Are You Getting The Most Out Of Pages On Your Blog?

Image of What was I thinkingHow you write your posts and its content is really important! But so are the pages on your blog!  Did you realise that visits to your pages can be higher than your posts?

But when was the last time you audited your pages and made improvements?  Especially your ‘About Page’ since this is where new readers find out more about you, your blog and decide whether to subscribe to your blog.

Conducting Page Audits

The key with any page on your blog is to focus on:

  1. Is the page relevant/useful for readers? – if not remove or improve!
  2. Is the page title meaningful to readers?
  3. Is it engaging and provide sufficient information to be of value to your reader?
  4. The best location for the page link – Should it be at the top of the blog or a link in the sidebar?

One option for auditing pages is to use Google Analytics data to help guide improvements.Here is how I’ve done this on my blogs, The Edublogger and this blog.

Below is comparison of the rank of each page in terms of top content viewed on each blog, by pageviews, for the last 6 months:

Image of page rank table

My conclusions are:

  1. Readers priorities are helpful tips and resources on The Edublogger – not surprising
  2. My ‘Blogs I read’ page receives the most pageviews on my personal blog – surprising given the link to the page is in the sidebar only
  3. Checking out my ‘About page’ and ‘Other Sites’ are a high priority for readers of my personal blog
  4. My page ‘Want automatic notification?‘ which explains to readers how to subscribe to my blog has poor pageviews on both blogs

Improvements made are:

  1. Updated both ‘About pages’
  2. Updated ‘My Other Sites
  3. ‘Want automatic notification’ page obviously not working probably because new readers don’t understand its relevance.  This has been renamed ‘Info for First Time Visitors’ and includes more helpful tips
  4. Have added a Contact page to my personal blog

Another option for auditing pages (better option) is to get readers to review your pages and provide feedback.

Image of page audit pleadIf you have time would love feedback on my different pages, especially My Other Sites and Edublogs Help Info!, in terms of is the information relevant, meaningful, engaging – what improvements would you recommend?

FINAL THOUGHTS

Here are resources to help you work with pages and Google Analytics:

  1. Differences Between Blog Pages and Posts
  2. Have You Set Up Your About Page?
  3. Changing Your Display Name and Setting up your Comment Avatar – makes it easier for readers to write more personal comments
  4. Setting Up Google Analytics on Your Blog
  5. The Basics of Using Google Analytics

This was part of the Day 5 Task for Building a Better Blog.  If you would like to join us in Building a Better Blog – there is plenty of time.  Start whenever and do it at your own pace!

Image by Twenty Questions licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike!

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Interlinking! Is it YOUR idea of fun?

Natasa describes interlinking archived posts as “a blogger’s day in hell!”  Strong words but I can’t think of ANY blogging task that horrifies me more than working through old posts to add links to new posts.

It’s incredibly time consuming!  And if your main reason for linking posts is to get readers viewing more pages of your blog I’m not convinced of its benefit unless you have a high traffic blog where readers often visit older posts.

Image of links

BUT…if you want to be a better blogger… make the time to complete this task.  Since it forces you to reflect — what you liked or didn’t like about posts you’ve written; your changing writing style; how easy your blog to navigate.

What the task involves

How it works is you look your posts and, where appropriate, link to posts you have written on the same or similar topics.  As Ken Allan highlights use links cautiously as you can turn off readers by overlinking.

For example, Adding a RSS Feed From Feedburner To Your Blog post has been linked to the different ways you can set up a subscribe by email feed to your blog and how to redirect all your blog feed to Feedburner!.  These feedburner posts could have also been linked to Google Analytics posts.

Where possible it is always better to insert links inside the body of a post rather than use ‘read more on this topic at…’ link at the bottom of your post.

Image of snapshots

Other Handy Tips

If you really want your readers to follow your links DON”T USE Snap shots on your blog! IMHO they don’t enhance a readers experience and are more likely to encourage readers NOT to check out your links!  Read other people’s view here on John Connell’s blog.

I would also recommend switching off Possibly related posts: (automatically generated) on the bottom of your posts.  For the same reason I DON”T recommend the use of technorati tags on blog posts — your main aim with links is to encourage readers to view your content!

