Pretty Simple Site Promotion Ignored

It bugs me when I go to a business or charity type of site and find they have nothing extra to offer me. Not only is it harder and harder to find a real way of contacting anyone online but they are often really skimpy on content too. What are they saving it for? Why not use the free promotion opportunities right in front of them?

Charities or campaigns such as breast cancer, saving the whale or keeping the Internet free should have something I can stick on my own site as a link back. I like having some kind of graphic and if that is included in prepared HTML code for me I can scoop it right up and paste it into my site’s HTML. Simple and sweet and don’t they want linkbacks anyway?

Businesses create lovely packaging for their products and you go to the website to see what else they have, where are other stores located and can you get some of that wonderful art as wallpaper/ background for your own site? Businesses should make this available as most people will recognize the design and notice the referral to the company placed at the bottom corner of the wallpaper. Why don’t they share it this way? Or offer us something else? It’s free promotion for them. So much thought and energy is put into SEO games and yet here is something that doesn’t rely on search engines and would bring in a lot of link backs and traffic, yet it is ignored. How silly.

Simple SEO for Your Site

Have a look at URL Appraisal for fun, mainly. See what it says your domain is worth. I think anything not on it’s own domain is already going to score low from this SEO based site. WordGrrls was appraised at $512.80.

I had a look at what they recommend for simple things you can do for SEO (search engine optimization). Two of them are things I am going to work on today:

3. Take advantage of alt and title tags in your URLs and images. When creating an image or link within your HTML, you have the option of including a TITLE attribute in URLs and an ALT attribute to1 images. Use these fields to add additional text about the link/image. This text is picked up by search engine spiders and can add to the keyword content of your pages.

7. Make sure you take advantage of meta tags like keywords and descriptions. Many sites often overlook meta tags. There are a large number of these tags you can add to your html pages to help give search engines a better idea of what’s in your site. Two tags in particular, the description and keywords tags, allow you to write a description of each page and also list relevant keywords contained within your site. Use these on every page of your entire site.

I may go the lazy way and see if I can find a plugin to play around with the meta tags. That way I don’t need to look at my HTML code to add a few words or change a spelling error I am bound to notice once I’ve had it up for a few weeks.

For the titles with links, I’m pretty sure that is set up for you in WordPress already. I’ve just ignored it up to now. So I will vow to do better. It is just adding a description to the link you are typing in. The description you type in will appear if someone hovers their mouse over the clickable link. It is a good thing. You may have noticed it on other sites and wondered how they did that. Now you know! it would be nice if Blogger picked up on this too.

Does SEO Influence Your Writing?

One Question Interview #2:

When writing your posts how much does SEO, traffic and marketing come into your thoughts versus just writing a great post? Give an idea of your ratio for writing well versus writing for traffic. I know everyone has it on their minds at least a little. Even writing a personal journal I would be thinking about who might read it (though I’d usually be long dead and blameless by then).

Ken Writing: I’m afraid I don’t think of SEO at all (I know I should).

Sixmats: I’ve been more aware of SEO lately and if I can change something like the title to help I will. But I don’t go overboard and write my posts around it because if I do, the posts look fake and really amateurish.

A Frog to Kiss: If I write something technical, or informational, then yes I do keep SEO in mind and utilize the All In One SEO pack WP plugin-adding keywords. If it’s humor/personal related, I don’t- in fact, I’ve learned sometimes keywords aren’t necessary. My earlier posts were never SEO optimized, yet, some how, Google picks them up when someone is searching for “Oprah’s Camel Toe” or “women with hairy nipples.” Rednecks are a popular topic, too.

Canucklehead: For me its a non-issue. It has taken me a LONG time to get to this point but I can now honestly say that I write only for myself. To be fair, I am aware of and writing for an audience – but I don’t consider SEO, marketing or any of those factors. I write what I want and what interests me and then hope others enjoy it as well. As will be clear to anyone who reads my blog, I quite often don’t even have a subject in mind when I start typing. Its a difficult mindset to adopt but I have enjoyed writing more since the change.

The Thin Red Line: I think about SEO in how I title and keyword my posts but not too much in the actual writing of them.

The Eye Spies: I think about SEO and do try to incorporate some of the “best practices” into my posts. I do well on some and not so well on others. I use an SEO plugin that’s supposed to help, but confess to not always filling it out.

I seem to do better with choosing long tail keywords than with anything else.

Freaky Frugalite: I don’t think about SEO.

SEO thinks about me.

(Got that from Chuck Norris)

Actually, SEO doesn’t matter to me much as I write. I tend to write in a stream-of-consciousness-oh-my-gawd-what-is-she-wailing-about-now kind of prose. But I find that keywords just come out. Does that sound wacky? I just seem to naturally place the suitable words that bring in the traffic. That, and my profligate verbage where I have, say, 3-4 words for every 1 necessary, helps in the cause.

