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Is Your Blog Biased?

This post has been submitted by Aaron Wall – the author of the comprehensive Search Engine Optimization e-book SEO Book. He blogs at seobook.com

What is bias? According to the Wikipedia:

A bias is a prejudice in a general or specific sense, usually in the sense for having a preference to one particular point of view or ideological perspective. However, one is generally only said to be biased if one’s powers of judgment are influenced by the biases one holds, to the extent that one’s views could not be taken as being neutral or objective, but instead as subjective.

Bias is talked about as though it is a bad thing, but many of the most popular media outlets, websites, and social networks are popular precisely because they are biased. People are more inclined to believe, pay attention to, and syndicate things that reinforce their current worldview. And people are more likely to respond to things they sharply disagree with.

How many popular centralist political blogs are there? Compare that number to the number of popular left wing and right wing political blogs. Which number is bigger?

Don’t be afraid of your bias. It is what makes you who you are, and what will attract like-minded people. Your biases, flaws, identity, emotions, and personal experiences are the only thing you can share that can’t be outsourced to a cheap worker or done by a computer.

Share what you love and the love will come back, usually in the form of comments or somewhere with an a href nearby.

Read more of Aaron’s work at his SEO Book Blog.

What Blog Metrics Packages Do You Use?

Reader QuestionsEdward asks – ‘How can I know where the readers of my blog mostly come from? Search Engines? MyBlogLog? Other Blog’s Links?’

Finding where the readers to your blog mainly come from is something that is well worth doing as it can help you grow and improve your blog.

There are many statistics (or metrics) programs out there available for you to use to get this information. They range from the free and very easy to us to paid packages.

Let me outline four that I use on most of my blogs (note – there are many others and I’m sure readers will suggest their favorites in comments below):

Sitemeter – this is one that a lot of bloggers use because it’s very simple to install and gives you some good, basic, useful information – it’s also free (as long as you don’t mind everyone else being able to see your stats too). I use Sitemeter on many of my blogs and find it very useful for checking how a blog is doing from day to day (or hour to hour). While it’s not quite as accurate as some of the other stats packages below (I find that it under estimates actual figures) but many bloggers find it a useful tool to get a feel for what’s happening on a blog quickly.

Google Analytics – Google’s stats packages is quite a bit more advanced than a package like Sitemeter. While it does give you all the same information it also allows you to track a whole lot more and even to set goals and track them. I don’t use Analytics on a daily basis – but find it a very useful to check into every week or two to see how the blog’s performing on a higher level.

Server Side Stats (AW Stats) – If you host your blog on your own server (or a shared one) you’ll almost always be offered some sort of statistics package. For example many servers will offer AW Stats. Again, these stats are very comprehensive. While Sitemeter will only really show you statistics for the last 100 visitors on your site – packages like AW Stats will give you stats for all your visitors over different time periods. Again – I don’t use AWS on a daily basis – but if I’m wanting to do more detailed analysis of how my blog is going this is where I’ll head.

103bees – in addition to the above packages I do also use one more that has more of a niche focus – search engine traffic. 103bees looks at those arriving at your blog after doing a search on a search engine and gives you an array of useful information about them including the words that they use, the questions that they ask etc. While you can get a lot of this information from the above packages too, 103bees put it in really useful form.

But the above four stats packages are just the ones I’m using. What do you use and why?

Toronto Blogger Meet Up This Tuesday Night

This is pretty last minute but for those of you base in the Toronto area you might like to come along to an impromptu bloggers meet up that the b5media gang are putting together this Tuesday night.

A number of the core b5 team are flying into Toronto over the coming days for meetings (I’ve been here two days now) so we thought it might be a fun night to get together with the wider blogging community in the area.

The details:

Time: 6.00pm to 9.00pm
Place: Irish Embassy
49 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario M5E 1J1

It’s on Upcoming here.

Hopefully the venue’s nice and warm (it’s freaking freezing here) and we’ll have a fun time together.

After the great time we had at the ProBlogger meet up in New York I’m looking forward to meeting some more of the Canadian blogging community. I hope you can make it.

Update: ok – due to popular demand – I’ll offer a couple of prizes. Anyone who gives me their business card goes into the draw to win either a six figure blogging course or a ‘best of problogger’ ebook.

Custom vs Premade Blog Themes

The following post on custom vs premade blog themes was submitted by Matthew Coddington from Net Business Blog.

At one point in every blogger’s career he or she has to make a choice between investing in a custom template or staying the course with a premade, downloadable template. There are important factors that you have to keep in mind with each ranging anywhere from funds to brandibility.

Pros & Cons of Premade (Non-unique) Themes

Pros

1) They’re free – Is it any surprise to anyone that this is by far the biggest pro for premade themes? They’re free! Free is good. You don’t have to pay for free.

2) There’s a wide selection – There are a ton of themes out there for you to choose from, especially for the more popular platforms such as WordPress. You will almost always be able to find a theme suitable for your blog’s niche.

3) New ones everyday – Designers are constantly releasing new themes everyday whether it’s in an effort to generate backlinks or just to increase their own popularity. There will never be a shortage of new premade themes entering the blogosphere for you to pick from.

Cons

1) They’re non-unique – In many cases this point alone supercedes all of the pros of premade themes. If you are able to find a premade theme that you think is just perfect for your site, do you really want to share that image with potentially thousands of other people?

2) The good ones get used by everyone – There might be a ton of themes out there, but there will always be a sort of elite group of the best themes that everyone wants to use. For example with WordPress you see an abundance of people using MistyLook. That is because it is one of the more attractive themes available.

3) Harder to generate a lasting memory – If someone gets to your site and it looks just like every other blog they’ve visited in the last week what are the chances they’ll find their way back? You might not need a good blog design to leave a lasting impression, but you had better be an amazing writer.

