Critiquing the Critiquing of Weblogs Inc

Jacob has an interesting critique on Weblogs Inc – taking a close look at the topic and posting frequency of some of their blogs. He particularly takes aim at two factors:

1. Lack of Updating - Jacob notes that the Digital Radio blog Droxy has only one post in the past month and that the outsourcing blog has one post so far this year. There are others that I’ve noticed over the past few months have had some pretty irregular bursts of posting (and not posting). Whilst I’ve had similar thoughts to Jacob about the inactivity of some of their blogs (I guess it doesn’t look good for the network to have something inactive?) I can also see why it may have happened. There are a number of factors that could have come into play:

  • Author Issues: WIN’s blogs rely upon a large stable of authors to keep their blogs running. In my limited experience with network blogging I know that authors being humans (well most are) means they will often bite off more than they can chew. You just have to look around the wider blogging community and you’ll quickly find that a large percentage of blogs that start out with passionate, excited, confident, wide eyed bloggers don’t make it past a few months of blogging (sometimes its only days before they die). In a stable of 70+ blogs there are sure to be a few authors who pull the pin on their blogging (or at least pull back to a trickle of posts) as a result of disillusionment, busyness, life situation (sickness, babies or other changes), distractions or even laziness. This leaves the WIN team in a sticky position of either having to find another author, let the blog remain inactive but live or killing it off.
  • Lack of Content: I’ve started a number of blogs over the past year or so that I thought would be a breeze to write – but soon found that there just wasn’t enough content or news around to sustain them. In these cases I actually don’t have a problem with less frequent posting. After all there are no ‘rules’ on how often blogs should be updated – the posting rhythm of each blog will differ depending upon a number of factors – some are daily, some weekly and perhaps its ok for some to be monthly. Of course a blog with a date showing the last post is months old doesn’t exude freshness or authority to readers.
  • Lack of Return on investment: Some blogs just don’t perform. They don’t get indexed by search engines, readers don’t click with the author, ad values are poor, Adsense doesn’t have ads to serve – whatever the case – sometimes they just don’t work. This can breed disillusionment. It can also take you to a place after giving it a real go of giving up which is probably a smart decision in many cases as there might be other projects that would be a better return on investment.

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Google Web Accelerator and Page Rank?

There has been a lot of talk around the blogs today on Google’s new Web Accelerator but one of the unique perspectives I’ve seen is an essay by Mike Lambert titled PageRank 2.0. Mike explains the lack of income stream attached to the Web Accelerator by speculating that it will actually help Google to more accurately rank pages in a climate where inbound links are less and less reliable for ranking the page rank of a site (due to spam).

‘Instead of using a random surfer model, Google can use a real surfer model, based on the aggregate web traffic of the people using their Web Accelerator. They can discover /exactly/ how the Google Juice should flow in the real world.’

The Google Web Accelerator Privacy Policy says could support this theory as it includes the statement – ‘When you use Google Web Accelerator, Google servers receive and log your page requests…’

It’s an interesting theory – and one that I’m sure will be debated by many for some time to come. What do you think?

Update: Check out some of the following discussions going on in forums – all in all the reaction to the Accelerator is NOT positive:

Also check out Inside Google’s take:

‘The privacy implications are staggering. Google can now know absolutely everything. If they thought Gmail created a mess when the Gmail ad thing went down, its going to look like a stubbed toe next to this. The hell will rain down on Google over the following weeks, you better believe it.’

Meeting James Farmer

I had a morning coffee today with a fellow Melbourne blogger, James Farmer who blogs at incorporated subversion.

What an interesting and far reaching conversation (well we stuck to blogging – but there was a lot to say) as we discussed everything from Educational Blogging (his main focus), to the BlogTalk Downunder conference (I really want to go – just working out if it is going to work out in the craziness of the next few weeks), to Multi Authoring Weblog tools (stay tuned for a post on this) and to miscellaneous topics in between.

I love meeting bloggers, especially those with a niche focus like James – I always come away with a new perspective, ideas and approaches to my own niche/s.

I think I need to do this more.

Google Adsense Stats Delays – Don’t Panic

I thought I’d post something about this as I’ve had 4 emails and a few IM’s about it in the last couple of hours. Adsense stats seem to be experiencing delays and have done for at least the last 4 or 5 hours. You’re not the only one if you’re noticing this.

