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Top Ten Blog Design Mistakes

Jakob Nielsen has put together an interesting article with the Top Ten Design Mistakes that he sees bloggers making. It’s a pretty insightful list – not definitive by any means – but definitely helpful in my mind.

1. No Author Biographies – I’m amazed that so many blogs don’t have any information about who is the behind them. Not essential information but common sense in my books to be transparent enough to tell people who you are.
2. No Author Photo – for me this is not a must – but it does add something personal to a blog.
3. Nondescript Posting Titles – regular readers will know about my passion for post titles – enough said
4. Links Don’t Say Where They Go – I agree – it also helps with SEO to use make links more descriptive
5. Classic Hits are Buried - So true – highlight your best posts or they’ll go unseen after dropping from the front page
6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation – has anyone ever used a calendar to navigate a blog or is it just me who avoids them?
7. Irregular Publishing Frequency – again something I’ve written quite a bit about. It’s not about high or low posting frequency – but regular posting. Find your rhythm and stick to it.
8. Mixing Topics - Stick to you niche
9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss – so true. Once you hit publish you lose control over who will ever see what you write. Be careful.
10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service - the quote of this article is ‘Letting somebody else own your name means that they own your destiny on the Internet.’ So true.

What mistakes do you see a lot of bloggers making?

I’ll add a brief one which is related to Jakob’s first one:

No Contact Details - A few weeks ago I was surfing through some blogs in an effort to build some relationships with some new bloggers and I was amazed – not actually I was stunned – but the number of bloggers that have no personal way of contacting them. Most of them had comments – but so many had no way to get an email to them.

The result was that I didn’t/couldn’t contact them and we both missed out on an opportunity to connect.

Weblogs, Inc. Interviews its Bloggers

Weblogs, Inc. have been redeveloping their home page recently with design changes and more recently the decision to start profiling some of their bloggers via interviews – the first of which is with ProBlogger reader – Jay Allen who heads up their Baby Blog.

Chitika eMiniMalls Affiliate Program Launches

Good news for those of you who have been waiting for the Chitika eMiniMalls (aff link) referral program to go public – today it went live.

Now if you refer a new publisher you stand to make 10% of their audited earnings for the first 12 months of their use of eMiniMalls.

I’ve been using the affiliate program for a couple of weeks now and it’s been working out quite nicely.

To be a part of the affiliate program you need to sign up yourself as a publisher and you’ll automatically become a part of it and get your own referral statistics.

The only downside of it is there is no second tier referral program – but beggers can’t be choosers.

Thanks to all of the readers here who have signed up via my affiliate links. I know many of you have gone out of your way to do so as a way of showing your support to ProBlogger.net. I hope that you find them to be as helpful a tool as I have – don’t forget to check out the eMiniMall Tips post I wrote last week which I’m hearing has helped a few Chitika publishers double their income.

On a related side note – I’m seriously considering naming my firstborn after Chitika (Chitika Rowse?) with the earnings they’ve been helping me achieve this week. Even without the referral earnings it’s consistently doubling Adsense revenue and with the holiday season coming the mind boggles at where it could all end up mid December.

State of the Blogosphere – October 2005

David Sifry has started another State of the Blogosphere series of posts – his first part looks at the size and growth of the blogosphere as well as the extent of spam blogs. Here’s his summary points which are as usual an interesting read:

  • ‘As of October 2005, Technorati is now tracking 19.6 Million weblogs
  • The total number of weblogs tracked continues to double about every 5 months
  • The blogosphere is now over 30 times as big as it was 3 years ago, with no signs of letup in growth
  • About 70,000 new weblogs are created every day
  • About a new weblog is created each second
  • 2% – 8% of new weblogs per day are fake or spam weblogs
  • Between 700,000 and 1.3 Million posts are made each day
  • About 33,000 posts are created per hour, or 9.2 posts per second
  • An additional 5.8% of posts (or about 50,000 posts/day) seen each day are from spam or fake blogs, on average

Sphere Blog Search Engine Review

TechCrunch has a review of the soon to be launched (in beta) Sphere Blog Search Engine:

‘Relevance in blog search is very difficult. Google-type PageRank analysis, which looks at incoming links to a piece of content, simply doesn’t work because new content doesn’t have much in the way of links. Until now, no one has come up with a way to properly sort blog posts by relevance, and the general default way of showing results is “reverse-chrono”, which simply puts the newest stuff at the top.

