Archive | Blogging

Any topic dealing with blogging on the Internet.

Website Performing Badly? Speed it Up With These Tips

Optimizing your website for maximum speed when loading pages in a browser is extremely important if you want to retain visitors to your website. Statistics show that the average Internet user will wait 3 seconds or less for a page to load before they venture off of your site and go browse somewhere else.

Before you can engage your website visitor with your valuable content, you must first insure that they stay on your site long enough to see your content. You can do that by insuring your Home Page loads fast and that load speed is consistent throughout the rest of your pages.

There are specific tasks that you can complete to insure that your site loads fast and remains that way. None of these tasks are particularly difficult nor expensive. You do NOT need to work tirelessly on SEO to accomplish good page loading speed.

Let’s look at some of the most important page load optimization strategies and then I’ll show you where the “tweaks” can be found in your back-office.

In these examples, we will be using a WordPress website since WordPress dominates the content delivery platform on the Internet.

Visitors to my website blog frequently comment that the site that you are on right now, ScottAlanReed Dot Com, loads extremely fast. And they wonder if I’m doing some tricks to make that happen. I’M NOT! I’ll show you in the video, exactly what I do to insure fast load time.

 

Get an IP Address That Is Yours, and Yours Alone

 

By default, when you sign up with a web hosting company, your site shares an IP address with any number of other websites at the same hosting service. That means that your web traffic is competing with the web traffic of other websites that are sharing the same IP address that your site uses.

If those other websites are getting a lot of traffic, yours slows down and vice versa. This leaves your load time at the mercy of whoever is sharing the same IP address as you. So stop sharing your IP address with other websites so that the speed of your website is not dependent on theirs.

Think of an IP address as being the highway into and out of a web server, and one to many domains . You share that highway with other websites; but you don’t have to. My hosting company (Bluehost.com) offers a dedicated IP address to my website for about $4.85/month. My IP address is mine alone. I don’t share that highway with anyone. I share the web server with others. But the highway into and out of my website belongs to me.

If my website ever slows to a crawl, I would want to consider getting and paying for a dedicated server so that I can monopolize the memory and CPU power of the server for my needs alone. That would be expensive at $125/month. That time will arrive soon enough. For now, I recommend a dedicated IP address for your website in order to boost your sites page load time.

 

Run Your Domain On CloudFlare – It’s Free

 

CloudFlare is a CDN or Content Delivery/Distributed Network. A CDN is a large distributed system of servers deployed in multiple data centers around the world and Internet. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.

CloudFlare works just like Amazon.com. Amazon owns hundreds of data centers around the world.

Amazon handles an incredible amount of traffic quickly by recognizing the visitor’s geographical location and then by connecting the visitor to the Amazon data center that is geographically closest to them in order to maximize the speed of the Amazon website.

I use CloudFlare for ScottAlanReed.com and several of my other websites. I don’t pay anything for this service. Use of CloudFlare speeded up my blog website dramatically and is the primary reason why I am able to achieve fast page load times.

I’ll show you how to add your website to CloudFlare in the video below.

Also there is a CloudFlare plugin that you must install, but it’s also free and there are no complicated options to set up. All of the plugins that I mention in this article are free from WordPress.org and can be found in Plugins | Add New | Plugin Name (or search).

If you have heard a rumor that the CloudFlare network is rife with spammers, don’t believe it. I heard the same rumor a year ago before I started using CloudFlare. My sites are not getting spammed nor attacked. So much for rumors.

Use a Caching Plugin

 

You absolutely must have a cache plugin on your website. A cache stores the most frequently accessed pages and page elements of your website in memory so that they can be retrieved quickly the next time the page is accessed. If you are not using a cache, every single page on your site that is accessed is being fetched from disc or the server HDD. Fetching something from disc is a slow process.

There are good cache plugins and not so good cache plugins. I recommend WP Super Cache created by Automattic, W3 Total Cache, or WP Super Cache – Clear All Cache.  Yoast has a caching plugin that is good but it has a ton of settings. They can be complicated to set up. But the one that I use isn’t too technical. And it gets the job done. This speed enhancing strategy is likely the second most effective page load speed booster, second only to CloudFlare.

 

Keep a Handle on Article Revisions, Visitor Comments, and WordPress Databases

 

In the course of composing new article content for your website, you create multiple revisions of the same article. Every time you save your work, you create another draft copy of the article that you are creating.

I have over 60 articles on my blog. It’s not uncommon for me to have 10 revisions of one article before I am ready to publish that article. If that were true for all articles that would be 600 copies of content of which I am only concerned with the final published draft of 60 articles.

Get rid of the old revisions. They drag down the performance of your website.

User Comments can do the same thing. It’s not unusual for me to have 4-6 thousand SPAM comments every couple of days residing in the SPAM queue waiting for my review and approval.

Not all of these comments are really SPAM. A SPAM comment on my website is any comment that contains more than two links. The primary link in a comment is the name of your website. Your e-mail address is another link. If you put something in the body of your comment like “please visit my blog at this link and tell me what you think”, that is a third link and your comment will fall into the SPAM queue.

Many websites automatically delete SPAM sight-unseen by the site owner. Most SPAM must be deleted manually. Since not all SPAM is really SPAM, I review most SPAM quickly and look for the comments that were made by the visitor who never intended to SPAM my site. It is easy to accidentally create SPAM. I have found some of my best and most constructive comments in SPAM. It’s obvious that the person who created the comment did not intend to create SPAM. And it’s a simple matter to weed out the offending link and approve the comment.

However, no one has the time to review and edit 6,000 SPAM comments. I’ll peruse a half-dozen pages of SPAM and delete the rest. Leaving massive numbers of unapproved comments in your comments queue will drag down the performance of your website. I’ve seen SPAM comments occupy 166 pages in the SPAM queue. That’s like pulling an anchor around your website. Get rid of that dead weight and do it often.

Fortunately, there is a handy WordPress plugin called “Optimize Databases After Deleting Revisions” that will handle this. The plugin not only keeps your WordPress databases clean, it also deletes all old article revisions (except the most recent revision) AND empties the SPAM queue for you.

I’ll demo this plugin for you in the video below so that you will see the actual size of my website in megabytes before and after optimization. There’s a big difference. The larger your website in megabytes or gigabytes the slower it runs, unless you have taken steps to compensate for this, like moving your site to a dedicated server. It isn’t necessary to do that with most sites. And as I said before, dedicated servers are expensive.

Getting back to the “Optimize Databases After Deleting Revisions” plugin,I run this plugin after reviewing comments in order to keep my site running on all cylinders. You should too.

