Thursday, 12 April 2012

Get a Higher Page Rank by Blogging

Get a Higher Page Rank by Blogging

Most people who are experienced with search engine optimization would know the basic procedure on how to attain a higher Google Page Rank for a website. With most SEO strategies, one can be sure about an increase of about two or three ranks within three months or so, but it doesn't hurt to gun for more. While SEO is quite simple as long as there is intelligent effort, some SEO services cost money. That is money that could be used elsewhere, so one must look for a better alternative before spending actual money for a higher Page Rank.

Contextual link building is one the most effective SEO strategies available. While you can go on and email people about exchanging links with you, there is actually a better way to gain affiliates to your website. One of these good link building ideas that can be utilized to maximize growth is blogging.

Blog About Products and Services

Blogging can be a sort of regularly-updating advertisement for your online business. It provides news and updates on your products and services to interested parties. By blogging your day-to-day business activities, potential customers can be certain that they can get them whenever and however they can be made available. Make sure that your blog has RSS so that visitors can subscribe and get regular updates to your blog.

Integrate Your Blog with Your Main Site

If your blog is one with your main website, you can have an easier time in increasing Page Rank as it is quite easy to do so with a blog. Within the first three months, it is entirely possible to gain a Page Rank of 3, so if your main website is integrated to your blog, it can share that Page Rank. By utilizing good SEO procedures, it can be easy.

Post Relevant Content Regularly

Regular updates increase the chances of getting a higher Page Rank as Google pings your site every once in a while. This is absolutely helpful if your blog is integrated to your site, so keep the previous tip in mind. By giving visitors the appropriate information, they will be enticed to revisit your site for reference and other such purposes.

Write Blog Reviews of Other Related Sites

By writing positive reviews and critique of other related sites in your blog, you are giving those sites incentive to support and link your site back. This type of advertisement is a powerful method of link building that can dramatically increase your chances in attaining a higher Page Rank within the shortest amount of time possible.

Combine Blogging with Other SEO Strategies

Blogging alone can give your site more traffic and such by a certain degree, but it alone is not powerful enough. Combine it with other tested search engine optimization methods to get the best effect. Such things like link building, keyword density, meta tagging, submitting sitemaps, and so on can multiply the effect that blogging can give you. If you had integrated your main site with your blog, then it will increase your chances even more.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Top 10 Reasons to Start a Blog

Top 10 Reasons to Start a Blog

Blogging is becoming more and more popular everyday. Should you join the blogosphere? Take a look at this list to help you make your decision about blogging.

1. To Express Your Thoughts and Opinions
You have something to say, and blogs provide a place to say it and be heard.

2. To Market or Promote SomethingBlogging is a great way to help market or promote yourself or your business, product or service.

3. To Help People

Many blogs are written to help people who may be going through similar situations that the blogger has experienced. Many parenting and health-related blogs are written for this purpose.

4. To Establish Yourself as an Expert

Blogs are wonderful tools to help bloggers establish themselves as experts in a field or topic. For example, if you're trying to get a job in a specific field or hoping to publish a book on a specific topic, blogging can help legitimize your expertise and expand your online presence and platform.

5. To Connect with People Like You

Blogging brings like-minded people together. Starting a blog can help you find those people and share your opinions and thoughts.

6. To Make a Difference

Many blogs are issue-based meaning the blogger is trying to provide information to sway people's thinking in a certain direction. Many political blogs and social issues blogs are written by bloggers who are trying to make a difference in their own ways.

7. To Stay Active or Knowledgeable in a Field or Topic

Since successful blogging is partially dependent on posting frequency and providing updated, fresh information, it's a perfect way to help a blogger stay abreast of the events in a specific field or topic.

8. To Stay Connected with Friends and Family

The world has shrunk since the Internet has become more accessible. Blogs provide a simple way for family and friends to stay connected from different parts of the world by sharing stories, photos, videos and more.

9. To Make Money

It's important to point out that most bloggers don't make a lot of money blogging, but the potential does exist to generate revenue from your blog with hard work and commitment. There are many bloggers who bring in big bucks. With patience and practice, you can make money through advertising and other income-generating activities on your blog.

10. To Have Fun and Be Creative

Many people start a blog simply for fun. Perhaps a blogger is a fan of a particular actor or loves knitting and wants to share that passion through a blog. One of the most important keys to successful blogging is having a passion about your blog's topic, so you can write prolifically about it. Some of the best and most interesting blogs started out as blogs that were written just for fun and to give the blogger a creative outlet.

Essential Requirements to Starting a Successful Blog

Essential Requirements to Starting a Successful Blog

Passion for Your SubjectAs a blogger, you have to write about your blog's subject a lot. The writing is nonstop. If you don't love your blog's topic, it will show. Readers can detect when a blogger is just going through the motions rather than speaking from the heart.


Successful blogging requires a massive amount of sweat equity and dedication. Building a successful blog requires more than just publishing a new post a few times a week. The most successful blogs are updated frequently (often several times each day), and the bloggers behind those blogs work relentlessly to promote their blogs and drive traffic to them.


Building a successful blog requires a massive time investment. Growing a blog doesn't stop with publishing posts. Top bloggers spend a lot of time everyday promoting their blogs, researching and reading to drive traffic to it.

A Desire to Network

Socializing is a critical component of developing a successful blog. Blogging by nature is a social medium, and successful blogs become so primarily because of the strong sense of community surrounding them. Top bloggers take time to respond to comments and interact with their blogs' readers as well as network on social sites, forums and more all in an effort to further promote their blogs.

A Desire to Keep Learning

The blogosphere is ever-changing, which means top bloggers are always looking for new ways to enhance their blogs by persistently researching anything and everything related to blogging.

A Love of Research and Reading

Successful bloggers read a lot in order to stay updated on their blogs' topics and the blogosphere as a whole.


A successful blog is typically updated very frequently. That means successful blogs always provide fresh, unique content to their readers. Writing that new content requires a great deal of creativity to keep readers from feeling bored or from feeling like the blog does not bring them any value.


