Category Archives: Blogging

My Gripe With Blogger/Blogspot Blogs

I’ve come to a realization of something, and I’m just going to get it out now; I hate Blogger blogs! There, I’ve said it; now I’ll talk about why.

To begin with, I don’t have a Blogger or Blogspot blog; never have, never will. I do have a sign on, though I have no idea how it got there. Actually, I think one of my friends put it on there some years ago when I said I didn’t want to have to log into anything to make comments. This isn’t a new position with me, and I even wrote about it on this blog.

Truthfully, I do understand how one has to log into certain things, such as forums, in order to participate, but I’ve never understood all these people who want you to have to register to leave comments on their blogs, then gripe because no one is commenting on their blogs. Heck, you can’t have it both ways. Just as you have to decide that you’re going to comment on other blogs as well as not waste anyone’s time, you have to decide if you’re going to make it easy or hard to do so.

So, my first gripe is that many Blogger blogs are set up so that the only way you can leave a comment is if you have a Blogger account; I absolutely hate that. My second gripe is that if some blogs do open it up so that you can leave something other than a Blogger account, it limits you to name and link. I guess that’s not overly bad, because many people not on Blogger do that, but I’ve just gotten so used to CommentLuv (no, I’m not linking to it again right now; looks like I’m pimping for Andy!) that I hate not having the opportunity to direct someone to a specific post if I comment on their blogs, though one can easily link to an article from their blog that they want people to see.

My third gripe is just how many Blogger blogs look the same. Come on folks, there’s tons of colors and styles; break it up some. Okay, I’ll own up to this; I hate green, and, even though I live in Syracuse and our local football team is the Orangemen, seeing green and orange together really freaks out my system, and adding that pukey looking brown, or tan, with it,… just too much folks. Anyway, there’s just so much “sameness” to so many Blogger blogs that I don’t even want to bother taking the time to read many of them, as I’m bored as soon as I look at the page. Unfair, I know, but true.

And finally, my fourth gripe, that being that I’ve yet to see a Blogger blog where, if you’re already reading the main post, you can’t just put your information in there and write your comment. Instead, you have to click on “post a comment”, then go into another window to write your post, and not everyone has it set up so that you can click on a link to see exactly what it is you’re commenting on. Yeah, you’d think we’d all remember that, but heck, I’m getting close to 50, and my short term memory sometimes fails me; nope, not proud of that, but it is what it is.

Okay, I guess Andy’s CommentLuv is going to get a little bit of love because he recently modified the program so it will work on Blogger platform, so maybe that will help bring many of those blogs up to what the rest of us have been enjoying with WordPress. And, I will acknowledge that a few people have figured out how to use the Blogger platform and change the look so that it doesn’t look like Blogger anymore, even if it still behaves that way. Man, I much prefer WordPress’ blogging platform; talk about being a “homer”.

I guess I shouldn’t complain; at least I’m not being subjected to eating Nutraloaf. Still, Blogger could do better if you ask me.

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A Point About Commenting On Blogs

Here’s a regular conversation I have with most of my friends:

Them: “Did you see what I wrote on my blog?”

Me: “Yes, I read it; very nice.”

Them: “How come you didn’t comment then.”

Me: “Because you’ve never commented on my blog.”

Them: “I don’t have time to read other blogs, let alone comment on them.”

That, plain and simple, is one reason why there’s so many blogs without comments, and so many people deciding that they’d rather give up the ghost, rather than participate in the process. As I write this, I have at least 10 friends who have blogs. I can count on three fingers how many of them have ever written more than one post on any of my blogs, and my other blog has been in existence at least four years by now. Those without blogs; I can’t even count how many of them have been to each of my blogs more than once. I think that’s a shame.

And it’s not that my friends don’t know about my blogs, or my websites. In each regular email that goes out, all of my websites are in my signature line. In each of my business emails, my business blog is on each one. And for most emails for my other sites, I usually have one blog or the other tucked in there somewhere. On Facebook and Ryze, I have both blogs listed. On every forum that I’m a member of, I have my blogs listed.

Do you notice that little red, moving button on the side there? Basically, it says if you comment, I’ll follow back to your blog and, hopefully, I’ll be able to comment. That’s what CommentLuv does for you also, and if you comment, and your previous blog title looks intriguing, people will follow you to your blog, and comment there. You know, I thought the CommentLuv concept was very easy to understand, but I’m finding that my friends don’t get it, and if they don’t get it, then maybe some of you don’t get it either. If you have a blog and leave your blog address in the little box underneath your email address, CommentLuv will go back to your blog and select your last post to broadcast for folks. And, if you sign up at CommentLuv, then you’ll have the option of selecting from one of your previous 10 posts, in case you’re looking to spread some of your posts around in different places, or if you happen to comment on a particular post on someone’s blog more than once. I even talked about it here.

