Category Archives: Blogging

wordpress logo screensaver

Reasons to Choose WordPress for Your Blogging Platform

WordPress has become the de-facto standard for blogging. While there are more than a dozen different blogging platform from which to choose, an overwhelming majority of bloggers prefer WordPress. In fact, some estimates suggest there to be more than 74 million WordPress blogs and sites online.

So, why do so many bloggers prefer WordPress over the likes of Joomla, Drupal, Blogger, Tumblr, and similar platforms?

WordPress Is Free

Yep, WordPress — both the hosted and self-hosted version — is free to download and use with no strings attached. This is in stark contrast to many other blogging platforms, some of which charge monthly or yearly subscription fees to use. If you’re looking for an inexpensive solution for your blogging needs, check out WordPress.

Installation Is Quick and Easy

Setting up a blogging platform on a new domain may sound like a difficult and daunting task. After all, you must create a new database and connect it to your blog. With WordPress, though, installation is quick and easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that just about anyone can set up a new WordPress site in just 5 minutes or less. Furthermore, many server control panels come with pre-installed scripts that allow users to set up new WordPress installations in just a single click. Setting up a new blog or website doesn’t get any easier than this!

WYSIWYG and Code Editor

WordPress offers both a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) and code editor. If you want to embed media into a post or page, you can do with the code editor. But if you simply want to publish an article or blog post, you can use the standard WYSIWYG editor. The ability to switch between the two editors is a huge plus that shouldn’t go unnoticed.

Plugins, Plugins, Plugins!

Arguably, one of the greatest benefits of using WordPress is the vast array of plugins it offers. A plugin is essentially an optional file or group of files that is intended to add new functionality to a WordPress site or modify an existing feature. Plugins can perform a wide range of tasks, such as automatically creating an XML sitemap file, enabling browser caching, filtering spam comments, and removing duplicate content. Rather than hard-coding these features directly into your blog, just download and activate the appropriate plugin!

Easily Change Your Blog’s Design

With WordPress, you can change your blog’s design with the click of a button. WordPress supports interchangeable templates known as themes. If you want to use a new color scheme and layout, for instance, just find and activate a new theme. Within seconds, you’ll have a brand new design for your blog. Keep in mind, however, that you may have to update your navigation menus and links after switching to a new theme.

Have any other blogging tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Blogging reputation words of wisdom

How to Manage Your Blogging Reputation

As a blogger, your reputation is everything. If people view you as being untrustworthy, fake, or too “generic,” it’s doubtful they will follow your blog. But if you are able to create and maintain a positive reputation, you’ll have an easier time connecting with your audience and building a strong following.

Take TechCrunch founder and blogger Michael Arrington, for instance. Most tech enthusiasts are well aware of his credibility on the web.  And according to the website TheRichest, Arrington is the world’s richest blogger, earning an estimated $500,000 to $800,000. While there are countless elements that are attributed to his success, it’s safe to assume that a positive reputation is one of them.

So, how can you manage your online reputation as blogger?

Think Twice Before Posting

Whether you are writing a short 300-word post or a longer 1,000-word post, always read back over it before posting. Could the post be perceived as offensive in any way? Does it contain questionable or inaccurate information? If so, you should probably delete or modify it. When blogging, you want to put your best foot forward, and this means only publishing high-quality content that’s not going to offend your readers. Granted, you can always delete questionable content after publishing it, but it might be too late if visitors have already copied it and posted it elsewhere on the web.

Register Your Domain Name

If you haven’t done so already, scoop up the dot com, dot net and dot org of your first and last name. Why is this important? Well, someone like a competitor or unhappy visitor could register these domain names in an attempt to rank for search queries consisting of your first and last name. Let’s say your name is Joe Bob (lovely name, huh?). Knowing that you are a popular, well-known blogger, a competitor may register www.joebob.com, placing a simple redirect script on the website to funnel visitors to his or her own website. If Google ranks joebob.com high in the search results for “Joe Bob,” your competitor could benefit from tons of practically free traffic.

