What Browser Do Your Readers Use?

After reading Donna from Blogging Tips article about how it is Ok to be a StatsAHolic, I have decided to embrace my stat watching habit and post about one of them, reader’s browsers. What browser are most of your users using?

Pingable Browser Percentages

81.62% – Firefox
12.67% – Internet Explorer
03.43% – Safari
01.19% – Opera

Browser Usage

What Might Browser Stat’s Suggest About Your Blog?

More technical savvy users are more likely not to be using Internet Explorer. So if your topic is related to a technical subject, you should expect that most of your readers will be using a Non-IE browser. If your stat’s show a different picture then maybe your readers aren’t who you thought. Although you should be careful about reading too much into these sorts of figures, it may give you something to think about.

Why Should You Use Firefox?

After looking at the figures above I feel like I am preaching to the converted, but there are many reasons why you should use Firefox or another web standards compliant browser over IE. IE handles some layout aspects different to what web standards state. As anyone web designer will know, this causes problems, as web content formatted to appear correctly in web standards compliant browser, may look different in IE. Besides that, Firefox is an Open Source browser with great features, a fast page rendering speed, and many add-on’s that enhance your experience when browsing the net.

How Can You Advertise Firefox Only To Your IE Users and Make Some Money

This article by Nick Papanotas from Payment Blogger, Earn more with Adsense’s Firefox affiliates, gives you a clear method to show Adsense’s Firefox affiliate ads to your only IE users. The following code from Nick’s article will display a text ad to your IE users:

<!--[if IE]>
<div style="width:99%;border-bottom: 2px solid red;background:gray;padding:5px;color:#FFF;">
<strong>Warning</strong>: You are using Internet Explorer.
<a href="http://getfirefox.com/">Get Firefox with Google
Toolbar for better browsing </a>
</div>
<![endif]-->

You will need to change the link to include your affiliate code.

www.pingable.org

10 Blog Success Metrics and How They Can be Manipulated

This article will discuss success ranking systems within the blogosphere, and then give ideas about how to manipulate and benefit from them.

TEN – Technorati Favorites

Although I don’t think this is a particularly useful metric, having a lot of people who have added your blog as a favorite on Technorati may get you some traffic. It also shows potential readers that others think your blog is good.

How can it be manipulated?

Very easily. There have been, and continue to be, plenty of exchanges set up for swapping Technorati “add to favorites”. i.e., “You add me and I will add you.” Here is one such popular example: DoshDosh. I doubt it is worth it though, as because it is so easily manipulated it doesn’t hold any real weight.

NINE – Blog Catalog Rank

Blog catalog is a fairly large online community, where as a blogger you are free to promote your blog as shamelessly as you please. This alone is reason enough for you to want to put effort into developing a rank on the site. The directory side of the site works by providing category based listings of blogs. You can also buy a sponsored slot which will get you to the top of a list for between $8 and $30. How high you appear on the list depends on your rank. Here is a definition of how the rank is calculated:

Blog Rank – a special formula that analyzes your hits, views, comments, neighborhood members and other special secret ingredients to create a numeric score based on a 100 point scale. Your Blog Rank is primarily used to determine the order blogs appear in our Directory and Search Results. The higher your score the better your placement.

How can the rank be manipulated?

Fairly easily. A factor in the formula which you can manipulate is the members in your neighborhood. If you add everyone as a friend, many will add you back, and many of those will consider the act a nice enough deed to either visit your blog or even join your neighborhood. That is why you will see users with thousands of friends on blog catalog, many of which they don’t even know.

EIGHT – Alexa

Alexa is a page rank system that ranks your site as a number compared with every other site in the world. i.e., your site is ranked 333,000 in the world. Yahoo is ranked 1st, Google 2nd, Myspace 3rd, YouTube 4th, and Facebook 5th. There’s no doubting that these are popular web sites, so it must have some degree of accuracy. It is mainly used by certain advertisers, and it gives you an idea of how popular your site is compared to not only blogs but all sites on the net.

How can it be manipulated?

I have read that installing the Alexa bar on your own browser can help you climb the ladder to a small degree. The idea is that you visit your own site a lot, so if you browse it with a browser that is using the Alexa bar, it will help you rank better.

SEVEN – Web Site Traffic / Page Hits / Unique Visitors

No success metric list would be complete without considering traffic. If a blog is getting a lot of visitors it is successful. If a blog is getting very little, then it isn’t.

How can it be manipulated?

