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Blogging Tips: First Impressions Count

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

There are several “first impressions” your blog makes as it struggles to attract and hold on to readers. Few of those first impressions come directly from your blog’s design and layout.

Search Engine Results: The first impression most people get of your blog is found within search engine results. They see a post title, blog title, and content excerpts around the keywords of their search terms.

Blog Feed Aggregator: An aggregator is a blog or website which displays titles or post excerpts from various blogs. Aggregators usually list your blog title, post title, and first 100-300 words of your post.

Feed Reader: A feed delivered to a feed reader displays the content as text, with few images, and none of your blog’s design. Depending upon how the feed reader is set, it showcases the blog title, post title, first 100-400 words of your post or the full post content, if the blog owner has set the feeds to full. Typically, the post title and first 100-400 words are the first impression.
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Blogging Tips: Writing Purposeful Content

The following is a guest post by and an excerpt from her popular book, Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

Writing with keyword-rich content helps your blog be found and readers to fully understand what you are writing about. Write consistent and purposeful content.

The more inline your content is with your blog’s purpose, the more concentrated your use of keywords will be throughout the entire blog, not just on a per-post basis. The more diverse your blog’s content, the more diffused your keyword usage will be across all of your blog.

Make a plan for your content. Make lists of the topics you will write about in keeping with your blog’s purpose. Stick to those subjects as much as possible to build your blog’s reputation as the place to come for answers on those subjects.

What Are The Benefits Of A Focused Blog?

  • Content is synonymous with the subject.
  • Links are synonymous with the subject.
  • It builds a reputation.
  • It builds authority.
  • It becomes a destination.
  • It becomes a source.

Your Blog’s Content Labels Your Blog

If your blog tells more stories about your life than reports on the news and world around you, then it’s a personal journal or memoir. If your blog reports and comments on politics, it’s a political blog. If it has more reviews of products and services than other content, it’s a review blog. If it has more photographs than text, it’s a photoblog. If it has more music than text and pictures, then it’s a music blog. If it has more video than music, text, and pictures, then it’s a video blog, vid-blog or v-blog. If your blog has more ads than content, it’s in the business of blogging.

The majority of the content on your blog indicates the purpose of your blog. When labeling your blog, take a serious look at its content. As your blog evolves, the value of your blog comes from the content you build over time.

Readers Thrive On Consistency And Continuity

If you create an expectation of content on your blog, readers return expecting to find similar content. If you switch one week from blogging about grooming pets to blogging about grooming horses, you have set an expectation that your blog is about grooming animals. If you switch from grooming dogs to racing cars, readers are thrown off and their expectations aren’t met. The odds are they will not return for more.

It used to be said that predictability was boring. In blogging, predictability builds return customers. They know you are the expert on this subject and that you are the source for information. Meet their expectations when they return.


Lorelle VanFossen blogs about blogging and WordPress on and the , and is the author of Blogging Tips, Tips Bloggers Won’t Tell You About Blogging.

Telling Your Story With Words and Images

The following is a guest post by .

Words tell their own story. They bring forth rhyme and reason, color attitudes, and move people. Combining the power of the verbal image with the visual can either enhance your story or overpower it. Finding that happy medium is the challenge facing every writer using images with their writing.

Compass and Map, Photography Copyright Not for Use Without Permission by Brent VanFossenBloggers often use a combination of words and images to convey a message. Some use more words and less images, others use more images and less words, while others struggle to find the way to get the message across equally with words and images.

Like words, a photograph tells a story. It can tell the whole story or part of the story. It’s up to the photographer, like the writer, to determine how much of the story is told by the image and how much is told in words.

When the blog post is a photography essay, where the images tell part of the story and the words tell the rest, how do you choose the images to go with the words? How do you combine written and visual media to form complete picture in your blog post?

When planning your photographic essay consider the following:

  1. What are you trying to say?
  2. What is the point of this picture?
  3. Does it add to the story?
  4. Does it subtract from the story?
  5. Is the point really evident?

As you develop your blog post and examine the words and images you want to use, ask these questions of each image and paragraph as you struggle to find the right combination and balance for your message.
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Blogging Is About Writing

By Lorelle VanFossen of

When you visit Google, do you click a picture to begin your search? Do you face a screen full of images like in a grocery store self-checkout? Click fruits, then apples, then scroll through pictures of apples before you find the Jonagold Apples you want to buy, and select those?

Of course not.

The web is about words. No matter how visual and audible it becomes, it continues to be about the words.

Blogging is about writing. Many claim that content is king. If content is king, then the army that protects and defends the king is the written word.

Here are some things to think about next time to put your army to work on your blog.

  1. Don’t Just Show, Show and Tell: It’s time to get back to show and tell. Blogs offer amazing ways to present multimedia information, but you still have to tell us about it. You must show and tell in order for your point to be fully understood. Words may not do it alone, but a picture is not worth a thousand words when fed through feeds and search engines. You must have the words.
  2. Keywords, Keywords, Keywords: With the recent public release of the Google Patent for Blog PageRank, your keywords are more important than ever as the algorithm applies multiple content matching, content relevancy, search relevancy, and link-to-content relevancy tests to determine if the keywords match the content. Learn how to write keyword-rich content to increase your page ranking. More importantly, write with keywords to help your reader know exactly what you are writing about.
  3. Write Clickable Titles: The keywords you use in your post titles tell potential visitors what your post is about. If they don’t get it, they won’t click it. If they do click, and the content doesn’t match, they won’t be back.
  4. Make Your Point in the First 200 Words: You have less than a second to capture your reader’s attention. If the user on your site, feed, or search engine summary doesn’t “get the point” in the first two or three sentences, you’ve lost them.
  5. Blog Writing Is About Editing: A great idea does not translate automatically into good writing. It’s the editing that clarifies your writing so the idea comes through. It’s as much about the words you add as the words you take away to increase the post’s clarity and power.
  6. Make Your Words Timeless: Blog writing isn’t like words you throw out into the air and expect them to vanish. The words you fill your blog with tend to last. Make sure the words you use and the things you say are worth reading twenty years from now.
  7. Don’t Waste Words: A powerfully titled article drew me from my feed reader and I was greeted with this first sentence: “I still have to take a shower, and I’m late for work, but I wanted to tell you about this because I think it’s important, so I’ll just rush this off before I jump in the shower and head to work.” Don’t waste words. Don’t tell your readers things they really don’t want to know. Get to the point and stop wasting your time and theirs.
  8. Explain Jargon: We get so caught up in our little world of acronyms and industry jargon, we forget few outside our clubhouse know what we are talking about. Stop once in a while and explain to us what these terms and letters mean. It doesn’t have to be a paragraph, just a few words. Don’t assume we know what you are talking about.
  9. Use Descriptions in Images and Links: Blog writing isn’t limited to just the words. If you aren’t using titles in links and alt in images, you are missing out on a very valuable use of keywords and content building. You are also not in compliance with web standards.
  10. Use Descriptions for Flash, Podcasts, Videocasts, and Screencasts: If you are using any audio or visual multimedia on your blog, help us understand what we are going to see and hear. Convince us to click to play. A picture may speak for itself, but you have to do the writing for it.
  11. Present a Problem, The Solution, and The Results: Don’t present a solution before the reader understands there is a problem. Present the problem, give us the solution, and then lead us through the results and the benefits of the results. When readers follow along with the process, they better understand how it works and why it works for themselves.
  12. Just the Facts, Ma’am: Everyone has an opinion. What makes your opinion different from other opinions is that yours is based upon the facts. Wild accusations, suggestions, and analogies do not build trust and respect. Make your opinions be based upon valid facts and identifiable references and citations. Be prepared to back your word up with the truth.
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Blog Translations: The Next Web Frontier

By

Weblog Tools Collection is doing it. So is the Blog Herald. Are you doing it?

These and other blogs are hiring translators to translate their blog into different languages. Blog Herald began with Japanese, based upon a study released by Technorati stating that Japanese is the most used language on the blogosphere. Weblog Tools Collection offers Español and Deutsch versions of their blog, expanding into Europe.

Those of us with little or no money to spend on human translation services resort to translation WordPress Plugins or turn to Google’s Translate Language Tools or Altavista’s Babelfish. Machine translations aren’t perfect, but they typically do a fair job getting much of the concept across.

Having lived overseas among non-English speaking folks much of my life, the early days of the web was filled with anticipation that free instant translation would be available through our browsers. Click any link on a web page, and your browser would detect the language, magically translating it into your desired tongue. Websites in Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Hungarian, Hebrew, German, French, Arabic, Norwegian, Swahili, and everywhere would be immediately accessible for my reading pleasure.

I dreamed of learning about all these diverse cultures, getting an inside look at how they live and what their thoughts are on their lives, government, work, friends, and family. I wanted to ask them questions and seek their opinions, translated through the magic of web browsers. I wanted to learn from and about them, and I hoped they might want to know a little about me, too.

It never happened. [Read more...]