A Better Display of Categories

I often get ideas from seeing things on other sites. This time I had two great ideas from How to Write it Better.

First, this idea for showcasing my categories. Instead of the standard flat intdex… why not promote them to the reader this way? On this site it’s posted as an image file and not linking to the categories. But, it could be done with HTML and links. Not difficult and yet very smart. I’m adding it to my to-do list!

howtowritebetter1

The other thing I like is the post for her email list. Fairly standard really but reading it sparked an idea for me. I content curate offsite, for Scoop.it mainly. But, I don’t really do much with that feed beyond adding a widget in my footer. Instead I could promote it as a source for fresh, daily information. I don’t want to get into newsletters and email lists again. Email seems to be a dead horse. However… why not push my curated feeds this way? I keep them active (if not daily, at least a few times a week). howtowritebetter2

Source: HowToWriteBetter.net | how to write better | Everything you need for great results, whatever you write

So today I found two great ideas from one blog I happened to read a post from today. Pretty nice.

Submitted Myself for Reinstatement at the Open Directory Project

I was looking up something tonight and found a link to the Open Directory Project (aka Dmoz or ODP). I was an editor there, shedragon, for about ten years. I liked being part of the project, seeing it evolve and tweaking categories for topics I was interested or involved in.

odp dmoz

I forget why I left now. Something I was annoyed about. Isn’t that so often the story. I did seem to have upset someone in the upper management of the directory but I never found out what it was about. I think that’s actually why I did leave. I can remember being annoyed at the close mouthedness of it and feeling I couldn’t even defend myself because I had no idea what the problem/ issue was.

I put a lot of time and energy and care into the directory. I was quite proud to have become an editall and manage several larger categories in the directory. Likely I burnt out and I did leave and not regret the decision. I still don’t. I do tend to get absorbed into things so it is good for me to take some steps back and give myself space to find diversity instead of becoming too focused.

Anyway, today (just now) I checked if my old login still did anything. Not expecting it would. But, some part of it was still there. So I filled out the short form to ask to be reinstated.

It would be nice to fix up the categories for urban exploration and ASCII art again. But, I’ve got plenty to keep me busy sorting out my own link collections and sites. It is nice to be part of something though. I wish Dmoz had grown, along with Google. It’s a shame it didn’t. It’s still a decent resource if someone is looking after the section you’re looking in. That’s likely why I applied. I do like history and archives!

via – DMOZ – the Open Directory Project.

Uncluttering your Blog: Keep your Clutter Bug in Check

Clutter builds up on your site quickly if you stop working on it. Each time you add something new to your blog, in the sidebar, the footer or the menu and header – stop and think about it.

  • Is it necessary for your blog readers?
  • Does it say something about yourself and your blog that you actually want to say?
  • Could it be moved to a subpage of your blog and not really be missed?
  • Is it slowing down the load time and, if so, is it worth it?
  • Have you located it in a way which it’s function is easy to understand?
  • Don’t keep any broken links, including images.
  • Consider moving archives, link lists and categories/ tags to their own subpage.
  • Condense and prune your tags and categories. Use a general category for things which don’t fit into the main theme/ topic of your blog.
  • Consider using plain text links rather than image files, widgets and etc.
  • Downsize and/ or double up when giving your own links to be followed on social networks.
  • If you run ads, limit them to ads which are actually performing well.

Tidy Up Your Blog’s Sidebar

Focus on your readers. What are you keeping in your sidebar for yourself? What do you actually read and like to see in a blog sidebar when you read another blog? Let that be your guide to deciding what to keep on your own blog sidebar.

Work out the most important thing in your sidebar and on your blog.Create a list of everything in your sidebar – list them in order of importance. If you have more than ten things choose a few to be voted off the island. See if you can limit your blog sidebar to 5 or fewer items.

Remember, less is more. Put away anything you want to keep but don’t really need on your sidebar. Use features like pages and even your footer to tuck and tidy away extra items.

More to Read

Move your Links from One WordPress Blog to Another Easily

opmlI have a large collection of links. I add them using the bookmarklet feature with WordPress. I was surprised that WordPress removed the blogroll from the new versions. Why? I enjoy collecting links, hoarding them you might say.

But, when I decided to shuffle my blogroll links from one domain to another… I was left doing it one by one. One link at a time with a list of over 500 was a bigger project than I really wanted to start. So, I found another way to do it.

It is actually very simple to import your WordPress blogroll from one WordPress blog into another WordPress blog.

