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Blog Design Survey – Planning the design of your Blog

Rachel over at Designer Blogs has just posted a blog design survey that she gives her potential clients who are wanting her to quote on blog design.

I think its a pretty helpful list for those thinking through a new blog – whether they are getting a professional to design it or are doing it themselves.

BlogStars – Infringing CopyRight since 2005

Update: BlogStars is asking for feedback on this question now – you can have your say here.

Well it seems that I’m a Blog Star! (nofollow tag used)

Its a pretty flattering thing to have your RSS feed featured on a blog by that title – however I’m left feeling a little disturbed by it.

BlogStars is one of those blogs that is really not a blog. It is a public News Aggregator, disguised as a blog really that publishes other people’s RSS feeds – in full.

Now I’m not overly concerned for myself – my RSS feeds are just excerpts (for this very reason) – but others who are being republished have their full posts appearing here. Its like a new version of their blog.

For example check out the pages for Jason Calacanis and Blog Maverick.

Now these last two fine blogs might have been asked for permission for full reposting of their feeds – but I was not.

This is an increasing trend – every few days I discover another one of these ‘services’. Some of them I don’t worry about because they are purely being used for non commercial purposes, however others, like BlogStars have ads on them. This directly puts them in violation of my creative commons license which explicitly stats ‘You may not use this work for commercial purposes.’ BlogStars also publishes feeds from other services as well including Daypop, Blogdex and Feedster – again this is in violation of at least some of their published copyright information. They might just be on the way to a legal challenge or two if they don’t wake up to themselves.

Of course, like many other such ‘services’ BlogStars has no contact details on their ‘blog’ (if you can see one let me know) which forces me to a public humiliation post in an attempt to get their attention.

Those of you who have expressed frustration with me not publishing full RSS feeds might like to thank the fine people at Blogstars (and others ‘blogging’ in a similar way) for it.

The irony of it all is that Blogstars have an image at the bottom of each of their pages that says ‘page protected by CopyScape – Do Not Copy’.

Update: BlogStars is asking for feedback on this question now – you can have your say here.

The business of blogging and MetaFilter

Good little article in the San-Francisco Gate on Business Blogging and Small companies promote themselves through Web logs. It has features friend of ProBlogger Paul Chaney and a good list of examples of small businesses that are using the humble blog as a part of their business plan.

Found via MetaFilter who are having a little discussion about blogging (thanks for the link whoever put it up) – and who are a highly visited blog which has a few revenue streams itself. I’ve often looked at this blog and wished I could get my hands on it to optimize it better – especially its Adsense Ads. I suspect that with a few simple tweaks we could significantly increase its earning potential.

What’s Wrong with Blogging

I once heard of a debate between a Christian group and a Pagan group – it could have been a pretty un-constructive rant like event where one group tells the other group what’s wrong with it and visa versa – everyone would have gone home with the same opinions that they came with – however this debate was different.

Each side was told to prepare arguments against their own religion/faith perspective. The Christians had to say what they didn’t like about Christianity, what they felt uncomfortable with and had to deconstruct and poke holes in their own framework for thinking. The Pagans had to do the same for paganism.

The result was fascinating – rather that the two groups coming away with reinforced hatred of and anger towards the other the event was incredibly constructive. Both groups found that they learned not only a lot about the other group – but about their own perspective.

Ok – so why am I telling you this on a blog about blogging? Have I mistakenly posted this here instead of on my Spirituality blog?

No – I”m actually wondering if it might be a helpful exercise as bloggers to do something similar.

Let’s talk about what we don’t like about blogging. What are its weaknesses? What are its limitations? How would you construct an argument against blogging?

Lets learn something about Blogging by deconstructing it for a bit. Put the boots in readers – lets kick it about for a bit – time for a bit of a bitch session!

The rules are simple – you’re not allowed to say ANYTHING positive about blogging in comments below (or feel free to respond on your own blog and leave a link below so we can find it). There are no wrongs and rights – everyone’s critiques of the medium are valid.

Go on – I know you want to – lets lay into Blogging!

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.

[Read more...]

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.