FINAL THOUGHTS

Interlinking Posts is the Day 4 task as part of the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog.  While some tasks are more fun than others; they all do help you become a better blogger.  Plenty of time to join us in the challenge — as you can see I’m working through it at my own pace!

What are your tips for interlinking posts?  What is your advice for speeding up this process?

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Dealing With Naughty Ning Neglect!

Image of Ning nong shirtI’m BAD!

Don’t adequately facilitate Nings I’ve created and don’t participate enough in Nings I’ve joined. Do they make shirts for people like me?

UPDATE: Thanks to borborigmus (Vyt) we now have a shirt which he has given me permission to use.

We can’t inflict me on more Nings just to complete Day 3: Search for and Join a Forum for the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project.

Don’t get me wrong I’ve connected with people through Ning interactions.  It’s just that I already belong to several and I find forum discussions take considerably more time to engage in conversations than blogging.

My Solution

Instead of joining new forums I decided to address my extreme Ning neglect by:

  1. Tidying up my Ning profiles – Wouldn’t an option to import profiles across Ning social networks be nice?
  2. Subscribing to Latest Activity Feed, Forum Feed and Blog Feed for all Nings using Google Reader

My guess was I belonged to 5 Ning communities.  After wasting considerable time trying to locate all my Ning communities (and failing) I admitted defeated and my Twitter network helped me.  DUH – log into Ning home and then click on my social networks (how can the obvious take so long to find?)

What planet am I from?  5 Ning communities!  Get real! Obviously can’t count or am really absent minded.  Make that 17 Ning communities (of these I created Etools and AquaEd).  Have now tidied up all my profiles and subscribed to all RSS feeds from my Ning communities.  But now decided profile information doesn’t sounds great (= crappy).

FINAL THOUGHTS

For those new to using Ning communities – check out:

For experienced Ning users I would love to know more about:

  1. What Ning communities do you belong to and what have been the benefits of being part of these commmunities?
  2. What tips would you give new people to help them get more out of being involved with Ning Communities?

Image of Ning Nong shirt created by Vyt used with permission.

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How Twitter is Being Used By Companies

I’ve been researching how different companies use their twitter accounts to help me make decisions on how to effectively manage Edublogs Twitter account.  Ultimately how a company uses a twitter account is dependent on what they are trying to achieve by using the account.

As an experienced twitter user I’ve never felt comfortable interacting with company twitter accounts.  Probably me but I prefer connecting with individuals.  So I’ve decided to share where I’m at to help others considering using twitter for their organization and to also get feedback.

Examples of how twitter is being used

Delicious takes the approach of only following a few people (follows 3 compared to 919 followers).  Their twitter account profile clearly states the person responsible for the account, highlights they sometimes talks back and provides a link to their support forum. Interestingly enough Britta Gustafson from Delicious actually talks back quite a bit; lots of conversation happening there.

Off track but — it is hard not to feel for Delicious.  Their name makes it extremely hard to monitor tweets about their company (check out this out to see what I mean).

Diigo takes a totally different approach; following 2,000 and being followed by 1,516.  From personal experience I know the diigo twitter account actively seeks twitters who discuss Diigo, follows them and engages in lengthy discussion with users. But tells you nothing about the person behind the company tweeting.  Voicethreads has taken a similar approach with their twitter account as does the Wikispaces twitter account.

While Diigo’s engagement with users is excellent I like how Delicious lets me know whose the person behind the tweets.  However including “sometimes talks back” in their profile wouldn’t make me want to talk or follow them.

To me TechSmith‘s is taking a good approach.  You can clearly see who is providing the tweet updates on TechSmith twitter account and includes links to their personal twitter accounts if you prefer to interact with the individuals.  Betsy Weber from TechSmith is in my Twitter network.  She has considerably more people in her personal twitter network than does the TechSmith twitter account.  Would love to know if that relates to the personal connection component?

Changes To Edublogs Twitter Account

Edublogs profileMy initial plan had been to unfollow people being followed by the Edublogs Twitter account and focus on using the account mainly for annoucements.