This post isn’t about pimping for comments; it’s about fairness and balance when it comes to comments of some kind. Sure, the big time bloggers don’t comment much these days, but if you’ve gone back through their archives, back to the days before they were getting tens and hundreds of people commenting, they regularly responded to everyone who posted on their blog, and of course they visited other blogs and commented on them, trying to raise awareness of their own blog.

So, if many of you believe that commenting on other people’s blogs is beneath you, or you don’t have time for it, or you only want to concentrate on your own thing, you’re missing out on a good thing. And, if you’ve read this post, I’m not only happy, but now I can say that you understand what it’s all about, this commenting thing; no excuses anymore.

But don’t leave junk posts like “nice post” or “good job”, and leave it at that. That kind of thing doesn’t do you any good, and it stinks; just ask Chris:


Broken Link Checker

Okay, I’ll own up to it; I’m not perfect. Yeah, I know, I’m surprised myself! In this particular case, I did something that actually was a smart move, but in retrospect, I probably should have thought about before I did it.

I was reading someone’s blog awhile ago, who’s I just don’t remember, and it was talking about the permalinks for each blog post. Many people who are on WordPress blogs have the default setting such that our posts have dates in them. All well and good, or so I thought. But the article was indicating that, for SEO purposes, it messes up how search engines will look at your site, thinking those numbers are a part of what you’re trying to highlight. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but if you take your blog post, right click on it, and slide down to Source, then left click, it will bring up a window that will show you the HTML of your site, even your blog. And, if you look for your H1 tag, you’ll see the title of your blog post.

So, I decided I wanted to change that, and I went into the permalinks settings on my WP blog and changed it so that the dates would no longer show. It was a manual change, near the bottom. When I clicked, I then went back to see some of my posts, and the dates were gone, and I was a happy guy.

The part I totally forgot about was that it would suddenly invalidate all the links on all the posts within my blog, all of which had those dates in them. I guess I hadn’t thought it would be retroactive, but it kind of makes sense. Also, it will invalidate those links if they happen to already have been cached in Google, although Google would adjust quickly enough. I didn’t pick up on this change, though, until I was writing a post the other day and wanted to check the links to my series on blogging. That’s when I realized that all of my internal links had changed, and I had to go back and take care of them.

What to do, what to do? I figured it was going to take a lot of time to go searching through every single post, as I’m over 200 at this juncture, and man, that was going to be a mess. Well, talk about serendipity. I happened to be reading another blog post (I really should write all these things down, just in case I need to go back to them), and it mentioned a plugin I hadn’t heard of before called Broken Link Checker.

That sounded promising, so I downloaded it, then uploaded it to this blog. It started running on its own, which kind of freaked me out because, at the same time, I had added another plugin, and it found 72 instances of bad links, with 67 of them being the result of my changing the permalinks. It took me awhile, but now my blog is totally up to date again, and if people click on a link within another post it’ll take them where they want to go. Whew!

There are definitely some smart people out there in WordPress land, and I appreciate every single one of them. I’d recommend getting this plugin if you ever add links into any of your posts, because it will let you know if a link is bad, as you get to set it to run every so many hours. Mine is set to 72 hours; that should be soon enough. Good luck.

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Dofollow/Page Rank Discussion

I believe it’s time for my first controversial blog post, because a topic has come up that I see so many people writing about, even here in comments, that it needs some exploration and conversation. There will be another controversial post after this one on a different topic; so much to talk about on a Sunday afternoon.

I wrote my post about blogrolls because I love looking at the blogrolls of other people, as well as having a few of my own. But it got integrated into another conversation about “dofollow”, “page rank”, et al. I don’t necessarily mind that, because it’s what’s on the minds of people, but it just seems like it deserves its own prominent spot on this blog, so here it is.

