This long blog post is all about blogging, so grab a box of popcorn (or a cheeseburger) if you are interested to know more about blogs. Recently I was presented with rather interesting opportunity involving speaking about blogs and what you can do with them. IABC Saskatoon organized “Social Media 2.0” event aimed at providing more insight into the working of various “tools” available for companies that they can use to boost their social presence. More details of events can be found at IABC’s website: http://saskatoon.iabc.com/archives/645 “IABC Social Media Conference”.
Disclaimer: I am not a professional writer, so you will see weirdness in the sentences as usual J , bear with me or you can put some music on, to make it less painful in case you are still interested to proceed further. Do not worry copyright found at the bottom, I did not forgot about that :).
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s talk a bit more about blogs and what I had to share to a very keen group of wonderful ladies, who were kind enough to put up with whatever I had to sayJ. If anyone from that discussion is reading this post, do not worry there was no “jibber-jabberish” thing said. I tried to stick to the plan of not making myself look like a foolJ. I think it worked but dunno will wait for the survey results. I will try to post the results or stats I should say when they are made available to me.
Before you guys lose interest there you can contact me via my site: http://www.a1whs.com/support.php , the email from there comes directly to me, one thing about the web I learnt the hard way is, ‘not to mention my email address on sites’. Doing that, acts like a magnet for spammers/bots that will not stop at any cost. So, a simple tip do not put your email address on any random website, try to create an image if possible and link to that instead, or maybe insert image if you are allowed to on that particular site. Avoid the normal format of ‘email@example.com’ …. Ok that name sounded interesting, hence just ended up buying it even before I could complete this post. I have an idea for that domain already. Will share, more info in separate post.
I do regret that at the social media event those who were talking about a topic did not get a change to go around to different tables to discuss about technologies they have not interacted with. For example, me!! I wanted to check out the Twitter session, but alas that was not to be. Hopefully one day I will get around learning more about Twitter and how it works. Have used instead Digg and other social bookmarking sites (which is what I think Twitter is). Facebook, I was not really much interested in, for I do not like Facebook much one of the many reasons is listed in one of the other posts here at bloggy. I wished that there would have been a round set aside where all the speakers get to meet up and discuss and learn about technologies they have not used. More time for each individual table per round would have been excellent, because I had some serious session going and quite interesting questions were raised. Knowledge sharing was what interests me the most. I realized that few know of blogs as “what a 17 year old would post on”, I am thinking now, maybe that is what the younger generations call “myspace” , a personal blog?
Few things about blogs and examples of how it can be used to power your business/website:-
- Blogs if setup right can be used to power your entire site. Example(s): http://www.phpyproxyhost.com/ my personal webhosting company, http://saskatoon.iabc.com/ << where the social event took place. Just a note to self and webmaster of IABC to update the WordPress backend. It’s outdated and not really secure.
- Blogs add additional features to your website, which normally are not available in simple site that are just html pages. Features include:
a) RSS/Atom feeds (web users can subscribe to them and they get instant notification when you make a change to your website/article).
b) Search Field (normally a website does not have a search option, example: http://www.a1whs.com/ another one of my website). Search field gives users quick access to search for the keywords they need information about. Example: http://www.fierysource.com/ for those who love new gadgets and technology can search for terms like “apple” to read articles about “mac” and “apple” products.
c) Easy and Quick to make changes (gives the website owner, access to modify a page in similar fashion as one would edit a “Word” document.)
d) Comes with plug-ins/widgets which let your blog interact with Twitter, Facebook and other Social media sites and users.
- Blogs can be used to help clients interact with business and also with other clients. Thus adding value to the website/blog.
- Boosts search engine ranking for the business/site, provided the blog is updated regularly and has lots of content. Cause remember in the search engine world, “Content is King” . But make sure it is useful content which makes sense. Blogs brings in “free of cost” content from the comments posted.
- Blogs provide with options to create as many categories you wish, and also comes with an archiving system. Helping users go back into past and read what happened last month or last year on the website.
Above are some of the positives of using blogs over having a simple plain old html based website and having no dynamics associated with that website. Blogs are suppose to be dynamic in nature providing fresh fodder to the search engines. However, with everything there are associated issues/concerns and “time”. Let me throw some light on some issues associated with using “WordPress” as the backend system.
WordPress is all free and great, comes with great looking free templates, and lots of template coders willing to work for dirt cheap prices to build a template specific to your business needs. There is one major concern associated, which you might not come face to face with on simple html based website (not driven by any sort of database) . That is of “security” , and “regular updates” , wordpress being open source, is open to hackers also meaning it wordpress based sites can be playground for hackers. Hackers are one smart bunch, forcing wordpress to regularly keep updating their scripts, hence in a month you might see 1 or more updates/patch being rolled out. Example, only recently I upgrade my blog to 2.8.3 version and yesterday I ended up upgrading to 2.8.6.
Some of the sites using wordpress that I am aware of being used by businesses here in saskatoon are still out of date. For example IABC Saskatoon, runs on 2.8.3 version of wordpress. If someone from IABC is reading this and would need a helping hand, give me a shout, template changes are minimum, major updates take place with other core php files. Sorry I forgot the other site that was also using wordpress, but you would know if you need updating, simply login to the worpdress admin panel and on the landing page you should be greated with message to upgrade your wordpress version.
