Friday, September 29, 2006

How to add a sitemap to a Blogger blog

I found this great post on Blogger Tips and Tricks. It explains very clearly how to add a sitemap for a blog running on Blogger (note this post will not be very helpful for non Blogger blogs).


This is post was written and tested on Windows XP Home.

Have fun!


Thursday, September 14, 2006

Suggestions for your reading list (14/09/06)

Dear Reader,

I suggest you check ou the following post/arcticles:

Did you like this post? Why not submit it to your favorite social network (see list below post)? Don't miss a post subscribe to the feed (see RSS readers in sidebar). Do you own a website or a blog? Add a link to my blog, you will make me a very happy blogger (use permalink below post).

Help me: I don't understand a word of this.

Thank you very much indeed!

Do you want to take part in a Technorati experiment?

Dear Reader,

Rand is using is buddy's blog to test the Technorati blog list.

The idea is too see how easily we can push Todd blog in the list of (top) favorites.

You can help by adding your vote here.

Cheers,

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Weekly report: 28th to 10th September

Dear Reader,

Activities:

I am afraid I have renamed again my photography blog. The old name was far too long. I read that long name where not good long term as regular readers could not remember them and would failed to retype it when they want to go back. Therefore this time I picked a very short name: ProLight. Hopefully this will be the last time.

I submitted to Google sitemaps for all my blogs following the instructions from this great post on Blogger Tips and Tricks. Straight and simple. I would therefore expect more direct hit from Google search in the next couple of weeks.

I implemented FeedBurner for all my feeds, it is simple and gives me a way to track my subscribers (no very high yet but growing!). I implemented the mailing list system as well using Squeet as I can manager the list with this tool. Nobody bit on this one at all. I also turned on their FeedBurner Blogbuzz feature which allows you to display a list of posts from one blog onto another website. I thereafter amended the sidebars of my blogs to include post from the other (relevant) blogs. Doing so I hope to cross-fertilize or at least keep the readers hooked longer by offering slightly different but related information.

I started looking at ways to gather feedback in order to define better the subject matter of my blogs. I looked at JotForm and Wufoo. Both are free online forms with some limitations. Although Wufoo appears to be better finished, I decided to use JotForm as there is no limits on the number of forms (Wufoo is limited to 3 free forms). I haven't worked out how to link that nicely to a specific post in the RSS feed yet. But I have nicely formatted a feedback form in the sidebar of "Master the Web".

I created another new blog called "Tricks for Geeks" where I intend to list all sort of simple Howto's to help guys like us that use computers on a daily basis. It should be easy for me to write posts as I do my normal day to day job recording helpful Howto's while I discover them. This could build up quite quickly and hopefully drag people in my "net" of blogs.

I added the Delicious tags cloud and link list on my blogs. It feels up the sidebar nicely looking quite cool and pretty. The link list is dynamic (from Delicious favorites) therefore it will show my latest "finds". I will have a different set of link lists per blog to match the subject matter.

Being busy with life and fiddling with blogs layout, I didn't really blog a lot lately except on "Trick for Geeks". I think I still have at least a couple of months before the structure of my blogs, the target audience, subject matter are defined in stone. In the meantime I shall start drafting my action plans for developing and marketing them. So far it has been very much had-hoc. That cannot continue if I want to have some success.


Analysis of the last 2 weeks traffic:

Since I haven't posted any large or significant piece on any of the blogs, traffic across all blogs went done strongly. I did however post a few comments on a few SEO related blogs which actually in one case brought an extraordinary amount of traffic considering the effort taken. It came from a blog called abduljaleel.typepad.com where I believe I announced my plans to look at different advertising schemes. Sadly the blog appears to have some technical problems. 80 visitors for a 2 line comment, not bad. It is worth noting that the author of that blog is a big digger. I suspect that is out he gets his traffic from.

