Tag Archives: Blog

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!

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!

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

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!

Person following a path that says Internet

WordPress Frequently Asked Questions and Answers

How Do I Set a Static Page as My Site’s Homepage?

The default WordPress settings display a feed of your most recent posts on the homepage, which is preferred by most bloggers. But if you are trying to build a non-blog website, a static page would probably work best. You can assign a static page to your site’s homepage by logging into your dashboard and clicking Settings > Reading > and clicking the “Static page” button next to the option titled “Front page displays.”

Is WordPress Secure?

WordPress gets a bad rap regarding security, with many webmasters viewing it as a target for hackers. The truth, however, is that most attacks on WordPress websites are the result of outdated software, poor username/password combinations, or the use of dubious third-party plugins or other software. Developers have made great strides to create a secure environment for WordPress, and as long as you take basic preventive measures to protect your site, it shouldn’t become a victim of hackers.

If you are worried your site will become the target of hackers, check out our previous blog post here for more tips on how to secure a WordPress website.

How to I Find The Page ID?

Unless you have your site set up to use the page ID in URLs, you may have trouble locating this information. However, certain plugins require users to input page IDs. You can find the page ID by clicking the Posts or Pages button and hovering over the post/page from which you would like to obtain the ID. In the status bar you will see something along the lines of “post=123,” with the number being the page ID.

Should I Use Hosted or Self-Hosted WordPress?

There’s really no easy answer to this question, as both hosted and self-hosted versions of WordPress have their own strengths and weaknesses. Hosted is great if you’re looking for a fast and easy way to get started. With that said, self-hosted offers far more features and customization options than its counterpart. For these reasons, we recommend using self-hosted WordPress if you are serious about creating a successful blog or website.

How Do I Use a Plugin?

One of that many reasons why WordPress is the leading content management system (CMS) is because it supports the use of plugins. But how exactly do you use a plugin? There are a couple of ways to accomplish this, one of which is by using the platform’s built-in plugin search tool. From within the WordPress dashboard, access Plugins > Add New > and search for the plugin that you wish to use. Next, click “Install Now,” at which point the plugin will download to your site’s plugin directory. Last but not least, go to your plugins and click the “Activate button,” at which point it should be ready to go!

Have any other questions about WordPress that we didn’t answer? Let us know in the comments section below!

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

Flickr Logo

How to Use Flickr Photos in Your Blog

As the adage goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, holds true when blogging. Including photos in your blog posts will enhance your content by making it more appealing. This usually results in a lower bounce rate, as well as a stronger level of visitor engagement. But there are a few things you should know about using Flickr photos in your blog.

Flickr is one of the world’s largest depositories of images. Regardless of your post’s content, chances are you can find a relevant image for it here. While many Flickr images are copyright-protected — meaning the author holds ALL rights — others have limited protection. Flickr’s Creative Commons has tens of millions of images that bloggers can use for free. However, there are subtle nuances between the different categories that shouldn’t be ignored.

Flickr Creative Commons Categories:

  • Attribution — bloggers can use the image for personal or commercial purposes, and make derivatives of it, but only if they credit the author.
  • Noncommercial — bloggers can use the image for personal, but not commercial, purposes as long as they credit the author.
  • No Derivative — bloggers can copy and use the image for all purposes, but the image must be preserved in its original format.
  • Share Alike — bloggers can use the image under the same exact license that governs its work
  • Public domain — there are no copyright restrictions attached to public domain images.

Ideally, the best category from which to acquire images is public domain. Any Flickr images marked as public domain do not require attribution, and they can be used for both personal and commercial purposes. If you are unable to find a particular image under public domain, the next best category is arguably attribution. You can still use the image on your blog, even if it’s a revenue-generating blog, but you must credit the author.

How To Credit Flickr Author

Unless you are using a public domain image, you’ll need to credit the original photographer/author. Flickr doesn’t provide specific instructions on how to this, instead saying it’s up to the photographer.

This is up to the rightful owner of the images to decide, which on Flickr means the photographer. While we cannot represent the photographers’ preference for how to attribute their photos, we do recommend checking the copyright law for how to attribute properly, which generally could includes displaying the photographer’s name and link to the photo’s page on Flickr,” wrote Flickr.

So, how should you credit the author? Look at the image’s description to see if the author has included attribution instructions. Some authors may ask you to link back to their homepage when using their photos. Others may request that you simply link to their Flickr account. If there are no instructions here, though, something along the lines of “Creative Commons 10th Birthday Celebration San Francisco” by tvol is licensed under CC BY 2.0″ should work.

What’s your preferred method for crediting the author of a Flickr photo? Let us know in the comments section below!

Simple Yet Effective Ways to Promote Your Blog Posts

Can’t seem to gain any traction with your blog? Check out some of the promotional techniques listed below!

