All posts by Simon

5 Tips to improve the SEO of your blog

Getting traffic from popular search engines like Google can really help increase your readership as a blogger. The following are some tips to help improve the SEO of your blog.

SEO = Search Engine Optimization

1) Have a site map

A site map makes it easier for search engines to index your content and find the relevant goodies that they’re looking for.If you are using WordPress use Google sitemap.

2) Write unique or pillar articles

You may have seen the term “Pillar Article” used a bit around blogging. Essentially a pillar article is an article that is good enough or significant enough to encourage other blogger’s to link to it. Write something that is that great enough that your readers will want to link to it on their own blog. An article with a lot of external links aiming at it is search engine gold.

3) Links to others

Linking is a key part to gaining a good rank from search engines. People like John Chow take advantage of this by encouraging readers to write reviews of his blog and link to it using specific anchor text (for example: “Make Money Online”) to improve their ranking. So if getting links from others is your goal, linking to other is essential. Some people will offer link exchanges, typically offering a link in an article or on their blog roll in exchange for the same from you.

4) Comment on blogs with “Do follow”

Comment on blogs with “Do follow” like this blog. Most blogging software by default will set a do not follow tag to comments left on the blog. This means that the link to your blog that is left when you post a comment will not be followed by the search engines like Google. Some blogger’s like myself remove this tag to encourage readers to post comments, as commenting has the added reward of getting the commenter a link back. Feel free to leave a relevant comment on this blog.

5) Direct link to your articles

Google likes to link directly to relevant content rather than to home pages or index pages of your blog. So a link directly to a relevant article will get more love than a generic link to your homepage. A strategy to take advantage of this knowledge is to leave comments on blogs using as the address of your web site an article link rather than a homepage link. This will be particularly useful if you are posting on Do follow blogs.

Following these tips is a good start to increasing the SEO of your blog, and they are also very good rules to follow as a blogger. Good luck with your site.

WordPress PHP Code Snip – Assign image to post ID

The following PHP code is some code I use on this blog that I thought some others that don’t program may find useful. What it does is assign an image to each unique post ID from WordPress that is a gif file. If you put a file in the image folder in your root directory of your Website called 8.gif – the 8th post you made on your blog will be assigned that image wherever you place this code. If there is no image for that id (you haven’t put a file called 8.gif in yet) it assigns the image called uplogo.gif. Of course you can change any of the directories, file extensions, and the alternative image name to suit your own needs.You can find the post ID by looking in manage posts from your dash. You should use this code in template files.

$image = "$id.gif"; 
echo "<img src='/images/$image' alt='alt tag'  />";  
echo "<img src='/images/uplogo.gif' alt='alt tag' />";  

Google Adsense…or is that Ad cents?

A harsh reality for anyone starting out at the online game is that in most cases the money will come in, in cents rather than the big bucks you are dreaming about. Regardless of the idea, or model you are getting into, unless you have a preexisting audience, you are probably going to have to do things the hard way. Now I am hardly any sort of authority on the topic, there are plenty of people who have made quick bucks from Adsense, but you can bet your ass that there are plenty of people who have tried and not as much as made the first hurdle…for Google Adsense that is making your first $100 check.  

Turning those cents into your first buck.

1) When is too much too much. You may know what I am getting here, but if you don’t…think of a Website that covers it’s side bars, its banner, and has a massive block of ads before you actually get to any content. I know how much it annoys me when I am looking for content, and all I see is a block full of adds, or even worse a dreaded pop-up advertisement. I think it is important to place ads strategically on a page, but I thinks there’s a line that you shouldn’t cross. Sure splattering your page with every ad you can fit may get the odd extra click from accidental or lazy mouse masher, but the main issue here is you are annoying your users. If they are annoyed, they are less likely to come back. I don’t think it’s a good idea anyway…if you think otherwise feel free to leave a comment.

2) Let it flow. Adsense text links are content related ads, so I think it’s a good idea if they are colored like the rest of the content on your site. Most people will realise that they are ads, but at least it lets the page flow. You want to send the message that, yes, you are advertising but it’s not too offensive. It’s very easy to color Adsense ads using the Google ad creation wizard or various plug-ins if you are formatting it at the other end.

3) Google ads can actually be useful to your users. It’s amazing how good Google ads are at targeting your content. So in many cases the ads are in fact very relevant and uses may in deed want to click your ads, so there’s not really any need to ram them in the face of your users, see first point.

