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AdSense and Borders

Deane at Gadgetopia experimented with a new format for her Adsense ads – no borders – and discovered one of the best ways of increasing CTR:

‘If you have Google Adsense on your site, here is the best piece of advice I can give you: don’t put borders around your ads. I had a border around my skyscraper banner on the right here, so it sat in its own little box.’

This simple move made a substantial difference to CTR and no doubt a corresponding difference to overall earnings.

Of course each blog is different depending upon the overall design – but this is a tactic I use on most of my sites pretty successfully. However if you do keep in mind you might get a bit of flack from it – check out the comments on the above post and you’ll see that some are ethically opposed to it.

Found via WorkBoxers

Tabbed Browsing for Bloggers

Arieanna has a good post on why she loves Firefox as a blogger. As I was reading it – especially this following section on tabbed browsing – I found myself agreeing with her whole heartedly – although for me you just need to substitute the word ‘Firefox’ with ‘Safari’ throughout her article. Here’s what she says about tabbed browsing:

‘I use Bloglines to read most of my news. My preferred method of reading is just to open up a folder all at once (I organize my subscriptions into folders so I can prioritize my reading). Bloglines then delivers all new posts for all blogs in that folder in a linear fashion. So, I scroll down the page reading post titles that appeal to me. If there is something I want to read more fully and/or perhaps blog on, I will middle click or Control+click to open that post in a new TAB. I have set my preferences so that new tabs open “in the background,” so to speak. Let me explain this: I tell Firefox to open the tab, but it does so by just opening a new tab behind the one I am currently reading. Non disruptive. I can keep reading without any popup or any clutter in my taskbar.

Why do I like this? Well, I have two stages for reading my blog subscriptions. Approaching 200 blog subscriptions, it is impossible to read everything, nor does everything interest me.

Stage 1: look at titles. If appealing, open tab. Keep scanning down for more.

Stage 2: Go through each tab and read the posts.

Another great advantage of tabbed browsing is the ability to read a webpage fully from top to bottom, while also opening up links you think would be interesting to read more about. No having to press the back button a ton of times. Each link is a possibility for a new tab. Indeed, I think I’ve come close to having 50 open at once. Try that with IE windows. No thanks.’

Read more at Firefox for blog reading

Important Google SEO Information

A couple of days ago I mentioned the new Google patent that reveals a lot about the ways Google is now indexing sites. The patent is long and if you don’t know the ins and outs of the technical stuff can be a bit overwhelming – so I’ve been checking out what it all means from a few bloggers and webmasters who have the gift of translating it for dummies like me.

What they are saying is fascinating stuff (I’m shocked more people are not talking about it in the blogging community) – let me give you a few snippets.

[Read more...]

Pope Blog Update

Blogging might be a little lighter here for the next few days as i concentrate on the Pope Watch Blog. As you’d expect traffic levels have been pretty high with them reaching 1500 visitors per hour at its peak.

The interesting (and frustrating thing) is that despite its being running for months now Google are yet to index it properly. 99% of traffic referrals are coming from MSN search where the blog is ranked very highly for most relevant terms. I can only begin to imagine what visitor levels would be like if Google had indexed the site properly.

I’m also quite amazed by the outpouring of grief that readers of the blog are showing via comments. In the last few hours I decided to create a space for these comments specifically and am getting emails from readers thanking me for creating a virtual space for their grief which is lovely.

Blog Strategy – Add Authors

Eoghann over at Blog World has an interesting post titled Blog Strategy where he talks readers through his Pro Blogging strategy. Eoghann writes 5 blogs on varying topics and each with their own strengths and weaknesses. He’s really just thinking out loud but its an interesting glimpse into his thinking.

The issue that seems to be facing him at the moment is time – Eoghann works full time, has 5 blogs (some of which are starting to take off) and 2 new born babies (twins). His goal of posting 3 posts per day on each of his blogs is sadly unachievable with his current circumstances so he’s faced with some interesting decisions.

His conclusions vary from blog to blog and a lot of what he decides I agree with but wonder if perhaps he might explore the following strategy also:

Add new authors – One good way of increasing the amount of posts on a blog is to add authors to it. One person might post once or twice per day but ten committed authors can do a lot more. This strategy is not suitable for all of his blogs but I wonder if perhaps his Solar Flare blog might be worth giving it a go on as its on a topic which is sure to have some passionate readers (science fiction). His Pro Wrestling Blog might be another worth trying this on.