I love getting comments on my blog; who doesn’t? I’ve also wanted to grow the readership of my blog, for more than one reason. One, I’d like to make some money from my blog; I stated that, in my own way, with my very first post back last December. Two, I like to see that people enjoy my blog, or possibly hate the blog but just can’t stay away. I have always believed that we all should mainly write for ourselves, for the love of writing, but having people acknowledge your writing in some fashion is always pleasing. As a sidebar, I was at a health care conference last week, and at the registration desk I came upon a “fan”, who told me she’s been reading my blog, newsletter, and comments on a listserve that we’re both participants of for years, and once she knew I was coming she wanted to meet me to tell me how much she’s enjoyed my writings. There’s nothing better in the world than having someone not only recognize you in some fashion, but then tell you something nice like that; totally unexpected, and yet, lucky for me, it happens from time to time.

Anyway, I started getting a little bit of comment activity around April, but it was still fairly low. Then I was introduced to more WordPress plugins, and after adding the dofollow plugin and this became a dofollow blog, comments started to rise, especially after I also decided to add CommentLuv and joined Sire’s little F Group blogging community. That, plus expanding my own commenting on other people’s blogs, has really gotten things going for my blog.

However, the most controversial piece of this whole thing has been the dofollow/nofollow controversy. It basically encompasses two things. One, the conversation of page rank. I’ve been doing a lot of reading about this one, and ever since last year it’s been a hot topic, even on Matt Cutts blog, although he seems to always be right on the fringe of deciding how to answer the question everyone wants answered directly. Two, the conversation about paid links and Google penalties, and once again, Matt Cutts comes right to the edge without fully answering the specific question, but on this one he’s more the company man than on the other one. Let’s look at both issues in more depth.

All of us seem to scramble for Google page rank on one hand, then decry it on another. Let’s face this fact; ranks are ranks, and while none of them mean all that much in the long run, some seem more impressive than others, and can help us out in more ways than others. For instance, being a PR 0 or 7 doesn’t help me and this blog all that much because it’s a blog, with a wide range of topics, even if many are concentrated in a couple of areas. I’m much more impressed by page rank as it pertains to my business site because that’s the one I’ve worked on optimizing for specific keywords to generate offline business. I’m number one for quite a few search terms on that site, and yet it just dropped to a PR 3, after being PR 4 for at least 18 months. My traffic hasn’t dwindled, though, and my search terms are still at number one, with many others in the top 5, so what does that say about page rank overall?

Now, it’s possible that I’ve dropped page rank because at the same time I added dofollow to this blog, I added it to that blog, which is attached via subdomain, to my main site. However, I got slightly increased traffic for the site by adding the dofollow and CommentLuv plugins; do I want to give those up and possibly lose participation?

It’s actually the same question to ask for this blog. What’s the better “problem” to deal with; having more visitors and participation and worrying about page rank, or not having to worry about page rank and not having anyone reading my words? I checked my statistics on Google Analytics and the percentage of blog visitors that come here via Google is around 4.6%, which isn’t even half of the traffic I get from search engines, which is 9.6%. So, for this blog, my visitors are coming from other blogs most of the time; why worry about who’s finding me on Google searches at this time? If I can end up going the John Chow route, without directly attacking Google or flaunting any bad practices in their faces, and my traffic grows and I end up with more readers and purchasers, so much the better.

Which leads me to my second point, that being paid links. In reading Matt Cutts post on Selling Links That Pass Page Rank, the premise seems to be that it’s all on us individual bloggers or website owners to make sure that every advertisement that’s on our sites are set up as nofollow, as Google has a right to determine that paid links are there to help page rank only. I have some problems with this, as do others.

For one, having any paid links on one’s site is only for the purpose of making some money; we all know that having one way links doesn’t benefit us in any way except for either making some money or passing along information. Look at all the links in this post already; there’s more coming. Not a single one of these is a paid link, and not all of them link back into my blog; what algorithm is Google going to run to determine whether any of these links are paid or not? And no, I haven’t typed nofollow into any of these links, one because I don’t feel like it, but two, because Google themselves have acknowledged that it’s not that they don’t index nofollow links, just that if it’s there they won’t count them in their algorithms.

Therefore, Google’s expecting me to do their job for them; and that benefits me how? Oh yeah, that page rank thing again; well, I already talked about that. Now, am I selling space? I ask this question; is my having Text Links Ads any different than some blogs that have banner ads saying that people can pay to advertise there, or already have advertisers there? Matt Cutts said in one of his blog posts that Google doesn’t care about affiliate ads or whether they’re dofollow or nofollow; once again, how would they really know? Relevance is a red herring in this discussion.