Blogging success does not happen overnight. Be prepared to stay dedicated to promoting your blog for the long haul. Eventually, your hard work should pay off with increased traffic and a significant growth in popularity of your blog. The key is to not give up.

10 Steps To Develop Killer Blog Articles

10 Steps To Develop Killer Blog Articles

This is a guest post by Nicholas Z. Cardot. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.
Since I’ve started blogging I’ve had a few people ask me about my writing process so I’ve decided to share it with you today.
This development process is pretty much the same exact steps that I’ve taken on every single post on Site Sketch 101. I’m going to take you from the concept development phase all the way to hitting the publish button.
Honestly, I usually have about five or six different articles that I am putting through this process at the same time. For some people that might not work, but for me it allows me to save time.
Sometime I get in the mood to develop topics so I create five or six ideas. Other days I want to go through my topics and create their key points so I list the main points for those five or six articles. Working through several articles at a time allows me to rapidly develop quality content for each day of the coming week.

1. Develop a topic

As soon as an idea comes to me I write it down before I forget it. I hate it when I think of something that I want to write about when I’m in the shower because it seems that half the time I forget the details of it by the time I get out and get dried off. So if your not in the shower when you think of your topic right it down right away.

2. List the main points

At the moment that I write a topic down on a piece of paper and type it into my computer, I begin developing the main points. If it is going to be a list post I begin by writing down as many items as I can think of. If it is going to be an essay style post then I try to think of about three to five main concepts that can be discussed.
The key here is to let the topic determine the number of points. You want to come up with enough ideas to provide a comprehensive look at your subject without creating overkill.

3. Develop an exciting introduction

Once I’ve determined the main concepts that I plan on discussing in an article I have effectively established the direction the article is going to go. This allows me to create an opening paragraph or two. The goal here is to sell the article. While creating the introduction you should have a sentence or two that describes what the entire article is going to develop into. I often create a sentence like this and also end up using it for the meta description.
First impressions are lasting impressions. If you can’t pull the reader in during the first paragraph or two then you are probably not going to get them to read the whole article.
It’s important that your first paragraph be powerful so that you can make a strong first impression and draw the readers in.

4. Expand each point to a couple of paragraphs

After I have an introduction paragraph and a list of points that I plan on using then I move on to developing each point. First I add a line after the heading for that point. I usually then convert that actual point to an h3 tag which displays the orange titles above every few paragraphs in most of my articles.
I then move to that line that I created after the subheading and begin typing. You don’t even have to start on your first point. Pick out whichever point you feel is the most important. Sometimes I choose point 3 or 4 and sometimes I go in order. There’s no rule at this point. Just work through until you have a paragraph or two that describes each of your key concepts.
At this point just write what comes to you. Don’t focus on spelling or grammar. Just take your thoughts and ideas and get them into the post.

5. Illustrate Your Article

After the bulk of the article is written up I head over to and begin searching for images that I can use to illustrate my article. I click the ‘advanced search’ button and opt to only search through the images with a creative commons license that allows me to copy and modify the work.
Make it your goal to select a picture that is beautiful and on topic. If you are writing an article about horses then don’t show a picture of a starfish. Try to find something that will correlate with your article’s title.
I always position my image at the top of the article so that it can be seen while reading the headline. I want to draw people in with my headline, my first paragraph and my picture. These are three highly important areas to draw people into your article.

6. Revise the post

If your blogging software has a preview feature that allows you to view the article in your blog’s theme as it will be seen by your audience then I highly recommend that you use it for this step. This is also why I illustrate it before I revise it. I want to be able to look at it in every way seeing it as my readers will see it.
It’s important now to read through your post from beginning to end. Remember before when I said that you didn’t have to develop each point in order. During this step you should be checking to make sure that each step logically follows from the point before it. If it doesn’t then tweak it up a little bit until it does.
You should also be looking for spelling and grammar errors. There is nothing more irritating to an educated reader than to read an article from someone who writes as if they are illiterate.
It is also during this revision that I look for places to add dynamic adjectives. I look for places where I can spice things up just a little bit or make sentences sound just a little bit more exciting.

7. Optimize and Intensify the Headline

Check out my post 10 Tips to Awesome, Eye-Jerking Post Titles for more information on how to effectively market your article by developing an intense, creative title for it.
Here’s how Darren Rowse from problogger puts it, “Many bloggers pour a lot of effort into writing engaging and interesting posts, but then just slap any old title onto it without realizing that in doing so they might be ensuring that their post is never read.”

8. Create Meta Data and Tags

If you are using WordPress or a blogging platform with tagging enabled then create between 8 and 10 tags that directly describe your article. Use those same tags as your meta keywords. I have Site Sketch 101 setup to do that automatically. Whatever I put into the tags automatically goes into the keywords. I manually create tags and they then automatically become keywords.
I experimented with some automated keyword generators and decided that they are generally useless. These plugins would scan the article and attempt to automatically create tags based on the content. Usually they would pick words that really were not important to the topic so I quickly got rid of those and I now take the time to develop my own tags.
Also be sure to create a meta description for your article. If you were really good you would be able to find a sentence in one of the first three paragraphs that would work for you. You want this description to be more than 100 characters long and less than 160 characters long.

9. Revise the Post…Again

Go over your work one more time. Make sure that your thoughts and concepts flow smoothly between points. Make sure everything is spelled correctly and that you don’t have it laden with poor grammar.
I always assign a future date to most posts before I hit the publish button. I use future dates because I want to have a couple of days to read it over and revise it again if necessary. The more you go over it the better it will likely be.

10. Publish

Push the publish button. This one is was easy.
Find a way to take this process and make it work for you. If you need to mix up the order of a step to help you think and be creative then go for it. Do whatever it takes to get your creative juices flowing.
Nicholas Z. Cardot is the creator and author of Site Sketch 101 where he publishes daily articles for bloggers and webmasters.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Do We Really Need to Optimize Our Sites for Mobile Phones?

Do We Really Need to Optimize Our Sites for Mobile Phones?