Go to the site you want to import the links to. (Tools > Import > Blogroll). If you don’t already have the blogroll importer on the list you can get it through WordPress  (just click on Bogroll).

Highlight the following link BUT replace the no-name domain with the domain which currently has the links/ blogroll you want to export (the links you will be importing).

http://YOURDOMAIN.com/wp-links-opml.php

Paste the link into the OPML feed box.

You can select a category to import the links into. This will let you sort them out before adding them all to any existing links you have.

Click the button and wait for the links to load up. Mine took a few minutes, but I did have a lot of them.

It works! I did it for my own site and all is well. Of course, now I have to go through and check each link, decide where it will fit in my new categories. But, I would have been doing that either way.

How to Use Dmoz aka the Open Directory Project

Dmoz writer resourcesI was an editor at Dmoz (The Open Directory Project) for 10 years. I worked my way up to the title of ‘editall’ which meant I had the run of the directory. I would review and add new sites submitted. I could edit current listings or delete those which were no longer functioning or had become spam like splogs and link farms. I enjoyed the work. I still like finding great links from all the content online. I like adding links to any post I write here on HubPages and part of the enjoyment is just tracking down the links themselves.

From what I have seen The Open Directory Project is not being updated very reliably now. It looks like very few people are still maintaining the directory and the listings. When I look at categories I used to maintain myself I find link rot and listings which need to be fixed for spelling, punctuation, grammar. There are even links which lead to parked domains, and other useless sites.

The Open Directory Project (ODP) may be unpredictable and a little neglected, but it’s still a free to be listed there and the directory database is still picked up by many other sites.

If you want to submit a link to Dmoz

Find the best fitting Dmoz category for one of your posts which represents your niche at HubPages. If you look at what you’ve been writing you will see you do have a niche/ theme of some kind. Your personality will show through the range of your topics, go with that. Narrow it down to one post and then find the corresponding category in the Dmoz directory.

Don’t submit more than one post anywhere else in the directory. Wait, even as long as a month, before you try another submission. Try a different category, something even more specific to your content/ topic. Never submit to a top level category. Those kind of sloppy submissions are almost 100% sure to be deleted without even being looked at by any editor.

Do not get yourself (or HubPages) labelled with a bad reputation for too many submissions or submissions to the wrong categories. Dmoz will block networks/ domains like HubPages from any submissions if the editors begin leaving negative comments on the submissions from that domain.

When I was part of the workings of Dmoz editors could be very diligent, keeping categories clean, tidy and updated. Even then some categories had no editor and no one checked them regularly for submissions or bad links. I think there are less editors working there now so it is even more important to have patience with any links you submit there. Sending a second submission too soon just makes you look like a mass submitter. Also, extra submissions will just be deleted while the original sits in the category until an editor takes time to look at them all individually. Editors are more likely to work on a category that does not have a lot of submissions they have to mass delete. It’s just common sense when you remember the editors at Dmoz are volunteers, not paid for their time.

Check your submission to the Dmoz directory

  • Proofread your submission. Spelling, grammar and punctuation do count.
  • Double check the link (the http:// link, not the title) of your post.
  • Don’t use excessive keywords.

Writing Roles According to Skyword

Writer roles defined as per Skyword.com

Blogger
Regularly contributes to an online discussion or information site

Columnist
Reports on trends rather than news; writes on the same topic regularly

Journalist – Feature Writing
Writes for newspapers and magazines and creates in-depth, human-interest articles that go into detail about a particular subject that may or may not be closely tied to a current event.

Journalist – News Writing
Writes for newspapers and magazines and creates short, to-the-point pieces that report on a particular current event or issue.

Catalog or Product Description Writer
Specializes in creating succinct, accurate descriptions of products based on research of product attributes, features and benefits.

Academic Writer
Writes to inform and to further their reputation in their field, in scientific journals, university magazines, research, and other professional journals.

Copy Writer
Specializes in promotional copy, such as brochures, press releases, web copy, and advertisements.

Technical Writer
Produces instruction manuals and other supporting documents to communicate complex and technical information more easily

Editorial Writer
Writes with purpose to influence public opinion on a specific issue in categories such as politics, religion, economics, etc.

Business Writer
Experience writing memorandums, reports, proposals, contracts, and other forms of writing used in organizations to communicate with internal or external audiences.

Creative Writer
Experience writing short stories, novels, novellas, and poetry.

via Writing Experience – My Writer Profile | Writer.

Turn Posts and Categories into Faux eBooks

Lorelle on WordPress has created images in her sidebar to link to favourite, popular posts and categories in her blog.

