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by Diane

Blogrolls – Yes or No?

January 25, 2011 in Blog Tools, Blog tips by Diane

While there are many blogs in the blogosphere, there are certain people that I follow on a daily basis.
There are those who give me my daily dose of inspiration, those that help me learn more about the craft of blogging and some who share my personal likes and shared interests.
A-Blogroll
Should I be putting every blog that I like on a blogroll?
To answer this question, you need to understand what a blogroll is and why you should have one ( or… maybe not have one )on your blog.
Lets go back a moment and define what a blogroll is.
According to Wiktionary a blogroll is  (Internet) A blogger’s list of hyperlinks that are recommendations to other blogs.”.  Well that was pretty dry but to the point!
I prefer this definition by Jade Blake which is:
A blogroll is an addition to a blog that benefits the blog’s owner, visitors and other blog owners. The main purpose of a blogroll is to refer readers to blogs containing similar content that they might enjoy. In time, other blogs might add your blog address to their blogrolls. This will bring more traffic to your website.
–oh and as the Wiktionary points out they are indeed links.
Is that it?  If that were the case my job here would be done and everyone could go on their way and create a blogroll of hundreds of links  um I mean blogs.
The fact is, that is exactly what many people do!  they create a blogroll without thought and many have blogrolls so long you have to wonder…wow does that person really read and like these blogs?
The fact is blogrolls can have great advantages.
For example:
  • If you have a blog on something like aging, then linking to other blogs that have similar interests  that will help your readers.  You are providing value, something your readers will appreciate.
  • when you align yourself with other bloggers and especially if they link back to you, then you have created more traffic to your blog..it is all about recipocity and that is nothing to sneeze at.
Like anything though Blogrolls also have a downside and you need to know that.
  • Blogrolls need to be kept up.  You need to keep checking to see if these people are still blogging or that they are still active with their blogs and staying with the same topic.
  • In terms of SEO, well it is like this, while you may have a persons blog on your site…are they returning the favor?  If they are not, you are passing traffic to others, but they are not passing it back to you.
  • If your blogroll is too big, then what is that saying? Speaking only for myself, when I see a huge blogroll list, I walk away from that blog as to me that blog is not showing any credibility and is just putting links in for the “link juice”.  Am I wrong?
Now that I have told you my vie
w on the good and bad points to blogrolls, I do have a few suggestions to hopefully guide you to creating a blogroll that will do your blog  justice.
1.How many of you use the word “blogroll” on your blogs?  Did you know that you are wasting your real estate value of your blog?  Think of a wording that would best suit your blogroll in a way that will convey interest to your readers. Think of keywords or a keyword phrase that people would be searching for on the net, that will lead them to your site.
2. How many of you just put in blog links, one after the other?  Your time would be better spent categorizing your links.There are a couple of reasons to my blogroll tip. a) when you use a keyword as a category, you stand a chance of being noticed by the Search engines and when you are providing good content to your blog, then it is not only your readers that will notice you.  - When you categorize your blogroll, your readers will be able to find what they are wanting and the blog authors will also thank you for taking the time to say what the topic of their blog is about which is great SEO for them and also for you.
3. Keep your blogroll relevent to your site.  Depending on your blog topic or niche, this can get a bit tricky especially if you have a blog on lets say aging and you are linking to a site about mechanics ( just an example).  Is there a way around this issue?   To me the answer is yes, you can do one of two things, keep your site pure to the topic in all aspects and not link to those style of blogs or you can make a personal catchall category – think of a good name and put in those blogs that you just really enjoy.
4. Not every blog that wants to link with you is going to be suitable.  Yes I know that sounds terrrible,but it is true. When someone wants to link to your blog (blogroll) or if you want to link to them, then you also need to know if it is a good blog.  Now everyone thinks of their blog as a “wow”, but the reality is that if a blog is not indexed ( page rank), then it is a useless link. Now you don’t have to ignore these authors and in fact I would say, especially if they have written a good article/post, then link to them within your post.
I guess in the end, you need to weigh the pros and cons when creating a blogroll.  While the internet is very impersonal, it is wise to remember that when one is being social and personal,  the rewards will come back to you ten fold.
Todays post is about blogrolls and to that end the free tools that I can suggest, will help you find those blogs that have a good page rank.
SEO for firefox
this tool will give you loads of information from Google PageRank, Page links,age and so much more. ( I personally use this tool and it is easy to use and gives a lot of good information)
This is a SEO tool for Google Chrome and a I have to say that the information that you will get is comprehensive to say the leart.  It also enhances tools such as the Google Wemaster tools with links anchor text and pagerank.  I have been trying this extension out for a while now and have to say I like it!
SeoQuake firefox extension
seoQuake is one very powerful tool for any or all of your SEO needs. Not only will you get the pagerank on any given page or blog you are on, but you will also find out about such things as back links, keywords, sources and the list goes on.
Have fun with these tools and let me know how you are getting on with your blogroll