If you have a website or blog, you probably already heard about the importance of optimizing it for mobile phones, creating a specific version for the iPhone and so on.
I won’t challenge the fact that mobile devices are more popular than ever, and that as we go forward more and more people will be using them to get online.

What I am not sure is if webmasters really need to worry about that trend when creating and managing their websites.

One possible scenario: within five years or so, when the number of users accessing your website via a mobile device will be big enough to matter, those devices will no longer need a special version of your website anyway.

If you think about it, the iPhone and similar smart phones are closing the gap from mobile phones to computers. You can already visit most websites with those devices without needing to load a special version of the site. The software is definitely there, and the hardware is arriving.
Maybe within five years most mobile devices will be able to load websites just like your desktop computer does today. If that is the case, webmasters will be able to keep focusing on building usable and accessible websites, and that is it. There will be no need to create special mobile versions because mobile devices will behave just like any other computer.
What do you think?

Your Calls to Action Should Go Below The Post

Your Calls to Action Should Go Below The Post

There are many WordPress plugins around that will insert a call to action on the top of your posts. Some people even do this manually. Lately I was visiting some blogs that use this strategy, and I realized that perhaps it is not that effective, and sometimes they might even hurt the user experience.
Before proceeding let me clarify what I am talking about. The What Would Seth Godin Do plugin is a good example. Once you upload and activate it, whenever a new visitor comes to your website, he will be presented with a message on top of your page that will say something on the lines of:
Welcome! to My Blog!, it seems that you are new to this site. If you want to get regular updates you can signup to get email alerts or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Sociable is another similar plugin. It will basically identify if the visitor is coming from a specific social networking site, and it will present a tailored message to him. So if someone comes to your page from Stumble Upon, it will show him a message like this one:
Hello fellow StumbleUpon, if you like this page, don’t forget to give it a thumbs up! You can also see my StumbleUpon profile here.
You get the idea.
So why do I think the strategy of using those plugins and calls to action on top of your pages and posts is not efficient, and perhaps even a bad idea? Because their positioning is completely wrong. They should be placed at the bottom of your posts and not on top of them!
Let me illustrate my argument with a real example.

Suppose I am browsing on Digg when I suddenly come across a story that grabs my attention: 11 Ways to Send Emails in the Future. (Notice I am using Techie-Buzz as example only because Keith uses both plugins I mentioned there. The blog itself is very good and has excellent content).
The title of the story sounds interesting and I decide to click and see what it is all about. Once I click there, however, I will be presented with the following page:

As you can see, right below the title there is an AdSense unit (1). I am not against having ads, but you need to consider that this large rectangle is already taking space and making it harder for me to find the actual content I was looking for.
Then after the AdSense unit you have the message from the What Would Seth Godin Go plugin (2). It is inviting me to subscribe to the blog or to check out the about page. Hmmm… I just arrived here from Digg, and all I want is to check the content I was looking for. I am not sure if I want to subscribe to the blog yet.
I move on, and then I find yet another message that distracts me from the content itself (3). This one is coming from the Sociable plugin, and it is encouraging me to Digg the story. But hey! I haven’t even had the opportunity to read it yet, how could I digg it without knowing what the story is about?
As you can see, those calls to action are ineffective and even counter-productive if positioned on top of the posts. Sure it is a good idea to encourage visitors to subscribe to your RSS feed and to vote for your stories on social bookmarking sites, but you must make sure that this call to action will appear to the user when he has the right mindset on, and that is after he is done reading your content.
As a rule of thumb, I try to put as few content as possible between my headlines and my posts (in fact I don’t even put the author name or date there). This is to ensure that there will be no distractions from the moment I grab the attention of the visitor with a headline until the moment he actually starts reading the content.
If you put too many things between those two stages, you might lose a fraction of the visitors right there.
Those are my opinions obviously, and I would love to hear what you guys think about the issue.

Add an Email Subscription Form Below Your Posts

Add an Email Subscription Form Below Your Posts

I believe I was one of the first people to recommend displaying an RSS icon below single posts, and now pretty much all blogs do that.

It is a logical thing after all. Often times visitors will come to your site via search engines or via referral links, and they will just read the article they are looking for and move on (probably missing the RSS icons you have on the header or on top of the sidebar). If you place a message at the bottom of each post, encouraging visitors to subscribe, you might capture their attention and convince them to grab your feed.
What about email subscription forms though? Could they work as efficiently on the bottom of single posts? I had a feeling that they could, and I decided to test it out on my blogs. The results were pretty amazing.

The Numbers Without the Form

The first thing I did was to write down the numbers that Feedburner provides. I basically tracked the number of email subscribers on my three blogs, for four consecutive Mondays (four weeks were used because that was the longest period that I could obtain the breakdown for email subscribers).
  • Monday of July 07 = 109 email subscribers
  • Monday of July 14 = 112 email subscribers (+3)
  • Monday of July 21 = 112 email subscribers (+0)
  • Monday of July 28 = 114 email subscribers (+1)
As you can see the average weekly increase of email subscriber was 1,3.
  • Monday of July 07 = 932 email subscribers
  • Monday of July 14 = 950 email subscribers (+18)
  • Monday of July 21 = 966 email subscribers (+16)
  • Monday of July 28 = 979 email subscribers (+13)
On this second case the average weekly gain of email subscribers was 15,6.
  • Monday of July 07 = 4986 email subscribers
  • Monday of July 14 = 5040 email subscribers (+54)
  • Monday of July 21 = 5129 email subscribers (+89)
  • Monday of July 28 = 5153 email subscribers (+24)
For the third blog the average weekly gain of email subscribers was 55,6.