I have a travel blog that gets a lot of traffic from search engines– it’s a favorite for travelers, historians, and genealogists, and is loaded with essential nutrients and vitamins good for SEO health, I guess.

PictureFlick: I gave up obsessing over SEO, marketing and traffic a few jumps back. While I just make pictures now, instead of “painting a picture” with keyword rich text, my only thought to anything resembling SEO at posting time would be tagging my images.

Why? ’cause it’s a great way for someone (clicking on the tags) to find mini-albums full of related pics. If that helps with SEO: cool. If not? Wasn’t worried anyway! All in all, I make pics (posts) for the sake of making pics (posts). Nothing more, nothing less; everything extra is just icing.

30 Something and Searching: I don’t always think about it. It depends on the post. If it is more personal to me, I just write more for feel and readability. I know I have regular readers so I think more about them. Other posts though, that are more social, I try to consider marketing and reaching a broader audience. Example, yesterday and today I posted about a mammogram and my personal experience…I didn’t try to market that so much. Not that I don’t want people to read it, but it just wasn’t my goal to draw in mass readers. Others, like a post about today.com, or in the past about the Octomom, I did as much as I could to use SEO and market it. But as a personal diary, I don’t have mass market on the brain all the time. Plus, I don’t always have the time to do the marketing that I should…

Old Red Pen: I illustrate. It doesn’t SEO well. I don’t care.

Top Five Blog Tips

Yes, you can be happy with a blog which doesn’t have all of these but we are all just a bit greedy for a little fame. Here is what you can do.

1. Content.

Content is still king. It is what you have to offer. Have something to say. Say it in a way that is readable. Have a look at how news stories are written with the point of the story first and clearly stated right away. Afterwards come the facts, the spin off points. By the end of the story the information has trickled down to minor details which could be cut off should the news editor not want to give the space for them.

2. Layout.

There is a lot included in layout: navigation, colour, white space, avoiding clutter, etc. A blog needs to be easy to read, easy on the eyes. Having a dramatic or exotic (technologically) layout/ template does not always work out well. Your layout should showcase your content, present it all to be read, found and enjoyed. My favourite layouts are simple, clear and don’t include much colour or scripts. Not that I do that on my personal blog. I love colour and trying things my own way and that is my place to experiment.

3. Links.

Some blogs have no or very few links. Links are how we share and discuss new things, they matter! Isn’t it great to wander into a blog and find some great new thing, a blogging group, an interesting new kind of art/ craft, even another clever blog widget/ gadget. The best part of blogging is the adventure of the discovery of new things and ideas.

4. About.

It’s not just who you are or what your blog is about. Write it as a guide for yourself, to keep you focused on what you plan to do. Include a whole FAQ if you get ambitious.

5. Promotion.

Promoting your blog is not just a marketing scheme using SEO tactics, joining pyramid linkback schemes and piling on keywords. Commenting on other blogs (and giving feedback to the comments on your blogs) is better and gives you the chance to shine, show off your writing, and who you are to the blogger of your choice. Don’t pick a blog to comment on based on phoniness and traffic. If you want real, sincere readers show yourself to be the same.

With each comment you leave your link on another blog. Write something relevant, interesting or an opinion or experience you have had. If you lure someone to your blog from your comment on another blog, you’ve just successfully promoted your blog. Comments take time but so does any kind of blog promotion. However, you can choose which kind of promotion speaks for you.

Wanted: Spam Killer Web Browser

I’ve been thinking about blog ads lately. They really do annoy me. I understand someone wanting to make a buck, enough to pay for their web host. Seems that is how a lot of it started, just making enough to pay for the Internet connection and web domain/ host if you have one. That was a nice plan if you could do it.

Now I think more than two thirds of the blogs and sites existing are about money making, SEO, monetizing and so on. It amazes me that people still keep making more. How much of the same information does the world need? It is choking the Internet.

I still understand running an ad or two. If you are hosted on Blogger it is nice to run their AdSense, as thanks for the free site and hosting. You might run an ad to see what all the fuss is about or try to make a bit to pay for your Internet connection, etc. There are some blogs which are trying to make money to pay for college, surgery, a car or other things they need and hope to find charity from others online.

But, that is the cut off for me. I feel I am in an ad farm and it is becoming the whole Internet. It’s like watching TV and wishing the ads would pause long enough for the show to come on. But they don’t. There is no end to the ads and it is just getting worse.

Sites are writing about products and posting them as if they were regular personal blog posts. As if they just love denture cream, credit cards or having a bigger penis. Who do they think they are fooling? I’m sure a lot of people are confused by these fake posts, likely some assume they are sincere. There must even be people who do buy the stuff. If there were no sales the stuff would stop but it’s not stopping it’s growing.