After examining the different approaches I decided to take the opposite approach and are now following everyone because:

  1. Not everyone’s going to want to follow my twitter account (apparently I’m a twitterholic); some users will prefer a company account
  2. Engaging in conversations with users who aren’t following your twitter account is probably best using the company twitter account
  3. I’m already dealing with queries and support via @replies and DMs in my personal account; this helps extend this assistance

Also changed the profile information to provide information about the account and so people know who is behind the tweets.  Also added a Twitter balloon to the right hand sidebar of The Edublogger (which is now suffering extreme sidebar clutter 🙁 ).

Probably the biggest downside of a company account is expectation of 24/7 updates; while nice concept but sleep is occassionally necessary.

Managing The Accounts

So here is how I see it.  Twhirl is used for my personal account; that where I’ll see most of the tweets.  Whereas I’m monitor the Edublogs twitter acccount for mostly @replies, DMs and new followers.  Although perhaps this account needs to engage in the great chocolate debate?

YOUR THOUGHTS?

Do you interact with many companies on Twitter?  Which ones and why? Or do you prefer interacting with individuals?

What have I missed?  Or should I have considered?

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Running A First Time Reader Audit On Your Blog

Image of magnifying glass Day 2 in the 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project is to Do a First Time Reader Audit on your blog. This is one of the MOST important tasks of the 31 Days Project.  How you see your blog and what you write about is often totally different from how viewed by others.

Take the time to do a Reader Audit of your blog even if you’re not doing the 31 Days Project; you will be amazed how it helps improve your blog.

Conducting A Blog Audit

While there’s merit to Darren Rowse’s suggestions of what to watch for as the reader surfs your blog I think it was a bad mistake to JUST recommend family and friends as the first time readers.  Generally they have little to no knowledge of blogs so aren’t necessarily reflective of your intended audience.

Definitely watch someone surf your blog (even if the only person available isn’t a blog reader) BUT also get more experienced blogger(s) to do a readers audit.  The more input the better; each sees different aspects.  Michele Martin‘s audit for Paul Nichols highlighted aspects I would’ve missed; similarly Anne Mirtschin‘s review for Carole McCulloch.

My Checklist

Image of sidebar orderHere’s my take on what you need to consider for your blog:

  1. Always put the most important widgets at the top of the blog
  2. Search widget – top of blog or top of sidebar
  3. RSS feed using Feedburner – here’s how to add it to your blog but remember to redirect all your feed through Feedburner!
  4. Subscribe by email using Feedburner – here’s how to add Feeburner email subscription to your blog
  5. Effectively use both categories and tags on your post to make it easier in the long term for readers (and yourself) to find posts – here’s the difference between categories and tags
  6. Place category widget above tag widget in your sidebar
  7. AVOID excessive use of bold, italics and colored font in posts – this is my first tips for writing better blog posts
  8. Use images effectively to engage attention – strongly recommend working from the bottom post on this page upwards to read all the posts relating to images in blog posts
  9. Avoid blog themes with strong colors or text that is too small that distract the reader from content and make them not want to read it – here’s what to consider when choosing a blog theme
  10. Choose a blog title that is immediately meaningful and relevant to first time visitors – this can make or break their decision to become a subscriber (YES Mobile Technology in TAFE is an extreme example of a REALLY crappy blog title 8) which has loses me first time readers)

NOTE : Excluded About Pages and sidebar clutter because they are tasks from other days in the 31 Days Project.

FINAL THOUGHTS

So what did I miss on the checklist? What would questions would you use on a checklist if you asked an experienced blogger to review your blog – Darren’s questions or other?

PS my blog theme’s annoying me again — which one shall I choose next?

If you’re interesting in joining us on this 31 Days to Building a Better Blog Project – leave a comment to let us know.  You can do it at your own pace!  My current interpretation of a day is approximately 4 days.

Image by Helmetti licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike.

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Emailing New Readers Who Leave Comments

Wasn’t me who said I’m currently unable to revisit Darren Rowse’s 31 Days to Build a Better Blog while also reflecting on Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being A Better Blogger!

Course I’m able! Simple… I will write posts about each task on this blog but based on my interpretation of what’s 31 Days 8) .

Using Email For Relationship BuildingImage of community

The first task of the 31 Days Project is to email a new reader of your blog.

Why? Helps build relationships while demonstrating you’re grateful they’ve taken the time to comment. Writing comments and engaging in conversations on posts is intimidating for many readers. Yet readers’ comments are where so much of the learning happens for edubloggers.