The Numbers With the Subscription Form

After writing those numbers down I inserted a simple email subscription below every single post. I also included a small message explaining to the visitor that they could subscribe for free, and that we would keep sending related tips to their email inbox. You can see the form live below this post as well. Here is how the numbers behaved on the following weeks.
  • Monday of July 28 = 114 email subscribers
  • Monday of August 11 = 119 email subscribers (+5)
  • Monday of August 18 = 122 email subscribers (+3)
  • Monday of August 25 = 125 email subscribers (+3)
The previous average gain was 1,3, and after I inserted the form it jumped to 3,6.
  • Monday of July 28 = 979 email subscribers
  • Monday of August 11 = 1025 email subscribers (+46)
  • Monday of August 18 = 1050 email subscribers (+25)
  • Monday of August 25 = 1084 email subscribers (+34)
Without the form this blog was getting, on average, 15,6 new email subscribers every week. After I inserted the form the number more than doubled to 35.
  • Monday of July 28 = 5153 email subscribers
  • Monday of August 11 = 5245 email subscribers (+92)
  • Monday of August 18 = 5310 email subscribers (+65)
  • Monday of August 25 = 5373 email subscribers (+83)
On the third case I noticed a big jump as well. The previous average was 55,6, and after the insertion of the subscription form it jumped to 80.


I think the results are pretty clear. By simply adding an email subscription form below each of your posts you could reap many more email subscribers. Consider Daily Blog Tips for example. Without the form, in 6 months, I would have 374 new email subscribers. Using the form, however, this number would jump to 840 subscribers.
Obviously the effectiveness of this technique will depend on a couple of factors. Tech oriented websites might see smaller results, while blogs with a more varied audience will see better results because those visitors are more likely to subscribe via email (as opposed to RSS feeds).
The styling the overall layout might have an impact also. If the bottom of your articles is cluttered with all kinds of badges, links, social bookmarking icons and the like, the email form might get lost among those and not be effective. If you have a clear design, however, it will be easier to make visitors notice.
Regardless of those variations, I think it is definitely worth a try.

Reduce Your Bounce Rate In One Second

Reduce Your Bounce Rate In One Second

So, how do you get visitors to spend more time on your site and reduce your bounce rate, without spending more than one second trying to do it?
It’s simple.
First of all get inside the control panel of your website (e.g., WordPress admin dashboard, or the equivalent on the software you are using). Now go to the section where you can tweak your CSS and other design aspects (in WordPress this is under the “Appearance” menu). Now find the line controlling the font size on your 

site, and increase it. That is it!
There are many case studies around the web where people used A/B testing to find how they could reduce the bounce rate, and increasing the font size works on most situations.
Just consider that the population in most developed countries is getting older and older, and that more and more people need to stare at a computer screen all day long for professional reasons (meaning our eyes are getting tired).

Then combine that with larger screen resolutions (where you have more pixels on the screen, but the actual appearance of the graphics gets smaller) and you get web visitors who would love to find a big large font on your site, so that they can read your awesome content comfortably.
And yes, I did increase the font on Daily Blog Tips a couple of months ago. It used to be 12, now it’s 13, and the bounce rate improved slightly.

Make Sure Your Pop-Ups Aren’t Breaking Your Site

Make Sure Your Pop-Ups Aren’t Breaking Your Site

As I wrote a while ago, the web (particularly the Internet marketing sphere) is going through a small pop-up mania. After some years in disgrace, the intrusive technique is back to vogue.

Personally I don’t like pop-ups, but I also know that website owners have the right to use whatever techniques their want. Additionally, if they offer me outstanding content, sometimes I will bear the pain of closing a pop-up to read it.

From an Internet marketing point of view I also understand why people started using it again. The conversions are incredibly high, and the annoyance factor is not so bad as to have a tangible impact on your traffic (most of the times at least).

If you are using pop-ups, though, you must make sure that the code is working properly and not breaking your website. A good idea is to check it on different browsers, for example.

Just to give you an idea, today I was browsing on the site of Michel Fortin, one of the most famous copywriters around. Right after entering it the pop-up appeared, and the screen looked like this:

As you can see the YouTube video was overlapping with the pop-up. As a consequence, the “Close” button was hidden, and I couldn’t do anything. I was literally blocked from visiting his website. I couldn’t even use his contact form to let him know about the problem!

I have seen similar problems on many other sites too.
If you want to use pop-ups, therefore, run several tests to make sure they are working properly and that visitors will be able to close them easily.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Design With Intent: Free eBook

Design With Intent: Free eBook

This is probably the best free eBook I have downloaded in a while. It doesn’t require email subscribption or anything either, you just need to go there and download it. It’s titled Design With Intent.
What is it about? The sub-title describes it quite well: 101 Patterns for Influencing Behaviour Through Design. The authors collected 101 examples of ways you can influence people to do what you want by adapting or changing the way you design things. These “things” range from car dashboards to web pages and product packages. Here is one of the pages to give you an idea:
The eBook is a must have for designers, but it should be valuable to anyone else really. Check it out.

Saturday, 31 March 2012

Reduce Your Botunce Rae In One Second

Reduce Your Botunce Rae In One Second

So, how do you get visitors to spend more time on your site and reduce your bounce rate, without spending more than one second trying to do it?
It’s simple.

First of all get inside the control panel of your website (e.g., WordPress admin dashboard, or the equivalent on the software you are using). Now go to the section where you can tweak your CSS and other design aspects (in WordPress this is under the “Appearance” menu). Now find the line controlling the font size on your site, and increase it.

 That is it!
There are many case studies around the web where people used A/B testing to find how they could reduce the bounce rate, and increasing the font size works on most situations.
Just consider that the population in most developed countries is getting older and older, and that more and more people need to stare at a computer screen all day long for professional reasons (meaning our eyes are getting tired).

Then combine that with larger screen resolutions (where you have more pixels on the screen, but the actual appearance of the graphics gets smaller) and you get web visitors who would love to find a big large font on your site, so that they can read your awesome content comfortably.
And yes, I did increase the font on Daily Blog Tips a couple of months ago. It used to be 12, now it’s 13, and the bounce rate improved slightly.