Create a Google+ Profile

In addition to registering your first and last name as domains, you should also create a Google+ profile to better manage your reputation as a blogger. Having a profile will allow you to brand yourself by revealing information like your name, age, country/state of origin, blog URL, and more. Once created, Google will display a link to your profile in its search results, at which point visitors can click the link to learn more about you.

Use Your Name

If you want to create a positive reputation for yourself as a blogger, be sure to use either your real name or a pen name when blogging. I always cringe when I come across posts created by the “admin,” as it doesn’t feel very personal. A better approach is to use either your actual name or a faux pen name.

How do you manage your online blogging reputation? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/krossbow/

tools for better blog topics

Tools to Uncover New Topic Ideas for Your Blog

Can’t seem to think new topic ideas for your blog? It’s next-to-impossible to maintain a successful blog unless you are publishing fresh new content on a regular basis.

Regardless of your blog’s niche, you can uncover topics by using the tools listed below.

Google Trends

If you aren’t using Google Trends, you are missing out on one of the easiest ways to uncover hot new topics for your blog. The homepage of Google Trends will reveal some of the day’s most trending Google Search keywords. This alone can prove useful in identifying trends for which you can blog about.

But if you really want to go the extra mile, try searching for a keyword associated with your blog’s niche in the search box at the top. Google Trends will display a chart of the keyword’s search popularity, as well as its projected popularity. Remember, you want to blog about topics that are currently and/or expected to be popular. If a topic is trending downwards, it’s best to avoid it.

Topsy

Another excellent tool for bloggers is Topsy. Technically, Topsy is a “Twitter, Search, Monitoring and Analytics” tool, for which it does phenomenally well. But you can also use it to find new topic ideas for your blog. Upon visiting the homepage, enter a keyword that’s associated with your blog’s niche into the search box. Topsy will then reveal tweets containing the keyword. You can narrow your selection down by adjusting the settings on the left side of the page. If you only want to search for photos, for instance, change the search option from “Everything” to “Photos.”

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

The Internet marketing website Hubspot has a nifty little Blog Topic Generator that does just that: reveals topic ideas based on your keyword selection. I searched for the keyword “Chihuahuas,” and it revealed the following five topic ideas:

  1. Think You’re Cut Out for Raising a Chihuahua?
  2. Take This Quiz: Why We Love Chihuahuas (And You Should, Too!)
  3. 10 Quick Tips About Chihuahua
  4. How to Solve the Biggest Problems With Chihuahuas
  5. 15 best blogs to follow about Chihuahuas

While they aren’t the most thoughtful topic ideas, the Hubspot Blog Topic Generator is still a fun tool that can spark some ideas of your own. Oh yeah, did I mention that it’s free to use.

Google News

We can’t talk about blogging tools to uncover new topic ideas without mentioning Google News. The search engine giant’s “News” platform is updated with timely current event-style web postings within minutes of them being published. Just head over the Google News, enter a relevant keyword, and Google News will reveal recent web postings containing that keyword. Keep in mind that most of these ideas will be time-sensitive, not evergreen. In other words, you’ll need to craft a new post about the topic in a timely manner; otherwise, it will become irrelevant to your target audience.

Which tools do you use to uncover new topic ideas? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/soniabelviso/

domain - subdomain word cloud

Is It Okay to Blog on a Subdomain?

One of the first steps in launching a new blog is to decide whether you want it on a dedicated, new domain, or as a subdomain of an existing website that you own. Subdomains are essentially websites that are prefixed to the URL of another domain name, such as blog.yourwebsite.com. The hosted version of WordPress allows users to create blogs for free, assuming they use their subdomain (e.g. yourblog.wordpress.com). This begs the question, however: is it okay to blog on a subdomain?

Benefits of Blogging on a Subdomain

Let’s first talk about the benefits of blogging on a subdomain. For starters, using a subdomain eliminates the need to buy/register a new domain na me. Domain names aren’t necessarily expensive, but they will still set you back about $12-$20 bucks per year. Rather than footing the bill for a new domain, you can launch a blog on an existing domain that you own, saving you a little bit of cash in the process. Subdomains may also prove beneficial in cases where it is attached to a popular, established website. While Google has said that it treats subdomains as independent websites, many SEO experts argue that there’s some correlation between the subdomain and domain on which it is attached. In other words, setting up a blog on a popular website may yield higher search rankings for the blog.