Master the web:

Reddit is still kicking very well for "Master the Web", it brought me 170 visitors in the last 2 weeks. Way above Digg which brought me a mere 28 visitors. The other social networks did not respond at all to my 2 baits. Clearly, there is something different about Reddit. I think it might be a more technical audience more likely to appreciate my technical level analysis (from "Master the Web). I shall therefore invest more into Reddit for that specific blog as it pays back. Digg as you may have read was rumored to be rigged by a bunch of power users which support each other. If you haven't read it check out this post. I am quite disappointed by this crowd.

I still got a majority of new visitors (86%) compared to returning which I think is indicative of a problem. I would want to have more people returning as I see this as an indication of quality contents. Not surprisingly the majority of the returning visitors come from Reddit and =Blogger (none from abduljaleel.typepad.com yet?). Top contents is still Must have resources for wannabe webmaster amazingly bringing more than the root page (because it was one of the social network post baits).

"Depth of Visit" is still very low. Most people check only one page out. Since my blogs are still very new the depth of the blog is not important therefore this metric is not yet significant but I hope that over time this should give a good indication of how curious visitors are. The "Length of visit" is showing some positive signs. About 50 people stayed more than a minute on the site; clearly they read some of the article: positive feedback.


ProLight:

The number of visitors are still really small on this one (17 over the 2 weeks). I don't think the actual visitor number is any meaningful by itself. Still it is worth noting that 35% comes from Google. Since I changed its name just last week and posted the sitemap a few days later, it is quite impressive. Normally it takes far longer to get Google kicking in. The top keywords where: "Smugsmug", "Lightroom", "Zenfolio" and "Flickr" which match accurately my contents. Technorati is also kicking in.

"Top content" is not really meaningful as the number of hit is so low. "Length of visit" shows some interesting signs here: 5 people stayed more than a minute.

Tricks for Geeks:

This new blog is starting to get some visitors: Blogger is the main source and surprisingly I got a visitor from Delicious (did he get lost?).


Conclusions and Actions:

  • get back to posting, this is really key to get traffic in (no surprise here),
  • need to investigate Reddit more as it looks like a good winner for my "Master the Web",
  • Analytics goals not working, need to be fixed,
  • build a list of high traffic blog posts to plug my blogs,
  • Implement feedback form for other blog and for RSS feeds,
  • draft the blog plans of actions.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Suggestions for your reading list (06/09/06)

Dear Reader,

Technorati Tags: , ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Help me! I am an addict

Dear Reader,

It is official: I am addicted to Analytics!

I love it when it rockets and I hate it when it plummets.

This is really tragic. I just can't help it. I must check the numbers every morning before going to work, at lunch time and in the evening when I am back. As if the numbers will go up if I check them more often.

Worse, I realized that I can now see the daily stats by selecting today's date on the date range selection tool. I think that wasn't there before, I had to wait a full day (yes 24 very long hours).

I am doomed. What I am going to do?

What I usually look at first is the main executive screen specifically the big "visits and page views" chart: that is when my heart beat goes up (or down). Then a quick look at the pie chart showing the ratio of new and returning visitors (you want both let's less 2/3 1/3 respectively). Then I look at the visits by sources which usually reflect some activities (I think the scientific term is campaign) I had during the week.

After that I go in more details. I like to check my "Top contents" in "Contents Optimization" to see whether people read the post I expect (like the one I posted on social networks). After that I check the "Length of visits". I can see that I have a few more people staying a couple of minutes but still a majority stay 10 seconds or less (very bad). I usually skip the depth of visits since blog are rather flat it does not tell me a great deal.

While you are on the top contents, you want to cross analys top contents against source to see which are the source that bring the most people for the most read document (so that you can create a focus campaign on this existing success: always easier than a campaign against a losing paper). Select the red button of at the top of your contents list go in "Cross Segment Performance Source" select "Source Medium". Then what you see is the source just for that document. Then see whether you can max out on some of these sources with some email campaign, social networking, forums posting, blog trackbacks ....

That is usually when I realize that I have been starring at my screen far too long and that I should get a drink of water (so should you).