Friday, 30 March 2012

Google’s Page Speed Service Wanna Make The Web Faster

Google’s Page Speed Service Wanna Make The Web Faster

How would you like to have Google grab all your site files, host them on a Google server, optimize the loading time with several tweaks, and then allow your visitors to visit your site directly on Google’s servers all around the world?
I sure wouldn’t mind (except maybe for the aspect of losing control).
The good news is that soon this will be possible, as Google just announced a new service called Page Speed Service. According to the announcement post:
Page Speed Service is an online service that automatically speeds up loading of your web pages. To use the service, you need to sign up and point your site’s DNS entry to Google. Page Speed Service fetches content from your servers, rewrites your pages by applying web performance best practices, and serves them to end users via Google’s servers across the globe. Your users will continue to access your site just as they did before, only with faster load times. Now you don’t have to worry about concatenating CSS, compressing images, caching, gzipping resources or other web performance best practices.
The service is being offered to some beta testers right now, and soon it will be available for all web publishers. Right now what you can do is to run a simulation here to see how much your website would gain from Google’s service. In my case it wasn’t a huge boost. The “Page Load Time”, which is the main metric, improved by 19%.
If you like the results and to become a beta tester, though, you can apply using a link on the official announcement post (I linked to it above).

How To Start A Blog For Free

How To Start A Blog For Free

This is a guest post by James Ingles. If you want to guest post on this blog,
Learning to blog is fun and easy, and it doesn’t even have to cost a cent. In this post I’m going to show you how to start a blog for free (maybe you don’t need this info, but I am sure you know someone who does).
One of the great things about blogging is that anyone can do it and the barrier to entry is nill, nought, zip, zilch assuming that you have or have access to a computer with an internet connection. I don’t know many people without a computer that don’t have an internet connection. Blogging is as easy as playing with Lego.
I have always been the creative type. When I was younger I used to love playing with my Lego, I was totally awesome at it and could build models on the back of the boxes without any instructions. I even built a whole

Lego land from scratch it was huge.
When I grew up and got my own PC I discovered web design. Back when I first got on the net blogs and blogging never existed so I would build my web sites from scratch. My first web site was horrible. Then blogging came along, it took off like a rocket and soon the net was soon littered with blogs. It didn’t take long before blogs became a great alternative source of information besides magazines, newspapers and other media outlets.

What I have learned over the years is that building a blog is pretty easy. You don’t need to be a designer or know how to code (although it does help if you can design and code) because building a blog is like building a Lego model.

How is building a blog like building a Lego model? Lego models are made up of lots of little Lego parts that fit together to make a model, you can even buy individual bricks and elements to build your own model. A blog is like a Lego model except that the themes, posts, pictures, plugins and widgets etc… are the building blocks. Although you still have to know how to put those blocks together and combine elements to build a good blog. And blogging is free, Lego is really expensive these days!

Anyone can play with Lego and build things without any knowledge but it doesn’t mean that they can or will build anything really cool. Blogging is the same, you can take a theme and build a blog but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be any good. I have seen plenty of good themes totally murdered by bad design choices, cheesy
useless plugins, ugly colour schemes that make my eyes bleed.

When you first install WordPress you get a pretty plain default theme, themes are like a Lego base plate that you build things on top of. Plugins, widgets, and posts are the building blocks for your chosen theme.
Like Lego blogs, plugins, themes & widgets come with instructions but the instructions wont instruct you on building a great blog they will only tell you how to use the theme, plugin, widget or what ever it is. You will have to teach yourself how to build a good blog. There are plenty of blogging resources out there to read and learn from. Reading alone isn’t going to make you a good blogger, you will have to get your hands dirty.
Your first blog probably isn’t going to be the best and you will make mistakes but don’t let that stop you because you won’t learn without making mistakes or building bad blogs. Mistakes are good but only if you learn from them. Unless you learn from your mistakes then you are doomed to repeat your past mistakes like ground hog day until you learn from them.

I have built plenty of web sites and blogs, I have also made a lot of mistakes and bad design choices but I have learned from my mistakes and become a better designer. I still have a bunch of web sites, backups of old blogs and mock-ups of web sites that never got built sitting on my hard drive. If I were to look at some of them now I would cringe, one thing that I would see is that my designs and web sites got progressively better.

So you have decided that you want to blog, and you have chosen WordPress great choice! You have two options. Do you drop some cash on a domain name (so you can have and a web host so you can have full control over your blog? Or do you go with which is free but will get you stuck with and very little control over your blog?
The choice is basically vs., one costs money the other doesn’t, one offers full control over your blog the other offers next to no control.
Neither of those options sound appealing? No money? No problems. There is a third option if you want full control over your blog but have no money to drop on a domain and web hosting. There are many free hosting plans out there. Just Google “free web hosting” and you’ll find them. Although there are a few things to be aware of.
  • The host needs to support PHP version 5.2.4 or greater and MySQL version 5.0 or greater. What you will get is generally listed under “Features”, “What you’ll get”, “Spesifications” just have a poke around any decent free web host will list what they offer
  • If you choose to find your own free hosting be aware that some free web hosts will require that you let them put advertisements on your site, there are some free hosts that don’t require you to advertise so check carefully before signing up.
  • There is one trade off, because you are using free hosting you will get stuck with whatever URL they choose to let you have, usually it’s just a sub domain like, or Although it’s an acceptable trade off for having full control over your blog.
If you are starting a blog for the first time, want a personal blog and don’t care if the URL doesn’t look that professional or just want to learn before you drop some hard earned cash on a domain name and hosting this is a great way to get started. If you start a blog get lucky and it becomes popular you can always buy a domain some better web hosting and move your blog to your new host.

Daily Blog Tips Guest Post Guidelines

Daily Blog Tips Guest Post Guidelines

I get many emails from people who want to know if I accept guest posts on Daily Blog Tips, and if that is the case, what are the guidelines. I figured that it would be easier to write the guidelines in a post and just refer every one here.
So the answer to the first question is: Yes, I do accept guest posts. Currently I publish two guest posts per week, usually on Mondays and Wednesdays. Below you will find all the details about the process.

What kind of content do you accept?

Anything that is useful for my readers is good content for a guest post here. It can be related to blogging, Internet marketing in general, and it can also be derived from your own personal experiences. There is no minimum length for your post, but usually the guest posts have over 400 words.