Having consistent traffic over a long time period is something that is very difficult to manipulate. Although, for a boost of traffic you can use social media sites to promote your content. Long term consistent traffic will rely on you being successful with many of the factors discussed in this article.

SIX – Technorati Authority

This is a fairly important factor for bloggers. It is calculated using the amount of incoming links or “blog reactions”, where links from higher authority blogs will help your authority more. Although I don’t use Technorati as a blog search engine myself, I am sure if you have a higher authority blog you will pull some traffic from Technorati.

How is it manipulated?

You will often read theories of how “A-List” bloggers, or high authority bloggers tend to link to each other a lot. The idea is that because links from high authority blogs carry greater weight, that if A lister’s keep it to themselves, they will keep the authority amongst themselves and make it more difficult for new blogs to break in. An A list blogger could easily argue that they link to other high authority blogs more often because they have better content. So although I suspect this sort or thing goes on, there is no point complaining about it.

How can you manipulate it?

Not so easily. Although anything that gains you links will help. So blog carnivals, group writing projects, viral link schemes or running competitions all help.

FIVE – Income Generated

Although income generated from your blog is a harsh measure of success, I feel it should rank fairly highly. If your blog makes you thousands, then it is successful. However the opposite doesn’t necessarily apply, as there are many great successful blogs that aren’t in it for money.

How can it be manipulated?

I don’t know, I don’t make money from blogging. Maybe John Chow has some tips for you, although I wouldn’t recommend reading most of what he spouts out on his blog these days. Just because blogging about money makes him money, reading about him doing it won’t make you money, it will only make him more.

FOUR – Social Media (Stumbles, Diggs etc) – An Article Level Rank

Many bloggers are fixated with success on social media sites. There is no doubting that success on these sites can drive a lot of traffic and attention towards your blog. Both of which are important measures of success. So social media success should be considered fairly highly on this list.

How can it be manipulated?

Varying degrees of difficulty. The concept of “Digg Rings” or “Exchanges” suggest that there are other factors at play that help certain content rise to the top. Making friends who are more likely to vote for your content is how many people work the system. Ultimately, content would have to be of a certain quality to get anywhere on popular social media sites, but there are certainly ways that help some do better than others.

THREE – Google Search Rank for a Keyword

Scoring highly with Google on a keyword or phrase can bring your blog a lot of traffic. So using this as a measure of success is useful. How well do you score for important keywords in your niche? This particular concept drives the “Make Money Online” niche, where the key focus seems to be to rank on Google using the aforementioned term.

How can it be manipulated?

Not easily, but in the long term there are plenty of pointers to set you on the right path to success, which is what the SEO niche is based around. Key concepts involve keyword rich anchor text aiming at your site, keyword rich article titles, keyword rich content, keyword rich image alt text, good content structure, good keyword research and much more. I suggest Aaron Wall’s SEO Book blog for great SEO advice.

TWO – Google Page Rank

Google page rank is a form of authority in the search engine world. Having a high page rank gives links from your site more authority. It is one of the factors that will help your pages score well on Google search, and it may help you gain respect from other bloggers.

How can it be manipulated.

Not easily. You need to aim at gaining quality links from high page rank sites,  particularly sites from within your niche, and hopefully using anchor text that includes important keywords or phrases.

ONE – RSS Subscribers On Feedburner

The top of the list has to be RSS subscribers. Having a large list of subscribers guarantees you a level of readership more so than any other factor. At the point of writing this Techcruch has 609,000 subscribers. 609,000 people think that Techcrunch is worth at the very least following, if not reading every article. Having a large RSS readership can and should be a pull for sponsors and advertising. Also because it is so difficult to fake or manipulate it should hold a lot more weight in the future.

How can it be manipulated?

Not easily, which is why it is such a strong metric. However, to ensure you capture as many readers as possible, an easily accessible button or link to your feed is important. Providing a full feed, and not an excerpt will help. Submitting your feed to rss directories may help get you some extra subscribers and it does give your feed a lot of hits on the day you add them.

Conclusion

I know that this article is rather superficial at times, and I haven’t necessarily encompassed all that could be considered success, i.e., enjoyment, comments left, the quality of content to you and your readers etc. However, I have attempted to rank the factors that drive the blogosphere. I hope you find it a useful resource.

www.pingable.org

Why Should You Blog. Why I Blog

Why You Should Blog:

  • To build a brand.
  • To build a profile for yourself.
  • To become an expert.
  • Because you learn.
  • To express your opinion.
  • To catalogue your expertise.
  • Create conversation on topics that matter to you.
  • Create connections with others like you.
  • To test ideas.
  • To obtain free market research.
  • To rank high in search engines.
  • To create work or income opportunities.
  • Get feedback.

