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The Etiquette of Linking

The hottest post on ProBlogger at the moment is Adsense Developing Fully Customizable Ads Blocks? due to it being picked up by a number of reputable blogs, forums and websites around the web. It is an illustration of what a ‘scoop’ (of sorts) can do for your ability to find new readers for your blog.

I’m always fascinated to follow the referral stats and trackbacks to the sources of those who are linking up to my posts to see what their take on a story is. In this case I’ve been surprised to see a number of blogs simply reposting my story virtually word for word. Some have been good enough to put quote marks around it others have not with some introductory comments – others have not. All have at least included a link back to the source.

I personally don’t mind being quoted (its part of what blogging is about) or even occasionally having one of my short posts posted in full – but recently have wondered if the art of linking up in an appropriate manner has been lost.

Here is what I consider to be etiquette when linking to a post that someone else has written:

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Finding Readers with Headlines

Blog World has a good post on how to Attract Readers With Headlines.

‘Headlines matter. Actually for blogs, headlines or post titles are crucial. Survey after survey shows that people only scan what they read on the net and you have to grab their attention quickly. Not only that, but if the person is using an RSS reader they may only see that headline. Similarly if your page comes up in a search engine, the first thing people are going to see is the headline.’

Their tips include to:

  • write strong headlines
  • summarize don’t tease
  • use important words first

Generating High Quantities of Content for your Blog

One of the previous series of posts that I wrote in the early days of ProBlogger (before all 4 of you started reading) was a series on generating high quantities of content for you blog.

I wrote it after reading article after article of people writing about how you need to work on the quality of your posts – quality not quantity seemed to be the catch cry. It got me wondering however – what if they were wrong?

You see my experience indicated that it was about BOTH quality AND quantity of posting. Check out the series that starts here but that continues in these posts titled Set Targets, News Sites and Aggregators, Start a New Blog, Break Down Your Posts, Ecto and Recruit Writers.

Writing Blog Content – Keep it Simple

The average person only comprehends 60% of what they read. How much do you comprehend?.

To ensure your reader ‘gets’ what you’re saying you need to make it clear by using some of the following techniques.

- Use simple language. Avoid technical jargon.

- Don’t introduce too many ideas in one post. You can always add another post later.

- Start your entry with your main point in the first paragraph. Better still, incorporate it in your title. (This can also bring more traffic through search engine referrals)

- Find creative ways to reinforce your main point throughout your post.

- Use visual aids like bold, CAPITALS, italics, underlining, teletext and to emphasize points. Don’t go overboard as you run the risk of frustrating your reader. Also consider changing font size, color and style to draw your readers eyes to your main points.

- Utilize headings, lists and borders to break down the your post into more manageable chunks.

Keep your postings simple and you have more chance of communicating your main message effectively. Share your tips below.

Random Blog Tip – Write Content

The title above might seem like a no brainer but I’ve had a few bloggers send me their blogs to review recently that could actually learn a thing or two by taking this simple advice.

Search Engines like text. They also like outbound links – but more than that they like actual content on your site. It is about getting the balance between links and content right.

I’ve noticed with a few of the blogs that have been sent to me lately that they are almost all links with very little (if any in some posts) actual static text.

Whilst from time to time I have posted some ‘contextless links’ posts which just contained three or four links without commentary I would strongly encourage bloggers not to do this with every post if you want to get indexed well by search engines.

Write in a Granular style – One Topic Per Post

Robert has a good simple tip on how to make your posts easier to pass around for your readers and suggests you write in a granular style. To put it most simply.

‘Make one post contain one idea, or set of links.’

I agree with Robert although can think of times when you might want to include a few grains or ideas in one post. Some bloggers build their whole style around having multiple ideas in one post – however I personally generally find these blogs difficult to link up to and read. I’d much rather see one post, on one topic, with one heading that describes that post.

This is especially important for your readers who use RSS to read your blog and who either just look at your titles or who select to only see excerpts (the first few lines) of your post.

I would also add that it helps with the search engine optimization of your post if the search engine’s bot only finds one topic in each post rather than numerous.

Random Blog Tips – Big Fish, Small Pond Blogging

I just checked my email and found three requests from readers to have a look over their blogs and offer some tips. I’m happy to do this from time to time for free – but am unable to do it individually for everyone in depth without having to charge a bit of a consulting fee (mainly due to the numbers of requests I get. So I thought without mentioning the blogs who’ve asked for help (I don’t want to cause any offence or embarrassment) I thought over the next few days I’d write a few random tips that come to mind as I’ve surfed each of them.

Define Your Niche

The temptation when you first get into blogging is to write everything that comes into your head whether its about the movies you’re seeing, what you’re reading in the newspaper, your work, your latest techy toy etc. Whilst this might interest you and give you plenty of posting ideas it actually can make it difficult to write a profitable blog for a number of reasons. These include:
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Seven Tips for Blogging Your Way to a New Job

Debbie Weil over at Marketing Profs writes a good article on Seven Tips for Blogging Your Way to a New Job. She writes quite an extensive aricle – but her main points are:

1. Start with a topic you’re passionate about
2. Concentrate on shorter, more frequent entries in your blog
3. Let your authentic voice emerge
4. Use correct grammar and syntax (no misspellings allowed)
5. Purposefully organize the content of your blog
6. Post a new entry at least once a week, preferably two or three times a week
7. Include your key contact information on your blog

Its a good list not only for bloggers looking for a job out of their blog – but for other bloggers whether they are blogging for money or not.

I’d especially echo her call for shorter and more frequent entries. Long rambling entries are a mistake that I see many beginner bloggers making the mistake of going with.

Of course this will depend upon the topic you choose – but in most cases people are not looking for major essays when they surf the internet – rather they are looking for specific information on a specific problem, opportunity or question. Often this can be provided very quickly in a short post. Keep it punchy, on a single topic and to the point.

Read Debbie’s full article at Seven Tips for Blogging Your Way to a New Job

How Many Posts do you Need in your Archives to earn Money from Blogging?

Someone asked me just now -‘how many pages do I need on my blog for it to earn $XX.00s per day?’ Its a pretty common question and one that I’m going to tackle below – but first let me ponder another related question from Thomas who in my recent call for feedback on this blog asked:

‘Is there a direct and predictable relationship between the total income of a blog and the total number of blog posts?’

Its a good question and one I’m sure I’ve talked about before in my archives somewhere – but that I’m happy to write a little about again.

I’m going to generalize terribly here and give you a very short and blunt answer to your question Thomas – and I’ll expand upon it some more for those who want to journey with me some more on it.

The Short Answer – My generalized answer is ‘yes’ – I do believe that in most cases there is a relationship between the number of posts on a blog and the income that it currently generates.

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