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Official AdSense Blog Gives Blogger Optimization Tips

The official AdSense Blog has just posted a post which for the first time gives tips for Bloggers wanting to optimize their AdSense earnings. They’ve previously done these with general websites and forums but today is the first time I’ve seen them officially give attention to the humble blogger. They’ve even put up some ‘pretty’ pictures to help illustrate their points.

Adsense-Blogs

There’s nothing in the post that regular readers of ProBlogger wouldn’t have already picked up here, but it is good to see them picking up the topic.

To summarize their post:

1. Choose the right ad formats – they recommend the medium rectangle which allows both text and image ads and fits nicely between posts. Banners between posts can also work.

2. Place ads where your readers will notice – they break their advice into two sections, firstly main pages (they suggest ads after each post) and secondly individual post pages (ads at end of entries and in longer entries mid post as well as above comment boxes). They also suggest replacing skyscrapers with link unit ads.

3. Improve targeting – they recommend exploring ‘section targeting‘ which specifies which parts of your blog you want the ads to be contextual to and which you want them to ignore (ie you don’t want your sidebar usually but do want to target specific posts). My own experience with section targeting is a little mixed to be honest. I had it active on one of my bigger blogs but at the same time I added it I found ad relevancy and therefore CTR actually dropped. Whether it was tied to section targeting I’m not sure but I don’t use it much any more.

4. Customize your ad colors – They recommend their normal ‘blend ads’ policy – so having the same background and border color on them as the background of your blog and choose a bold title color. I find title colors can also work if you blend them to be a similar color to the other links on your page also on some blogs.

Their final advice is the experiment with different layouts, ad designs and formats and to ensure you track results with channels. While these are almost throw away lines at the bottom of this post I don’t think they can be emphasized enough. Without experimenting with different options you could be missing out on significant increases in performance and without tracking your results you can end up making changes but never learn from what you do which again leads to missed opportunities.

Once again – pretty basic stuff but solid advice that fits with my own strategies. Nice to see the AdSense team focusing on helping bloggers specifically with their official blog.

Using a Blog Editorial Calendar to Plan Content

Excel Editorial Calendar
If you’re the type of blogger who needs (or likes) a bit of structure and planning in your blogging activities you might like to check out the Editorial Calendar that Andy has put together to help you map a rhythm for your blog.

I will say that this sort of strategy is not for everyone but I do know of a number of bloggers who swear by using this type of tool to keep their blog’s frequently updated with a variety of interesting posts.

Andy was inspired to come up with this calendar by his recent interview with Yvonne from Lipsticking. He describes her suggestion as follows:

“In that call, she suggests bloggers use an editorial calendar to keep their blogging on track throughout the week: pick a topic to cover for each day of the week and stick to it. That way, there’s no friction in figuring out what to post for a given day. You can choose certain topics for each day of the week, a certain category to post in, a certain type of post format (interivew, top 10 list, etc). The important part is that you are removing another brick of potential writer’s block.”

While I don’t find a rigid schedule helpful on any of my blogs I’ve recommended it for a number of bloggers who have suffered from bloggers block. It’s especially good for new bloggers who are not yet in the rhythm of posting regularly and who need a little motivation and inspiration each day to get things going.

The other side benefit that Yvonne spoke about in her recent interview with Andy was that she found that some of her readers loved her weekly cycle and would come to the blog each day knowing what they’d find and enjoying the regular features.

Once again – it’s not for everyone but worth playing with if you struggle with a more random approach.

SnapShirts Are a Success With Bloggers

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A few days ago mentioned SnapShirts a company that can put a word cloud from your blog on a T-Shirt. I’ve since made up a ProBlogger one if you’re interested but the thing that interests me the most is a recent update on their blog which illustrates the power of a few key links from blogs to a new service like this:

“Huge props to lifehacker , problogger, 100shiki and all the blogs who posted on the news and their experiences, you’ve really filled up Google’s search results for snapshirts, which we of course appreciate immensely! We’re swamped under hundreds of orders at the moment so sorry for the delay to everyone who’s waiting to see what their shirt look like. You will get your email I promise!”

Congratulations to the SnapShirt team.

Why I don’t use Free Articles on my Blogs

A common question that finds itself into my inbox from readers is with regards to the practice of using ‘Free Articles’ to put on your blog. I quite often talk about how building the quantity of content on your blog is one strategy for building traffic over time but the temptation for those unable to write large quantities of content is to look at other places for it.

Free Article sites like ezine articles (there are many many others) are places where writers submit articles to be used freely by other webmasters in return for the links usually contained in a footer at the end of the article. Such articles can be picked up by thousands of sites which can be good for the writer (see below for another take on this) as a result of the incoming links that the articles bring to their sites.