Would I recommend that edubloggers make a practice of emailing at least one new reader a day? Your decision. There’s pros and cons.

What I can say is bloggers such as Beth Kanter, a non-profit blogger, and Larry Ferlazzo often respond to comments, to both new and old time readers, by sending an email. Being on the receiving end of their emails definitely makes me feel valued.

If you do respond to comments by email I also recommend leaving a comment to the reader on your own post. This demonstrates to all readers that you both read their comments and value their input.

Tip For Email Response

An easy method is to use the comment notification email:

  1. Click on reply
  2. Replace your email in To: field with their email address
  3. Remove the text at the bottom of the comment
  4. Write your response or thanks above the original comment notification text

Image of responding by email

Besides being an effective method of responding it also provides the reader with reference to their comment and gives context to the email.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Thanks to Lisa Dick’s coordination, there is now 15 bloggers working together on the 31 Day Challenge. Would love for you to join us – leave a comment if you’re interested. And if you like you can bend the space-time continuum like me to interpret 31 Days as……

What are your thoughts? Do you email readers? What do you see as the pros and cons?

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Improving Your Blogging With The 31 Day Project!

One of my Top personal blogging I want To-Do’s is to revisit the 31 Day Project by working through Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being A Better Blogger!

Participating in The 31 Days to Build a Better Blog project by Darren Rowse (Problogger) in August 2007 was life changing for me. I attribute much of blogging on The Edublogger and working for Edublogs with the blogging, social networking, and project coordination skills to this 31 Day Project.

Now approx. 16 months later, with more experience as a blogger, I’d love to re-do the challenge:

  1. To see how my views of Darren Rowse daily tasks have changed
  2. To reflect on Steve Dembo’s daily tasks for 30 Days to Being A Better Blogger
  3. As part of my personal blogging self improvement

While I’m still not in a position to do this; others have decided to join together to work through Darren Rowse 31 Days Project. Lisa Dick has set up a 31 Days Project Wiki and I’ve been helping the team with suggestions and bringing together information to help them.

If you’re interesting in starting to blog, improving your blogging skills or developing connections with other bloggers I strongly recommend you consider joining them to participate in the 31 Days Project.

If you do join the 31 Day Project please:

  • Contact Lisa Dick to give her your details
  • Link back to this post on my personal blog so that I can add your blog to my Google Reader so I can support you during the project

PS If you’ve already done the 31 Day Project – Can I get you to help add links to your posts here!

Image by Lieven SOETE licensed under Creative Commons ShareAlike 2.0.

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7 Things You REALLY Don’t Need To Know About Me

Been tagged by both Jarrod Robinson and Liz B. Davis for the meme 7 Things You Don’t Need To Know About Me so here goes:

  1. The reason why I majored in Botany, Biochemistry and Microbiology at University and NOT Zoology is I don’t like the idea of killing animals or looking at bloods and guts.
  2. Still consider it ironic that I’ve spent the past 21 years of my work life cutting up sick fish (DON”T tell anyone but the killing, blood and guts still makes me feel sick).Image of Skin Scraping
  3. Image of goldfishI’m a fish farmer who specializes in fish diseases but don’t ask me how to cure your sick goldfish because you WON’T be happy with the answer!
  4. I talk to fish, each species has a different personality, but I would never be caught talking to a goldfish!
  5. Passionately HATE talking on phones, mobile phones and SMSing but totally LOVE my iPhone….
  6. My f2f friends are (mostly) totally UNAWARE of my work online — lets just say testing the water with a simple explanation, early on, didn’t quite go so well! Needless to say I haven’t told them about changes to my work life.
  7. My husband Google’s me in his lunch break sometimes to find out what I’m doing!

The 8 thing should be my success rate in tagging people in memes is extremely low…..oh well here are the 7 8 people I tag:

Best of luck! All you have to do is list 7 Things You Don’t Need To Know About Me and then tag 7 people (if you want to)…

Life is One Big Top Ten (2008)

As a blogger does it really make any sense to write a post a few days before Christmas? Probably not! But just want to blog and besides I owed Paul C a post for Life is One Big Top Ten (2008). He deserves it after dealing with extreme sibling rivalry between my two blogs 🙂

Life is One Big Top Ten (2008) rule is you get to choose their own topic.