by Diane

Categories are Part of the Game Plan

January 22, 2011 in Blog Education, Blog Tools by Diane

Part three of  You Need a Game Plan
Brainstorming to help your game plan
Over the last couple of days I have been sharing my thoughts on creating a game plan for your blogging career and on Thursday I had talked about mind maps or how to brainstorm where you want to go with your blog always remembering the best game plan starts with the end not the beginiing.
Moving forward….
Categories!

When you did your brainstoring or created your mind map on the topic of your blog, then you should have noticed a progression of thoughts and ideas about where you wanted to go with your blog.  When you put these into a list form, what you have done is  create  a “draft” for your categories.  Of course there is a bit more to it than this, but this kind of thinking will give you the ideas of where to start.
I read an analogy on the thinking about categories and I love this thinking …Categories are like the DNA of your blog ( I have put my slant on the term DNA in the context of  blogging categories  by the way:-)  ) Simply put, categories help you define or create the frame of your blog.
** Most people think of categories in terms of readers and SEO  which is very important and maybe I will do my take on this another time under a different category…LOL***

For the purpose of your game plan, think of categories as a way to focus and plan your blog posts so that you will remain active, keep your blog interesting and to help you schedule your time.
While many people have their own ways of planning their posts using categories ( would love to hear yours ), what I find works for me is using a calander of some sort, where I can put in each category for every day of the week, with ideas of posts or articles per category.  By doing this, I find that I never run out of ideas and I can research or get everything organized ahead of time.
While there are many free online calanders on the net, my personal favorite is the Google Calander which I have also added Remember the Milk (to my Google Calander) to help me set up my blog posts tasks ( as well as any other tasks) for the upcoming week.
For those of you still unfamiliar with Google Calander, I have found it to be one of the more useful applications that Google developed. If You looking into the history of this application, Wikipedia has a great write up if you want to know more.
Remember the Milk is technically a task manager and online list maker, but boy it is  so much more and has been a life saver for me on more than one occassion.  Instead of me extolling the benefits of using Remember the Milk, I am going to refer you to one of my favorite blogs makeuseof.com and their article “8 Easy Ways To Manage Tasks With Remember The Milk“.  If this does not “sell” you on this great application, I dont know what will.
I really hope that this series on “You need a Game Plan” is getting your juices flowing and giving you a practical way to creating success on your blog.

by Diane

You Need a Game Plan ( Part Two)

January 20, 2011 in Blog Thoughts, Blog Tools by Diane

Sometimes I think having a game plan is pretty much like being a teenager asking “what do I want to do with my life” with so many choices and directions it can make a persons head swim!
It is the same for blogging
For those of you who have a blog and are focused on your niche or topic, congratulations and I encourage you to keep reading to get further ideas to help you with your game plan.
For those of you who  are still saying… “I want to be a blogger” or”I kind of know what I want to write about” or “I have a blog but I dont’ know where to go with it” then read on
Being a blogger with a game plan means having the end result at the very beginning.
With that being said here are a few questions to ask yourself
1. Do you enjoy writing? Its not such a silly question as you might think.  Not everyone is a writer, in fact some people hate writing with a passion and yet are very successful bloggers.  For myself, I tend to write in two ways…one as a researcher/lecturer( writing facts and giving information) or I “visualise” in my mind that I am talking to somebody (you)just having a conversation about something.  For others blogging means using images to convey their topic and then there are the people who vlog( creating video blogs) or audio blogs.  there are many choices and you need to find out which would work for you.
2.I know you have heard this so many times..but – Do you have something that you are passionate about? Keeping the game plan in mind means knowing that you will be able to write about something for a long time – that it will hold YOUR interest, never mind your readers ( did I just say that? well it is true!)
3. Are you blogging to make money? Well… it was nice talking to you!  Seriously here is a reality check for everyone..If you are starting a blog to make money, you are going to fail and worse your game plan will be in ruins before you even start! I am not saying that you cant create an income with a blog, but it takes a lot of time and the competition is going to be fierce!  Get your priorities straight at the very beginning and that is content, consistent content and even more content with a lot of connecting to others via social networks, learning new skills and other methods to get yourself noticed.
ok  enough of the lecture..onword with a good game plan
You have answered the question of why you are blogging and you have an idea of what you want to blog about, but you really cant see the forest for the trees in terms of  where you want to go with your blog niche.  What has helped me is brainstorming , either with others or writing things down, but there is another way that might be of use to you. create a Mind Map!
A great definition to explain a mind map can be found at Wikipedia
Basically “a mind map is a  is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks, or other items linked to and arranged around a central key word or idea. Mind maps are used to generate, visualize, structure, and classify ideas, and as an aid to studying and organizing information, solving problems, making decisions, and writing.”
I have to say that brainstorming using mind mapping tools are just very satisfying and visual.  They can be used for so many ideas or projects.  When you type in a search “mind mapping tools”  You will get oodles of places to look at, but to give you a starting point I have picked three (3) services to get you started:
Mindmeister mind mapping tool
Quickly build your own mind maps using our intuitive, award-winning interface – absolutely no learning required! Access them online whenever you like, export them to other formats, or import your own existing maps. All you need is a standard web browser, no plugins or additional software required.” ( Free and paid services)