General Guidelines

  • Your post must be original and must have never been published before on the Internet
  • You agree to not publish the post anywhere else (i.e., in your own blog or as a guest post in other blogs)
  • You can include one link in the byline, which will be displayed at the bottom of the post

Formatting Guidelines

  • Please format your guest post as an HTML document, so that I can copy and paste it into the WordPress HTML editor.
  • Use H2 or H4 tags for sub-headings.
  • Make sure to include the author byline at the bottom, with the link to your website already formatted (do not spam keywords there, though).

Submission Guidelines

If you have a post that meets the guidelines above, you can send it to me on the email Please include the post in the body of the email itself, or as a .doc attachment.
I check and respond to all guest post submissions twice a month, so it might take up to two weeks before I get back to you. This doesn’t mean I have rejected your post though, and even in case of rejection you should get an answer from me, explaining the reason.

Thursday, 29 March 2012

How to import a Tumblr blog into WordPress

How to import a Tumblr blog into WordPress

Tumblr to WordPress
I feel like standing in front of a rail crossing, when the red lights just won’t go off. Is it worth driving to the next rail crossing, just a minute further down the road? Are the lights defective, or is the crossing closed for a true reason? The longer I wait, the less it will be worth driving off.
As a metaphor, that is how I feel waiting for . I have a dozen blogs on Tumblr, many of them are aggregators, creating blogposts from imported RSS feeds. I know (the self-hosted version) has a cute aggregation plug-in that does the same job, so should I move to WordPress, or wait for Tumblr to solve its problems?
Each of my Tumblr blogs has thousands of posts, so migrating them won’t be a small feat. Plus I will have to install a new blog on my server, redo the theme-ing, install the plug-ins etc.. before the blog goes live. Maybe Tumblr will solve its problems tomorrow? Or the day after, or the next? Or maybe I will discover new problems with the WordPress aggregator tool that will keep me busy for days too…?
Well, ladies and gentlemen, after standing in front of the rail crossing for weeks, I decided to move one blog as a trial. The original blog (I left its remains on Tumblr) contained 20,000 blogposts ( ! ), and I did not want to lose those. So one of the main challenges to move my Tumblr blog to WordPress was to migrate all blogposts. All 20,000 of them…
Here is how I did it:

There are three steps in migrating your Tumblr blogposts to WordPress:

Step 1: Export your Tumblr posts
Step 2: Process your exported Tumblr posts (optional)
Step 3: Import the export file into WordPress

Step one. How to export your Tumblr blogposts?

Tumblr does not feature an “export function”. I found a list of possibilities, but none really suited me, until I stumbled upon Tumblr2WordPress (by Ben Ward). And Ben saved my day.
Just run Tumblr2WordPress, enter your blog’s Tumblr subdomain (don’t use your custom domain), select if you want to export to (the WordPress hosted blogs) or (for selfhosted blogs) and … click export. The exported posts will be downloaded onto your PC, as an .XML file…
That should do it for most Tumblr blogs.
(Update March 1, 2010: Ben’s source code is still available, but the executable program is no longer available on this link. You can still run similar code from Tumblr2WP or Tumble2WordPress – With thanks to Aaron and Parneix for the updates)
If you get an error “Tumblr API Request Failed”, this means -once again- Tumblr is failing (as it does frequently in the past months), and the API request to export the posts gives an error. Try it out manually with a command like: – If you get an error, the only thing you can is “try again later”.
At the time of writing, it seems Tumblr is blocking API-calls during the US-day time (afternoon and evenings mostly)…
If you are a freak, like me, and have 20,000 posts in your blog, Ben’s routine might give a time-out. I had to download the PHP source code and install it on one of my servers, so I could dramatically increase the system resources. For the nerds amongst you, I put the PHP code in a subdirectory, and added a php.ini file to it, with the following parameters:
upload_max_filesize = 20M
post_max_size = 30M
memory_limit = 400M
max_execution_time = 600
… but again, 99% of you might not have 20,000 blogposts, so Ben’s hosted routine will do just fine.

Step 2: Processing your exported Tumblr posts

In normal circumstances, you can skip this step, but if you are a purist, like me, you might want to clean up the .XML file a bit to avoid some issues when importing the file in step 3.
You can edit the .XML file with a normal ASCII editor (WordPad does just fine for me, the simple Windows XP user). Each post is stored between <item>... </item> tags.
For each post, you will need to clean up two things with a simple search and replace:
One: Clean up the category tags
In some cases, the WordPress importer will create a single category for each imported post. Import 100 posts, and you will get 100 junk categories. While those are easy to clean up after importing the posts, it is better to avoid the problem than curing it.
The only thing you need to do, is to delete the two category tag lines, for each post:
<category domain="category" nicename="link"><![CDATA[link]]></category>
Two: clean up the date warnings.
Under some circumstances, you will get a date warning in the .XML file:
<wp:post_date><br />
<b>Warning</b>: date() [<a href=''></a>]: It is not safe (blabla)
2010-12-24 12:00:58</wp:post_date>
Just search for that string, and replace it with the date you find for each post, for example:
<wp:post_date>2010-12-24 12:00:58</wp:post_date>
Three: Split up the file in smaller chunks
Oh, and yes, there is a third thing, before I forget: WordPress can not import file larger than 8 Mb. So if your .XML export file is larger than 8 Mb, split it into individual small files.
Beware: Each file should contain the header section, which starts with
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" ?>
and ends with:
and each file should end with:
In other words: create a series of small files, which contain all posts (between <item>... </item> ) and paste the file header and end tags.
Hey, and forget all of this, if your .XML file is smaller than 8 Mb !

Step 3: Import your .XML file into WordPress

Now for the fun (and easy part): Import your .XML file with the WordPress Importer utility ( Dashboard > Tools > Import ).
The importer gives you a series of input formats. Select “WordPress”. And if you don’t have that plugin, you will have to install it first, with one click (don’t you just love WordPress? In Drupal, that would cost you four hours of work.. :) )…
Now you are ready to import your .XML file:
WordPress importer
Ready for the WordPress magic?
WordPress will give you the option to define the “blog user” name you want as the author for the imported posts, chew on things for a while, and in the end, list you the names for all the posts it has imported.

