Is Grammar Powerful Enough To Ruin Your Blog Rankings?

I can’t believe how many blog posts I’ve read in the last week on reasons that many of us bloggers, and a heck of a lot of websites, lost ranking over the last month due to Google’s Penguin update, and then the Panda 3.5 update as well. Most people didn’t know there were two updates; well, there were, and they were within days of each other.


I’m sure this guy’s
suffering greatly

There’s one thing that’s come up time and time again, and I feel that someone has to actually write about it to dispel it as a reason, so it might as well be me. That one thing is that grammar can be used as a reason why many people took a hit.

Come on folks, really? Actually, let’s break this down because when most people are thinking “grammar”, they’re not really thinking grammar at all. Per my Webster’s New World College Dictionary, grammar means:

that part of the study of language which deals with the forms and structure of words, with their customary arrangement in phrases and sentences

Is that what most of you using the word have been thinking? Nope. You’ve been thinking about misspellings, capitalization, and typos for the most part. That’s a part of grammar but it’s not grammar. But we’ll let that one go for now.

Grammar is terrible these days. Forget that people can’t figure out which “your” or “their” they should be using. There are phrases like “these ones”, which grates my nerves, and things like “I ‘heart’ you”, which I just learned what it means (yeah, I’m slow sometimes) that people use, to the point that some kids actually write these things in papers in school, and teachers are allowing it; I’m shocked! Okay, no I’m not, but I am greatly disappointed.

Still, let’s be reasonable here. If Google was going to penalize people for grammar, just whose grammar would they be penalizing people with? Folks in the south use a different grammar than folks up north, and I’m betting out west people say some things differently than we do. What about people in other countries that know English as a second language? Wouldn’t an overwhelming majority of their sites be penalized drastically?

Let’s go back to misspellings, capitalization, and typos. There’s so much of all of these, even on prominent news sites like CNN and MSNBC, definitely on my local newspaper, that one would expect these site would take a much bigger hit than those of us writing our little personal blogs because it’s much more pervasive there, yet they’re not suffering at all.

Does this mean one shouldn’t try to work on those things so they minimize errors? Absolutely not. Does it mean that one’s traffic might not drop if there’s so many errors people can’t understand the content? Nope; it most certainly will drop. But it’s not because of any updates by Google, or any other search engine.

So allay your fears; you will not be tested any time soon on your grammar, spelling, or anything else. That is, unless you’re still in school, in which case study! 🙂
 

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Back Up Your Blog; Another Lesson

Sometimes I think my reason for being on this earth is to mess things up so I can warn you not to do it. In this case it’s specific to blogs, at least WordPress self hosted blogs, although I think it’s a general lesson for everyone.

Yesterday I was checking in on this blog I write for an accounting firm. I went into the Admin panel and went to posts, where I discovered that two posts didn’t publish when they were supposed to. That was bothersome because, as I do with my own blogs, I tend to write posts ahead of time and if I wasn’t going to be able to do that there it was going to really complicate things.

The first thing I did was publish both posts. I actually had to “fake” change the date by changing the time a few minutes, then the Publish button came up and I was able to publish them for the dates they were supposed to show up.

Then I went online to do some research into the issue; y’all know how I like to research. I came across something that recommended adding something to the WP-Config.php file, as it stated that some themes were missing this particular code. I added the code, then went back to write a new post.

Only when I clicked on the link to the blog, it had reset itself back to the beginning. I was horrified; I hoped that maybe when I typed in the username and password and went back to the theme I had selected for the blog that everything would be as it was; nope. Oh the horror (some of you know that line)!

Now I was stuck. The lucky thing is that this is still a relatively new blog; the unlucky thing is that I’d never gotten around to backing it up. What to do, what to do, what to do?

I went to Google to pull up the cache of older blog posts. Only Google doesn’t seem to have that link anymore that gives you the cache of old posts or pages; what the hey? I looked everywhere, even did some research on that, but nothing worked. I then tried Bing, and they didn’t have anything either.

Yahoo did the trick. I put the blog’d address link into the search and it pulled up the one entry, but it also had “cache”. Through that link I was able to recover all the older posts, but not the two posts I’d done earlier in the day. Hey, I took what I could get, and that was a lot. I was able to post all those articles back for the same date that they originally were posted, then three posts, one to replace a post that was supposed to be for next month, then two more that are supposed to go this month.