Why I Blog:

  • I want to make Pingable a brand.
  • I enjoy writing about the topics I blog about.
  • I enjoy learning, you never stop learning, and I learn a lot when I blog.
  • I like the feeling you get from creating.
  • I enjoy reading and writing.
  • I don’t use Facebook, Myspace or Beebo, I need something to do when I am online.

www.pingable.org

How To Increase Your Non English Speaking Readership

Assuming that only English speaking readers will be interested in your content is a mistake. Until recently I never considered the possibility that non English speakers could be an audience for this blog. So how do you go about making your content more accessible to those who speak other languages?

Internet language use statistics

  • Languages # | Users | % of Internet
  • English | 235 m | 38.3 %
  • Chinese | 69 m | 11.2 %
  • Japanese | 61.4 m | 10 %
  • German | 42 m  | 6.8 %
  • Spanish | 32.7 m | 5.5 %
  • Korean | 25.2 m | 4.1 %
  • Italian | 24 m | 3.9 %
  • French | 22 m | 3.5 %
  • Portuguese | 19 m | 3.1 %
  • Russian | 18.1 m | 3 %
  • Dutch | 12.4 m | 2 %
  • Polish | 6.7 m | 1.1 %
  • Swedish | 6 m | 1 %
  • Arabic | 5.7 m | 1 %

Source: Translate To Success

English is the most common language spoken on the Internet, but it is still only 38% of the total users on the Internet.

Update Services

Adding an update service to your blog that sends content to foreign language search engines and directories is the key. Update services communicate to other web sites that you have updated the content on your site. I have always looked for ways to optimize this process. At one stage I added a list of 50 or so different sites for WordPress to ping whenever I posted. This of course slows down posting and didn’t seem to work particularly well. So I went back to using Pingomatic, which is the default service for WordPress. This works great as you only have to ping Pingomatic and they do all the hard work of pinging other sites (Google, Technorati etc) to notify them that you have new content. However, Pingomatic is an English only service. Pingoat is a update service that also pings foreign language services. You really don’t have anything to lose by adding Pingoat to the update services for your blog, but to convince you of how useful it can be… the article I posted just yesterday has already been commented on in French , translated and re-posted in Japanese and Italian.

How to add Pingoat Update Service to WordPress

In the dashboard of WordPress go to “Options/ Writing” and paste the following address into the update services, I have also left Pingomatic there.

http://pingoat.com/goat/RPC2

www.pingable.org

15 Common Web Design Mistakes That You Should Avoid

  1. Content that’s not written for the web i.e., non-scannable text.
  2. Page titles with low search engine visibility, think key words in a combination that entices.
  3. Content that looks like an advertisement or content that is an advertisement, I don’t care which books on Amazon you enjoy, they wouldn’t be listed on your site if you weren’t making affiliate money from them.
  4. In-your-face advertising i.e., blocks of AdSense that push your real content below the fold/scroll.
  5. Violating design conventions – see CRAP Design.
  6. Opening new browser windows. Let the users decide, they will come back if your content is good.
  7. Non-standard links, hyperlinks should be underlined, hyperlinks should be obvious, there’s no reason to confuse novice users. Also strikethrough is being used to indicate a visited link – this is silly and should be avoided as it can be easily confused with corrections which is what strikethrough should be use for.
  8. Over using Flash, Flash requires a plug-in, don’t use it unless it actually provides functionality which you cannot gain through other means.
  9. Browser incompatibility, check what your pages look like on other browsers.
  10. Scrolling text, marquees, and constantly running animations.
  11. Complex URLs, they are not good for search engine hits or usability. Avoid.  
  12. Long scrolling pages, break it up, use excerpts if you have to.
  13. Poor navigation. Try and find some old content on your site. Is it easy?
  14. Overly long download times. Use Photoshop or other applications to optimize images for the net. Read points 12 and 8 again.
  15. Too many animations. They are hard on the eye. If you must use them, use for emphasis.

Even in an ever changing environment, such as the net, you must always consider the user experience before and above everything else.

www.pingable.org

Blogrush – Get Free Traffic For Your Blog

Blogrush is a new service by John Reese to generate targeted traffic for blogs. The service is free and many A-list bloggers (Andy Beard, DoshDosh ) have jumped onboard early to benefit from the tier referral system that will reward early adopters. 