I’ve found on some of my blogs that potential authors are often willing to write for free just for the love of a topic. Some bloggers have revenue sharing models – but I’d probably approach two or three of the more avid readers of that site (every blog has one or two addicted types) and see if they were willing to write something once or twice a week.

The other benefit of having a blog with multiple authors is that with others participating in content you often find that they also become your best marketers and PR people. Back when I did the Olympics Blog last year we added a number of authors to help out – whilst they didn’t post as many posts as we did as owners – one of the best things they gave us was links from their own blogs and promotion via word of mouth.

Of course on the down side of multiple author blogs is that you run the risk of losing a little control over quality and content (although you can always edit) and it can take a little time to set them up and initially manage them. However in my experience the benefits of increased amounts of content are well worth the effort.

BloggingHelp

Arieanna and Ianiv of Blogaholics fame have just launched a new blog – blogginghelp.

‘Blogginghelp can help you create dialogue with your stakeholders in an easy, powerful way. We can help you decide on what type of blog you need, how to position it, and give you some great tips or services that get you noticed quickly. We can even work with you on an ongoing basis to populate your archive, link throughout the blogosphere, and help improve your SEO ranking for your blog and your static business site.’

By the looks of things its going to have some useful tips and posts that might make it worth adding to your regular reads – its already on my News Aggregator.

Read more at blogginghelp

Is Google Page Rank Still Relevant?

Paul at Work Boxers asks Is PR Still Relevant?

‘However, it definitely isn’t as important as it used to be, since so many people have learned to game the system. PR is good for long term success in the search engines, but is not something that can be measured very well short term.’

I agree with Paul – Google’s Page Rank isn’t anywhere near as important as it has been previously – however I don’t completely write it off. I suspect that it still plays a part in how Google ranks sites in its results – but another important factor is that page rank can still be an important factor in working out how much to sell ads on your blog for.

I am regularly asked by people to sell them text links on my blogs and Page Rank remains one of the main factors that they ask about. The higher my page rank the higher amounts I’m able to charge for a link – so I’d answer Paul’s question by saying – in terms of Search Engine Rankings I’m not sure Page Rank is as relevant as it previously has but in terms of grading the value of a blog for other purposes it remains one of the few tools people use and therefore is helpful.

Yahoo! announce Search Index Update

Yahoo are doing something that I’m not sure has been done before today – they’re telling us that they are about to do an index update on their blog. This is a great move that I wish Google would take note of and follow. It would take a lot of the guess work, stress and confusion out of the lives of webmasters who sweat on each update.

It’ll be interesting to watch the changes in this latest Yahoo! update – let us know in comments if you notice any difference in your rankings and traffic from Yahoo.

Read more at Yahoo! Search blog: Yahoo! Launching New Search Index Tonight

Making your blog sticky

Duncan over at The Blog Herald has a great post on Making your blog sticky which is a second post (first one is here) on what he’s doing at his great blog to make readers stick around after surfing in for the first time to one of his individual archive pages. Its a great article with some useful tips that I’m going to consider playing with.

I am particularly interested in his experimentation with the ‘Recent Posts’ plug in that he’s implemented at the base of each of his posts. I’ve been considering doing that on one of my blogs which has struggled to get people to view more than one page per visit.

In making this move on Blog Herald he now estimates that 60% of his readers now read more than one article on his blog per session in comparison to 10% a month ago. Thats a serious improvement!

Google’s Sandbox Documented?

If you’re into Search Engine Optimization you might be interested in checking out this article and the comments at this Threadwatch post titled Google’s War on SEO. It refers to a recent patent by Google that could shed some light on where they’re going with their algorithm.

It is pretty heavy stuff – but sheds a bit of light on the legendary and often speculated about Google Sandbox. I’m yet to go right through it all – but one of the initial take home comments seems to be that if you want to grow in Google you need to work on ‘natural’ growth and not the sudden appearance of a large site with loads of backlinks to it (which has been an approach of many SEO experts perviously.

This makes sense and is probably good news to bloggers who in most cases grow their blogs pretty slowly over time with a steady growth in backlinks. Anyway – if you’re into this stuff have a read and let us know what it all means to you in comments below.

There is also a good discussion on the same topic at Search Engine Watch.