Readers an Opportunity to Promote Themselves - run a project or write a post that gives readers an opportunity to promote themselves in some way. Last week on the spur of the moment at DPS I wrote a post asking readers - do you have a photoblog?‘ As I wrote the post I thought I’d add a line inviting readers to share a link to their photoblogs. I didn’t think much of it until the next morning when I woke up to 250 comments on the post and a whole heap of emails thanking me for giving readers the opportunity to highlight their work.
  • Reader of the Week - SingForHim recently left a comment here at enternetusers talking how how she runs a weekly post called Readers of the Week where she highlights some of her readers and how they’ve interacted with her blog. Here’s one of her latest examples of this (you can see from the comments that readers appreciate it!).

OK - I can hear some of the comments on this post already.

“Isn’t the real reason that you want to make your readers famous so you become more famous?”

True - one of the side effects of highlighting the great things about another person is that it will often come back to you in some ways that benefit you too. Call it ‘karma’, call it ‘reaping what you sow’ or call it anything you like - it’s a principle that you’ll find to be true.

However try to get away from that more selfish motivation for a moment if you can. The blogosphere was built on principles of promoting others, conversation, celebrating diversity, open source knowledge etc. Some days I wonder if those things still exist - and to be honest somedays I wonder if I’ve played a part in making them endangered species. Lets recapture some of it by making others famous today on our blogs.

Written on August 20th, 2007 at 09:08 am by Darren Rowse

The Secret to Increasing Your Traffic Overnight - Hint, it has Something to do with Going on Holidays

enternetusers Site News 37 comments

Today I was asked about a post from a few months ago on Savvy Affiliate that did a little analysis of the Alexa graphs of four blogs (including enternetusers) which had surges in traffic that were the beginnings of sustained traffic growth.

In the post Scott observed a surge in enternetusers’s Traffic as can be seen in the following graph.

enternetusers-Alexa-3

This surge happened in April surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia60 zone.and as I rarely look at Alexa (or take much notice of it as I find it a bit flakey - I don’t trust the actual numbers but the trends that the graphs reveal are interesting) I hadn’t really noticed it before.

But because Scott has posted about it I thought I’d dig back into my archives to try to identify what the cause of the surge was.

While Alexa don’t give a lot of detail when it comes to dates I’d estimate that it happened in April of 2006. What exact date it was I’m unsure.

So what happened in April 2006?
As I look back over the archives of that month two factors jumped out at me. Which of them (if any) was the reason for the surge in traffic I’m not sure - but here they are:

1. I handed my blog over to Guest Bloggers - for two weeks in April surf Active Apparel website 1cecilia60 zone.I took a holiday (our last break before our baby was born) and I handed the blog over to a number of guest bloggers. While I did have a few advanced posts set to go off over the month it was largely others who wrote the blog for half of the month. The number of posts on enternetusers for the month were lower than any other month for the year and comment levels were fairly normal.

2. I switched to Full Feeds - my gut tells me that this was actually a significant factor in the surge (although at the time I was scared that I’d see a lot less actual visitors to the blog because more people would stay in their feed readers). I don’t remember exactly the result on traffic at that time but it initially was a little lower but did grow from this point (and subscriber numbers leapt up).

What didn’t happen in April 2006?
My initial thought when I saw this surge was that it happened on a day that a enternetusers post hit the front page of Digg or that it happened on a day that I wrote a post that got ‘discovered’ on a bigger blog. However as I look back over the posts of that month there were no such instances that I could identify.

From what I can see, there was no big spectacular event that was responsible for the surge. It may have been something to do with some fresh voices, it could have been connected to going to full feeds (which did bring about a rise to my subscribers at the time) or perhaps it was just the accumulation of numerous events over time that added together at this point to see a rise in traffic (or perhaps Alexa really is screwy and it’s some sort of anomaly - maybe a handful of new subscribers all using Alexa toolbars started following enternetusers that day).

Lessons from the Experience?I guess the lesson is pretty obvious - switch to full feeds, let others write your blog and go on holidays! :-)

PS: Seriously though - what I do find interesting about the graph is the latest surge which happened the day that my new design was launched. I guess it’s paying off so far - although it’s still a little early to tell.

Written on August 20th, 2007 at 04:08 am by Darren Rowse

How To Blog - Dumb Little Man Style

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 19 comments

Jay from Dumb Little Man (a blog that’s seen incredible growth of late) has posted an insightful post on How He Blogs.

It has all kinds of great glimpses into his blogging and how he does it while still maintaining a full time job (warning - his schedule is a killer - 4 hours sleep!).