My advice: have patience. This happens from time to time. Often it is associated with changes and updates with the program – sometimes these changes are public ones, sometimes they are not. Such delays usually only last a few hours but I’ve seen them last up to 12 or so.

Don’t panic – previously such delays have not meant changes in earnings – they continue to count your clicks and income and update them later.

Update: And its back… (or at least has updated to some extent)

Increasing the Longevity of Key Posts – Part II

This is the second part of a post on extending the life of Evergreen posts. Take a look at the first part here.

Related Articles – Many Bloggers use a ‘related articles’ feature in at the bottom of each of their posts. In most cases these are automated links from a plug in. WordPress and Movable Type both have such plugins available.

Once again such a strategy is good for both getting readers to go deeper within your site and for your search engine optimization.

Deep linking within posts – Similarly deep linking is an effective strategy. To actually refer to previously written evergreen posts within an article (where relevant) is another strategy that you should consider. This could be more effective than a ‘related articles’ feature simply because you have a bit more control about their positioning and the links that you highlight. Also people are more likely to take an ‘in content’ link recommendation than an automated one – it will also mean that the links is a highly relevant one – which SE’s tend to like.

Site Maps and Highlighting Categories – Whilst these may not specifically increase the profile of Evergreen posts – highlighting other key pages on your site (categories especially) helps to generate repeat page views and assists the Search Engines in indexing your blog. What you should be aiming for is that a reader or SE bot should be able to navigate to any page on your blog within two or three clicks. The simplest way to do this is to have your categories listed in your sidebar or menu and to use a pagination system (the little numbers at the bottom of this page that lead you to different sets of older posts).

What I’m really highlighting here are different ways in which you can interlink your site whilst highlighting your key pages.

So take a surf through your archives and make note of the underrated evergreen posts that you find and consider finding places on your blog to highlight them. You might be surprised what impact it has.

Feel free to share what strategies you use to highlight your evergreen posts in comments below.

Who Is Darren Rowse?

Fluff Post Warning: Everyone is doing this (ok – not everyone) but a few of my favorites bloggers including Jeremy and Arieanna. Using this little tool you can work out who or what you or your blog is – according to the web. Here’s a few of the things that it said I am:

Darren Rowse is One ProBlogger to Watch.
Darren Rowse is the guy behind ProBlogger.
Darren Rowse is a machine.
Darren Rowse is *really* Rolf Harris.
Darren Rowse is making a living.
Darren Rowse is getting over 80000 visitors per day.
Darren Rowse is writing a series of articles about how to turn first time readers into regular readers or better yet subscribers.
Darren Rowse is a digger deviant with no more right to live on God’s clean earth than a weasel.
Darren Rowse is heading for another 24 hour blogathon to raise money for the victims of the Tsunami.
Darren Rowse is at it again.
Darren Rowse is an interactive professional blogger.
Darren Rowse is de man achter deze blog en hij verdient zijn boterham met zijn weblogs.
Darren Rowse is a well-recommended blogger with some good ideas.
Darren Rowse is vandaag een interessante discussie gestart over welk businessmodel je nu zou moeten kiezen als.
Darren Rowse is always up to something over there in the land of Wonder.
Darren Rowse is still talking to me.
Darren Rowse is an Australian blogger who has painstakingly put together an indispensable list of helpful ideas.

Full list is here – small things amuse small minds.

Increasing the Longevity of Key Posts – Part I

Last week I wrote about the nature of two types of blog posting in Evergreen vs Time Related Posts (or posts that are long lasting in their relevance and appeal to readers versus posts that are time or event specific). I wrote that each can be profitable forms of blogging – but I failed to give any tips on how to get the most from your Evergreen Posts.

One of the best ways in which you can lengthen the longevity of your posts and take them to ‘evergreen status’ is to be smart about how you integrate them into your blog.

Let’s look at how most blogs operate.

  1. You write a wonderful post with evergreen potential and hit ‘publish’ – your post appears in the prime position of your blog – front and centre where anyone coming to your blog will see it. At this point it will be read by virtually everyone who comes to your home page.
  2. You write another post an hour, day or week later and your evergreen post begins its decent down your page. You might allow 10 posts on your blog’s main page and so after 10 new posts it slips away into another blogging dimension – your archives.
  3. At this point your post drastically reduces its chances of ever being read again in large numbers – it is out of site to your readers and because its no longer on your main page the chances of search engines sending traffic its way decrease also.