“Mind42 is a free online mindmap collaboration tool.  Keep track of all your ideas,whether alone, with colleagues and friends or working together with the whole world. browser based online mind mappMind42.com is aing application”


“Wise Mapping is the web mind mapping tool that leverages the power of Mind Maps mixing new technologies like vectorial languages (SVG and VML) and the power of the whole Web 2.0 concept. No pluggin required.”
————–
Well thats it for today.  Come back tomorrow and I will share with you how to keep your game plan going with blog set up, categories and other such methods.  As always your thoughts and your view point is needed to help me with my game plan ;-)

by Diane

You need a game plan!

January 19, 2011 in Blog Thoughts, Blog Tools by Diane

Part One
Do you have a plan?
Another day has come and you are rearing to go! You know you have to write a blog post today and in the back of your mind you might have an idea, but first you need to check your email, then there are all the social communities that you need to check on, comments to make or questions to answer and …oh ya…you have to get the blog post done.   Does it stop there?  Nope!  Now you have 30 tabs open on one browser, maybe another 10 on another one, all with your research, communities, of course your email and …. now people want to talk to you on Skype or gtalk and guess what? A whole day has gone by and still no blog post…oh well there is another day and besides you have all these things to read and real life events to take care of.
Does this sound familiar to you?
Guess what?  You need a game plan!
The key to owning your own blog, owning your own business starts with the mindset – you are your own employee and you are on the clock.
The starting of your game plan is by getting yourself organized, creating a plan, finding and then actually using the tools that will help you function better and then get off the clock and get physically active to stretch those muscles that have been tightened from sitting at a computer of so many hours.
When you start thinking like your own employee ..you will find that your focus will be much different!
oh and for those people who just cant help themselves and need to have 20, 30 or more tabs opened and lose themselves to all the information, the games  on the net here is a tool that might be of real time use for you_
( don’t you love that word?)
Here is part of the description from the Chrome Web Store
“[As seen on LifeHacker, ReadWriteWeb, MakeUseOf, and more!]
You sit down at the computer, and you swear you’ll be productive. Next thing you know, it’s twelve hours later. You’ve checked your email, updated your Facebook status, browsed the trending topics on Twitter, read your RSS feeds, looked up your favorite band on Wikipedia, vanity googled yourself, cyber-stalked your ex, looked at all your high-school crushes’ Facebook photos, watered your plants on Farmville, and lost a week’s pay playing online poker.
What you haven’t done is WORK.
StayFocusd is a productivity extension for Google Chrome that helps you stay focused on work by restricting the amount of time you can spend browsing time-wasting websites. Once your allotted time for the day has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.”
From all the comments that I read…this is a tool that you will love to hate!   It really does work, but a word of warning, because there is no warning message when the time is about to expire, make sure you bookmark or save your work or you may find you have lost everything.

Let me know your thoughts about this chrome extension or anything else for that matter.
Back to work for me!

(Tomorrow I will share  some resources you can use to help you with your game plan.)

by Diane

Better banner management on your Blog

January 6, 2011 in Blog Education, Blog Tools by Diane

One of the challenges in monetizing your blog is in the management of advertising.
To do this manually is a task if you have just a couple of banners to display, but as that number increases.. so too does the complexity. Remembering things like duration, rotation, tracking results…  it really doesn’t take long to become too much to handle alone.
Our friend Pawan Agrawal at MaxBlogPress.com has provided an excellent solution to the management of banner advertising with his Max Banner Ads WordPress Plugin, a tool that makes the task of ad banner managing much easier to deal with.
If you’re seeking a banner management tool.. I recommend Max Banner Ads.