I’ve scheduled one to go live today, but it’ll be after this post so I don’t know yet if it’s working or not. Either way, it’s reminded me of the importance of backing things up before making radical changes, even though I hadn’t thought that was a radical change. I’m just glad that I can write fairly fast; I’d have hated to spend a long time having to rewrite those articles.

Yes, please learn from my mistakes; don’t do them. 😉
 

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Mother’s Day; My Mother And Other Mothers

Today is Mother’s Day, and all around the world many people are celebrating it in some fashion either with their mothers, thinking about their mothers, or in memory of their mothers. I saw my mother Friday, since we knew Sunday would be a mess trying to go somewhere, and even then there were more people out than we’re used to. She also loved what I brought to her.

The truth is as I get older, I realize that there’s no way I can appreciate my mother as much as I should. She’s not quite the same woman I grew up with, and I don’t mean how our relationship has changed, although it has.

My mother didn’t have much of a sense of humor when I was growing up. Sure, she liked a few shows on TV, but she never said anything funny and didn’t laugh very much otherwise.

My not being the typical kid had to be interesting in its own way as well. I didn’t get into trouble, and I didn’t do bad things. I wasn’t perfect by any means, taking some chances with my life that have made me, as an adult, extra cautious. But parents always told my mother how nice I was; teachers always told her how smart I was, and I tried to live up to that as much as possible. The worst thing my mother ever found to say to me was “your room is a pig sty”; are there mothers still using this phrase?

What I’ve learned as I’ve gotten older is that my mother has always had a great sense of insecurity, which led to her always worrying about family, which definitely included me. I know I got my sense of taking care of my friends from Mom’s sense of taking care of me. My mother didn’t play the “every child gets punished because I don’t know which child did something bad” thing when it came to school. Every school got to do it once; Mom made sure it never happened again because she knew I never did anything wrong. Strange as it seems, my mother changed policy in two schools I went to because they couldn’t apply that policy to any classes I was in. 🙂

She was strong when she felt she had to be; otherwise, she’s a worrier. She worried back then and she worries now. She worried about my dad when it was needed, and she worried about my grandmother when it was needed. She worries about some of my cousin’s children because that’s just how she is. She worries about some of the mail that comes to the house. She worries about how much she eats and when she brushes her teeth and so many other things. At least I’m not that bad, thank goodness; I don’t sleep well as it is.

What she doesn’t worry about as much is her health; that’s my job. And as she gets older, being in her mid 70’s, I worry way more now than I ever have. Some people might remember that my mother had her own medical emergency back in 2009 when I wrote a post on my other blog about preparing for family emergencies and on this blog about lessons on health care. I still help her deal with her issues with blood pressure and slight memory issues, and now I deal with her arthritis.

In her life she gained so much weight that at one point she probably weighed what I weigh right now and she’s only 5’1″ tall, and now she weighs what she weighed when she graduated high school, way less than half of her highest weight. Neither the way she gained the weight or the way she lost the weight was healthy, but the way she’s maintaining it now is. At least I was able to help her there.

I have to deal with her doctors and some of the other things that go on in her life. It’s not easy because we don’t live in the same city, and she doesn’t always tell me everything until I think to ask her about it.

And yet she still worries about me as well. She worries about my financial status. She worries about my health issues. She worries about my happiness and whether I’m eating and exercising and sleeping. In essence, she lives her mother role, and now I’m living a mother role as well.

But it’s her mother’s day, and as I reflect on all the years, all the travels, all the adventures, all the stories, all the advice, all the help, all the worries, and everything in between, and I acknowledge that she’s aging and I’m aging and our time together grows shorter and shorter, I know that I love my mother in ways that I would never and could never love anyone else, and I could never tell her or show her enough.

I hope most of you can do the same with your mothers on this day; Happy Mother’s Day to all of you mother’s out there.
 

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Black Web Friday – 05/11/12

This is week #17 of Black Web Friday, and it’s a couple of days before Mother’s Day, so if you didn’t already know about it or didn’t remember it you now know. I’m not doing anything special with this post for that reason, but I have come to a decision about the series.

Black Web Friday

I started the series with a specific purpose, that being to help bring to the forefront the reality that there are websites and blogs written by people of color. It’s been a glorious and fun journey, but in looking at things now I don’t think I’ve been able to achieve the purpose I wanted to achieve.