Viral Effect

The tier system which is detailed below means that early adopters of the service are likely to be rewarded with a serious return of traffic for their involvement.

Your Traffic = 1:1 1st Generation Of Referrals = 1:1 2nd Generation Of Referrals = 1:1 3rd – 6th Generation Of Referrals = 1:4 7th – 10th Generation Of Referrals = 1:8

A baisc way of looking at the 1:1 ratio is that for every page hit you get for a page that has the widget on it, an article of yours will be displayed in someone elses widget once.

Widget

The widget (see footer) is nothing special, it is rather chunky and not customizable. But it serves it purpose. The articles which the widget displays are meant to have contextual relevance to the content of the blog which is is displayed on, which means the traffic will be targeted and relevant. It will also serve as service to your readers providing them with related content, similar to the sphere related content plug-in used on this blog.

How much traffic will it bring?

The traffic that the service refers is based (to my understanding) on page hits. So users of your site don’t even have to use the widget for it to bring you rewards. If you are an early adopter, SIGNUP NOW, you will likely receive a fair bit of traffic. If indeed the traffic you receive is based on page hits, think of extra visitors you will get from being dugg of stumbled.

Service

 The service claims that it will be providing stats with-in 48 hours of me writing this, so here’s hoping very soon there will be some useful stats available via the dashboard. The dashboard currently offers you options to filter out content and URL based keywords, however unless you start seeing dodgy spam sites appearing I wouldn’t bother playing with this.

Concerns

The nature of the referral system means that Blogrush is going to reward those who jump on early, but those who don’t will be getting the short end of the stick. So my concern is that it will be very popular early, but then growth may be limited after a certain point, as newer sign ups will not receive such significant traffic to justify using the service. It will be interesting to see how John and his team deal with this issue.

www.pingable.org

What is a Good Bounce Rate For a Blog?

In an environment rich with social media sites providing quick fix for our short attention spans what is an acceptable time for a visitor to spend on a Blog? If you don’t keep track of the statistics of your site Google Analytics will do nicely for tracking your site statistics.

The Bounce Rate (also called % Exit) is the percentage of visitors that leave your site without clicking any further links. So if they were sent to a certain page on your site by Google search, they looked at that page, then left.

Avinash Kaushik, Google’s Analytics Evangelist states, “it is really hard to get a bounce rate under 20%, anything over 35% is cause for concern, 50% (above) is worrying.” Source: Wiki

The Wiki goes on to explain that different types of pages should expect different bounce rates based on the type of traffic expected to visit that page.

1) Typical traffic expected on a modern blog that may not be expected to stay long could consists of:

  • users who are following links from social media sites
  • users who are coming from an rss feed just to read a page – even though they are probably regular readers.
  • users who are reading an article on another blog and have followed a link to see a particular point

2) Traffic that may be expected to stay longer and read different pages may include:

  • users researching
  • users searching
  • users who intend on interacting in some way –  comment, contact etc

If you get a lot of traffic from the first bracket rather than the second bracket you are likely to have a much higher bounce rate, but is this cause for concern? 

Perhaps a better way to look at it would be to look at individual pages. Is your prize article, your best work sending users running?

Another factor is site structure. Do you use extracts on your homepage or do you display the full post? If you are displaying full posts your bounce rate is going to be higher than the same content on a site that uses extracts, as users don’t have to click anything to read your full articles.

Social Media Patterns

StumbleUpon (SU) – A large percentage of the traffic for this blog comes from SU users. It is so easy for a SU user to click the stumble button on their toolbar, be sent to a site that doesn’t at first look like their cup of tea, then instantly click stumble again. If your SU traffic has a high bounce rate, then maybe you need to consider working on the first appearance of your site. What is visible when the page loads and is that a good message to send visitors? Fortunately, the first impression of Pingable must be ok, because SU users have one of the lowest bounce rates of traffic sources for this blog.

Digg – Digg users are notorious for heading to a site, looking at what they see, then leaving straight away. I haven’t had any popular articles on Digg so I can’t really comment on how true this is.

Conclusion

So to answer the question…What is a good bounce rate for a blog? Obviously the lower your bounce rate is better, regardless of all the reason you may have for it being poor. If your bounce rate is over 50% then maybe your are marketing your content to the wrong crowd. Is writing that Digg bait really winning you readers? What first impression does your site make? As long as the bounce rate for certain pages and traffic sources suggest things are good, I wouldn’t get too worried about it.

www.pingable.org

How To Make Your WordPress Blog Safer

How horrible would it be if you woke up tomorrow and your blog was gone. All that hard work you have put into it up in smoke. Ok, so I think we can agree that it’s worth taking a few precautions to ensure our WordPress blogs are as secure as possible. Here are some tips to go about achieving this.