Defining an online communications strategy Step 3: The practical planning

Defining an online communications strategy
Step 3: The practical planning

how to define a communications strategyClick on image to enlarge

In our case study, we define a process to build an online communications strategy, based on a workshop with the CGIAR Challenge Programme on Water and Food.
In the first part, we refined our generic communications strategy, identifying our key messages, target groups and the communications tools we have at our disposal. We also adapted our messages and tools for each target audience.
Based on this overall communications strategy, we zoomed into our online communications. In the second part of our case study, we looked at our core online content: What content do we have, what do we need? How can we ensure visitors actually find this content?

Step 3: The practical planning

Now it is time to get into the practical work: plan who will do what, how do we measure our progress both in “reach” and “impact”. How can we mitigate potential risks and ensure a good quality control over our online communications?

Step 3.1: Define your workplans

Define your media workplans

In Step 2 of this case study, we identified those content pieces we have and those still needed in order to reach each of our target groups with our key messages.
Now, we have to define who will make this content: List the content needed, and put names in the to-do list. Keep in mind that some content might be auto-generated from other sources, e.g. by importing RSS feeds from your data repositories or blogs.
Identify also the update frequency: how many items for each content type do you need per week, per month?
Example: CPWF’s Content Action plan
Note: In the actual action plan, against each item, we put names and how many items we wanted per month
  • Stories from the Field
  • Most Significant Change stories (*)
  • Policy success stories (*)
  • Impact/outcome stories (*)
  • Impact/outcome figures (*)
  • Director’s Blog
  • Research Director’s Blog (*)
  • Blogs by young professionals that inspire action (*)
  • Blogs by researchers (*)
  • Progress reports
  • Project summaries
  • Briefing notes
  • News and events
  • Events calendar (*)
  • Detailed partner information (*)
  • Network opportunities (*)
  • Key message posters (*)
  • An elaborate “About” section on the website (*)
  • Press releases
  • Press clippings
  • Promotional material
  • Briefing notes
  • Fact sheets (*)
  • Project descriptions
  • Handbooks/guidelines (publishing, contracting, communication)
  • Publications (working papers, project reports, management documents, journal articles, books, briefing notes, Annual reports)
  • Topic Working Group materials (*)
  • Source book (Ed: an online repository)
(*) = Non-existent content, still to be generated

Work is needed, not only to generate core content, but we will also need to allocate time and efforts for the online media tools, as identified in Step 1. These tools will help us either to “generate” or to “spread” our core content:
Example: Workplan for CPWF’s online tools
Tool Who? Specific actions
(1.5 hrs/day)
  • Clean up who we are following
  • Automated tweets for news publications (of Flickr, Slideshare, web)
  • Manually tweet content from blog
  • 2-3x a day scan through your followers’ content and see what is RT-able
  • Thank people for RTs
  • #FF
  • On a regular basis, see who has retweeted you/engaged you and respond
  • Build and engage a network, follow and seek our followers
  • Broadcast links of new content (blog posts, publications, photos, videos)
  • From time to time, give a piece of original content that is not coming from the website (photos, news, updates)
  • Updates from the projects
YouTube (names)
  • Update existing videos with links to other content, website
  • Publish project videos
Flickr (names)
  • Give existing pictures a proper title, tag, give location, assemble into albums
  • Collect pictures from the projects, ensure they get published
Slideshare (names)
  • Encourage people to send in content
  • Ensure minimum standard of slides: title, presenter, date, location, event
Podomatic (names)
  • Get copies of radio interviews, talks
  • Ensure to publish proper thumbnails, summaries, links to website
Delicious (names)
  • Clean up to make titles uniform
  • Publish links to “CPWF in the news”, continue to scan the news
E-Letter (names)
  • Capture and disseminate new information on the website
  • Further expand the email list
Yammer (names)
  • Conduct survey of usability to establish guidelines on how best to use it
  • Target the internal CPWF community

Step 3.2: Measure progress, reach and impact

Define your impact and reach metrics

By now, it must be clear: your online communications will be quite a bit of work. It will also involve many people in your organisation: staff will generate content, others will actually publish it, and spread the content. There is also significant work in curating the content: tagging and categorizing it, putting proper titles and descriptions, link weeding and adding SEO meta-data.
Because of the amount of work, and the number of people involved, tt is important to keep track of your progress. The performance and output of your online communications will be a good benchmark, AND a good encouragement for yourself, your communications team, your management, and all staff involved in the content-generation process staff.
We can write multiple blogposts about how to set targets and track progress. At this point, though, I encourage you not to concentrate too much on “statistics” for “the sake of statistics”. Make a clear distinction between “reach” and “impact”: “Reach” is the amount of people who read (or potentially read) your content. Pure “Impact” can be defined as “the direct relation between single communications efforts and the fundamental changes it instigates”. This is difficult (if not, even nearly impossible) to measure for online communications tools.
At this point, the closest and easiest to measure is “how many people from your target audience, actually read your core content, which carries your key messages”. And then we hope “the reading” would somehow translate into “action” by your target audience.
For CPWF, our partners in the workshop on which we base this case study, we defined a set of simple, easy to track, metrics, both for reach and impact. We’d track those figures on a weekly basis, making it easy to follow progress with simple graphs.
Example: Metrics for CPWF’s reach and impact
Tool Reach Metrics Impact Metrics
  • Visits
  • # of visitors from developing countries
  • Returning visits
  • Search hits
  • Downloads
  • # of visitors from basin countries
  • # of referred sites
  • Pages/visit
  • Time spent/visit
  • # comments or feedback
  • # visits of core content
  • # of followers
  • # of RTs/mentions
  • # of page views via Twitter
  • Crowdsource “Reach” figure
  • # of followers from target audience
  • # of RTs/mentions from target audience
  • # of likes
  • # of people talking about this
  • # shares
  • Facebook statistics “reach” figure
  • # of page views coming from FB
  • # of likes from project countries, developing countries
  • # of shares by target audiences (typically: organisations)
YouTube, Podomatic, Flickr
  • # of views
  • # of page views coming from Flickr/Podomatic/ YouTube
  • Number of re-uses (embeds)
  • # of views
  • # of downloads
  • # of re-uses
  • # of subscriptions
  • # opened
  • # of page views originating from the newsletter
  • # of page views from basin countries
  • Track key members of each target group—are they opening letters? Are they clicking?