Top Posts

End of the year means it’s a great time for me to reflect on what were my top posts from my The Edublogger and Mobile Technology in TAFE blogs for 2008.

But how to decide? Google Analytics shows visits to site and provides no indication of how popular posts are to readers who subscribe using a feed reader e.g. Google Reader. Decided to use Tony Karrer’s idea of Top posts based on Delicious saves and used Post Rank to determine Delicious saves.

  1. Here’s My First Five Tips For Writing Better Blog Posts — What Are Yours? – if I choose from The Edublogger without looking at statistics
  2. How I Use RSS To Make My Life Easier – most popular based on Delicious saves (73)
  3. Quick Start Tips For New Skype Users – post didn’t expect to be popular, Delicious saves (32) & 5 links in just 4 days
  4. My Quick Start Guide for New Twitterers (45) – my choose from Mobile Tech blog without looking at statistics and most popular based on Delicious saves (45)
  5. PLN post series – posts I wrote to share results/reflections and never expected to be popular

Top Personal Blogging I Want To-Do(s)

Absolutely totally crazy but I really would like to make time to:

  1. Revisit the 31 Day Project by working through Steve Dembo’s 30 Days to Being A Better Blogger
  2. Participate in Tony Karrer’s 100 Conversations. Here are my 10 picks from his list:
  • My ideal conference would be?
  • Email tricks I use.
  • How staying in touch has changed for me over the past five years.
  • Tools that I get free and tools that I pay for and why I’m willing to pay
  • How I do my work and where my work skills have changed in the last ten years.
  • A great example of the use of a tool that really impressed me.
  • My ways for keeping things organized, finding things again, and keeping lists.
  • My top challenges in my work
  • How I find blog topics
  • Why 100 Conversations is a really good or bad idea?

Image of Lolly Jar

Any one interested in joining me in either of these?

Top Problem I Failed To Solve!

Lolly (candy) jar has won!

2 years of plotting how I could get the it removed from desk right next to me, including hiding it, and I’m admitting defeat. Nothing worked.

I always said it was me or the lolly jar — one of us had to go!

Top Tweet Series

Surely the 2 weeks of toilet dramas? I tweeted 23 times about toilet and 16 times about plumbing problems over 2 weeks.

How can we forget the first toilet tweet?

Image of First Toilet TweetImage of Multitasking

Top Crazy Moment

Multitasking too much!

While writing this post on my PC while testing Second Life on my MacBook (to get ready for the Edublogs Awards ceremony) and having a Skype Chat (while watching Twitter on two computers).

FINAL THOUGHTS

The way I’ve tackled Life is One Big Top Ten (2008) made it hard for me to cover Ten since it would have made the post way toooooo long….. But I’m sure Paul C will understand and besides Darren Draper taught me it’s okay to break all the rules.

Who do I tag? No one 🙁 I’ve never had any success at tagging. But if you like any of my topics or the idea of the Big Top Ten please feel free to join us.

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Changes In My Work Life And What It Means

Been thinking a lot about my life (or lack of) over the past year and realized there was need to make serious adjustments to it. Why? Because for at least the past 4 years I’ve been working full time, flat out, while juggling two kids, a husband and coordinating household /baby sitting rosters.

So I’ve now made adjustments to my work life which are important to share with my readers. James Farmer invited me to work for Edublogs, from home, approximately 6 months ago. At the time I declined because I needed to complete some important work commitments for my TAFE organisation.

My situation has now changed. I’ve explained to my managers at TAFE that I’m tired and in need of a break. While they’ve always been extremely accommodating with my work hours; the travel of 2 hours per day is draining. They have agreed to allow me to:

  1. Decrease my work hours to 1 day per week
  2. Undertake outside employment as a elearning consultant

What does this all mean? I will be working 3 days per week for Edublogs (and other elearning work if I desire). It means I can continue to support and help other educators learn how to use these technologies plus provide better support to Edublogs and Edublogs Campus users. But still continue working as an aquaculture lecturer by supporting all our off-campus elearning students and facilitating our on-campus fish genetics course.

I hoping you will be supportive of my decision as it has been extremely hard to make especially considering how accommodating my TAFE has always been.

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