What’s happened is that most visitors know what’s coming on Friday, and since overall it’s not their cup of tea they’re just skipping these posts. The initial hope had been that folks would at least take a look, see the topics black folks might be writing about, and decide if the topic was worth looking at. Instead, not only are they bypassing it, but most of the time the people and websites included here are bypassing it as well. Since there’s no real way to achieve its purpose as a live event, so to speak, I think it’s time to put it on hiatus.

But the hiatus isn’t today. The hiatus will be May 25th, the last Friday of the month, heading into Memorial Day weekend. That means 2 more weeks after this one, unless they’re suddenly an outpouring of people clamoring for more; yeah, like that’s going to happen. It’s been fun, but all good things must end.

With that said, let’s get into it.

This is definitely something different. The blog Beyond Black And White is managed by Christelyn D. Karazin, and is more of a consortium of bloggers with a common goal. There are 5 other black women and one Asian male that write on the site, which means there are often multiple posts on the same day. The topic are pretty general; they can be fashion, politics, technology… pretty much just like every day life, with one exception. There are also lots of articles about interracial relationships and race relations in general. As I said, it’s something different and I like it, so check it out. It’s a Livefyre commenting system.

For once I’m highlighting a new blog, but there’s a reason for it. It’s called The Money Chat and it all about financial issues. Dorethia R. Conner is the owner of the blog and she has other contributors that help her out. She gets a mention because she just went the self hosted route in April after writing on Blogger for a long time, so there are a lot of older articles there that I assume she’s not going to move to the new space, yet are worth checking out. Unfortunately the new blog is also a Disqus blog, so I might read but obviously won’t be commenting.

Stella Anokam‘s eponymously named blog talks about internet marketing, something I know a lot of people love to read about. She talks a lot about blogging, getting traffic, business tips, building mailing lists, and social media. There’s a lot of good stuff there and it’s written concisely and well. One topic in particular that I bet a lot of you would like to check out is this post titled Profit Financially From Blogging In 9 Simple Strategic Steps, For Beginners. And it’s a standard commenting system; can’t beat that.

Finally today I present another black news and commentary source, Your Black Bloggers. Multiple writers comment on the topics of the day, which includes President Obama saying yesterday that he now endorses same sex marriages (about time). Let me warn you; everything here isn’t necessarily warm and fuzzy, since some of the opinions and topics will be perceived as controversial. But being a little bit edgy hasn’t hurt that many people, has it?

That’s it for today; two more weeks to go.
 

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My Irritation With WordPress.com And What I Recently Learned

Yeah, I know, there’s a bunch of you using WordPress.com as your platform for free blogging. Whereas I always preferred it over Blogger if someone had to have a free blog, now I’m not so sure anymore.


via Flickr

The comment system used to look exactly like the one we employ, for the most part, on WordPress software oriented blogs. The issue was that we had to subscribe to comments by responding to that immediate email we received after each and every post if we wanted to know that someone had gotten back to us. Since I’m not a subscribing kind of guy, especially not every single time, I wasn’t doing it.

Then within the last few months, WordPress.com changed up some things. One, they changed the look, which wasn’t so bad since it kept everything we were used to. But two, they also changed the ability to just leave a comment and go on with your life.

I just had it happen to me again; tried to leave a comment on a WordPress.com blog only to run into this:

Please log in to post your comment.

mitch@ttmitchellconsulting.com belongs to an account you are not currently logged into.

WordPress.com or Gravatar.com credentials work.

For the first time last week, I noticed the Gravatar connection and wondered about it. So I did some checking and realized that WordPress.com had purchased Gravatar back in 2008; nope, never knew that before. They had never connected the two services, and other than a press release there was no notification on the Gravatar site, so it wasn’t something commonly known to a lot of people, since I’d never seen anyone else write about it.

So I decided to try a different email address; nope, not happening. It seems that if I have a Gravatar account hooked up I’m not going to be able to leave any messages on any WordPress.com sites without signing in. Frankly, I know it’s a minor thing to a lot of people, but I’ve kind of stuck by this mantra since the beginning of blog commenting way back when and I’m not suddenly changing over now.

Just to verify this by the way, I finally left a comment with an email address that doesn’t have a Gravatar, and it accepted the comment just fine. I did get the standard email saying I had to subscribe to receive comments, but that’s okay because at least I got my comment through.

This is irritating, and I don’t know if WordPress.com users can change that setting, even if they know it’s happening. Overall, it looks like it’s another blog platform that I probably won’t be commenting on all that often, and that’s unfortunate. Why are these things so keen on restricting the ability to comment? Yeah, I know, worried about spam; bah!
 

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