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Dealing with Affiliates

Reader QuestionsRhys asks – ‘I’ve been running a site with a few affiliates on it, I have enjoyed a healthy relationship with said affiliates, and likewise they’ve commented to me on a number of occasions that I have generated business for them from my site. Recently my site has experienced a huge upturn in visitors, and the amount of money I’m getting from the affiliates – which previously covered my hosting bills – is no longer covering it.

I am wondering if it is reasonable to ask at the end of the current agreement to ask for more money. If so, how would you go about asking them?’

Interesting conundrum Rhys.

I’m a little curious about why the increase in traffic hasn’t brought about an increase in affiliate sales? I suspect it’s the source of that traffic – for example I find Digg traffic doesn’t’ generally convert well for ad or affiliate program performance and loyal readers tend to become blind to them also.

Whatever the reason – you’ve got an interesting problem on your hands but I think you could have already stumbled on the answer.

Talk to your affiliates and see what they can do for you.

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AdSense Give Ad Units a Spring Clean

AdSense have today announced that they’ve given their AdSense units a ‘spring clean’. They write that this is a result of testing and research and that the new look ads should lead to better performance for both publishers and advertisers.

The new look ads will be rolled out in the coming days and will incorporate the same colors and fonts that existing ads have.

AdSense also notes that you cannot opt out of the new designs but also hint at more format options ‘in the future’.

Here’s how the new ads look (click to enlarge)…. it’s not a massive change as you can see.

Adformat Update

The Ultimate Guide to Getting Lots of Link Love

This Guest Post was written by Wendy Piersall from eMoms at Home.

Good link love, bad link love, do we really care who links to us? A savvy blogger would say yes and no. Based on the 80-20 rule of business – 80% of your traffic will come from only 20% of your links (by my stats, it’s less than 20%).

Of course, links from A-Listers and high Google Page Rank sites are a worthy pursuit. But why should we care about the 20%, those links from anyone, especially the sites that will likely only send us a couple of visitors a week?

Quite frankly, there are four compelling reasons to care about “little links”:

  • Little links can turn into big links. One of my top referrers of all time, Steve Olson, linked to me in the fourth post he wrote. His blog has grown so big that this post still sends me consistent traffic to this day, and we’ve become great friends in the process.
  • Technorati. If the A-Listers only had links from A-Listers, they wouldn’t BE A-Listers!
  • The long tail of referring domains. If I added up all of the referrals from domains that sent less than 4 people a week to my site, together they would be my fourth largest source of traffic.
  • Google only loves you when everyone else loves you first. (Rather shallow of them don’t you think?!)

I don’t advocate spending tons of time in the pursuit of mass quantities of links from small sites. I do advocate spending a little bit of time each month cultivating links from a wide variety of sources, regardless of the amount of traffic potential.

So without further ado, here is the world’s greatest list of posts dedicated to the fine art of Link Love. Note I didn’t say longest, because there are a lot of long lists out there (which can get quite overwhelming). These are the BEST posts on the subject written within the last year… [Read more...]

The Secret to a Successful Blog Post

This post has been submitted by Neil Patel. Neil is co-founder and CTO of ACS) and writes regularly on social media issues through the company’s blog, Pronet Advertising.

Are you looking to start a blog but have absolutely no idea how to write a blog post? On the outside it may seem simple as if you were writing a short essay. Unfortunately, that’s not exactly what you are doing. One thing I’ve learned and helped others learn is that blogging is actually quite different than what Mrs. Talbot taught us in the 10th grade. Instead of worrying about the placement of your concrete details, take a look at the following key elements that can make a great blog post:

  • Talk to your readers and not at them – Blogging is a two way street and you want to create a conversation. If you talk at your readers like a professor you aren’t likely to create much of a conversation. Take to your readers like you would talk to one of your friends, in a very casual setting, but leave the beer for later.
  • Get to the point – No one wants to read a ten page blog post. There is no minimum length requirement with blog posts so feel free to get to the point and don’t beat around the bush. People like skimming and reading a post with depth, precision, and as few words as possible can deliver value to your readers.
  • Don’t wander off topic – This might have come from Mrs. Talbot. Make sure you have a central idea and stick with it. If you are writing a blog post about the latest and greatest plasma television don’t talk about VCRs or the latest blue ray scoop.
  • Value is the key to success – Don’t you hate reading stuff that brings no value? There are only 24 hours in a day so make sure whatever you write has the potential to be beneficial to your readers in some fashion.
  • Entice your readers – If you can’t get anyone to read your content and interact with your blog, what’s the point of writing? You may be just writing for yourself, but chances are you want others to read your content as well. Use catchy headlines and ask your readers for their thoughts.

What other elements do you feel makes a great blog post?

What Bloggers Can Learn From … Focused Blogs

Today’s guest post is from Chris Garrett from chrisg.com.

My last two posts at ProBlogger focused on two successful individual bloggers, Darren Rowse and Robert Scoble. While we can learn a great deal from observing individual people, for this post I am going to look at examples of a particular type of blog; the Focused Niche Blog.

It’s standard advice to go niche but these bloggers have made their blogs so highly focused and so identified with their topic they are the leaders and standard bearers for their niche.

First, let’s take a look at how they define their blogs:

Strobist – At Strobist, our goal is to promote more effective use of small, shoe-mount flashes. To teach you to use your small strobe to get results like the professionals get.

Copyblogger – Copyblogger is all about helping you:

  • get traffic
  • gain subscribers
  • attract links
  • sell something!

Lifehacker – Lifehacker makes getting things done easy and fun. Delving deep into the technoweb, Lifehacker brings back simple and totally life-altering tips and tricks for managing your information and time.

macosxhints – To provide as many answers about using OS X as possible in one location

So what is the lesson here?

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