Step 3.3: Define quality control and risk mitigation

mitigate risks

Our online communications strategy will involve a vast amount of staff, many of which are not professional communications staff. “Crowdsourcing” communications automatically includes a number of risks. Is all content bringing out the messages clear enough? Do we bring out the right message? Are the message coherent?…
At this point, it is well advised to assess the potential risks, and mitigate them.
There is also a “quality” versus “quantity” issue to address: When one professional communications officer produces one article per week, we can easily ensure a good quality. When, however, 20 project staff, each with a different technical expertise, different mother tongues and a limited knowledge of communications and web-stuff, start generating online content, we have to monitor the quality.
Example: Quality control and risk mitigation for CPWF
Possible areas of quality concern:
  • Scientific accuracy
  • Grammar
  • Coherence in message
  • Graphic/visual quality
  • Comments moderation
  • Keep limited access to the accounts of the online media
  • Well-defined responsibility: one person is responsible per media outlet
  • Well-defined workflow, e.g. contributors put content in draft, for final review before releasing. Reviewers check on grammar, consistency, graphic quality,..
  • Define quality guidelines for each media outlet


If you reached this part of our case study in one piece, well then: congratulations! We have now defined our online communications plan.
We started from our overall communications strategy: defining our key messages, our target audience, and the tools at our disposal. We looked which tools we could use for which audience, and adapted our key messages for each of our target audiences (Step 1)
We then zoomed into our online media strategy. We looked at our core content, identifying what content we have, and what we need. We also made sure that our core content could be found on our websites, improving its usability. (Step 2)
In the last part, we made a communications workplan, involving everyone in the process: from content generators, publishers to those staff helping to spread the messages using social media tools. We defined the metrics to track progress both in reach and impact, and mitigated risks to ensure the highest possible quality for our online process. (Step 3 – as described in this post)
Once again my usual disclaimer: I am not rewriting the Bible here, nor do I pretend to hold the one and only Holy Truth: this case study is only one example of a process in defining an online communications strategy. I do believe however that these simple steps will help to put structure in your communications efforts. It will help rationalizing and targeting your messages, aiming at a wider reach and a higher impact.
After all, in the nonprofit sector as in the commercial sector, the same rule applies: you can do the best possible job, but if no-one knows about it, your efforts are in vain. Our colleagues do their best to deliver a quality product or service, and as communications people, it is our task to spread the message about their work.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Promote Your Blog

Promote Your Blog
Ready for some readers? Check out the tips below to learn the best ways you can get the word out about your blog.

Connect your blog to Google+. Switch your Blogger profile to Google+ to take advantage of automatic sharing, the Google+ blogging community, and upcoming features designed to help you build a following. Learn more about what it means to switch your Blogger profile to Google+.

Write quality content and do it well. No one wants to stumble over bad writing and terrible grammar.

Keep search engines in mind. Take advantage of Blogger’s Search Preferences features to make sure it easier for those seeking your content.

Enable Email This Post. If you use Email This Post on your blog, people will be able to forward your posts to friends. This might not have an immediate impact on your site stats, but it enables others to publicize your blog for you.

Turn on your site feed. When people subscribe to your site feed in their newsreaders, they're more likely to read your posts.

Add your blog to Blogger's listings. When you add your blog to our listings it shows up in Nextblog, Recently Updated, and other places. It's like opting-in to traffic.

Publish regular updates. The more you blog, the more traffic you'll get.

Think of your audience. A good way to build an audience is to speak to one in particular. When you keep your audience in mind, your writing gains focus. Focus goes a long way toward repeat visitors.

Put your blog URL in your email signature. Think of how many forwarded emails you've seen in your day, and just imagine the possibilities.

Submit your address to blog search sites and directories. People look for blog content at Technorati every day, are you on their list? You should be. Submit your blog's url to Technorati, Daypop, Blogdex, Popdex, and any other site of that ilk you come across.

Install a blogroll. It's a very simple yet effective social networking scheme and it has the same result as a simple link if not stronger: traffic! So if you don't have one yet, sign up for a blogroll and get that link-list going.

Be an active commenter. If you come across a blog you like, why not leave a comment? This way, others who read and are interested in your comment and click back to your profile and check out your blogs.

Set your blog to Send Pings. When this setting is activated, your blog will be included in various "recently updated" lists on the web as well as other blog-related services.



What is copyright? Copyright is a form of protection provided for original works of authorship, including literary, dramatic, musical, graphic and audiovisual creations. "Copyright" literally means the right to copy, but has come to mean that body of exclusive rights granted by law to copyright owners for protection of their work.

What is copyright infringement? Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed, or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright owner.

Posting copyright-infringing content can lead to the removal of your post, blog, and even account termination. If a copyright owner decides to take legal action against you, this may possibly mean that you'd be liable for monetary damages (this is serious—you can get sued!). Below are some guidelines to help you determine whether your blog is legit or whether it infringes someone else's copyright. As a general matter, we at Blogger respect the rights of artists and creators, and hope you will work with us to keep our community a creative, legal and positive experience for everyone, including artists and creators.

How To Make Sure Your Blog Does Not Infringe Someone Else's Copyrights

The way to ensure that your blog doesn't infringe someone else's copyright is to use your skills and imagination to create something completely original. If it's all yours, you never have to worry about the copyright—you own it! If you want to republish content from another author or creator, make sure to get their authorization first. For music bloggers, oftentimes there is a lack of communication between the record label, their legal department, and the promoters authorized to share the music. Many times the PR folks at a record label will give permission to the promoters to freely sharely their artist's works, but they don't communicate this to their legal department. Please have your music PR folks communicate better with the record labels that they have cleared certain albums for free and legal use. And last but not least, make sure to follow the other guidelines in our Content Policy.