Disadvantages of Blogging on a Subdomain

But there are also some potential disadvantages of blogging on a subdomain. Subdomains are incredibly difficult for visitors to remember, which means fewer returning visits. If a user wanted to visit a blog on a subdomain, he or she would have to type in the full URL in their web browser — this includes both the prefix blog name, as well as the main domain. If the user only types one or other, they won’t be able to access the blog. Subdomains also rely on the web hosting of the original domain. If the hosting for your primary domain goes down (it’s bound to happen sooner or later), so will your blog. With a dedicated domain, you can set up a separate web hosting service for your blog.

The Bottom Line

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages associated with blogging on a subdomain. Setting up your blog on a subdomain is cheaper, and some people would argue that it’s easier, but doing so may have a negative impact on the number of return visits it receives. If you are serious about blogging and willing to invest the necessary time and resources into it, you should probably stick with a dedicated domain. More returning visits means greater engagement, and that often yields higher search rankings. Don’t take my word for it, though. Perform a side-by-side test of two separate blogs, one on a dedicated domain and another on a subdomain, to see which one outperforms the other. Click to learn more information about the differences between domains and subdomains. What are your thoughts on subdomains for blogs? Let us know in the comments section below! Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/india_7/

Medium

Blogging Platform ‘Medium’ Receives $400m Valuation

Move over WordPress, there’s a new blogging platform that’s gaining momentum.

Medium, a three-year blogging platform launched by Twitter co-founder Evan Williams, raised $57 million in a recent round of fundraising led by Andreessen Horowitz and Google Ventures. According to unnamed sources at Recode, this places the new platform’s value at a jaw-dropping $400 million.

So, what is Medium and why are so many people eager to invest in it? The platform was designed to encourage users to write posts that are longer than the 140 characters — the maximum number of characters allowed in a tweet. Williams wanted to create a platform that was as easy to use as Twitter, but offered greater flexibility in terms of content creation and networking. Just one year after launching Medium, there were 30 full-time workers keeping the platform afloat.

Medium continues to grow larger and more widespread with each passing month. Much like WordPress and Blogger, it offers a what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSISYG) visual editor complete with font type, font size, font color, and other formatting options. Creating blog posts is a breeze thanks to Medium’s WYSIWYG editor, as it eliminates the need for messing with complicated code.

But there’s another benefit to using Medium that shouldn’t be overlooked: it’s integration of an up-vote feature. Much like Digg and Reddit, users can up-vote their favorite posts. Posts with a high number of up-votes generally receive more traffic, simply because users assume these posts are higher quality than posts with a few-to-no up-votes. Bloggers can also share new posts with users after publishing. Once you publish a new post, simply click the “share” option to share it with your followers.

At Medium we operate in a fundamentally different way. We don’t focus on pageviews, unique visitors, or click metrics. We don’t litter the platform with ads that are low quality, high clutter. We don’t tolerate bad behavior in the community. And we don’t violate people’s privacy, wrote Medium in a recent blog post.

We aim to surface quality. Every action on Medium is shared with our network, meaning everyone is an influencer. Whether you post, highlight, recommend, or respond — Medium helps you move other people, see issues through a different lens, change minds, and inspire action. We are confident this is the best model for both creators and audiences in the long run,” they went on to say.

Is Medium the right blogging platform for you? Being that it’s free to use with no strings attached, it’s certainly worth checking out. Medium is fast, user-friendly, well-designed, and loaded with features.

Then again, Medium has some major drawbacks that restrict its effectiveness as a blogging platform.

For starters, Medium doesn’t offer the same amount of themes and plugins as WordPress. One of the reasons why WordPress is the world’s leading blogging platform is because of its vast library consisting of tens of thousands of themes and plugins, many of which were developed by third-party companies and coders. Because Medium is still relatively new, it lacks this same level of community support; therefore, bloggers won’t have access to the same number of themes and plugins as supported by WordPress.