Allez oups go get that glass of water.

Have fun.

Attention please!

Did you like this post? Why not submit it to your favorite social network (see list below post)? Don't miss a post subscribe to the feed (see RSS readers in sidebar). Do you own a website or a blog? Add a link to my blog, you will make me a very happy blogger (use permalink below post).

Help me: I don't understand a word of this.

Thank you very much indeed!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

The show with zefrank: brand after-taste?

It's definitely weird but it tastes good! That is Zefrank for you.

I wonder what the "Master the Web" brand after-taste is like?

Any idea? Then check out The show with zefrank.


Attention please!

Did you like this post? Why not submit it to your favorite social network (see list below post)? Don't miss a post subscribe to the feed (see RSS readers in sidebar). Do you own a website or a blog? Add a link to my blog, you will make me a very happy blogger (use permalink below post).

Help me: I don't understand a word of this.

Thank you very much indeed!

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Suggestions for your reading list

Dear Reader,

As from now, I will start sharing part (the best of course) of my personal reading list.

These will be the articles or blog posts that as a "wannabe webmaster" trying to learn the trade I enjoyed the most or found the most helpful.

So, for this week, I suggest:

  • Winning Big With a Small Search Marketing Budget : If you are like me - (very?) small fish in a big pound - you will find this post quite refreshing, this is not the final answer to a small budget internet marketing campaign however it goes a long way to making you feel better about it.
  • Buying & Selling Text Link Ads It appears that using Text Link Ads to bring traffic in is now a common practice. I found that post from SEOmoz quite informative especially the comments also check-out the links to the 2 main player’s website.
  • Generating Buzz With Link Baiting and Viral Campaigns It is a fairly generalist post however quite inspirational. It will hopefully give you some starting points and ideas for you next (or first) link baiting campaign.
  • Is Black Hat SEO Officially Mainstream? As usual Black Hat is being very controversial. It is quite entertaining to read although a bit saddening. Keep an eye on the comments as I am sure this post will raise eyebrows (again).




Attention please!

Did you like this post? Why not submit it to your favorite social network (see list below post)? Don't miss a post subscribe to the feed (see RSS readers in sidebar). Do you own a website or a blog? Add a link to my blog, you will make me a very happy blogger (use permalink below post).

Help me: I don't understand a word of this.

Thank you very much indeed!


Technorati Tags: webmaster, search engine optimization, SEO, link building, increasing traffic, blog, blogging, blogger

Monday, August 28, 2006

Help me: I don't understand a word of this!

Dear Reader,

Everything is not lost. You are already reading a blog, this is a good start (see Wikepidea's definition of a blog if you are already lost).


Social networks:

Social networks are a new way to gather information through social groups sharing their favorite webpages (being a blog or a regular web page). In a social network, the information is "pushed" by the users to the user community arguably bringing out the more valuable pages. Compare this to Google which indexes and regurgitates it to you using some sort of secret recipe (not always successful).

In short, it is new, it is fun and it is hot. If you are not on it yet, you need to be very soon!
I suggest looking at Digg, Reddit, Technorati and Delicious which I found to be the most active.


Subscribe to RSS:

RSS is a an XML feed for your blog. Basically the blog is transmitted in that weird XML format to an RSS reader which displays the information in a readable format to the user (you). The difference with reading the same information right of the blog is that your RSS reader can pull the information for you from many many sources and put that together in a single user interface.
The benefits are obvious, you will get all the blog posts in one place at a push of a button, no more crawling the web trying to retrieve the URL of my blog.
Check out Google Reader (beta), if you are on that camp, I believe Yahoo and others would have a solution. Desktop applications exist as well.


Permalinks:

Permalinks - as you might have guessed - are permanent links. As opposed to dynamic links these links do not change. I suppose that does not help you a lot, does it?

You see, a blog is a sort of database application. It stores data (your blog posts) in a database and produces on demand a webpage (from the database of posts). The problem with that is that the ULRs are dynamic: read complex and susceptible to change. Usually that means problems as you cannot maintain a link to the page if the URL changes all the time thus the need for permalinks.