There’s too much stuff to summarize here - so head over and have a read.

Written on August 20th, 2007 at 12:08 am by Darren Rowse

Run a Reader Survey on Your Blog

31 Days to Building a Better Blog, Miscellaneous Blog Tips 15 comments

Reader-SurveyYour task today in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog project is to ask your readers how you can improve your blog.

At least once a year I like to write a post on my blogs inviting my readership to comment on a number of areas of my blog. These include:

  • Content (topics covered, post length, types of posts, post frequency, depth of exploration of topics etc)
  • Design (navigation, colors, fonts etc)
  • Blog Features (RSS feed, blog tools etc)
  • Community (how it could be enhanced)

While some blog readers will give you this feedback from time to time whether you ask for it or not - others like to wait to be asked and many wouldn’t even give it any consideration until they are asked.

Why Survey Your Readers?

There are two main reasons why this exercise is worth doing:

  1. Blog Improvement - the most obvious benefit of asking readers to review your blog is that you find out what they like and don’t like about it so that you can make improvements
  2. Reader Participation - asking this question draws readers out of their lurking state to make a comment or send an email. In doing this you actually create users who take a little more ownership of the site and who feel like they are being valued and listened to

How to Survey Your Readers

A few more tips that I’ve found helpful when running reader surveys

  • Determine What You Want to Know First - I find that these reader surveys are more effective when I have some sense of what I want to find out first. While simply asking ‘how can I improve’ might get some good responses - having some ideas on possible future direction for your blog can be helpful in forming the questions that you ask readers. Use this process to test possibilities. For example in a recent reader survey at DPS (see link below) I asked if readers would be interested in buying a ‘best of… ‘ type ebook to test whether this might be something that I could develop down the track.
  • Ask Specific Questions - all some of your readers will need from you to give good feedback is an invitation to do so. However other readers will need a little guidance and asking some specific questions will give them the framework to give you the type of feedback you want. So ask a mixture of general questions (like - ‘tell me what you think about my blog’ and very specific ones (like ‘do you like video post?’ or ‘would you like a forum?’).
  • Set ‘Rules’ - you’ll notice in the two examples that I give below of the most recent times I’ve asked readers for feedback that I’ve set some ‘rules’ in place. The reason I do this is to attempt to get readers thinking positively and constructively about the feedback that they give. Comments like ‘this site is crap’ don’t really help you improve your blog - so encourage your readers to make suggestions and be constructive.
  • Set Good Expectations - the other thing it is worth doing is giving readers a sense of what you’ll do with their feedback. If you intend to respond to each comment, tell readers that that is your intention. If you can’t respond to each suggestion then tell that. This will save you pain later when readers email to ask why you didn’t get back to them.
  • Be Willing to Hear Critiques - don’t ask for feedback unless you are willing to hear it (and not just the glowing praise). The whole point of this exercise is to find things you can improve upon - as a result you’ll hopefully have some of your blog’s weaknesses identified. If you’re not in the headspace for this type of feedback simply don’t ask for it.

Examples of Reader Surveys

If you’d like to see how I do this - I recently gave readers opportunities to comment on my main two personal blogs at How Can I Make enternetusers More Useful to You? and How Can We Improve Digital Photography School.

So put together a reader survey and post it on your blog. I tend to do it simply as a post and let the resonses come in via comments or email - but you might also want to use an actual survey tool (although I find the response rate to using these is lower). Once you’ve done it I’d love to hear about how you found the process.

What did you learn? What would you do differently next time? Did readers respond? What tips would you give others wanting to do reader surveys?

Another Example

For another example of how do this check out this recent post over at Copyblogger in which Brian asks readers to tell him what Copyblogger means to them. It’s a great question because not only does he learn a lot but readers are responding in ways that cement their readership as they’re telling each other what they like about the blog.

Written on August 19th, 2007 at 12:08 pm by Darren Rowse

113 Must Read Blogging Tips

Miscellaneous Blog Tips 42 comments

Building-A-Better-Blog-2When I started this months 31 Days to Building a Better Blog and decided to invite readers to submit their own blog tips I’m not sure what I was really expecting - but the results have been fantastic.

I’ve just spent the last two hours surfing through the latest batch of 113 tips (that brings us up to a total of 359 reader tips on the central page) and am quite inspired. I come away from this list with new ideas, new knowledge and with another 20 or so blogs added to my out of control feed reader.

There are still 12 days left of the project so you’ve got time to submit a tip or so of your own. To do so see the rules on the intro to the 31 Day Project post.

Now grab a cup of your favorite beverage and get reading!



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