I’m not against people who spam (and I am going to call it spam no matter what you protest). I’m against having it shoved down my throat. I want a break! I want to be on the Internet and enjoy it, unplagued by ads. I want a web browser, call it Spam Killer, that will stop web abuse. I want it to give me the option of not loading a spam infested blog or site. I want a little note to come up before the sites loads and tell me how many ads are running on the site. Five or more ads, YUCK! I won’t waste my time. Two or fewer ads, ok, I’ll have a look.

I am tired of being abused. Yes, I am a consumer. I am someone who could choose to shop online. However, that does not mean I want to be a captive audience. I’m tired of being abused by those who call themselves business people online. Run your business, great. Just get it away from me. I don’t want to see beauty product ads when I am reading a blog about business women. If I want to know about beauty products I can choose to go to a site about them. Business women are not about beauty supplies. Find your correct niche and stay there. If I want to find you I will.

I’m at the point where I will not buy anything online cause I am just sick of being a victim to the ad mongers.

That’s my rant for now. I will be watching for that Spam Killer though. Anyone who remembers the days of pop up ads knows it can be done!

Blogs We Luv: 10 Questions

The Ten Questions from Blogs We Luv

1* Describe your blog in five sentences or less.
2* Link us to one post from your blog that best defines who you are.
3* What sets you apart from other bloggers?
4* When and how did you first discover blogging?
5* What is your biggest pet peeve related to blogging or the internet?
6* Name one plugin, blogging widget, or service that you can’t live without.
7* If you could choose anyone, living or dead, to write a guest post for your blog, who would it be and why?
8* How has blogging made you a better person?
9* What are your tips for becoming a better blogger?
10* Name one great blog that you read on a regular basis. What makes it unique?

1. A scrapbook/ junk drawer of things I create, write, think or just find interesting. Rural exploration photos when I have been out taking photos. Cartoon drawings to illustrate the blog mostly every day. Basically it is things I think of when I’m in the shower. Conversations I have with myself. Ideas I find somewhere else and want to keep track of to explore further. It’s made of stuff I love, stuff that bothers me and just stuff in general. Kind of like life.

2. Love the World – Doesn’t define who I am. There is no one post that does that. But it has some of the elements of who I am. I think there is too much in my head for any one post to contain it all.

3. I don’t especially want to be set apart from other bloggers. With all the other bloggers out there I’m sure there are several doing the same stuff I am. I post for myself. I still feel the passion for web publishing that I first did over ten years ago when I began my first weblog. I like the ideas of diy web publishing, free journalism, creative CSS and HTML and having the freedom to do it all my way.

4. Over ten years ago. I almost remember some of the first blogs I read. They were still new in 1996, most people had a webpage up if anything. Blogs were software which made keeping a site updated easier as your newest work would show up on top of the older work. They weren’t all journal-like then either. People who knew code were doing wonders. The rest were trying to learn from the best of them. I remember being awed and amazed by those who created blogs back then, they really were feats of artistic and geeky genius. I was working more on ASCII art, newsgroups and IRC than blogging. My first blog was on Blogger though, I liked it even way back then.

5. Biggest peeve are the ads (and splogs which followed the ads). If anything is killing blogs it is monetizing and seo obsessed people who don’t really create anything. All too often it is recycled, stolen or mass contributed content which lacks anything personal at that point. Splogs are like a huge clog in the drain of the kitchen sink and they spoil blogging by making it harder to find real blogs that would awe and amaze as they did once upon a time.

6. Nothing is coming to mind. But it’s always the widget that you don’t even think about which is most essential and taken for granted. I couldn’t live without Blogger itself. I love finding good avatar making sites, Blessthischick.com is my favourite at the moment. I like Firefox though lately it hasn’t been keeping me logged in anywhere as it used to do. I like StumbleUpon and Flickr too, both services.

7. No one. What would be the point of having someone else write a post? It’s a personal blog, a way for me to hear myself think as much as a way to create something for others to view. To have someone else post would turn it into something else and then it wouldn’t be me writing for me any more. I’d have to start another new one. 🙂

8. That’s easy. Blogging kept me from going insane when I was alone in a foreign country and getting divorced. Not sure if it really made me a better person but it really did keep me from feeling completely alone and isolated with just all kinds of thoughts and feelings spinning in my head. It gave me focus and a place to put my feelings out there and get feedback from a few blog friends so that I felt someone was listening to me even if I was still in a room all by myself.

9. That depends if you really are a blogger or someone using blog software. If you really have the genuine interest in creating something go for it. Try new things and don’t worry about the opinions of others. You should be doing this for yourself. Making your own footsteps into the virtual world. Don’t go too far into the idea of writing for an audience, write for yourself or it soon becomes meaningless. You get burnt out when you really don’t have anything of yourself there any more. If you focus on traffic and link backs to your blog instead of adding colour, ideas and thoughts you won’t have anything of your real self invested in it any more. Readers won’t find that interesting either.