For two (I’m never sure if one says “for two” or just “two”; does it matter?), just what is Adsense anyway? It’s paid text link ads that come from Google, and if you’ve ever checked (just right-click on a link, then go to Properties), you’ll see that every Adsense ad is a dofollow link; interesting. So, if Google is doing it for their advertisers, why are they so gung-ho to deny it to anyone else’s advertisers? Why? Because they can; just like the government, they’re the big dog, and big dogs don’t play by their own rules.

I wrote a comment a few days ago on someone else’s blog, I believe, that I also find it interesting that Google’s present ad partner, Yahoo, is allowing sidebar ads to run for this Text Link Ads company, and that company comes up number on if you use Yahoo search; seems these two big dog partners haven’t quite connected on a common philosophy as it regards paid links. And yes, Yahoo is also running Google’s Adsense these days, and of course it’s dofollow there also; what a dichotomy. Also, isn’t it troubling that Google can just erase a company from its search engines, which is supposed to be impartial? Try typing in Text Link Ads on Google; you’ll notice that the site itself doesn’t come up for even its name, but it’ll be listed as a topic of discussion on many other people’s sites. Hey, at one time in America, blacks weren’t considered as people either, but property; that’s a different conversation, though.

So, let’s ask some serious questions, and relate it to comments I’ve seen on this blog, other blogs, and many other articles I’ve read over the past couple of days. One, is Google really going to come after someone like me, who still has fewer than 2,000 physical visitors a month stopping by, just because: my blogroll, which is dofollow by default, shows up on every page, no matter how many links I put up; because I have a dofollow blog, which means every commenter who writes here gets some love from me; because I have two Text Link Ads that just started on my blog a couple of weeks ago, that’s going to net me less than $10 and is also “only” on my main page, but is also more than I’m going to earn from this blog from Adsense for the month?

Two, is my page rank going to overly suffer because of the same reasons I listed above? And, if it does, is that the end of my blog in the blogosphere?

Three, is fear really so rampant that people are afraid to try to do a few things here and there to improve their blogs, their monetary status, and their minds? Will fear suddenly make people scared to post here, or fearful of what they write and where they write? And, fear of Google, of all things? Does Google have a gun to your head? Sure, they’re the number one search engine, and I like Adsense just as much as many other people, but would that end my life on earth as I know it?

Four, have I done anything sneaky and below reproach? Have I done a single black hat SEO thing? Have a link farmed this site?

Five, and what about Naomi? Okay, just threw that in to lighten the mood a little bit and to see how many people actually remember it.

I know where many of you are going to stand on this issue, so I’ll ask the question this way, though you can still comment as you will. Realistically, just what is your main fear, and if it came to fruition, would it be the end of how you run your blog, or would you find another way? That’s all; I’m out!

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Feedburner & Feedburner Feed Smith

Although I first mentioned it here, I didn’t talk much about either Feedburner or Feedburner Feed Smith, so I’m going to talk about both of them now.

First, most everyone has heard about Feedburner, but that doesn’t mean everyone. Basically, if we have blogs, or webpages that will be constantly updating information in some fashion, it’s a good idea for us to have some type of RSS (random simple syndication) on our site so people can subscribe to our content. That way, when we update something, they can receive it in some fashion, most probably through a reader, instead of having to constantly come back to our site to see if we’ve added anything new.

Your blog may already have something set up for you using RSS1, RSS2, or Atom, and that’s fine. However, the problem you have is that you don’t have any way of tracking to see if people are actually subscribing to your blog. That’s where Feedburner comes into play. What you do is put in your web address and it will create a unique Feedburner address that you can put onto your site, and it will then track and calculate statistics for you. What you can also do is add a way for people to subscribe to your feed by email, something I’ve just recently added. Now, if you want it coming from different email addresses, you’ll have to create multiple accounts. I decided that I’d rather track all my Feedburner accounts from one place rather than having to sign into two different accounts, but I might change that up later on down the line, because people will receive my feeds from my business email account, though they’ll know which blog it’s coming from and should probably click on the blog link if they wish to leave a comment.

If you already have something else, one of the other RSS types, you’ll still have no idea how that’s performing for you. That’s where Feedburner Feed Smith comes into play. Now owned by Google (who also now owns Feedburner), this WordPress plugin takes all your feeds and combines them into one place, so that if someone decides to pick one of your other feeds, Feedburner will still track it.

Most SEO experts and internet marketers will tell you that you need to know what your traffic figures are and where they’re coming from, and Feedburner will tell you that and more. They have some extended statistics that you can subscribe to for free if you choose to, and since it’s free, why wouldn’t you. To me, this is a must have feed and plugin to have.

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