 

WordPress Plugins Can Impede Performance

 

This is kind of a touchy matter. You need plugins on your site. But too many or the wrong plugins can be a drag on performance. It’s a judgment call. You will have to decide if the plugin functionality is worth the drag it puts on performance. Just don’t get “plugin happy” because plugins will come with a price in lost performance for your site.

Really “heavy duty” plugins should be tested in advance of use. If performance has been affected, your visitors will let you know in their comments when page load times are slower or are getting intolerable. By “heavy duty” I mean plugins that are described as doing just about everything you can imagine except shine your shoes.

If you are not using a plugin, deactivate it and then choose to delete the plugin’s files. Deactivation does not remove the plugins files, which means that the plugin PHP code still resides on your website. When WordPress prompts you with “Delete Files?” upon deactivating a plugin, choose “Yes”. If you change your mind and find a use for the plugin you can always reinstall it.

 

Don’t Host Your Own Videos

 

Most video files are huge. Do not store them in the Media section of your WordPress website. There are plenty of free video hosting websites available. YouTube is the most obvious one. Wistia.com will also store videos for free with their free plan. Vimeo also offers free video hosting accounts.

 

Be Conscious of Image Sizes

 

Using photos on your website is important for illustration and engaging your audience. But the use of too many photos, or photos that are too large can drag down page load times. There’s no sense in loading a 20MB image file when you’re only going to display it as 300×300 pixels! Image quality is important, but only if it is noticeable. Image quality is achieved by using higher pixel concentrations (resolution). But resolutions in excess of 72 dpi (dots per inch) are not appropriate for the Web.

There are some plugins that will help you control the impact of images on your page loads. The WP Smush.it plugin will optimize JPEG compression and strip the unnecessary metadata to make photo files smaller. You might also consider the Lazy Load plugin, which will only load images when they are visible to the user.

 

Optimize Your JavaScript and CSS

 

If you still cannot get a handle on slow page loads, you might consider plugins to optimize your JavaScript and CSS. I do not use these plugins because my page load speed is good. But as websites increase in size (and they will as you add more content over time) these plugins will help speed things up.

 

For the longest time, one of the most trusted solutions for shrinking down your CSS and JavaScript files was a plugin called WP Minify. It’s still pretty good at making those files far more compressed and efficient, but the plugin hasn’t been updated for over two years. A more up to date solution would be Autoptimize, which effectively performs the same kinds of actions to your JavaScript, and CSS.

 

Summing It All Up

 

This is how I achieve fast page loads on Scott Alan Reed Dot Com. No tricks.

  • Get your own dedicated IP address.
  • Subscribe your website to CloudFlare. It’s free and it makes a big difference.
  • Use a caching plugin to cache pages and other elements that are accessed or viewed most often.
  • Use a plugin to clean your WordPress databases, the SPAM queue, and old revisions of posts.
  • Minimize plugin use. Delete plugin code that you are not using.
  • Do not store video files on your website. Use a service. Many offer free accounts.
  • Avoid huge photo files. 72 dpi resolution is sufficient for the Web. If unsure about resolution, look at the file properties.

I have not had a need to implement the following for faster page loads.

  • Use a plugin to optimize your JavaScript and CSS files.

If you have implemented all of the above steps but are still facing unacceptable page load speed, I would first consider looking around for a better hosting service. And if that doesn’t resolve your problem, you may need to consider putting your website on a dedicated file server.

Most web hosts offer several packages for improving website performance. Some hosts have optimization consulting experts on staff and available for a nominal fee. They will evaluate your website to insure that it is running at peak performance.

Web hosting is highly competitive. And because of competition, these companies use special service offerings to  compete against each other. Take advantage of these services. Since competition is stiff, these services are often offered to you at bargain prices.

10

Where Did This Theme and Colors Come From?

So many visitors have asked me how this website template came into being. And they want to know how the websites color scheme was chosen; especially the “blended” woods and water theme on the Home Page.

Introducing a New Series of Articles on Blogging Finesse

I decided to tell the whole story of the template and colors as an introduction to a series of articles that I will be writing on blogging. Those articles will be slanted towards helping other bloggers to enhance their blog sites with custom templates and plugins.

I’ll also address the most worrisome characteristics when creating posts for a blog – writer’s block and writing style. What do you do when you can’t think of anything to write about? How do you start an article and get into what you really want to communicate? How do you know anyone will read what you have have written?

We’ll talk about those things in the upcoming blog series of articles. But for now, let’s talk about how this blog got started, the template, the theme, and the colors.

Here we go.

A Strange Name for a Website Blog

Some years ago, I think it was 2008, my wife (Mary) and I decided that we wanted to learn what all the fuss was about in Internet marketing. So we hired a consulting firm in Utah to teach us about Internet marketing, affiliate marketing, drop-ship marketing, and ecommerce marketing.

We were clueless at that point in time. We didn’t know anything about Internet marketing. What we did know was that I retired early, I had a technical background, and I needed something to do once I left my corporate 9-5 job.

We paid the consulting firm in Utah $13,000 for a six month program to build a website and teach us how to use it. The consulting firm had been recommended to us by Robert G. Allen, the real estate tycoon. The short video below features Robert talking about his new book, “Multiple Steams of Income”. He and Stephen Covey also co-authored “Multiple Steams of Internet Income”. Good stuff.

The decision was made that ecommerce training was a good place to start. So under the consulting firms direction, we began to create a website called ThisISthenorthwoods.com.

The consulting firm chose the web hosting company (Bluehost.com) and also chose the web development application, which would be WordPress.

The original domain name (ThisIStheNorthwoods.com) was kind of weird. But that’s all that we could come up with. The name of the website reflected a common phrase used in the Midwest that describes the most desirable place in the upper Midwest to visit and live – the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

The Northwoods refers to the extreme north of Wisconsin where woods, wilderness, and water are common. The Northwoods is a favorite vacation destination for residents of Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Minnesota, and Missouri due to the endless woods and more than 10,0000 lakes. It is common for local Realtors, when selling land or residences in this area, to brag, “This IS the Northwoods” (with the emphasis on the word IS) insinuating that the property that they are selling is a true reflection of living in the very heart of the Northwoods of Wisconsin. They wanted to let their customers know that.

I had always had an interest in real estate and had earned my broker’s license ten years previous. In order to expand my real estate knowledge, I accepted an offer to manage a brokerage in the Northwoods for Coldwell Banker for a few years. So I was exposed daily to this local habit of bragging that the property being sold really IS in the deep Northwoods.

Thus the original website name. That would be changed later. But let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves in this story.