Sphere appears to have solved the problem, or at least taken big steps in the right direction. Their approach involves three key algorithms – an analysis of links into and out of a blog, an analysis of metadata around a post (links, post frequency, length of posts, etc.), and something Tony calls their “secret sauce”, which is content semantic analysis to filter out spam and to understand what a blog post is talking about.’

I’m quite looking forward to seeing what they’ve come up with over at Sphere (where you can now apply to be a part of the beta).

Google PR Update Imminent?

I’ve heard from a number of ‘interesting’ sources that Google will be gearing up for another Page Rank (and maybe a back link) update in the coming fortnight.

There are no guarantees on that – but I’ve heard it from four people now so maybe there is something in the pipeline. Time will tell.

update: Matt has just advised that changes will become visable in the next day or two.

Yahoo Y!Q

I’ve been pondering a feature that Yahoo have added to their Yahoo News pages at some point in the last few months.

The feature I’m talking about is Y!Q - an in content link that appears on keywords in News articles that looks like this:

Picture 1-2

If you click this link a little box opens up over the article you are reading with some results from yahoo search and news like this (click to enlarge):

[Read more...]

Affiliate Programs – Transparency and Disclaimers

I’d like to see some discussion around the topic of transparency in using affiliate programs.

When you link to one do you indicate that you are benefiting from the link in some way?

I’ll kick us off here and say that I do – and I don’t.

I probably need to come up with a better policy on this – but in general this is how I approach it.

If I’m recommending a product that I’m linking to with an affiliate program then I generally indicate that it is an affiliate link in some way. For example – regular readers will know that I’ve been talking up Chitika’s eMiniMalls recently. I’m obviously very happy with the product and am recommending that bloggers give it a go. In doing so I link to Chitika with an affiliate link. I am part of a group testing an affiliate program that will be launched publicly to all of their publishers shortly.

At the end of each post that I link to Chitika with I place a disclaimer that reads:
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Advice on Moving Blogs to a New Domain

A common problem that many bloggers face is having to work out what to do with a blog that is trapped on a domain that they wish they’d never started it on. An example of this is starting out of a Blogspot or hosted TypePad blog and then realizing that it doesn’t have the features you want (plus a longer unprofessional looking domain) and wanting to move to WordPress of MovableType on your own domain.

The only problem is that you run the risk of messing up your Search Engine Ranking by starting on a new domain – it could be like starting all over again!

I often get questions from readers about how to move domains. To be honest, I have no real idea – except to say that I’ve seen people completely loose all their SE ranking and traffic by trying.

So today when I was surfing by one of my favorite blogger’s blogs – Matt Cutts from Google – I was happy to spot him addressing the question in a post on moving to a new web host. He spends most of the post writing about moving hosts but keeping the same domain name – but ends the post by addressing the question of a new domain (bolding is my emphasis):

‘All other things being equal, I would recommend to stay with the original domain if possible. But if you need to move, the recommended way to do it is to put a 301 (permanent) redirect on every page on mattcutts.com to point to the corresponding page on someotherdomain.com. If you can map mattcutts.com/url1.html to someotherdomain.com/url1.html, that’s better than doing a redirect just to the root page (that is, from mattcutts.com/url1.html to someotherdomain.com). In the olden days, Googlebot would immediately follow a 301 redirect as soon as it found it. These days, I believe Googlebot sees the 301 and puts the destination url back in the queue, so it gets crawled a little later. I have heard some reports of people having issues with doing a 301 from olddomain.com to newdomain.com. I’m happy to hear those reports in the comments and I can pass them on to the crawl/indexing team, but we may be due to replace the code that handles that in the next couple months or so. If it’s really easy for you to wait a couple months or so, you may want to do that; it’s always easier to ask crawl/index folks to examine newer code than code that will be turned off in a while.’

Read the full post at Matt Cutts: Gadgets, Google, and SEO