But, she has made the images look like more – I thought they were going to be ebooks she has written. Did you think the same (if you have seen them) too?

Could you do the same? Think about the posts which tend to get the most traffic from your older posts and rewrite the titles as an ebook title. Then create a little image file. Then pull up the posts you wrote and loved, the ones you thought would attract readers but just never took off. Dust off the dust bunnies and give them another chance. Do the same for your prime/ important category or categories.

Put a selection of the images in the sidebar, together. Keep them uniform in size and colour, etc. So they look like a set and will all seem to be something you did intentionally rather than random links to other sites or ads.

I bet you will get more clicks on them. I clicked on them in Lorelle’s blog sidebar because I thought they would be an interesting ebook to download and read.

I’ve Deleted all my Post Tags

From the PaperQuick Etsy shop.

I’m sick of dealing with an endless, bottomless list of tags. Last month I wiped out my categories. I left a sensible, comprehensible list of six categories to act as an index. I kept the tags then. But, today I decided the tags had to go. They were a weight on my shoulders I could do without.

Once you begin using tags you are stuck trying to maintain them. Unless you are some super organized and efficient type, tags can get out of control easily. Just the decision to use ‘books’ versus ‘book’ will give you an extra tag. You can spend time sorting and merging your tags. But, do you want to? I did try to get the tags sorted and under control, to make sense of them on two different occasions. I started out today thinking I’d do it a third time. Then that nice, shiny delete button caught my eye.

Now they’re gone. This is a tagless blog and it feels liberating! Free!

 

Audit Your Blog

I once worked in the circulation department for a business magazine publisher. When the auditors came in we had organized chaos for awhile. But, things were set up well and it wasn’t hard to justify the subscription lists to show the statistics we had promised the advertisers. Later, I worked for a department store. Once a year there was an audit of all the inventory, tracked against what was sold versus what should still be in stock. That was a little more chaotic.

Anyway, I think it would be a good plan to audit your blog. Think of your content as the inventory. Take stock of what you have, plan for what you need and make sure it’s displayed correctly. This is what we did when we had inventory in the retail stores.

ProBlogger has written Content Strategy 101. I wrote about content strategy in 2009. An audit would be along those lines with more focus on tracking what you have done and comparing it to your original goals for the blog’s focus.

First, if you never really set out a focus/ plan for your blog you really should. Keep it as a note you can see somewhere while you are working. Think of yourself as the editor of your blog. The editor works for the publisher and part of the editor’s job is to keep the publication on track with the publisher’s needs and the focus and quality which was established by the publisher. You are the publisher and the editor of your blog. But, for a moment, just become the editor. Are you living up to the publisher’s guidelines?

Second, look at the tags and categories as you have created them so far. Which of them are really in focus and which show signs of being sidetracked and which are only used once. (Being sidetracked is not always a bad thing, in moderation). Make a list of everything not included in your original plan for the blog. Some of these could be new directions you could head into. They could even turn up a great new niche you should develop.

Of the tags and categories which have been used most? Could some of them be over used? Is it possible you could split them up into smaller ideas/ subcategories?  Give them a clearer focus and make it easier for readers to find some of the great posts you have made which ended up being grouped into an over-wide category or tag.

Think of your tags and categories as an index to your blog. What gaps can you see as you look at them? What type of content might be overlooked? Brainstorm a bit and see what else you come up with. Find other blogs and sites in your niche and read their list of tags and categories to compare to your own. They may have some you are not interested in at all or you could become inspired with something fresh for your own site.

Be aware of where you started going off track with tags and categories and the blog posts written for them. Consider another site for these topics (could there be a theme including all of them?) or just leave them in your archives and don’t worry about them. From now on you will have your plan to keep you on track.

Now, check your original keywords which you have in meta tags up in the header of the HTML (find out more and get them up there if you don’t already have them). Rewrite your meta tags for the site description. Keep it short. While it’s good to use keywords you want to keep it simple, clear and quick for readers to understand in one glance. In your list of keywords knock it down to just ten.

Don’t pick keywords that are too dead on and exact, those are over used. Instead look at your tags and categories and pick out the words from interesting niche topics you have written about a dozen times. For instance, instead of ‘writing’ you might use ‘copy writing’ or ‘creative writing’ or even better ‘niche writing’. Your site is more likely to be found by someone looking for something specific than someone looking up ‘writing’ and getting the huge list of related sites. If you focus on a smaller scale you have a better chance. Like a small fish in a big pond.