Have you blogged with Medium? Let us know what you think in the comments section below!

increase visibility

How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines

Where does your blog rank in the search engines? If it’s several pages deep for its target keywords (or not indexed at all), it’s probably time to do a little SEO work. Search ranking plays a direct role in both the quantity and quality of traffic that a blog receives. Therefore, it’s important for bloggers to optimize their blogs for higher search rankings.

Check Your Permalinks

Search engines use hundreds of different ranking signals to determine where and how to rank websites. One of these signals is the URL structure. Ideally, your blog should have permalinks that reflect the post or page’s content. This page, for instance, uses the following permalink: http://www.mybloggerz.com/how-to-get-your-blog-noticed-by-the-search-engines. As you can see, the URL is based on the post title, which is “How to Get Your Blog Noticed by the Search Engines.” This is a more meaningful and relevant permalink than a generic URL like http://www.mybloggerz.com/?p=123. If your blog uses the WordPress content management system (CMS), you can adjust your permalinks by logging into your blog and accessing Settings > Permalinks.

Keep on Bloggin’

Far too many bloggers initially set up their blogs, publish a couple of posts, but then fail to take any additional action. You can’t expect people to follow your blog unless you publish high-quality content on a regular basis. Content is the driving force behind every successful website, and blogs are no exception. Try to get into the habit of publishing 1-2 posts per week, more if you have the time. Thanks to the scheduling feature found in most blogging platforms, you can set up new posts to be published at a later date.

Beware of Spam

Most experts will agree that visitor commenting is a helpful feature that should be enabled on blogs. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, it creates new, unique content for your website, boosting its overall engagement. However, the downside to visitor commenting is that it will likely attract spam — comments that are left strictly for marketing or other commercial purposes. Allowing these spam comments to flood your blog may deter search engines from ranking it high, simply because the search engines will view your blog as a source of spam. To prevent this from happening, set up visitor comments to require approval before publishing.

Build Backlinks

Search engines generally do a pretty good job at discovering new blogs and websites on their own. You can give them a little nudge, however, by building backlinks to your blog. As search engines crawl the Internet, they’ll stumble upon your link, directing them to your blog. Just remember to stick with relevant, non-paid links from authoritative sources. You can check out some of our previous blog posts for more tips and ideas on how to generate relevant backlinks.

Have any other blogging tips that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/saibotregeel/

microblogging

Microblogging 101: How it Works and How to Succeed

While most people are familiar with the term “blogging,” a lesser-known term that’s slowly but surely gaining momentum is “microblogging.” From Tumblr to Twitter, many online platforms are now supporting this unique method of content creation. But what exactly is a microblog and how do they work?

The Basics of Microblogging

Many believe the term microblogging was coined by writer, cartoonist and computer program Jonathan Gillette (AKA why the lucky stiff) in 2005. “Blogging has mutated into simpler forms (specifically, link- and mob- and aud- and vid- variant), but I don’t think I’ve seen a blog like Chris Neukirchen’s Anarchaia, which fudges together a bunch of disparate forms of citation (links, quotes, flickrings) into a very long and narrow and distracted tumblelog,” wrote Gillette.

Microblogging lives up to its namesake in the sense that it contains shorter blog posts, while also reducing the aggregated file size. While traditional blog posts are often 400-1500 words in length, a microblog post may be just 100-200 words. One of the most popular examples of a microblogging platform is Tumblr, which encourages users to create short posts. Granted, you can still craft a lengthy 500+ word post on Tumblr, but the platform is optimized for shorter, micro-sized posts. Twitter can also be categorized as a microblogging platform, limiting users’ tweets to 140 characters or less.

Benefits of Microblogging

You might be wondering what benefits microblogging offers over traditional blogging. Well, for starters it’s easier and takes less time to craft a microblog post. Since they usually contain 200 or fewer words, a microblog post can be created in a fraction of the time of a standard blog post. This means you can fill your blog with more posts, which should in turn drive more traffic to it.

Microblogging is also optimized for mobile compatibility. When users access a website on their smartphone or tablet, they typically want to short, easy-to-digest content, which is where microblogging comes into play: you can deliver straight-to-the-point content to mobile users without all of the unnecessary fluff that’s found in standard blog posts.