The permalink page (click on permalink below the post) actually creates a complete link for you to cut and paste into your own webpage: pretty cool.


Now, I am very hopeful that you will create a permalink to one of my posts, or subscribe to the blog itself or even better submit a post to a social network. Don't disappoint me!


I hope you enjoyed this post and found it useful.

Thank you very much,


Sunday, August 27, 2006

Birth of the weekly report

Dear reader,

Today I decided that from now on I will take notes during the week and post a report on a weekly basis (probably on Sunday evening) that illustrates my activities for the week (starting from Monday to Sunday), the changes that I have noticed during that week in term of Analytics and AdSense results plus a quick analysis and conclusion.

This should be the base for my ongoing experimentations and hopefully will provide you with valuable feedback on a real life example of building and increasing a blog's traffic and potential earnings.


Saturday, August 26, 2006

Weekly report: 21st to 27th of August

Activities:

Yesterday, I created 3 goals for "Master the Web" to monitor the number of people that subscribe to the blog's feed, use any of the permalinks or any of the social networks. This was a bit awkward to setup because the URL paths on blogs are fairly short thus there aren't many steps to enter. My goals merely contain the end-point URL and the main site URLs.

Plus I am not too sure these goals are going to work (except the fact that possibly nobody will go for these goals) as the matching URL patterns are fairly complex and the doc scarce. I eventually found some documentation for the regular expression required to build these complex URL patterns (see Analytics regular expressions).

I also fixed my social networking URLs (that is for that blog, I need to move the fix to the other blogs). I had a few issues with Technorati, Digg and Blacklist URLs. I think the code I found was a bit dated. It works better now. That hopefully will become more useful when the site takes off.

From now on, I will attempt to submit to the social networks a post on a weekly basis in order to monitor their effect on the traffic and of course build it. This week I decided to submit the "Must have resources for wannabe webmasters" post from this blog. I submitted to the main social networks: Del.icio.us, Digg, Technorati, Blinklist, Furl and Reddit.


Changes:

I had a big surprise this morning when I checked my Analytics results. "Master the web" approached the 200 visitors/day mark! I am very pleased. The day before I was at 34 and the day before at around 27. This follows my posting of "Must have resources for wannabe webmasters". A good part comes from Digg (Ah good all Digg always there when we need it!) but the surprise comes from Reddit. Over the last free days it accounts for 36.5% + 19.1% = 55.6% of the visitors (I posted on one Reddit sub site as well)! Digg accounts for just 10.65% and blogger.com 10.27%. No news from the other social networks.


Analysis:


Looking at my goals they appear to have completely failed. However, I went on FeedBurner and I do have 16 listeners (after just 2 days of signing for it). This indicates two things, my goals are badly setup and the contents is of enough value that some people subscribed to it (thanks guys). This is a good sign; I am on the right track.

I must say the overall number and the percentage of Reddit came to me as a big surprise. Don't go just for the obvious: Digg, Technorati, and Delicious. Although - as suggested in a previous post - the relevance of the contents is really key to success (my Flicker post had 3 diggs, 1 more than this last one, but brought far fewer visitors).

Reddit is clearly a very good source of referrals. There must be something wrong with the other ones, not a single referral seems odd to me.


Actions:

  • I must look at these goals. This is not right,
  • I will also look at renaming (for the last time ever promised) the photo blog and the tecky blog. I read that using shorter URL is advisable so that users can remember and type it back,
  • I want to create a new tecky blog as well on a different line, the existing one is not picking up at all,
  • I want to work on my Adobe Lightroom evaluation (possible weekly post to social network),
  • Finally I hope to start building a list of the best advertisement and affiliate schemes.


That is it for today folks,

See you.

Technorati Tags: Analytics, Google, SEO, search engine optimization, webmaster, blog, social networking, Digg, Technorati, Blinklist, Delicious, Reddit

Friday, August 25, 2006

Master the web is now under Technorati hands

That is it. I have decided to officially launch this new blog.