4) Content. Good content is very important. Firstly, you want return users, it will increase your page impressions and click rates. Secondly,the ads are based on the content, so if don’t have anything worth reading, or using, the ads that relate to it may not be great either. Thirdly, no one will link to rubbish. And getting links from other sites is very important for you to build a page rank and user base. This is just common sense isn’t it. Why is anyone going to go to Website that doesn’t have anything good on it.

5) Careful placement of ad units is worth the thought. Think where your eye leads you when you first open a Webpage. Try and place your ads effectively to avoid ad blindness. Ad blindness is where users often don’t see your ads because their mind is so trained into seeing ads in certain spots, they no longer absorb ads in certain locations. Close to content, with out being offensive is a plenty good rule of thumb.

6) Read, read, read. There are some great resources out there. Read and observe what other successful sites are doing. Darren who runs the blog Pro Blogger has some very good articles on Adsense. I really enjoy reading what he has to say, and you do feel like you are being educated in the process.

So that’s all I have to say on the topic. File it, the one millionth Adsense article on the net, I hope it at least makes a little sense.

Windows Live Writer Review

Windows Live Writer is offline blog editing software and I really like it.

Why use an offline editor like Live Writer for posting to your blog instead of the built in editor:

1) Plug-ins – there are all sorts of plug-ins that make creating interesting well formatted posts a breeze, with all sorts of functionality, and integration with services  like flickr, live maps, and Google Adsense.

2) No page loading time. Essentially you write your post offline, like you would in a word processor, then when it’s looking just like you want it, you post it to your blog with the publish button.

3) PING. When you publish from Windows Live Writer you can easily set it up to send a ping to all the popular blog search engines. This is a good thing.

4) You can use the “View Web Preview” option to view what your post will like on your blog before you publish it.

5) Easy formatting options. It’s ever so easy to add a margin or text wrapping to an image, or change the alignment of an object.

It’s a great bloggers tool. Well worth checking out.

5 things you may not know about WordPress

After recently going through the process of setting up WordPress and this site, I feel I have learnt certain things that may help other WordPress users. This article is a report of my experience.

1) You can post to WordPress using Windows Live Writer offline blog writing software. The software at first glance appears to be just for Windows Live Space blogs, however, you can easily use it for self hosted WordPress blogs. It has the added advantage of posting plug-ins, Automated pinging (sends pings to blog search engines when you post), and because it is offline software there is no page loading waiting time, so writing blogs becomes much easier. There is a beta version 2.0 of the software here: Windows Live Writer 2.0 Beta

2) In WordPress 2.2 widgets are now standard. Widgets are a form of plug-in that are easy to install and use, they tend to require no understanding of any web programming to use. If you are using version 2.2 of WordPress you can access the widget panel under the presentation tab of your admin dash. If you are using an older version you need to install the widget plug-in. The theme you are using must also be compatible for widgets to work.

3) You can organize posts and articles on your homepage/index page using category groups instead of just listing them in reverse chronological order like a standard blog. My homepage is organized this way. Using this method you can organize your WordPress like like a news site or magazine. Investigate yourself using

4) You can insert plug-in and php code into Wordpress 2.2’s widgetized sidebar using this plug-in code : Exe PHP. This is particularly useful for adding old plug-ins that don’t have widget alternatives. Install the widget above, then use it to execute the php code that runs the plug-in that you want to use… simple right?

5) You can have Feed Burner manage your rss feeds instead of using the standard WordPress feeds. You only need to install this plug-in: Feed Smith. For more top wordpress plugins check out shankrila or blogigs for some Adsense Optimized WordPress Themes.

Free Stock Image Sites

It’s quite a difficult task to find clean, crisp, relevant, yet legal images to use on a Website. If you understand what copyright is you will know that you can’t just grab any old image you see on the web and place it on your own site. So where do you get images from? Stock photography is the answer for many web designers – well those that aren’t the sort that carry around a digital SLR in their bag anyway. The problem here for most small sites is that a good stock image doesn’t come cheap, and I hear you saying…”why pay when I can just download free images from the net”. Good question. To get to the point, your main concern here should be legality. I am certainly not going to trust any old “Free Clip-art download site” where you don’t so much as even see a legal notice or licence for the image you are getting. However I have found a few sources of free legal downloads of stock images where the licensing of the images is very clear. These photos are sometimes referred to as public domain images.
Free Stock Image sites:
SXC <- Has many free images, with some extra sharp premium paid images which cost.
Morgue File <- All free, a good source for images.
Dreamstime <- Has some free images, mostly pay images.
Image After <- All free images.
Vecteezy <- Very cool site with some free vector images, and sorted by licence type (source of bikini image above).

Good luck pic hunting.