If this worries you, you can always opt for a paid solution, such as Typepad or Movable Type, both being part of Six-Apart (http://www.sixapart.com/ ). Typepad provides you with all the tools and themes you can purchase or get customized, hosts your blog for a monthly fee. It is more or less like Blogspot (or known as Blogger after google purchased blogspot). You get a url or space like :
http://yoursite.typepad.com/ . Now you have an option to point it to your own domain and dumps all the required files on to your publishing platform (web server/site). Finer details you can find out by contacting Typepad’s support, which I might do soon to throw more light on their working.
At the end of this blog post there is Power point presentation file I created, but sadly did not get a chance to actually go over it in round table discussion. What was worse was that the wireless on the laptop that I had kept disconnecting from Travelodge’s network, probably some policies on Travelodge’s wireless use that I am not aware of ? Because wireless worked great on Campus in university using same laptop. Sorry to those who were there, I could not show them example sites.
If you are thinking of using a Blog as your backend or as a website, please do take care of some of search engine optimization. Here are few tips for search engine optimization. I will again illustrate with help of example of IABC’s site. Sorry, I am not trying to pick on their website or anything, these are just my “frank” opinions or one would call it a “feedback”. The search field is bit off, maybe increase the height blue bar so it fits the search field perfectly to give it a nice appearance ?
Seo Pointer #1 > Their site is missing basic meta tag of “description”, keywords meta tag is also missing but not much weight is associated to keywords meta tag. What is a meta tag ? Here is an example of meta tag from my Blog.
<meta content=”Bloggy Bloggy My Blog-Bloggy Bloggy My Blog” />
<meta content=”webmastering,blogs,movies,college-life” />
WordPress comes with a nice free plugin you can install, called “All in one seo”. It will generate and insert your meta tags for you on your pages dynamically. Very easy to use, because you need not do anything once it’s setup, other than selecting the most suitable “title” for your post. Search engines put emphasis on “title” of your post, and the post you make should have all or most of your title words as keywords, to help boost your search engine score.
Seo Pointer #2 > Pretty urls with keywords in it . IABC lacks pretty url’s example : http://saskatoon.iabc.com/archives/764 . That url has no keywords that you are trying to target in the blog post. Example of pretty url would have been : http://saskatoon.iabc.com/social-media-2.0-Nov23-2009. And even if it sat in Archives, the url should remain the same for that particular post, forever, unless you want to give google hard time re-indexing your page again ?
Do not go overboard with pretty urls, they are suppose to be short and to the point. Do not make a url that is huge, and is out of your address bar’s reach. At this stage, I did like to point out, even the Recent posts do not come with pretty url’s, all urls are of the format /archive/somenumber/ . I am sure no one wants to target the keyword “Archive” or “Some number”. Feel free to go through Bloggy Bloggy’s categories and get a feel of what I am trying to get at.
Example : http://www.myblog.bloggybloggy.com/category/webmastering/ , all the posts are archived ( old posts) , but they all get their own unique pretty urls , which I do not wish to change nor do I change after certain amount of time has passed.
Look at an example of nicely laid out Pretty urls at : http://www.fierysource.com/category/reviews/
“Reviews“, here is a category and any post inside this section gets it’s own unique url and not just random “number” example : http://www.fierysource.com/the-best-web-hosting-companies-our-top-picks/
Another example that you can find is at Kate’s blog, for those who had an opportunity to talk to her, know her website too : http://www.mynameiskate.ca/. Lets analyze : http://www.mynameiskate.ca/2009/11/linkedin-vs-facebook—do-you-keep-your-contacts-separate.html
What she is doing there, is separating the posts, urls using ” /year/month/pagetitle.html” formatting ! Does it help in search engine ranking ? You bet it works ! Search for ” Keep Your Contacts Separate ” as keyword/line on google. Notice the highlighted strings/keywords, they both appear in the Title of the blog post, and also inside the pretty url or Search Engine Friendly url (the more techie name).
Pointer #3 > Most important pointer that is essential for any site, blog based or standalone. “Content” . 1 or 2 paragraphs is just not enough to beat the competition. Your site must feed the bots and keep them busy on your site, putting as many keywords you can thing of, and content that targets diverse user groups !
I see this blog post has stretched beyond its limit (this is not what a 17 year old would write, hence making a vivid distinction between “what a blog is to 16-17 year old” and “what a blog is to somewhat more mature audience” ). More and more sites now a days are switching over to such systems, where updating content is relatively simple and fast because “rolling stone gathers no moss” applies to websites also, keeping content fresh is very critical !
Keep your site up to date with fresh content, you will start noticing traffic increase. Traffic increase is good in the World Wide Web (WWW) unlike in “real life situation”, cause no one likes getting stuck in Traffic while commuting from home to work and vice-versa. But, spiders/search engine bots love to travel and communicate with websites. So, give them a reason to keep revisiting your site.
Remember if you were present at “IABC Social Media Conference” and have questions or even better feedback for myself and my presentation over at the table, please feel free to leave your comment(s) below. Notice the Captcha/spam protection measure ? That is another plug-in/feature you can install on your blog to prevent unwanted robotic spam :). There are so many things you can do to Blog. So, go ahead and start experimenting. If you do not take the first step of “becoming social web aware” , your competitor will , and use the social web tools to reach the top.
Copyright: Please do not copy or use any part of above article on your website/emails without my written permission.
Thanks for reading and making it so far . Go ahead I know you feel like commenting ! Do not worry you wont break anything with your comment 🙂
PS: Web 2.0 just means that it is the era where web users are interacting more and more with websites. Appearance and functionality matters in Web 2.0.