12 Well Designed BlogSpot Blogs

There are some fantastic Blogspot blogs out there. But all too often I see fantastic content laid out in a cookie cutter style theme that I have seen 100’s of times before. I decided to make it my mission to find some well designed and unique blogspot blogs to showcase. Below are 12 Blogspot blogs that have either unique or well designed themes:

Nobs Tutorials

IT Log

Your Jobs

Popcorn Not Included

Music From The Pants

Simon So

Bicycle Design

The Brand Builder

Blogger Templates

Firewalker

Designklub

Chicken Girl Design

Food For Design

All The Best

Update: Added 2 more: nobs Tutorials and IT blog to the top of the list.

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Technorati Top 20 Validation Woes – Who Has The Most Errors?

How important is XHTML validation? Only one of the top 20 blogs on the Internet validated without errors, with another topping out with a total of 630 validation errors. So is validation important. I think most of these A-list blogger’s would have you believe it isn’t. Check out the list:

Technorati Top 20

Rank Blog XHTML Validation
1 WordPress Development Blog Passed validation
2 Arstechnica Failed validation, 22 Errors
3 Lifehacker Failed validation, 42 Errors
4 Gizmodo Failed validation, 84 Errors
5 Perez Hilton Failed validation, 99 Errors
6 Seth Godin Failed validation, 113 Errors
7 Tree Hugger Failed validation, 139 Errors
8 Engadget Failed validation, 166 Errors
9 Readwriteweb Failed validation, 178 Errors
10 Mashable Failed validation, 178 Errors
11 icanhascheezburger Failed validation, 228 Errors
12 Problogger Failed validation, 284 Errors
13 TechCrunch Failed validation, 288 Errors
14 TMZ Failed validation, 298 Errors
15 Post Secret Failed validation, 310 Errors
16 Huffingtonpost Failed validation, 328 Errors
17 Official Google Blog Failed validation, 329 Errors
18 Daily Kos Failed validation, 397 Errors
19 Boingboing Failed validation, 437 Errors
20 Blog di Beppe Grillo Failed validation, 630 Errors

The main reason validation is important is that Non-valid pages are relying on error-correction by a browser to display the page correctly, this will vary depending on the browser. I guess I share the sediments of most people on this topic, if the Official Google blog doesn’t validate, why should I care if mine doesn’t. There are many things  that can cause errors, such as scripts, plug-ins and widgets. I feel as a blogger you need to weigh the value that these bring versus the value you loss by not having a valid XHTML page. Other validations issues such as not setting alt text for images are less forgivable and should be followed. What do you think?

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How To Improve The Findability Of Your Best Content

As a blogger or Web Master you want visitors to see your best content. If they see your best content, they are more likely to like what they see and come back. So it makes sense for you to promote your best, and most successful content.

How can you Promote your best content?

Skelliewag.org:

SEO Book:

Chris Garrett:

Problogger:

My favorite is Skellie’s small graphic images. SEO book has top content for the week, but an article I read in the November issue of .Net magazine was actually quit critical of findability issues of Aaron Walls fantastic blog, stating that most of the best content was hidden in the archives. Chris Garrett promotes his top content with a popular article section in the side bar which is very common and can be archived by using the Blogroll feature of WordPress to promote selected articles. Darren has a fantastic method of showing the best content on Problogger, with popular content even broken into subheading tabs.

What About the Rest of your Content?

It is also important that visitors can find what they are looking for. Think to yourself, if I was looking for  information on “insert keyword”, how hard would it be for me to find the best and most relevant content? There are a few ways to increase the findability of your content. An enhanced site search box from Google or Yahoo is an option, I also like the use of very granular categories, and tag clouds. Make sure your categories are well defined, and It’s not a good idea to use multiple categories for a single post as it creates duplicate content on your site, so try not to overlap posts into multiple categories often. Something I need to work on with Pingable is how results for search’s, tags or categories are displayed. Using excerpts enables you to display more results on a page for easy scanning. Tag Clouds seem to be very common place in Web 2.0 environments, and even if you aren’t  fan of their appearance, they are great for improving the findability of mini categories or keywords.

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What Makes You A Niche Expert?

Toaster

I want to start my own niche blog site. It will be about toast. I am an expert when it comes to toast. I know the best ways to cook it. I know the best toppings to put on it. I know all the different types of toast, and I am the person to see when it comes to picking a new toaster.

My niche site will have no problems gaining interest because just about everybody eats toast, so I will have a huge market. Toast is fortifying too; I have toast most days in the morning when I check my emails and RSS subscriptions. I will have no issues getting advertising for my site, on account of my astounding expertise in the field of toast. All the bread companies will be dying to get advertisements in front of my highly targeted readership. If I want free lance work, I will make good money, because I am an expert in my field, and the value I bring to others will be priceless.

I will coin new terms like “Optimal Toast Heat Window” (OTHW)- which is the period after the toast has popped, in which you must spread the butter if you want it to melt. I am from New Zealand, where most good butter is made, so I will also have opportunities to sell my services to massive multi-million dollar companies like Fonterra, because of my obvious influence within the Toast Niche.

The opportunities are endless. It will be hard work though. I will have to produce a blog article most days. I will have to network religiously with my fellow Toast Niche friends. However, I have no doubt that users on popular social media sites like Digg and StumbleUpon will instantly appreciate my work, and vote me to the front page whenever I write an article. Maybe not, maybe I am not an expert after all.