Work on keeping your blog easy to navigate, organized, not too cluttered and keep it to a simple, clean layout. Also, make sure your colours and the font size don’t strain your reader’s eyeballs right out of their sockets. If you want to post every day but feel stuck a few days try a new way of expressing yourself: draw something, post a photo, a poem, write about a new hobby you are interested in, take a day off and do something new to write about, anything else you can think of that will fit into a blog post. Just like the old days when I wrote penpal letters and would think of new things you could fit into an envelope and mail acros the oceans, a blog is a format you can fit a lot of things into if you put your mind to it.

10. Had to think about it for a bit. It’s a tie between The Useless Men and Blog U now. The Useless Men are fun to read but Blog U has been a great source for blog innovations especially when there was something specific I wanted to change or fix.

Do You Call Yourself a Blogger?

This is what I wrote as a comment in the Problogger post and comments about what a blogger is and why it is not beneficial to call yourself a blogger if you are running it as a business.

There are very few people I would call bloggers. Most of those who say they are bloggers are a hybrid of blog and splog. A blogger, to me, is still someone using weblog software to create art, write a journal or some combination of those on a personal level.

The traffic and readers are a fun side effect, not the point of the whole thing. I have seen many so called bloggers who are obsessed with seo and monetizing to the point where the blog content has been left to rot or is stolen from others. I’d be glad to see blogging be left to fall back to what it began as, something fun and creative.

About Dmoz

Now and then I read comments about Dmoz, the web directory run by volunteer editors. I was an editor from almost the time it began, before it was called Dmoz. Negative comments from people who want to get their site listed are common. You will always find them in any kind of discussion about web directories. Dmoz began as a good idea but it grew faster and farther than the available volunteers.

If the directory submissions could be strictly filtered we would lose some actual good submissions but it might out weigh the good in losing a tonne of complete garbage. If you could look into the submissions in one category second from the top or at the top, like Arts/Weblogs for instance you would find submissions for porn, submissions about monetizing your blog, submissions about travel to India and you might even find weblogs about the arts (dumped in the main category instead of the right subcategories). You would not be likely to find a site you would actually list in Arts/Weblogs. Maybe if you spent a couple of hours going through all the submissions… But you’re a volunteer, how much time do you really want to put into Dmoz today. More than that, how long will your patience and interest hold up?

I wrote the below comment in reply to yet another person bad mouthing Dmoz. Even though I quit Dmoz for a few reasons, I still think it has value and I still think the biggest problem is the quantity of junk submissions. There is no way a few volunteers are going to keep up with the volume. No way they would even want to stick with a chore like that. It’s not fun. There are so very few decent sites that you come across that it is not even interesting work.

I was a dmoz editor for 8 years. The idea behind it was great but we were soon overwhelmed with garbage. In the end, there are only so many volunteers willing to wade through the trash to find something actually submitted to the right category and not just another splog or ad farm. In the current directory you are fed up in a week, all your beginner enthusiasm is gone. Most new editors quit. It’s not like you’re getting paid to do that job. I read complaints about dmoz like yours and I’m not impressed. Most often those complaining have the worst sites. Or, they have a decent site until it gets listed and then it changes to become craptastic and full of spam/ ads. Dmoz doesn’t have enough volunteers to keep up with the submissions, to fix errors in submissions and to check sites again once they are listed. It’s not the system that sucks its the crap that gest submitted that chokes the life out of the directory.

Tracker Grrl

What is the fascination with tracking people online? I came across FreeOnlineUsers.com today and as I read the front page I began to think… Why?… Why would I need to track the people who pop in here? Why do I need to know where they came from, where they went and what brain of toothpaste they use? It was nice of them to come, thanks. But, why do I need to track them down like some kind of animal? When you read my blog I choose the catch and release program. Come, enjoy, stay awhile and then, you are free to go… back out into the great wide world. Have a nice day… don’t spend all your time looking down at your feet, catch the sun on your face a few times.

The Site Fights

There are a lot of online communities. Most work with the standard message boards and include optional newsletters, chat and so on. There are few which offer something really unique as an experience you could not get at another community site. I would say NeoPets is one and another is The Site Fights. Both should be experienced rather than judged out of hand. I’ve been having fun with Neopets this past week. But, I knew The Site Fights long before NeoPets was online. It’s a community based on driving web traffic and encouraging webmastery: making graphics, learning HTML and other basics of having your own personal site. Don’t look at it and think it’s not “professional”. No, it’s not professional, that’s the point. It’s fun, time consuming and definitely something you will learn something from, somewhere along the way.