What Would the Website Look Like?

The website would be an ecommerce site and we would sell things that are unique to the Northwoods and made by the local artisans in the area. These included things like air-brushed saw blades (the kind used to fell trees in the 1800s), books, photos, quilts, wood burning scenes on birch or kitchen cabinets, home-made candles scented with the smell of the Northwoods, and so on.

Our coach at the consulting firm that we hired, created a website using WordPress. I didn’t know anything about WordPress at the time; or any other website platform, for that matter.

They asked me what the theme should look like. I told them to make the theme look like the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Use fall colors and show some water and trees. The colors of northern Wisconsin are incredible in the fall. I sent them some photos of fall colors in this area (below). Can you guess which photo found it’s way onto the Home Page? It’s the one on the bottom left. The woods and water page header was also my idea. But even though I specified fall colors, the faint fall scene blended into each page background was Stephanie’s idea (our web developer). She deserves credit for some serious originality for that design.
Photo of fall leaves in northern WisconsinPhoto of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin

The design that Stephanie came up with was rather remarkable. That is the origin of the Home page. In addition to the $13,000 that we paid them to teach us the basics of Internet marketing, we paid Stephanie another $2,500 to design the Home page and create a template for the rest of the site. The photo thumbnails on the Home page were my idea. They provide links into the rest of the site to complement the main menu of links. I also insisted on a photo slider at the top of the Home page. I wanted something animated on the Home Page.

All of this was built on a paid theme from Woothemes.com called Coda. Coda is no longer available but Woo Themes has many other custom themes that I like even more than Coda. If you want a stand-out blog site, seriously consider a custom paid theme. They are not all that expensive.

Photo of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin 4

Photo of fall leaves in northern Wisconsin

 

 

 

 

 

 

The fall colors used on the site are as follows.

Page background: DFCAA1 (I can’t remember the color name)
Page headings 556B2F (dark olive green)
Page text 7F532A (saddle brown)

ThisISthenorthwoods.com was supposed to be an eCommerce site but that’s not how it turned out, for a couple of reasons.

The website design was completed. But the website content was not. Our coach quit the consulting company we had hired and went to work as a communications expert for a Senator in Washington D.C.. Our replacement coach was an ATV nut from Salt Lake City and had little experience with WordPress. We didn’t know anything about WordPress at that point in time. So continued development got a bit rough.

We hobbled along with our second coach for a few months and then he left the consulting firm for another opportunity. Things got worse. We had the bare bones of a website but no content. To make matters worse, we had no idea how we would logistically acquire, package, and deliver durable goods made in the Northwoods or anywhere else for that matter.

The website languished. The consulting firm that we had hired did not offer us a replacement coach or a refund of the money that we had paid them. Instead they gave us lifetime access to their corporate website and course material as well as phone and email support forever. In other words, I think they expected us to teach ourselves about this Internet marketing thing.

They were very gracious and kept in touch with us. But with no plan and no direction, ThisIStheNorthwoods.com just sat there on the Internet while I paid the yearly hosting fees. It sure looked cool but it did essentially nothing since it had no content.

A year later, we still had the Internet marketing itch and hired yet another consulting firm to teach us the basics of affiliate marketing and drop ship. We paid them $9,000 for a six-month program. They were owned by Mike Filsaime, a legend in affiliate marketing. Due to Mike’s reputation, we knew that we were going to nail this Internet marketing thing and make some serious cash while having loads of fun doing it.

But That’s Not the Way That It Turned Out

My interest was in affiliate marketing. I was able to ascertain that that is where the money was at. Drop ship, and eCommerce seemed to be a pain since we had to deal with taking orders, shipping, returns, customer support etc..

But the new consulting firm that we hired wanted to start with drop ship and get into affiliate marketing later. So that is where we started.

I was bored with drop ship but muddled through and did the assignments for a couple of months. Then I started to miss appointments with my coach because I had not done the assignments.

And then the proverbial sh_t hit the fan. I discovered that material in my training manuals was outdated. Websites that I was supposed to study and review no longer existed. So I put the matter to my coach. He eventually admitted that some training material needed to be updated and commented that it was a challenge to keep everything up to date in a fast moving environment like the Internet. So I asked him directly, “am I learning outdated material, old strategies, and old methods of doing things that likely will never work in today’s environment. He reluctantly said Yes. And that was the end of that coaching program. There was no refund offered for the course fee.

So we were out in the cold again. And we still owned and paid hosting fees for ThisIStheNorthwoods.com which still did nothing except occupy server space.

I Took Matters into My Own Hands – No More Coaching

By that time, I was even more determined to master this affiliate marketing thing. So I got a Clickbank account and taught myself WordPress by building a new website called Onlinecashfromhome.com or something like that. The site featured all the top ways (and products) for making money from home via affiliate marketing.

To build the site I used a very challenging theme that was based on an online magazine framework. That is what made this theme so challenging. The framework seemed to have a mind of its own when it came to banner and article placement. It took months of trial and error to figure the framework out. I featured products like Clickbank Pirate, Commission Breakthrough, Stealth Profit Machines, Profit Siege, and many others. Once completed, this website was a marvel and I was a WordPress expert.

But I was clueless when it came to driving traffic to the site. And, of course, Google was not going to rank an affiliate marketing site. They hate affiliate marketers.

So this new site lasted for about six months and died a natural death. BUT, and this is a big BUT, I had mastered WordPress when building this site. So it was not a total loss.

Back to ThisIstheNorthwoods.com

With my new WordPress skills, I began to putz with our original, unfinished website. I like to write and I needed a release so I wrote some articles and published them. After all, ThisIStheNorthwoods.com was a WordPress site. And what is the most popular blogging platform on the Web – WordPress!

I still didn’t know how to drive traffic. And Google was not impressed that I had switched from affiliate marketing to blogging. So I waited. And before you knew it, I had comments from visitors. And then hundreds of comments. And they liked what I was writing! So I wrote more. I could hardly keep up with their demands. It was crazy. I still don’t know how these folks found my blog amongst the millions of other blog sites on the Internet.

It couldn’t be keywords that brought these visitors. Many of my articles had no keywords. I learned about SEO later. But to this day, my rule is this:

1. I write an article from the top of my head from start to finish.
2. Then I go back and ask myself – what is this article about? What are the main ideas and keywords/phrases.
3. If a keyword or phrase is not used within the article, I don’t claim it. My rule is that if it can’t be found in the article, it’s irrelevant.
4. I don’t write articles around keywords to get rank. I write what pops into my mind and worry about keywords later. I often wonder if other bloggers do the same. I heard the other day from the guy who writes the biggest blog on the Web that he finds the keywords first and then writes the article around the keywords. I thought you were supposed to write articles for people, not words?