Microblogging Tips

  • Choose your words carefully. With a finite amount of space available, you have to think extra hard about which words and sentences to use in your microblog posts.
  • Publish content surrounding trending topics to drive more traffic to your microblog. This same principle holds true for all blogs, but it’s particularly beneficial for microblogs.
  • If allowed by your respective microblogging platform, use #hashtags to help categorize your content.
  • Engage in discussions with your microblog’s readers and visitors.
  • Adding animated GIFs is an excellent way to make your microblog more appealing.
  • When you struggle to come up with new topic ideas for your microblog, embed a YouTube video while giving your own personal perspective on it.
  • Make your microblog personal. The entire purpose of a microblog is to create a strong following of loyal users. In order to achieve this goal, you must speak from the first-person perspective.

What are your thoughts on microblogging? Love it or hate it? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/respres

SEO-tools-graphic

SEO Best Practices for Blogging

SEO-tools-graphicWhere does your blog rank in the search engines for its target keywords? If it’s listed several pages deep (or not indexed at all), you won’t receive much traffic. And without traffic, you can’t expect to achieve any notable level of success with your blog. That’s why we’re going to discuss some of the best practices for optimizing a blog’s search rankings.

Title Matters

A blog post’s title is arguably the single most important element when it comes to SEO. Search engines typically display titles for their listings, so don’t overlook this critical element. Your post titles should be relevant, easy to understand and contain the keyword(s) for which you are trying to rank. Keep in mind, however, that Google usually only displays the first 50-60 characters of a title.

Interlink Your Posts Together

When you publish a new blog post, try to include some internal links pointing to other posts. Internal links are beneficial for both human visitors as well as search engines. They guide visitors to other relevant content listed on your website, thus lowering your blog’s bounce rate in the process, and they encourage search engines to crawl and index multiple pages, which should boost your rankings. Ideally, internal links should be created using anchor text, as this helps search engines understand what the linked page is about.

Don’t Forget the External Links

Some bloggers avoid using external links on their blogs, assuming it will send visitors away from their own blog. While it’s true that external links may offer an exit point for visitors, they will also add value to your own blog. Search engines view blogs and websites without external links as a one-way street, meaning visitors can enter but they cannot exit (not through a link, at least). As such, these websites often struggle achieve a desirable search ranking. You can show Google that your website is not a one-way street, however, by including external links to relevant, authoritative sources. Just be sure the links aren’t pointing to a direct competitor’s website.

Target Long-Tail Keywords

Okay, this is an SEO tip that works for all types of websites, blogs included. Rather than trying to target a broad keyword, you should go for a more specific long-tail keyword. While broad keywords typically receive more searches, the competition is too stiff for smaller blogs to rank high. Instead of targeting “shoes,” for instance, try “best shoes for travel,” or “great shoes under $50.” By narrowing your topic down to long-tail keywords such as this, you’ll have an easier time optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. If you need help choosing long-tail keywords for your blog, check out the Google Adwords Keyword Planner tool.

Have any other SEO tips for blogs that you would like to share with our readers? Let us know in the comments section below!

cyber security symbol

Safeguarding Your Blog from Hack Attacks

What preventive measures are you taking to protect your blog from hack attacks? Blogs are often targeted by hackers because of their use of content management systems (CMS). CMS platforms like WordPress, Joomla and Drupal are inherently prone to hacking because they contain backdoor logins. The good news is that you can safeguard your blog from hack attacks by following some simple steps.

Use Dedicated Web Hosting

Many bloggers used shared web hosting, simply because it’s the least expensive option available. You have to remember, though, that shared web hosting means your blog is hosted on the same server as hundreds or even thousands of other websites. As a result, it’s easier for hackers to target websites on shared hosting, simply because the servers are more easily accessible. If you want to safeguard your blog from hack attacks, choose dedicated web hosting. Unlike shared hosting, dedicated hosting provides you with your own dedicated server (hence the name). Want to know more about the difference — click here.

