Category Archives: Internet Technology

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!

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/

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/

wanted-stamp

Facebook Wants You to Blog

The world’s largest social media network has revamped its online services to cater towards the ever-growing demographic of bloggers. First spotted by app developer David Winer, Facebook Notes now functions like a typical blogging platform. All posts made on the network’s Notes have a prominent cover image, along with a wider content section, headlines and clean text.

If you want to see the new Facebook Notes in action, check out this page created by John Biesnecker. It’s a relatively short post in which Biesnecker describes his personal thoughts on traveling from Austin to San Fransisco. While I wouldn’t say the post is phenomenal by any means (as a blogger, I’m biased towards my own work), it clearly resembles a typical blog post. There are no distracting ads or navigation links; the title is fixed directly below a relevant image of the Bay Bridge; and the content is written in first-person, which is usually the preferred choice among seasoned bloggers.

Loving the look of this — hoping to get it soon so I can take it for a whirl for blogging stuff directly here,” commented one Facebook user.

“Can’t wait for the new Notes,” another user said.

While the vast majority of reviews and comments regarding the new Notes are positive, not everyone is thrilled with it. Some users have said that Facebook is a social media network and not a blogging platform, and therefore it doesn’t need to introduce a blogging platform.

So, why is Facebook pushing its Notes service as a blogging platform?

Well, the social media network has remained tight-lipped about the revamp, revealing very few details about its motives. In a response to Verge, a spokesperson for Facebook claimed the network was testing an update to make it easier for users to create and read longer stories. The spokesperson goes on to say that the test is only available to a small group of users, at least for the time being. It’s unclear when or even if the new blogging-style Notes will roll out to all Facebook users.

Each time a new post is created in the new blogging-style Notes, they are automatically presented on Facebook’s mobile app, much like Facebook’s Instant Articles. This move signals a growing trend for the social media network to establish itself as a leading source of original content. Granted, most of the content published on Notes isn’t created by Facebook, but rather Facebook users are creating it.

Why is content so important for Facebook? Being the #1 social media network means you have to stay on top of the latest trends, including content creation. Google has said time and time again that publishing high-quality content is the single most important thing a website can do. Without content, there’s really no reason for people to visit a site, including Facebook.

What do you think of Facebook’s new blogging tool? Let us know in the comments section below!

tool box

Helpful Resources for Bloggers

As a blogger, you should always be on the lookout for new tools to make your life easier. That’s why today we’re going to reveal some of the top resources and tools for blogging.

Google Trends

If you aren’t using Google Trends, you are missing out on one of the best ways to uncover trending topics for your blog. When a topic is “hot,” you want to capitalize on it by publishing a new blog post about it. Doing so can yield huge traffic gains while promoting higher search rankings in the process. The problem is that many bloggers simply don’t know which topics are trending and which ones aren’t. This is where Google Trends comes into play: using this resource, you can view trending stories/searches, as well as trend data for any keyword.

Topsy

Another resource that bloggers shouldn’t overlook is Topsy. Just head over to the site, enter a keyword that’s relevant to your blog’s niche, and it will reveal tweets containing the keyword. You can then browse through some of the tweets to discover new topics for your blog. You obviously shouldn’t copy others’ work, but there’s nothing wrong with drawing inspiration from tweets. Topsy will allow you to uncover new topics for your blog that you may have overlooked, so be sure to check out this resource!

FeedBurner

Originally launched by Dick Costolo, Eric Lunt, Steve Olechowski, and Matt Shobe, FeedBurner is an RSS management tool. While many websites use RSS to syndicate their content, tools like Feedburner are particularly useful for bloggers. Once you’ve added your blog’s RSS URL to FeedBurner, it will allow you to customize a wide variety of elements. So instead of forcing visitors to read a generic feed from your blog, you can optimize it so it’s more functional and/or appealing. FeedBurner is owned by Google, and it is completely free to use with no strings attached.

Facebook

Yes, even Facebook can be considered a “blogging resource.” Whether you’re brainstorming new topic ideas for your blog or promoting your new blog posts, the social media network can help. Keep in mind, however, that you should create a dedicated page — not a profile — for your blog. Many bloggers simply use their personal Facebook profile to promote their blog, limiting the effectiveness of this tool. To create a Facebook page, visit https://www.facebook.com/pages/create and follow the on-screen instructions. It will walk you through the steps of creating a Facebook page for your blog.

Fiverr

There are dozens of websites on which you can purchase digital products and services, but one of my personal favorites is Fiverr. It lives up to its namesake by requiring most (not all) sales to be a flat $5. As a blogger, this means you can buy banners, logos, blog posts, marketing packages and more, all for $5 bucks a piece. Don’t assume the quality is sub-par, either. Some of my best designs have been acquired through Fiverr service providers.

What other resources do you use when blogging? Let us know in the comments section below!

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

Graphic with SEO keywords

Optimizing Your Blog for Higher Search Rankings

Still struggling to achieve a top search ranking for your blog? Conventional wisdom should lead you to believe that the higher your blog ranks, the more traffic it will receive. But how exactly do you increase your blog’s search ranking?

Use an SEO-Friendly Blogging Platform

The platform on which you build your blog will directly affect its search rankings. Some content management systems (CMS) contain messy code that’s difficult for search engines to properly crawl, which subsequently harms the site’s search rankings. You can avoid this problem, however, by using an SEO-friendly CMS for your blog like WordPress. Powering tens of millions of blogs and websites, WordPress is the world’s most popular CMS. It’s cleanly coded, patched with new updates in a timely manner, and features a plethora of plugins and themes.

Beware of Duplicate Content!

When blogging, use caution to ensure that your content isn’t being published in multiple locations. It’s not uncommon for blogging platforms to place new content in two or more locations, such as the original URL, authors, tags, categories, and archives. Just because you “think” your blog post is being published in a single location doesn’t necessarily mean that it is. Double-check your blog’s settings to ensure all new posts and pages are not being published in multiple locations. And if they are, use the noindex attribute to discourage search engines from crawling them.

Allow Visitor Comments

How can allowing visitor comments boost your blog’s search ranking? It’s no secret that content is a ranking factor used by Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. Websites that are updated with fresh content on a regular basis will reap the benefits of higher search rankings. While you can always create new content by hand, a supplemental method of content creation is to enable visitor commenting. Each time a visitor leaves a comment, whether it’s positive or negative, creates new content for your blog. Search engines will notice this content, taking into account when determining where and how to rank your blog.

Social Sharing

Don’t underestimate the importance of social media when optimizing your blog for higher search rankings. All of the major search engines place an emphasis on social signals like Facebook likes and Twitter tweets. Assuming you are able to attract social signals like this, you can expect your blog to rise in the SERPs.

But how do you encourage readers to share your blog posts on their social media accounts? One helpful tip is to place social media buttons directly on your blog. Instead of forcing readers to leave your blog and login to their Facebook/Twitter accounts to share a post, they can do so directly from your blog. This alone can make a huge difference in your social media marketing efforts.

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