The Domain Name Has to Go

I never did like ThisIStheNorthwoods.com. But it’s an intimidating task to change the domain name on an existing website. Especially when thousands of visitors have RSS feeds or bookmarks linked to your domain name.

Nonetheless, it had to be done. I hated the name. And it’s a personal blog. I wanted to brand my name. So I changed the name a couple of years ago but kept the old domain name for over a year and parked it so that it still pointed to scottalanreed.com. That way, bookmarks and RSS feeds would not break.

And then I let ThisIS theNorthwoods.com expire. It didn’t hurt that much. Traffic took a dip for about six months. Google changed the age of the website from five years old to brand new, which hurt any ranking that I had acquired due to website age. You can always depend on Google to screw you one way or another.

What’s in the Works For the Site?

More video!! I was on Jeff Walker’s personal blog and he has video on every article. I loved it. Never mind that he is a millionaire many times over and his videos are professionally done. On a side note, Jeff Walker is an Internet legend. He was launching his own information products in 1996 when the Internet was in its infancy. He created Product Launch Formula off the top of his head. And now that is the only way that new products are launched on the Internet. He’s also a great guy.

More photos in-line with the articles. Previously, if I had a lot of photos to share, I would put them in galleries and link an article to the gallery. But I don’t think anyone pays any attention to the galleries. I’ve had a lot of requests for more photos in-line with articles.

A survey or two or three. I have no clue what topics are most popular. When I first started blogging, I would write about the amazing outdoors around where I live and the multitude of outdoor recreation activities and wildlife. Folks liked that stuff and still dig around in my archives to find it.

Now I write about topics to get you to think, expand your mind, and develop as a person. Articles are longer and more in-depth because that is what you asked for. But many of my best articles go unread.

So I’m stumped. Time for a survey.

I’m going to break one of my golden rules of blogging and put some ads on the site. But they won’t be ads for stupid things like iPhones or feminine care products, or men’s testosterone supplements. They will be ads for tools that I use on a daily basis to make my business go.

I wrote an ebook about the three primary marketing models that I use to make a six-figure online income. You guys don’t know about this stuff because I do marketing in the background and not in your face. So if you ever wondered how I make some bucks without advertising like crazy on my site, now you will find out what goes on behind the scenes if you read the ebook. It’s free.

Finally, you have the opportunity to influence the direction of this website through your comments and feedback. I’m sure you all know that my e-mail address is scott@scottalanreed.com by now. That and my other social contact information is listed under Contact on the main menu bar. If you would like to see something in particular for content, drop me an e-mail and tell me.

You don’t know how many folks ask me in their comments to drop them an e-mail. Say what? I’ve never been able to figure out why they don’t just drop me an e-mail and tell me what’s on their mind.

Summing It All Up

So that’s how the colors, theme, design and all that came together. I chose the fall colors, thumbnails, water scenes, and Home Page slider, Stephanie chose the Woo Theme, framework, and made a real hit with the page background.

But that leaves one problem for me. This theme is old and unsupported. It’s not mobile responsive and I get a lot of complaints about that from mobile users. If I had an ounce of sense I would get a newer theme that is more powerful and responsive. But I have thousands of visitors come to ScottAlanReed.com whose initial reaction is, “Woah, what the hell is this!!? I can’t believe this theme! I’ve never seen anything like it!”

So what do I do? The obvious solution would be to find Stephanie, give her a new theme and framework like Thesis and tell her to make it look like ScottAlanReed.com. But I don’t even know Stephanie’s last name. And she could be living in a mud hut on some South Pacific island for all I know.

So that would mean paying big bucks for a web developer to do the same from scratch without Stephanie’s creative ability. By the way, I’m partial to the Thesis theme and framework if you haven’t figured that out yet.

So that’s the story about the theme and colors. I think that the next topic that I will tackle in this blogging series is writing style and writer’s block. That seems to be what stops folks in their tracks when blogging so we’ll tackle that subject. Until then………………….

7

IMPORTANT – Website/Domain Name Change Coming Soon

Changes Planned for this Website

The website/domain name for this website will be changing soon. While this change takes place, the website may not be available for up to several hours. Do not be alarmed. We are not going anywhere. Just need to complete the change, iron out any bugs, do some basic testing, and make the website available once again.

Why Is the Website Name Changing?

To be truthful with you, I never did like the current website name. Four years ago, this website was intended to be an eCommerce website with local geographic interest. Those plans changed, but the website name remained the same. I feel that if the site is my personal blog, then it ought to carry my name. So www.thisIStheNorthwoods.com will be changing to www.ScottAlanReed.com.

You’ve seen this name under my photo for so long that the site name ought to be easy to remember. And it’s a more appropriate site name, considering the content of the site.

How This Impacts You

Favorites and Bookmarks

Your favorite or bookmark for www.ThisIStheNorthwoods.com will continue to work until December 7th, 2013. After that the domain name www.ThisIStheNorthwoods.com will expire. Before that time, you will need to create a new bookmark or favorite for www.ScottAlanReed.com. Both URLs will work from the time that the website rename takes place until December 7th, 2013.

RSS Feeds

I can’t guarantee you that your RSS Feed will continue working after the website rename. I doubt it. In technical jargon, the directory name for the feeds will be renamed with the new domain name. So I would assume that RSS will not know where to get its feed, since the name changed. Sorry about that. Once the website/domain name changes, you will have to create a new feed and delete the old one. ThisIStheNorthwoods.com will be Parked, which means it will point to this website until December 7th 2013. I know little of how Parked domains work with RSS and Atom.

After The Website Gets Renamed

There will be bugs. Be assured that my priority will be to test everything and get those bugs resolved as quickly as possible. If you run into one of those bugs, please do not feel that you need to bring the matter to my attention. If you run into a bug a week after the domain rename, then please bring that to my attention. Thank you for doing that.

Will Anything Else Change After the Rename?

Yes. Currently, I publish from this website to Facebook. After the rename is complete, I’ll be publishing to 23 more websites; most of them social. So you will be seeing me around more.

I’ll be adding one banner area for Google Ad Choices. As you know, I don’t care for websites that are plastered with ads. So I don’t use them. However, owning and maintaining a website does entail costs. And I’ve been “eating” those cost to-date. There are no plans for additional advertising.

I’ll be adding more video to the site.