I do have good hopes for this one as without any advertisement it appears to attract people (good subject matter!). Therefore I hope that with a bit of help it will go very far.

First let's see what effect has claiming the blog under Technorati (I also push it to Pingoat). Incidentally I also enabled subscriber links with most of the readers (Yahoo, Google, ...). This is using the FeedBurner

SEOmoz forced to remove blog post!

The Boston School of Electrolysis forced SEOmoz to remove a blog post following a guest blogger rant. The argument used was that her private email communications were posted publicly without her authorization (required by law). Be well aware of what you post or you could end up with your hand burned badbly!

Worried: in their response SEOmoz kindly posted a link to the EFF where you will find all the information you need about these legal matters (if you are based in the USA).

Does anybody know of an equivalent for United Kingdom?

Safe blogging!

The art of Blog by SEO Black Hat

If you haven't subscribed to SEO Black Hat, you definitely want to. Their contents is of most value to you future webmaster, cherish it or loath it but most importantly read it.

This one is a nicely written post about how to become a successfully blogger. Full of great and simple ideas. Highly recommended to anybody who wants to start a blog.

Still I would like to add one point to this list: pick the right subject for your blog.

My photography blog was my only blog taking off until I started this new one about my experimentations with SEO. Master the Web is about to over take my photo blog (not that I am having large number of visitors ...yet) and more significantly this is without advertising Master the Web what so ever (organic growth).

Fantastic!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

About the effect of Digging contents

Hi Reader,

A few days ago I submitted a post to all the social networks I have listed on my blogs (see right below that pages, just the ones with a direct link, not through Socializer).

I noticed a clear increase of visitors the day after: about 4 times more than usual. About 60% of my visitors came from Digg and 80% of that when straight to the post but sadly most of them stayed about 10 seconds.

The conclusion is simple: Digg in your contents but write well targetted contents to match the expectations of the Digg users.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

There is more than one way to skin a link by Debra Mastaler

That came as a shock. The good old phone and smail are still in use by link building experts!

So much for my trackback, forums, .... plans ;-)

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Must have resources for wannabe webmasters

This post lists all sort of websites, blogs, articles and tools on various subject key to a wannabe webmaster: link-building, seo, advertisment, laws, ...

First the main page websites and blogs that you must have in your favorites:



Then the specific posts or articles that I suggest reading:



Now the links to specific tools I think you should try:


And finally the list of submit pages for most important search engines:

These URLs should cover 90% or more of the search market see (SEOmoz guide).

Please let me know what you use or recommend (by dropping me a comment). I will amend the list accordingly.


Attention please!
Did you like this post? Why not submit it to your favorite social network (see list below post)? Don't miss a post subscribe to the feed (see RSS readers in sidebar). Do you own a website or a blog? Add a link to my blog, you will make me a very happy blogger (use permalink below post).

Help me: I don't understand a word of this.

Thank you very much indeed!


Various notes about my optimizations

Hi Reader,

In order to compare the traffic on blogs against my changes, I have created a Google Analytics account (free) and taken notes of any changes or actions in my Google homepage (in a Google sticker note). Sadly that was a mistake as it has a fairly short limit (about a page) and I has lost some data.

Anyway, first things first, I setup the blogs to include the Google Analytics JavaScript. It is really easy, you just cut and paste into your blog template the JavaScript right at the bottom above the body tag (note to myself: I need to do it for this new blog). It does take sometime to register the new feed and also keep in mind that the data are display the day after.

Then after creating the blogs on the 11th of August 2006, I added my photography blog URL to my signature in the IMatch forums (this is a DAM software) and another photography forum (Gallery2). It did bring a few hits. Not in large numbers though (about 10) and it didn't last. The conclusion is that I need to find more forums and post regularly on the most active ones.