Long time readers of ProBlogger (and I mean LONG time) will remember that ‘free articles’ were actually something I once used on this blog on occasion. It was only on a handful of times but without really thinking of the implications of them I had posted a number of them.

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Should ProBlogger Add Forums? Poll of the Week

I’ve been considering adding a discussion forum area to ProBlogger.net since I started this blog and have recently been lobbied increasingly by readers to consider doing so more and more (update: I’m not talking about replacing the blog – but adding forums as another way to discuss the topic – this blog would continue to operate as normal).

So this week I’m going to ask you for your opinion in our Poll of the Week.

You can vote ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘I don’t Know’ in the sidebar.

I’d also love to hear your reasons for voting as you have in comments below.

Before you do let me outline a few of the Pros and Cons as I see them:

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Length of Blogging – Poll Results

Last week’s Poll asked readers to share how long they’ve been blogging for and the results are now in.

The spread was actually quite wide with good percentages of the total vote of 910 participants polling in each area. The largest group were in the ‘under 3 months’ segment with the second biggest group being those currently not blogging.

While I’ve noticed quite a few bloggers with limited experience lately these larger numbers at the lower spectrum of experience are actually quite surprising to me with 60% of readers having less than a year of blogging under their belts.

Of course this means that 40% of readers of ProBlogger have good experience levels with 12% above 3 years.

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Google Toolbar

Google latest Toolbar Beta has been released. I’m sure someone out there is excited but as a Mac user I’m more excited by the fact that I got a beetroot stain out of my shorts this afternoon. HoHum.

Technorati Problems – Update

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about My Technorati Problems and had quite a large response from it. Unfortunately the response came only from readers of this blog and not from Technorati themselves. Of course as they don’t seem to be indexing this blog I can understand this as my post will not have come up in their own watch lists for their name.

A number of readers have asked for an update on my Technorati issues outlined in the previous post so here is a quick one:

  1. I still have not heard from Technorati’s customer service department despite emailing them a number of times over the past few months.
  2. ProBlogger is listed by them as not having updated for 222 days. They are only indexing one of my blogs (LivingRoom) which is ironically the blog I update the least.
  3. ProBlogger continues to have a ranking in the top 100 (97 today) yet continues to be left out of the Top 100 list. Some have suggested that this list isn’t updated often and ProBlogger will appear next time it updates. I’ve watched the list and have noticed others coming and going from it but am yet to see this blog appear in it.
  4. The ‘top 100′ yellow button that used to appear next to ProBlogger’s name isn’t appearing any more. Previously despite not being in the actual list this yellow button did appear besides my blog’s name.
  5. There continue to be problems with other site’s trying to access ProBlogger’s details through Technorati’s API.
  6. I have heard through unofficial contacts with people at Technorati that ProBlogger is having problems for a number of reasons ranging from that they believe it to be a splog (go figure) through to there being some issue with things at my end. Of course there is continued silence so what the real reason is is something of a mystery and any attempt to fix things from my end is like a stab in the dark.

Interestingly enough I have heard from Technorati over the past couple of weeks.

My email to them asking for more information on advertising with them was responded to within 24 hours. It looks as though at least one Technorati department is staffed adequately enough to respond to emails. Looks like the only way I’ll get featured on the Top 100 Blogs page is if I pay for it. Maybe I should take out an Ad that says that ;-)

I’ll say once again that I love the service that Technorati is developing. What they say they can do (and what they do do) is fantastic and I admire them greatly – but I hear of and experience increasing problems that I don’t see any progress being made on.

New features appear on Technorati every week or so which make it better – but I can’t help but wonder whether it might be time to work on some of the basics a little more instead of producing new features that it seems many of us don’t feature in because the basics of indexing blogs is just not happening.

Hopefully they find the great Web 2.0 developer that David Sifry posted that they are looking for a few weeks back to get things back in order.

update: since writing this post I have had some limited resolution to some of my problems with Technorati. ProBlogger is now being indexed (most days) and I have been included in the Top 100 again. Some of my other blogs seem to be randomly indexed while others are dead in the water as far as Technorati seem concerned. I’ve officially given up trying to get them included and will put my energies into more productive things than begging them for inclusion.

I’ve found their customer service to be good when I’ve had their attention – but getting it was difficult and a very long process.

Flipping the Funnel – Another Seth Godin ebook

Seth Godin has just released another free ebook – this time called Flipping the Funnel. In fact there are three versions of it, a standard one, one for not for profits and another for politicians.

In short (and I’ve only scanned it so far) it’s about using web 2.0 sites like del.icio.us, flickr and Squidoo to give your customers a voice about your company/product/service.

It’s probably nothing too revolutionary for most bloggers who have been playing with these concepts for quite some time now but is aimed more at business people I guess.

What I’m more fascinated with about Seth is how he uses his free ebooks to grow his own profile and projects.