A logon will be added to the front end of the website. But you won’t have to create an account or password on this website because the logon screen will include buttons that allow you to use Facebook or Twitter to logon. That logon information is not stored on this website. If you previously subscribed to this website and created an ID and password, just use that. The purpose of the logon is for my tracking purposes and to pre-fill most of your personal information when leaving comments. Your correct name, or at least your Facebook or Twitter name, will be used throughout the website without you having to type it multiple times.

On occasions, a quick survey will be presented to you. You will be able to skip the survey, but I hope that you don’t. The purpose of the survey is get your feedback on what topics you would like to see addressed in future articles and what topics you could care less about. Those who complete the survey will be permitted to see a compilation of results so you can see what everyone else said.

Finally

These changes should not be too painful. Thank you for every one of your comments and suggestions. I read them all. I will continue to create content that stimulates your thinking and helps you to get over or around that next obstacle in your life.

Scott Alan Reed

5

I Don’t Get It. Who Can Tell Something About Stumbleupon.com?

This is NOT a trick. It is NOT a contest. And it is NOT a critique of Stumbleupon.com. It IS a perfectly legitimate question for which I need your input.

I visited Stumbleupon today for the first time. The application asked me what my interests are, so I picked five. Then it said that it would show me some pages based on my interests.

I like history. So after suggesting we start with history, I was presented with a short video that colored on a black map of Asia, Africa, and Europe in order to show me who conquered what geographic area and when. That was interesting. But what am I supposed to do with that? I thought that I was going to get something to read.

So I checked out self-improvement. That turned out to be a series of blog posts where each post was only a paragraph long. Each included some type of photo. Some blogs were written ON photos. But the information was so scant that I didn’t really learn anything. Below each blog paragraph was a little box that said something about the author.

I had to laugh. I’m supposed to publish to Stumbleupon. But if my posts are less than six pages in length, my readers yell at me to write more. Or they complain that there wasn’t enough information provided to answer all their questions. So I don’t publish short posts. Stumbleupon blog paragraphs sometimes end with, “that’s all for today…come back soon for part 2”. Do you think that I could get away with that?

So what is it? I choose my interests. Hit the Stumble button. And then something is presented; usually a photo or snippet of text. Then I use the thumbs up or thumbs down buttons to indicate whether I want more of the same or less of the same. Is that all?

I realize that I can leave a comment or share. But I didn’t encounter anything worth commenting on or sharing. I was primarily distracted by trying to figure out just what Stumbleupon is for?

One comment that was posted by a young fellow said that he had been cruising around Stumbleupon for two hours and had learned more in that time than he would have in a day at school. Is that what it is for? Kind of an on-line encyclopedia that presents information in various formats but not necessarily text?

Is it like Pinterest – all photos or mostly photo-based?

Is it for peaking your curiosity about something and then it provides a link to the whole story, which resides on another website? I  hovered over the blog photos to see if I could link to the entire blog post, but there was no link.

Help me out. What is Stumbleupon to you?

You can either leave your answer in the comment section under this post or drop me an e-mail to scott@Scottalanreed.com. That mailbox is empty now so your message won’t get lost.

And while you are doing that, I’ll do a bit of research and find out how I am to publish my posts to Stumbleupon. If just a paragraph and a photo, that won’t be too tough. But then, how do you finish the story? Oh, I’ll figure it out.

Tell me what you use Stumbleupon for. I’m really curious.

If nobody has an answer, I’ll assume that you haven’t figured out what Stumbleupon is for either. Or else you know, but you are too embarrassed to admit it.

Maybe Stumbleupon is good for just “vegg’in” out and poking around when you really don’t feel like doing anything else. Like watching some nonsense on TV.

 

 

 

47

Social Signals – A Graph of What Readers Like Most

[loveclaw_graph]

Another Change at Google!?

Yes! Google changed the rules of the game again, but did not announce their intentions. What will give your websites the highest rankings in the SERPS today  is what Google calls “social signals“.

The graph above is a running total of how readers voted their like or dislike for posts on this blog website, and whether they shared any portion of the content. These totals are updated in real time. Want to know if there is anything worth reading on this website? Just click over to the graph above and see what folks think about the articles, and whether they are sharing posts with their friends.

So what are Social Signals?

Social signals are indications of how much time your readers spend sharing your content with others, the amount of time that they spend interacting with your content (time spent on page), and whether or not they are socially engaged with your content – as indicated by Facebook Likes, comments, and social votes. The more votes, likes, and shares there are, the more Google favors this specific site and the higher it will be rated in the SERPS.

What is truly shocking about all of this is that social signals are favored by Google even more than traditional SEO. SEO is tedious and time-consuming. Even the most intensive SEO often produces disappointing results. SEO has always been “king” with Google when it comes to rating websites and content. Not any more. If you are putting countless hours into SEO on your website, you are wasting your time and will receive very little payback from Google.

That doesn’t mean that SEO is dead. Google still expects relevant keywords, keyword highlighting in posts, and appropriate post format using h1, h2, and h3 headers. Backlinks are still important. But not as important as they used to be. If you are trying to improve the rankings for your website by buying backlinks or surfing the Web looking for blog sites where you can leave a comment and a link back to your website, your time would be better spent enhancing social signals on your site and engaging your audience to use them  and share engaging content.

How Does This Apply to Me?

If you have no opinion of the articles that I post and you really don’t care about sharing engaging articles with your friends, this information is of little value to you. If you do not own a website that you would like to see highly placed in the SERPS, than this subject likely does not interest you. But I would ask that everyone use the buttons below each post to express your opinion of the article and potentially share it with someone you know who would also be interested in that post. Why do this? Because I write and share with all of you and ask for nothing in return. And because I care.

After all, the Internet is a social network and is becoming more social every day whether we like it, or not. I’m not a proponent of spending endless hours on Facebook. But I can handle a quick share or like with little effort.

Here’s Social Proof

Chris Munch of Muchweb did a case study on the impact of social signals using a product that he created called LoveClaw. LoveClaw is the application that places the voting icons below each article on this website and handles the sharing as well as the tallying of all votes for display in the graph above.

So what about the social proof and the case study that Chris Much completed? He and his team created a test website that consisted of nothing more than a few engaging photos. Other than the photos, where was no other content on this website; just photos and some headlines and captions. No SEO of any sort had been performed on the website. They launched the website to see what would happen.

The site received a mediocre amount of web traffic and most visitors clicked on the Facebook Like button above each photo to indicate that they found the photo to be interesting and engaging. I confess that the photos WERE pretty interesting and funny.

Then the LoveClaw voting and sharing icons, like the icons at the bottom of this article,  were placed below each photo. The LoveClaw icons allowed visitors to indicate how they felt about each photo and to share their opinion and the photo with friends.

The mediocre traffic that the test website had been receiving began to grow exponentially as news (via sharing) of the photos rippled through the Internet. Google, who seems to have a way of being aware of everything that takes place on the Internet, began to take notice of the test website, even though the site had no content other than a few photos. But what the test website DID have was a spike in visitor traffic accompanied by massive social signals because most visitors were sharing the engaging photos with their friends.

The test website rose dramatically in the SERP rankings and the photos on the website wound up on Google page #1, even though there was no real text content on the website. Mission accomplished. The goal was to create proof that Google will highly rate a website with their decision solely based on social signals from a site,  in the absence of any other content or SEO.

One photo on the site showed a close-up of a cat sleeping on the back of a sofa. The headline reads, “Obama Wins!” and at the bottom of the photo it says “Cats still don’t care”. Cute cat. Great headline that made an interesting and controversial point. The photo is the thumbnail that accompanies this post. Click on it to enlarge it.

And the Conclusion Is?

I wrote this little snippet of an article because I wanted you to know what the new icons are, below each of the posts on this website. And I wanted you to understand the purpose of the graph and know that its results are tabulated in real time.

At the same time, I read all your comments and I know that the majority of you have websites or blogs of your own. The fact that Google highly regards social signals, even over standard SEO, is not widely known. So I wanted to inform you of that development.

About 25% of the comments that I receive for new posts mention that it is hard to find this website in the SERPS. Many just stumble across it by accident while looking for something else. Yet, I am always working on SEO in order to get this blog ranked higher in the SERPS. I already know that the Home Page text needs to be re-written. I need to get the websites policies in the page footers (a Google requirement). And I need to work on keywords for each page and article; all very time-consuming. I tend to put writing new content for your reading pleasure at a higher priority on my list of things to do. But the SEO work will get done.

Now YOU can move this website higher in the SERP rankings much faster than I can by addressing the SEO nuisances. How? By giving me your opinion of specific articles using the voting buttons at the bottom of each article. And by SHARING! Those actions both produce social signals, Google takes notice. and more visitors come to this site. And finally, Google responds by ranking this website higher in the SERPS, while I’m still twiddling around with other boring SEO tasks.

Interesting concept, huh? My own readers can take my website someplace else while I watch helplessly. The power that only I once held has now been passed to YOU.

Actually, I think that’s great that Google cares more about satisfying visitor’s needs than it does about satisfying the needs of website owners or bloggers. Those that surf the Internet SHOULD have more power to get to the information that they are looking for. And their searches should yield the best information, and not pages of advertising that no one wants to look at. So SHARE!

If you are a website owner or blogger and want to incorporate social signals into your site and boost your traffic and rankings, I’m going to let you in on a little secret. Grab LoveClaw now while it’s cheap. It’s in the $35 range. A one-site license was at $25 the last time I looked. I recommend the BETA version which is sometimes called BETA T+. It’s $45 for a lifetime, multi-site license. What is also attractive about it is that it will be the first version of the plugin to receive new features. And as a BETA user, there will be no cost to you for those features. I know that you see this all the time in ads, but seriously, move quickly. LoveClaw will only be at these prices for a week or less. And then they will increase dramatically. Based on the “webbie” series that Chris Munch is doing now, I’m betting the discount prices will be gone when the “webbies” are done on Thursday April 25th. Just a hunch.

This is not a product review. But I couldn’t just drop the subject and leave you in the dark when the whole concept of social signals  starts to ring true in your mind. To find LoveClaw, just click on any one of the LoveClaw links in this post. And no, I do NOT receive any compensation for promoting LoveClaw or Chris Munch.

And I forgot to mention that when you click on any of the voting icons at the bottom of each post, you can share to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Stumbleupon. Stumbleupon doesn’t work yet. Evidently, there is a weird requirement at Stumbleupon where  the page that you are sharing has to exist on Stumbleupon before you can share it to Stumbleupon. Does that make any sense? Anyway, I already publish to Facebook and I will be publishing to Stumbleupon also.

67

Is Blogging Dead on the WWW?

I saw a comment on Facebook the other day that said “Does blogging on the Internet still exist?”

What do you suppose this person is trying to say? Do a “Blogsearch” on Google and you will find thousands, even millions of blogs. Blogging still exist.

What I think that this person is trying to say is that pure blogging is dying and what qualifies as a blog today are actually not blogs at all.

What is a blog supposed to be? Let’s take a look at a definition from Wikipedia.

“A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the WWW and consisting of discrete posts typically displayed in reverse chronological order. Until 2009 blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often were themed on a single subject. More recently “multi-author blogs” (MABs) have developed, with posts written by large numbers of authors and professionally edited.

The emergence and growth of blogs in the late 1990’s coincided with the advent of web publishing, that facilitated the posting of content by non-technical users.

Although not a requirement, most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.

Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal on-line diaries; others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company.”

I’m writing this post for a couple of reasons.

1. Regardless of what my blog subscribers tell me, I don’t believe that I’m one of the Internet’s greatest bloggers. I appreciate and read every one of your comments. You flatter me.

2. You have told me, AND I DO BELIEVE YOU when you say that it’s a trying experience to find a good blog anywhere on the Internet today.

I take exception to Wikipedia’s definition of blogging.

A good blog, one that people will want to follow, should not be required to be on a single theme. What if this website were themed on the subject of blogging? That would be 40+ posts on the subject of blogging.  Would you read that? I don’t think that I would.

MABs (multi-author blogs) are not blogs. They are online newspapers supported by a full staff of editors, graphic designers, sales people, and advertising specialist for the sole purpose of reporting and commenting on the news for profit. They claimed the title of “blog” for the sole purpose of attacking more readers.

If a blog is an online diary, it provides no value to its readers and is therefore not worth reading. No one is interested in what Sally is doing every hour of the day. Use Facebook for that type of communication.

Online brand advertising seems to encompass the majority of blogs today. These are not blogs. The Internet is rampant with commercial advertising. Why would someone follow a blog in order to get more advertising? Again, these so-called blogs pollute blogging in order to attract more buyers.

I think that we need to go back to the late 1990’s to the advent of blogging and web publishing and ask ourselves, what was considered to be a quality blog at that time? Wasn’t it the fact that individuals took the time to share their personal experiences and knowledge with others via an online blog, in order to inform others and potentially enrich their lives by sharing something that will help them get over or around the next “bump” in their lives?

I don’t read blogs on other websites. It’s not that I don’t want to. I just don’t have time to dig through all that information in order to find something that interest me. Advertising, news, and celebrity gossip, all get in the way making finding an informative blog even more difficult.

But today, I took a tip from YOU and perused the top fifteen blogs per ebizmba.com on the Internet. These are Huffington Post, TMZ, The Business Insider, Engadnet, PerezHilton, Gizmodo, Mashable, Techcrunch, Gawker, Lifehacker, The Daily Beast, Smashing Magazine, Failblog, Kotaku, and Boingboing. What I found interesting is that the further down the list of popularity that I got, I found the content to be more compelling and worth a read (with the exception of boingboing).

I was speechless. I could not find a quality blog with good content. This is all just my personal opinion, of course. But I didn’t find anything on those websites that looked like what I just described as the primary purpose of blogging.

What I found was news, advertising, and celebrity gossip. I still can’t believe it. News. Page after page after page of news events and what so-and-so thought of the whole thing. Advertising and celebrity gossip.Volumes of it.

If I wanted to watch news (and I don’t), I could get the same thing on TV, without so-and-so’s opinion of it. I hate news. 99% of the news is negative and depressing. I avoid that stuff. You have probably noticed that, except for an occasional rant against Google, I don’t write on anything negative and depressing. Who wants to hear more of that? We already have enough bad news coming at us from all directions; from the radio, the TV, the mail, the phone, the neighbors, the family, you name it.

People who read blogs want to be uplifted. They want to be moved in a positive way. They want to like their lives have been empowered and enriched for having read the blog.

I read my Bloomberg Business Week magazine every week and that gives me all the world news that I need, without having to hear about the blood and gore of daily crime, and whose house burned down last night (a local news favorite topic).

You told me it was hard to find a good blog anymore. You said the majority of blogs on the Web are about news, celebrities, and technology, and that the majority of all blogs want to sell you something.

You were right. I just needed to get out more in order to find that out for myself. Maybe I need to write on something else. Maybe I need to become more techno and newsy with a little bit of gossip added for good measure.

So I gave up on the Top 15 blogs and went looking for some smaller bloggers to see what they were up to. I did a Google Blogsearch on some keywords. I turned up a page rank 6 in my SERPS and thought I had stumbled onto something. Icerocket.com. It turned out to be more news and more celebrities and precious little text. Page rank 6? That made no sense.

I took a look at the blogs on Opera.com, which besides being a browser, is also a blog site like Blogger. The blogs were pretty lame. One paragraph on how a lady in Virginia was cleaning up her messy house. Then another paragraph about a new necklace that she bought for herself. Another blogger had a one paragraph blog explaining that her family was headed for a camping trip near Minocqua, WI.  Most of the blogs read like a daily diary.

So, I dunno. I should get out more. I admit that I have blinders on. I’m pretty busy lately. I do CPA marketing online and that takes much of my time. Which is why I don’t monetize my blog. I don’t need the money. Blogging is a release for me. I like to write. And I keep thinking that if I share what’s inside my head, that information may make a difference in someone’s life and help them find a shortcut through the next issue or problem that is facing them.

What is really frustrating about the state of blogging is that in order for me to improve the ranking of this website in the SERPs, Google requires me to find other blogs relevant to mine and leave comments or post an article on those blogs in order to accumulate backlinks to my website, thus improving this website’s ranking. What are my chances of finding a blog website that is relevant to this website’s content? I didn’t find any today.

Wikipedia says that as of February 2011, there were over 156 million public blogs in existence. In October 2012, there were around 77 million Tumblr and 56.6 million WordPress blogs in existence worldwide. So what’s to be done about restoring true, unpolluted, blogging to the Internet to replace “sales pitch” and “online newspaper” blogging? Only the “Gestapo of the Internet” – Google would have an answer to that question.

100

Does SEO Really Make Sense for a Blog?

You are going to have to bare with me on this post because I have more questions than answers. But those of you who blog may be able to help me with a frustration that has been nagging at me for some time.

I know SEO (search engine optimization) pretty good. And I do make an attempt to apply SEO principles to this website.  But, If you are a blogger and you know something about SEO, stop and think about this for a minute.

What is a Weblog (blog)? Let’s look at the Wikipedia definition of a Weblog:

“A blog is a discussion or informational site published on the WWW and consisting of posts typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post first). Until 2009 blogs were usually the work of a single individual, and often were themed on a single subject. Although not a requirement, most good quality blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites. In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking. Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers. Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject; others function as more personal online diaries”.

So what do we have? This website is most definitely the work of a single individual.  However, you will not find “the focus on a single theme”.  I see that as a problem for the search engines. But I definitely do not find that as a problem for those who patronize this website. Do my readers want to read on the same theme or subject day after day after day? I don’t think so.

Do the search engines want a weblog to focus on a central theme. Yes, I believe they do. And there’s where the problem begins.  Search engines won’t attach any “rank” to weblogs that ares not focused on one theme and readers of weblogs are not interested in weblogs that are created around a central theme because reading the same or similar content over and over is boring.

So that kills the common theme idea on a blog site. Good blog sites will have multiple themes and subject matter in order to maintain the interest of their readers.  But those websites will perform poorly in search engine results.

“Good blogs are interactive and allow visitors to leave comments or even message other readers. In that sense, blogging can be thought of as a form of social networking”. Got that partially covered. But I’ll have to check into the “messaging” that Wikipedia mentions. If it can be done, I’ll do it. No problem. But let me say at this juncture that we need more social interaction on this website. I welcome your comments and you have been very good at providing those. I comb the site once a week looking for your questions and respond to those. Other than that, we have no interaction at all. Is this the way that you want it? I can create whatever you want.

My opinion is that I would prefer to know my audience better. How do we do that? I tell you what. We can try some things. Where else will you find a blog author and webmaster willing to take the time to interact with his audience? Messaging is rather impersonal. Here’s a couple of suggestions.

  1. I create a fan page for this website on Facebook and we can bounce ideas back and forth there with associated photos/video, status updates and whatever else. It’s still impersonal but not as impersonal as trying to interact on a blog site.
  2. I’ll give you my Skype name if you give me yours. Then if you have a question or want to talk about a subject in more depth, we can chatter on Skype.
  3. If you are also a blogger, and I know that many of you are, I can post your blog in my Blogroll if you do the same on your blog site. Note that Google doesn’t like this unless your blog is “relevant” to mine. But I blog on many subjects so that requirement shouldn’t be too hard. Then we can share posts by “pointing” to each other’s articles and get to know each other’s interests that way.

So let me know if any of these approaches appeal to you. I’ve been asked to provide direction on blogs belonging to visitors of this site. I’ve been asked to do “guest posts” on other blogs. And I’ve been asked to do video interviews by other bloggers. I’m pretty flexible and open to this stuff. Just ask.