So what is a blogger to do? Is there a way (short of letting your main page contain 100 posts – and slowing to a crawl) of keeping your wonderful post in the spotlight?

I’d like to suggest that there are a number of ‘in house/on blog’ strategies that smart bloggers use to increase the life of their evergreen posts (note there are also off blog strategies that I won’t go into here). Let me outline a few before I invite your opinion:

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Follow up Posts

Wayne writes a good post on the topic of follow up posts:

‘Returning to a previous ongoing controversy or concept, provides a useful and interesting source, of blog post ideas. Often your longer term readership will appreciate finding out more information on an idea previously presented in your blog.

Blog SEO efforts are also enhanced, by picking up previous themes or topics, and running with them in several new directions.

Followup posts are ideal for political, legal, and sports blogs. Each those blog categories is ideally suited to continuing column ideas. Most regular readers will be very intrigued as to how the initial case, policy, or game under discussion, was resolved.’

Nice post again Wayne I’m sure I’ll write more about this – in a later post…

Podcast Network Sign First Sponsor – LearnDog

The Podcast Network have just announced their first sponsor – an Aussie organization named LearnDog who work with teenagers to help them to make good life choices. LearnDog’s website might be a little on the light side of information about who they are and what they do – but they do have a blog that reveals a little more.

LearnDog product manager is quoted in the Australian Newspaper as saying:

‘”Our goal is to launch LearnDog on a global stage so millions of kids can showcase their talents using new media. We aim to create a positive learning experience that helps kids deal with the great youth dangers of suicide and depression.”

LearnDog will use radio, TV, press, and new media, including web blogging, PodCasting, chat and SMS, to provide assistance to 14 to 18-year-olds and disadvantaged people. An animated character called LearnDog will interact with these people. The company was founded by Mark Keough, who also set up Archer College, a Registered Training Organisation that delivers professional training using the latest in educational technologies. Seyfang, a windsurfing fanatic, says LearnDog will help kids to learn stuff by finding ways to show their talents and link them to training and/or well-being programs.

“We want to reach them through media channels like TV, radio, print media and new media channels like web blogs, PodCasting, internet generally, chat and SMS,” he says.`’

I like this concept – new media has so much potential to be a life giving force to many and LearnDog seems to be one example of someone taking steps to test this theory.

New Blogs on the Block

Let me introduce you to some new blogs – 5 of which have been added to the 9 Rules Network in the past 24 hours and 1 that is being developed by a good friend of mine – in fact the person who designed this blog.

Rachel Cunliffe is the author of Designer Blogs – a blog about blog design. Rachel is an experienced blog designer and has done a bit of work for me over the past couple of years. She is based in New Zealand and designs simple, clean and up to date looking blogs. Designer Blogs will feature critiques on blog design, award winning designs and ideas and tips on designing your blog. Knowing Rachel well I suspect this will be a quality blog and one to watch. There isn’t much in archives yet – but no doubt it will fill up quickly as Rachel is dedicated and hardworking blogger.

The 9 Rules Network has added five interesting blogs to their stable in the last day or so. As per usual – these are well designed blogs (most of them are by designers) with interesting content. Some were in existence previously, a couple are brand new (ish). At this stage the only thing that really links them together is the 9Rules logo and incoming links from the 9Rules blog and home page – oh and they almost all share another common feature – a common publisher code on their Adsense ads – going into a common pot I guess to be shared.

  • Strange Brand – James Archer has been writing this blog on the topics of marketing, branding, advertising, PR, small business and the entrepreneurial spirit for a month now – each of his articles are spot on – he scratches right where I itch.
  • Return of Design – Another blog by James that he’s been writing for a week now on the topic of Design.
  • Kartooner – This is an older blog, written by Eric Sagen, that joins the network with a large archive of post on an array of topics. It is a personal blog with lots of depth and the ability to hold one’s interest.
  • Mark Boulton – Yet another older blog already brimming with usefulness. Mark’s blog is on my daily reads via RSS and has a wonderful grasp on web design.
  • Almost Cool – Peter Flaschner is another amazing web designer who writes about his craft in this very ‘cool’ blog. He’s been at it at Almost Cool since October of 2004 and his archives are well worth the search through.

So there are some new blogs to add to your News Aggregator – they’re all on mine now.