Use a Strong Password

Your blog’s first line of defense against hack attacks is a strong, unique password. You shouldn’t use the same password for your blog’s login that’s used on other online accounts or services, nor should you use an easy-to-remember password such as your mother’s maiden name plus birth date. Instead, choose a password that consists of a combination of upper-case letters, lower-case letters, numbers (non-sequential order), and special characters.

Here’s a simple tip — use the first letter of each word of a favorite song title or lyric, mix up the upper and lower case letters and add some numbers / special characters. You’ll be able to more easily remember it than a random set of letters and numbers. Following this simple formula will ensure that your blog has an iron-clad password that’s difficult for hackers to crack.

Disable Visitor File Uploading

Are visitors allowed to upload files to your blog? Enabling this feature is just asking for trouble, as anyone can upload a virus or malicious software to your blog. Furthermore, don’t assume that restricting file uploads to JPEGs, GIFs or other commonly used media formats is safe. File extensions can be spoofed with relative ease, meaning a hacker may still be able to upload a virus without your knowledge. To be on the safe side, it’s recommended that you disable all visitor file uploading on your blog.

Update, Update, Update!

Arguably, one of the most important steps in safeguarding a blog from hack attacks is to keep it updated. Each time a new version of your blog’s CMS is released, be sure to update it in a timely manner. New versions are often released for the sole purpose of plugging up security vulnerabilities and exploits.

Back Up Your Blog

Hopefully it will never occur, but if your blog is ever critically compromised you need a backup copy ready so you can restore it to working order. Assuming you are using a CMS, you’ll likely need to back up both your core HTML files as well as your blog’s database. Downloading one without the other may prevent you from being able to restore your blog, so make sure you download both the HTML files AND database.

Have you ever been the victim of a hack attack? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/110751683@N02/

blog word graphic

The 5 Commandments of Blogging

Publish New Content Regularly

This commandment is pretty self-explanatory. You can’t expect to run a successful blog unless you publish fresh, new content to it on a regular basis. Without content, there’s no reason for visitors or search engines to visit; thus, your blog will slip into the abyss where thousands of others remain hidden from public view. Ideally, you should create a new post or page at least once a week, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with creating two or even three posts per week — assuming you have the time and resources.

Write in First-Person Perspective

There’s a time and place for third-person perspective writing, but blogging isn’t one of them. Blogs are inherently designed to be more personal than traditional websites and online articles. As such, your style of writing should reflect this characteristic by speaking from the first person. It may take some getting used to — especially for writers who’ve always written in third-person — but it will eventually become natural through practice and dedication.

Break Up Your Content

What do I mean by “breaking up your content?” As a blogger, you want to avoid writing a large wall of text, as this discourages people from reading it, and subsequently makes it result in lower search rankings. A more effective style of blogging is to break up your content into small, easy-to-digest sections using headings, sub-headings, bold keywords, italics, and similar formatting methods. Doing so will make your blog easier to read, as visitors can scan the content rather than reading it word for word, left to right.

Keep it Short

Contrary to what some people may believe, longer blog posts aren’t always better. Readers generally aren’t interested in reading a long, essay-style article on a blog. You have to remember that many people access blogs through RSS services, displaying the content of multiple blogs at once. If you overload your blog’s readers with excessively long, drawn-out posts, it may discourage them from following your blog.

So, what’s the best length for a blog post? If you were to ask ten different bloggers, you would probably get ten different answers. However, I’ve found that 400-500 word posts tend to work well for most topics, although sprinkling in the occasional 500-900 word post may also prove beneficial.

Post Pictures

Do you include images in your blog posts? There’s a reason why all of our posts here at MyBloggerz.com have at least one image: because it improves reader response while enhancing our posts with a greater element of visual appeal. In fact, a recent study conducted by the social media marketing firm SocialBakers found images to be the single most shared content on Facebook. This same principle holds true for blogs, as well. Adding images to your blog posts will make them more appealing, increasing the chance that visitors will share it with their friends and family.

What other commandments do you think should be added to this list? Let us know in the comments section below!

Image Attribution: https://www.flickr.com/photos/barnett/