So What Makes Someone a Niche Expert?

Because they say they are? I don’t think so, if that was true then the Blogosphere would be one of the world’s most valuable resources with the amount of “Make Money Online” bloggers.

Because they have a niche site that has a lot of traffic and regular subscribers? Maybe.

Because they were an expert in their niche before they started blogging? Probably.

But what if you aren’t an expert already? Does that mean you can’t be a successful niche blogger? No, but you can strive to be one. Now if only I could find a solid untapped niche to blog about…toast, that’s right!

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Social Media Optimization

The idea of creating content to target social media is nothing new. Terms like “Made for Digg” have been coined, and many people have created a basis for a successful site by focusing on attracting social media. When discussing the term Social Media Optimization (SMO) I consider it to be the optimizing of content on your site, this doesn’t cover your actions in social media environments away from your site, which are also important. Take a look at some existing information on this topic:

    Rohit Bhargava’s 5 rules for social media optimization:

  1. Increase your linkability
  2. Make tagging and bookmarking easy
  3. Reward inbound links
  4. Help your content travel
  5. Encourage the mashup

    Web Strategist adds:

  6. Be a user resource, even if it doesn’t help you
  7. Reward helpful and valuable users

    Cameron Olthuis adds:

  8. Know how to target your audience

    What I would like to add:

  9. Make your content attractive in appearance – people are shallow, especially when browsing social media, if it looks rubbish, it has much less chance of getting read.
  10. Make sure your site is optimized for a fast loading time – if it takes too long to load, people won’t bother. If your site is poorly optimized, large spurts of traffic will crash it.
  11. In your face ads, placed where your content should be will hurt your success. It will help your earnings placing ads in key spots, but social media visitors will hate it, and none of them are going to click ads anyway.

Is it really worth it?

Visitors from social media have a short attention span. They drop in, look at what they came to see, if it is attractive they scan over it, if something catches their eye, they may even read it. They will hardly ever click on other content on your site, they won’t click your ads, and very few will subscribe to your feed. So why bother?

Good content for social media is good content for anyone. If you can catch the attention of visitors that are sent your way from social media sites, you can catch the attention of anyone.

Rand Fishkin from SEOMOZ also discusses the value of Social media traffic for gaining incoming links, a very important SEO factor for increasing overall traffic of your site.

This is the main reason why you see so many top 10 type  list posts and other viral content when browsing social media. These types of posts tend to attract people to link to them (linkbait). This should be a key goal in your aim for success on social media sites.

Images used in this article are copyrighted by their original websites.

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5 Simple CSS Tricks

  1. CSS Image Replacement

    System fonts can look ugly, and appear rigid. Using CSS you can replace text with a beautifully formed anti aliased image, yet still have all the accessibility and SEO benefits of text headings.

    Inline:

    <h1>Hello World</h1>

    CSS:

    h1 {
    display:block;
    width:100px;
    height:0;
    padding:30px 0 0 0;
    background-image:url(“heading.gif”);
    overflow:hidden;
    }

    Example of fonts

    The first image is a system font in the browser, see the edges of the “S” are rigid. The second is the same font as an image, the third is a non system font with a shadow, because you can use any font and apply effects to them when using Image Replacement.

  2. Rounded Corners Without Using Images

    To create CSS objects that have rounded edges without using images you can use the following technique:

    Inline:

    <div id=”container”>
    <b class=”rtop”>
    <b class=”r1″></b> <b class=”r2″></b> <b class=”r3″></b> <b class=”r4″></b>
    </b>
    <!–content goes here –>
    <b class=”rbottom”>
    <b class=”r4″></b> <b class=”r3″></b> <b class=”r2″></b> <b class=”r1″></b>
    </b>
    </div>

    CSS:

    .rtop, .rbottom {
    display:block
    }
    .rtop *, .rbottom * {
    display: block; height: 1px; overflow: hidden
    }
    .r1 {
    margin: 0 5px
    }
    .r2 {
    margin: 0 3px
    }
    .r3 {margin: 0 2px
    }
    .r4 {margin: 0 1px; height: 2px
    }

  3. RSS Feed Icon Without Using an Image

    With the increasing importance of RSS, finding crafty ways to display an icon is a useful skill. This method displays a tidy RSS icon without using an image.

    Inline:

    <a href=”http://pingable.org/feed/” class=”feed”>FEED</a>

    CSS:

    .feed { border:1px solid;
    border-color:#FC9 #630 #330 #F96;
    padding:0 3px;
    font:bold 10px verdana,sans-serif;
    color:#FFF;
    background:#F60;
    text-decoration:none;
    margin:4px;
    }

  4. Size Fonts Without Using Pixel Units

    It is important to size text using a method that is not absolute, so it can be enlarged for better visibility in a browser.

    CSS:

    body {
    font-size: 80%
    }

    p {
    font-size: 1.1em;
    line-height: 1.2em;
    }

  5. Using Images For Bullets

    An easy method to create list with images as your bullet points:

    Inline:

    <div id=”navcontainer”>
    <ul id=”navlist”>
    <li id=”active”><a href=”#” id=”current”>Item one</a></li>
    <li><a href=”#”>Item two</a></li>
    <li><a href=”#”>Item three</a></li>
    <li><a href=”#”>Item four</a></li>
    <li><a href=”#”>Item five</a></li>
    </ul>
    </div>

    CSS:

    #navlist {
    list-style-image: url(images/arrow.gif);

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