On the 12th, I submitted my photography blog to link2blog and added their tower to all my 3 blogs. It is worth noting that at that time I was still unsure about the names of the blogs and changed them a few times (old names were “On Technology and Software”, “Thoughts on Photography” and “About Marco”). That must have confused the search engines. Although I was just starting to get listed by Google so the damage wasn’t too bad.

On the same day, I submitted my 3 blogs to blogsrater, added the blograter icon (with appropriate link) and finally created a review for “About Hazel” my wife’s blog. I also submitted “Thoughts on Photography” to ratethisblog. Since the website looks a bit unprofessional, I didn’t bother with the other blogs (note: ratethisblog it linked to blogsrater).

On the 13th, I used the 24 free impressions for blograter’s “our Featured Blog box”. I got these because I setup the link straight after registering to this website. I don’t think I had a single referral from that site anyway: don’t waste your time with this one. On the same day, I also added my photography blog to blogfaces, never seen a referral yet.

That is when I decided to rename my blogs (again!). New names are:

  • http://bringinglightintophotography.blogspot.com/
  • http://makingsenseoftechnologyandsoftware.blogspot.com/

I therefore resubmitted to link2blog and blogsrater and updated my Adobe and IMatch forums signature. I also added the 3 blogs to http://www.atomenabled.org/. Not a single referral from this one either but I had a few from the Adobe and IMatch forums and link2blog but not blograter.

Finally, I added http://bringinglightintophotography.blogspot.com to http://dmoz.org/ digital photography page and submitted the 3 blogs feed to Yahoo, MSN and Google (again). Long this was!

On the 14th, I added my work IP address to the filter of Google Analytics and I renamed “About Marco” to “Marc Weiersmuller” and of course reposted to msn and Google search. I also added my home IP address to Analytics around that times.

On the 15th, I enabled AdSense on “Bringing Light into Photography”. I now it is a bit naïve since I don’t have any serious level of traffic yet but it felt good. I also rewrote my post on Lightroom to use “Adobe Lightroom” as often as possible as this score higher than “Lightroom” in Google search.

On the 17th, I posted a message about what gallery to use on IMatch, I posted a message on Gallery about integration to IMatch and posted a message on Lightroom about integration to IMatch.

That is when the bloody Google sticker notes reached it limits.

Anyway, I enlisted to Technorati roughly around that time, setup the Firefox integration and started adding Technorati keywords to all my post. I also added Socializer around that time. I also joined ClickBank soon after and set it up on “Making sense of Technology and Software” using “CB Click”. This basically does like Google ads: fetch and display the ads. However this is quite a bit slower (not to myself: write your own list of ads).

Finally yesterday the 19th, I joined Flicker, posted a few pictures (about 200) and added my photography blogs to my profile. The reason I did that is because Flicker scored very well in the following Web 2.0 list.

Voila quite a lot but sadly not very much result. The peak was on the 17th when “Bringing Light into Photography” reached a mere 12 visits and 18 views. Hopefully, this number maybe low estimate, I have read in some SEO newsgroups that Analytics “underestimate” by a large number.

I have also a few jokers to play:

  • Blast email to my all friends, work colleagues and family members,
  • Write proper contents i.e. finish and post the Lightroom review,
  • Build a simple web app to provide some service,
  • And finally AdWords (ok that is sort cheating but if I recoup through AdSense I am happy with that).

I decided to socialize my blogs

Dear reader,

I used link2blog before but it didn't bring anybody back while I apparently directed lots of people outside of my blog. Anyway since I enabled adSense on this website I decided to remove it in case Google sees it as competing ads.

I am new to this game but it appears that social networking is a great way to attract traffic therefore I decided to add Socializer :a neat little tool to help connecting with other blogs and bloggers.

I also decided to add direct link to the main ones: Technorati , Digg , Delicious , Furl , Reddit and Blinklist . Finally I enabled the Technorati integration to blogger, pretty slick!

Hoping all this will pay off, obviously I am working on contents too (e.g. review of Adobe Lightroom for my photography blogs)