Keep WordPress Current

Keep your WordPress setup up to date. From time to time people find security issues in WordPress. These issues get addressed by the developers of WordPress who then release an update. If you don’t update, you may be vulnerable. WordPress can be a real pain to update, so the more lazy amongst us tend to leave it for a bit. If this sounds like you then maybe you should download WordPress Automatic Upgrade Plugin. It automates the process of backing up and upgrading WordPress.

Backup Your Posts and Comments

Create a folder on your PC and regularly create backups of your blog content. It’s easy enough to do, just go to “Manage” in your WordPress dashboard, and select “Export”, then click “Download Export File” to save a copy of all your valuable posts, comments and categories. It’s a good idea to name these export files with a date.

Drop The Version String In Your Header.php File

Quick Online Tips explains how displaying the version of your WordPress installation can leave you vulnerable. If the version is left viewable, anyone can easily figure out which version of WordPress you are using just by viewing the source file of your site, then if there is a known flaw in the version you are using you’re in trouble.

To fix this change:

<meta name="generator" content="WordPress 
<?php bloginfo('version'); ?>"
/>

To:

<meta name="generator" content=

"WordPress" />

Put A Blank index.html In /plugins/ Directory

In a default Wordpress installation, anyone can access your WordPress plugin folder to see which plugins you have installed. This is a problem if certain plugins are known to have security issues. The default path is “http://www.yourdomain.com/wp-content/plugins/"

If you type this address in your browser using your WordPress blog’s domain you will see the entire directory with all of your plugins. A method to hide this as describe by Quick Online Tips (and Originally Matt Cutts at WordCamp 2007) is to place a blank file named index.html in the root of your plugin folder. People will no longer be able to view your plugin directory.

Wp-admin Folder

Past versions of WordPress have had vulnerabilities with the wp-admin folder. So for extra tight security Reuben Yau gives a method to Protect the WordPress wp-admin folder. However if the computer you access your blog from has a dynamic IP address assigned by your ISP this won’t work. It may be worth looking into if these sorts of security issues keep you up at night.

Login Lockdown Plugin

Login Lockdown is a plugin that monitors how many times a person tries to log in during a short period of time. If they exceed some key number, LogInLock down will lock them out from logging for some period of time. This will stop those types who will try and guess your user names and passwords.

If you are stuck using a free hosted WordPress blog you should consider blog hosting options, it’s not that expsensive to host your own WordPress blog.

I hope this information has helped you to secure your WordPress blog.

www.pingable.org

16 Top Tips To Tune Your Writing Skills

Following on from the article Ten Writing Errors That Makes Your Blog Less Good, I want to look at some more writing tips.

Writingclasses.com lists George Orwell’s 12 Writing Tips, some key points include:

  • What am I trying to say?
  • Could I put it more shortly?
  • Have I said anything that is avoidably ugly?
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Using i.e or e.g correctly – The term i.e. means “that is”; e.g. means “for example.” And a comma follows both of them.

Words Words Words looks at The Top Ten Tips for Improving Your Writing (dead link), some of the highlights include:

  • Before you can be a writer, you must be a reader.
  • Know your audience.
  • Simple is better.
  • Don’t listen to your friends, listen to your critics.
  • Write what you know.

Vandelay Design discusses 10 Keys to Effective Writing for the Web:

  • Use headings and sub-headings.
  • Use short paragraphs.
  • Include links in the article.

Daily Writing Tips looks at 10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals:

  • Spell small numbers out.
  • Don’t start a sentence with a numeral.www.pingable.org

CSS Basics – The Box Model

CSS Box Model

Learning how to design using Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) can be a little tricky for the beginner if you don’t figure out a few of the basics. One of the basic concepts in CSS is the box model.

CSS is the code that is used to define design in most modern web pages. WordPress Blogs and Myspace layouts both require CSS.

The above diagram explains how The Box Model works. The entire diagram represents a single Div element in CSS. So if the div was the main text of a page, the width and height would define the area which text will fill. The padding would define the area between the text and the border. And the margin would define the area between the border and the next div element on the page. I hope this basic tutorial helps.

www.pingable.org