Add Images

Don’t underestimate the value of images within a blog post. Studies have shown that Internet users respond to content with images with a higher level of engagement when compared to text-only content. It will generate more comments, more Facebook “likes,” more tweets, etc.

But adding images to your blog posts has a second benefit that often goes unnoticed: the images will be indexed by Google Images and Bing Images. So the next time someone searches for a keyword related to the image in Google or Bing, they may discover your blog post. Just remember to follow the basics of image optimization, such as renaming the file name to something more relevant, using alt text, and using the appropriate file extension.

Leverage The Power of Social Media

When it comes to promoting blog posts, nothing holds more value than social media. Creating a Facebook update with a link pointing back to your new blog post can send tons of traffic to it, many of whom will share the link on their own accounts. When done correctly, this can create a viral effect in which one user shares it with another user, who then shares it with someone else — and the cycle repeats.

If you really want to take advantage of social media, add some basic sharing buttons to your blog. Granted, users can always like or share your blog post by logging into their Facebook account, but you can make it easier for them by adding these buttons to you blog. Rather than leaving your site to “like” a post, they can simply click the button. It doesn’t get any easier than that!

Stay on Top of Trends

A third way to promote your blog is to publish content that’s currently trending. By definition, trends come and go, which is why it’s important to act fast when you notice a trend that’s relevant to your blog’s niche. Whether it’s a news story, current event, viral video, etc., give your perspective on the trend by writing up a short post. You can then share it on social media using the appropriate #hashtags.

There are dozens of ways to find trends, but one of my personal favorite tools is http://trends24.in/. This simple, free-to-use tool reveals trending Twitter #hashtags from the past 24 hours.

Quote Relevant People

How can quoting relevant people yield more traffic to your blog posts? It serves a few different purposes. For starters, there’s a chance the person you quote will notice your content, linking to it from their own website. Second,, search engines will notice that you are quoting an expert, possibly boosting your blog’s search ranking as a result. Third, your blog’s visitors will view your site as being a leading authority figure since it contains actual quotes.

What methods do you use to promote your blog? Let us know in the comments section below!

WordPress vs Joomla

Whether you’re blogging for recreational or commercial purposes (or both), one of things you’ll have to consider is the content management system (CMS). While you can technically create a blog using nothing more than Notepad, the right CMS will make a world of difference, streamlining the process of creating and managing your posts. Today we’re going to take a closer look at two of the most popular and widely used blogging platforms, WordPress and Joomla, revealing which one comes out as the winner.

WordPress

Originally launched back in 2003, WordPress has become the single most popular CMS. While the exact number of WordPress sites remains unknown, some reports indicate that up to 75 million websites run this platform. Why do so many bloggers and webmasters prefer it over other content manage systems?

There are a number of benefits associated with WordPress, one of which is its simple, easy-to-use interface. It literally takes less 5 minutes to set up WordPress, at which point you can begin crafting new blog posts. From within the admin dashboard, you’ll see a column of self-explanatory options on the left-hand side, such as “Posts,” “Media,” “Links,” “Pages,” Comments,” “Appearance,” Plugins,” etc. Clicking on any of these links will take you to the respective page where you can adjust your blog’s settings.

Arguably, one the most attractive features of WordPress is its use of interchangeable plugins and themes. Rather than modifying your blog’s code to implement a new feature, you can simply download and active a plugin. A plugin is a file or set of files that’s designed to perform a one or more functions, such as displaying social media widgets, enabling browser caching, creating contact pages and more.

Joomla

On the other side of the fence if Joomla. It may lack the numbers of WordPress, but it’s still a popular CMS that’s used by millions of bloggers. Joomla was originally launched in 2003 and has since been download more than 20 million times. Much like its WordPress counterpart, Joomla also has an extensive depositories of free and paid plugins (called extensions), as well as interchangeable templates. If you want to add a new feature to your Joomla blog, you should first see if there’s an extension available for it. If there’s not, you’ll have to code the feature by hand.

Joomla also creates SEO-friendly links by default. Instead of seeing new posts and pages created with generic URLs like yoursite.com/p=?123, URLs will reflect the page’s title, such as yoursite.com/post-name.

Which Should I Choose?

In terms of usability, most bloggers will agree that WordPress is easier to use. The dashboard just looks and feels natural, making it easy for first-time bloggers to get their foot in the door. And because it’s used by so many people, WordPress offers a greater variety of themes and plugins. WordPress also has pretty strong tech support and an enormous library of help files and forums, enabling you to get answers when you get stuck.

You really can’t go wrong with either WordPress or Joomla. They are both two powerful and versatile blogging platforms, but if I had to choose one as the winner I would say it’s WordPress.

Do you prefer WordPress or Joomla? Let us know in the comments section below!