Look at your site navigation now. Log out of your blog so you can see it as a general reader who comes to your site for the first time. If you can, get someone else to look at your site while you watch (don’t help them find anything!). How does your navigation work? Can readers search your site by typing in a word in a search bar? Can they look into your archives and see how long you’ve been posting or pick something to read by date? Can the reader use your categories (or labels/ tags) like the table of contents or index in a book?

Maybe you have given them even more options. How about a list of most popular posts? How about a list of old posts from other years? How about links to posts other people read after reading the current post they have clicked on? There are some nice options. Although you don’t want to create a cluttered mess, it is a good idea to bring attention to your older posts in some way. Don’t let them gather dust bunnies in the archives.

Last of all, don’t have just one content audit. The stores and publishers have an audit every year. You could do the same, part of your regular site maintenance.

Sneeze Pages Create an Index of your Greatest Content

I’m working on creating a Sneeze Page as part of SITS Girls 31 Days to a Better Blog Challenge.

With as many posts as this blog has it will be a pretty massive job to put them into topical index/ subpages. It’s something I could easily let myself put off indefinitely. But, I’m going to give it a try. First, some research.

ProBlogger: Create a Sneeze Page for your Blog [Day 18 – 31DBBB]

Benefits of Sneeze Pages:
3. It can help create a ‘Sticky’ Blog – I’ve not seen stats on this but it is my suspicion that a person arriving on your blog for the first time increases the chances of coming back to it the more great posts that they view on it. Get someone to read 10 great posts that you’ve written previously instead of 1 and you’ll exponentially increase the likelihood that they’ll subscribe and become a regular reader.

Types of Sneeze Pages

  • Themed Sneeze Pages – these are posts or pages on your blog or site that revolve around a single theme.
  • Time Related Sneeze Pages – these pages are based around a defined period of time. They are usually a ‘best of’ post that highlight your key posts from that period.
  • Retro Sneeze Pages –  shows off a number of posts from your blog from a particular point in its history. The most common way to do this is to do a post highlighting posts from the blog from a year ago.
  • Series Sneeze Pages – many bloggers use the technique of writing a series of blog posts that allow them to explore a topic over a period of time with lots of interlinked posts.

Small Business Trends: Convert New Readers with a Sneeze Page

As you put the page together, don’t just make it a series of links. Instead, you’ll want to create some new content to describe what each link is about and the benefit for the reader should they click through. Writing a few lines of content for each link will increase the page’s usefulness because you’re giving people a sneak peak at what they can find. Once you combine your links with your descriptions, that’s your Sneeze Page.

Steven Sanders: Create Blog Stickiness with Sneeze Pages

Using Sneeze Pages Creatively

Sneeze pages don’t have to be pages. A landing page may be a better method. These are called Social Media Landing Pages.

Don’t re-link old posts one right after the other though. This could cause others to get suspicious or even stop clicking the links, which is utterly ineffective. Take your time. Span a couple of old posts over a 2-3 day time period. I like to call this “sporadic sneezing“.

Next, my own conclusions and plans:

Interlink the posts you use on your Sneeze page, make sure readers can easily travel from one post in the series to the next and then the next. It will be extra work, but they should not have to return to your index page to find the next post in the series (unless that’s how they want to read them).

The most popular Sneeze page I have noticed are the week end round up posts. The blogger looks at other blogs and sites and links back to the posts they most enjoyed, noticed, or found useful. Doing this type of Sneeze post gives your readers an idea of what you read, who you are and the type and quality of resources you can find. It also gives some link love to other bloggers. So pick the blogs you link to with care.

You can have a month end or year end round up of your own posts but this seems a bit time absorbing when we already use tags and categories. Readers should be able to find your topical posts through tags and categories or by using the search feature on your site.

From what I have read and my own discoveries and explorations online I think the best use of a Sneeze page is to promote your niche itself. Think of a question readers are most likely to need answered. You can research how people come to your blog, what were they looking for when they arrived? You can post a reader survey, ask them directly. What were they looking for? What would they like to see more of? Use this information to write new content geared to your readers and set up the information/ posts with their own index page which will become your Sneeze page.

Give it an eye catching graphic with a text description and place it in your blog sidebar. Don’t stop there, spread the link around, as well as the graphic. Grow your own link love using Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, other bloggers, ad networks, link exchanges and web forums. How about adding the link to your business card, make sure it’s a short link (easy to type without mistakes).

A Sneeze page can be a useful index of specific content on your blog, it’s also a way to direct readers to content they might not think to look for as they read your current selection of posts. So give them more to read, show off your best stuff and create yourself as a resource worth coming back for.

See also: