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Bloglines Issues?

Is anyone else having problems accessing their feeds on bloglines today?

I’ve been trying to log in (from a different computer to normal) and can’t see any of my feeds after it logs me in.

Interested if this is an isolated issue or not?

Blogging Tools Compared

Susannah Gardner has written an article comparing blog tools that is a good read for anyone considering starting a new blog and wondering which platform is right for them. Accompanying the article is a very useful chart that compares the features of some of the more popular tables.

This is a chart I’ll be recommending clients take a look at.

Read more at Time to check: Are you using the right blogging tool?

Google currency converter

Why didn’t anyone tell me about Google’s ability to do currency conversions before? I just learned about it at Geeky Info and think it’s a feature I’ll be using lots.

All you have to do is enter an amount that you want to convert into a normal Google search field and it’ll do a current conversion for you.

So to find out what one US dollar equals in Australian dollars (down to 8 decimal points!) you just enter:

1 USD in AUD

and here’s what you get when you ‘search’

Google-Currency-Conversion

Don’t know the country code? No problem try entering:

currency of Britain in Australian money

or 5 British pounds in Australian money

Handy stuff for a blogger wanting to convert their earnings into a local currency.

Reconsidering TypePad

I’ve always been a little skeptical of the TypePad blogging platform. I’m not really sure why that is – perhaps I always saw it as a poor cousin on MovableType, or perhaps it was because it was a paid service, or perhaps I was just too lazy to check it out.

This week I’ve been consulting with two bloggers to help them set up their own blogs – both after looking at the options have chosen to go with TypePad. Whilst it’s probably still not my first choice for a blogging tool, in playing around with it and helping them to get set up I’m actually beginning to come around.

Whilst you do have to pay and whilst it’s probably not as powerful or as versatile as some other blogging tools it is a very usable platform. I’m especially impressed with the ease in which I’m able to communicate with completely inexperienced bloggers the basics of not only posting but design. I particularly like it’s commenting options (they just announced comment moderation today) which put a stop to spam (or at least slow it right down) and it’s ability to add advertising options quickly and easily.

I’m not about to move all my blogs over to TypePad, but I’m toying with the idea of running an experimental blog with it to fully immerse myself in it’s functionality and I’ll definitely be keeping it as an option in my consulting with beginner bloggers.

In other Six Apart News – they’ve also today released the beta version of MovableType 3.2.

FeedBurner launches BuzzBoost

Feedburner have announced a few service that enables bloggers to cross promote their blogs (if they have more than one) using their new BuzzBoost system. They describe it like this:

‘If you have several blogs or other sites that have their own feeds, we’ll bet a few bottom dollars you’ve been looking for a way to easily cross-promote them. Or, perhaps you’re a podcaster who would like to list your latest podcast postings in a blog sidebar or other handy garden spot somewhere on the web. The bottom line? You’ve got feeds you want to get out there where people can see ’em, and you’d like to allow people to see the feed headlines (or content itself) in some compact, convenient format.

Enter BuzzBoost. It’s the latest publicity and awareness offering for FeedBurner publishers, and it’s free. BuzzBoost’s job is to redisplay your feed content anywhere you can copy and paste a short snippet of HTML code — in a Blogger or TypePad page template, on a corporate website, or even in a “signature” block on a message board. BuzzBoost code is just a short line of JavaScript that displays content items and information from a FeedBurner feed according to settings you provide…’

It’s a handy service if you’ve got blogs that relate to each other that you want to cross promote although I’ve seen many others do this using other systems also (so it’s not completely unique). Might be handy for some though. If you use it let me know how it goes.

Blog Feedback Settings in Movable Type 3.2

I’ve recently been considering moving my last remaining Movable Type blogs over to WordPress 1.5 – however I think I might hold off a little and see what MT 3.2 turns out like.

They are in ‘talk it up’ mode at the moment at Six Apart but I have to say that some of the new features look helpful. Today Anil talks a little about their Blog Feedback Settings which after the past few weeks of comment spam hell that I’ve had on both my MT and WP blogs look helpful. The ability to flip a switch and turn off comments and trackbacks all together is something that would be nice to have as a back up – especially when you know you’ll be away from your blogs for a few days (or weeks).

I’m still not convinced about MT 3.2 but am watching with interest. The main thing it has as an advantage over WP in my books is that you can control multiple blogs through one interface. With WP if you want to install a plug in on all your blogs it’s a pretty manual task – especially if you have 15 or so to get through.

Blogs, Links, and SEO

Blogs and links are the perfect couple. Of course, everyone knows that. You don’t have to be a hopeless romantic or some SEO techie type to figure that one out.

Talk about stating the obvious.

As we all know, almost everyone talks about how powerful blogs and their linking power are for search engine optimization (SEO). The reasons for the strength of blog links in achieving high search engine rankings are discussed much less frequently. It’s time to change all of that.

Let’s talk blogs and links and SEO.

Blog links have search engine power for several reasons. One of which is the different types of linking featured on blogs. All blog links are not the same, and that is part of their secret search engine rankings power. Different types of links provide different rankings boosts, in several different ways. In the end, the links add up to your blog being placed highly, for your most important keywords, in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search.

Links appear on a blog’s home page as links to other blogs. Other blogs link to your blog from home page link lists and blogrolls as well. As the most powerful page on your blog, the home page passes along quite a bit of search engine power. The problem is that home page mojo is divided among many different blogs. The piece of the pie for each one is not that large.

On the other hand, the age and permanence of that link has some real value. The links also get value from arriving from other blogs sharing similar themes and topics. Interlinked blogs on cooking help one another more than a cooking blog and a welding blog. All links have some value, but theme related ones provide even more.

Links also appear in posts. Those are expecially valuable links. When someone links to one of your posts, they often double link to the home page as well. Because of the strong and obvious theme relevance of the post, the search engines give in post links some real power. As such, writing interesting posts that attract natural inbound links, and trigger discussions on other blogs are especially important. Note the value of providing great information to your readers.

Trackbacks provide a bit of link power, but not as much as some bloggers believe. Being open to spamming has reduced their link strength. Links in comments have little if any link power these days as a result of abuse. Trackback links provide their power more indirectly, in attracting discussion links and finding new potential linkers to your blog.

There is some evidence that linking out to other blogs helps gain search rankings for the generous blogger. Instead of being a drain, linking out can result in a net SEO gain. Now beat that for great karma!

Keep in mind that your goal should not be to game or trick the search engines. On the contrary, those sorts of tactics are counterproductive and fail to provide the desired results.

Instead, think of the needs of your readership first. Provide them with good useful and interesting blog posts. Links will arrive naturally, and as a result of your generous linking habits, your blog can rise to the top of the search engine rankings.

Can I (auto)discover you?

Is your blog set up properly that I can use one click subscription with it?

As more and more people start using aggregators to follow their favorite blogs, many of them are using easy services like Bloglines or a tool build into their browser.

Yesterday for example, Microsoft showed at Gnomedex how their Internet Explorer 7 will read RSS feeds and make it subscribeable right out of IE.

Well, so far, nothing overwhelmingly new, because many tools are available to subscribe to RSS feeds. But the new thing with IE is, that suddenly a lot of not very tech savy people will discover the fun of subscribing to blogs and websites. They will get use to just hitting this new “subscribe” button and expect the blog to be in their IE favorites then and be updated automatically.

And will get disappointed at many blog sites, because the blogs are not “ready” for this. Will they be disappointed by your blog, too? [Read more…]

WordPress vs Movable Type

Its a matter of history that I was a member of the Movable Type diaspora when the house that Mena built decided for better or worse to alienate a large number of their loyal user base with MT 3. Its been 12 months, and a lot of the old MT gang are writing WordPress plugins and helping out whilst Six Apart continues to chase the corporate dollar whilst protesting that it’s really a good corporate citizen at heart (eg: we support Open Source because we bought Live Journal).

But enough of my purposeful provocation in a blatant attempt to drive up poor Darren’s stats here whilst he is in Europe. Seriously, 12 months later, what’s better: WP or MT? Both have moved forward in terms of development. I’ll start the ball rolling, I prefer WP, and there is one gigantically large reason why: ITS FREE and no matter what happens the source code will be free for me to tweak and customise for ever more…and naturally it works a treat as well, quicker in my experience than Movable Bloat, sorry Type, and I reckon Matt’s a much nicer person than Mena as well :-)

You might use another piece of blogware that you’d prefer, and there is some great development happening there (Nucleus, Serendipity to name but a few) so if its something else for you let us know. Please though, share your thoughts on blogware (self installed scripts if you like) not hosted blogs.

Fire away!!!