Getting back to the subject – this article is supposed to be about how it is impossible for a blog to rank on the first page of search results because what search engines expect is not what those who enjoy reading weblogs want to read.

Google wants websites to focus on a limited group of keywords and keyword phrases and then use those keywords and phrases frequently on every page or post. That’s good SEO. But how do you do that on a blog? The content on a good blog cannot be based on limited subject matter where a small group of keywords and phrases can be used repeatedly. I already explained why you can’t do that above. It’s boring. And blogs are not supposed to be boring.

So that kills keywords.

When Google indexes your website, sites that are optimized for SEO contain inbound links from other websites that have similar or relevant content. That would have to be another blog website. Or at least a non-blog site whose content is relevant to at least a couple of posts on this site. Fat chance of that.

So that kills back-links.

The websites that get ranked the highest by the search engines are “authority” sites. That means within the area of that site’s expertise, an authority site has the best and most complete content. Blogs are not an authority on anything. Remember  what a blog is. It’s a weblog of what an individual feels is important to them and those who patronize their site. It’s supposed to be on one theme but I refuse to do that. I have a lot of areas of expertise. But I don’t pretend to be an authority on any one of them.

So that kills authority site.

Traffic – Websites that receive tons of traffic (visitors) are ranked higher by the search engines than sites that receive little traffic. I have about 1000 subscribers. That’s without my driving traffic to this site. I don’t post to any social network sites. And I know that I don’t rank well in the search engines.

I could do a better job of posting to social networks and doing “guests posts” in order to advertise this site better. But how does that help you? It doesn’t   I always thought that I needed a “release” or a place where I could say whatever I wanted to say and anyone who could relate would respond back and we would learn new things from each other. That’s why I started this site in the first place. Should I care about traffic? I’m more concerned with helping an individual down the bumpy path of life than I am with juggling mobs of people.

I guess I just can’t please the search engines. And I didn’t set out to please them.  So if you have some wisdom to share on this subject, please share it.

I noticed that my posts are considerably longer than the average post on other blogs. Maybe other bloggers don’t have a lot to say. I’m going to try and keep my posts a bit shorter. So I apologize for rambling on this subject. Sometimes a nip of Baileys late at night will do that to you. Until next time.

54

Website Guidelines

I love you folks. I really do. You give me good feedback and ideas on what I can do to improve this website. I rarely get a negative comment on my blogs and I thank you for that. This website would be of little use to anyone without you.

But I want to know your real name. So please don’t advertise your product in the space for your name. I want to continue to interact with you. I want to be able to send answers to your questions to you and address you by your real name in my messages.

And please don’t leave an invalid e-mail address. How can I answer your questions without receiving a bounce-back because you left an invalid e-mail address? Many of you have asked me to take a look at your website and give you some suggestions for improvement. I do that for free for subscribers to my website. Others are not so lucky.

Please don’t use my website for the sole purpose of advertising yours. Or let me put it another way. Do you want to advertise on my website? No problem. We can do that. Want to exchange website links? Just ask. But if you know Google as well as I do, then you already know that Google only pays attention to “relevant” links and throws out the rest as trash. That means your theme and content must be similar to mine in some way. Otherwise, there’s no benefit. Or if your site or mine has an abundance of irrelevant inbound/outbound links, Google interprets that as “spammy” and throws them all out.

If you put a link in your comment, your comment will be appreciated, but deleted.  Or I may edit the comment and remove the link. If your comment is not “on subject”, it gets deleted. If you use your product as your name, those will be deleted unless I can figure out your first name and put that in the name field. You can include one website in the website field. If more than that, WordPress (Akismet) will automatically delete your comment without my having seen it.

I’m sorry that I sound like your father. But I can’t let my blog get “spammy’ or Google will throw both me and the blog out. I don’t even like Google, but that’s another matter.

I get more comments on the “Whole House Backup” and “Ten Things to Do in Wisconsin for Recreation” articles than I do for all other articles combined. Why is that? I wrote both of those articles about a year ago. They’re in the Archives. Many of you request that I write more recent articles. I’ve written many. Just click on “Blog” on the menu bar and you’ll find all of them.

Did you know that the picture boxes on the Home Page are links to even more blogs? Hover your cursor over the brown bar at the bottom of the photo to view the topic.

The majority of you have asked how I came up with the design for the website. Hover over the photo of the log cabin on the Home Page and you will find a link to the FAQ (frequently asked questions) page. The answer you are looking for is posted at the top of the page.  The link to the site template is there as well as a link to the site host.

When I try to answer your questions via e-mail and get a bounce-back, I put the answer on the FAQ page. If I were to answer your question in-line with the article that you read, you would have to figure out where you left the comment and then shop around for the article.

Keep your suggestions coming. I’m constantly tweaking the site to improve the content. I want to add breadcrumbs for easier navigation but the template keeps fighting with me. I need website policies in the footer in order to please Google, but the template is getting in my way again. I also want a photo gallery once I figure out how to add a gallery without slowing the website down to a crawl. Photos are tough on performance.

Finally, the link to Flickr on the sidebar will take you to three photo galleries on Flickr with no login required. I don’t think that anyone has used this link.

For those of you who have a new or upgraded house on your mind, you’ll find an abundance of information on the “Freebies/Deals” page including a 42-page manual/blog which I’ll send to you via e-mail upon request. This manual tells you how I built my current log home for a pittance.

So shop around a bit. There’s a lot more information on this website than you realize.

Thank you for listening and stay in touch!

19

A Tidbit of Wisdom for Bloggers

For all you frustrated bloggers, here are some pointers. I get asked whether I’m a professional Blogger all the time. The answer is no. I’m just a guy who lives in and loves the Northwoods of Wisconsin. And I like to write. That’s it.

I don’t write anything unless I feel moved or inspired by something. Blogging means writing about what is on your mind, what interest you, or what is happening in your life. You can’t force a blog. If you don’t feel inspired to share in a blog – then don’t.  Put it off until you feel inspired. Also, one cardinal rule that you should never violate is that regardless of your blog subject matter, share something that folks can take away after reading your blog. Something that will help them down the bumpy path of life and make them feel better for having read your post.

Lastly, stay positive and upbeat. Blogs are supposed to be interesting and fun. Since it is your weblog, you are entitled to write about whatever you want. But I don’t mix controversial subjects in with my primary blog. I put controversial subjects in a separate place called “Scott’s Rant”. So if someone wants to read on my opinions of world events, people, or places, they know where to find those posts.

7