In my article, “What Changes Your Mind About Leaving a Blog Comment,” I talked about some of the issues around debating where and when to leave a blog comment on a blog that hosts information or opinions you don’t support, or is filled with blog clutter, a clue that something isn’t right. About how your comment may be seen to support the blog, and impact your reputation by association.
As I wrote that post, I looked back over all the WTF Blog Clutter articles in the series and realized that many of these issues are ones that impact my willingness to comment on a blog. Sure, they impact my ability to even read the blog, let alone return and tell others, but they also impact my willingness to endorse a blog with a comment.
I started thinking about all the blatant, subjective, and even unconscious reasons that prevent me from leaving a comment on a blog. Here are some of my self-discoveries, most of them associated with various aspects of blog clutter. I’m sure you have more you can add, but these are big clues that this is a blog that doesn’t deserve my participation. read more
A few minutes ago I followed a trackback to a lovely blog post about one of my blog posts. It was quite complementary and made some good points. I was in the middle of composing a reply when I glanced over to the sidebar and saw the listing of the most recent blog posts featuring what were clearly pay-per-post or sponsored post titles. Ick!
That was my first response. Ick. Yuk. Oooey gooey, as one of my nephews would say.
We’ve talked about a lot of different design detail clutter and distractions in the ongoing series, “WTF Blog Design Clutter“, but we haven’t addressed the issue of perception when it comes to inspiring blog comments and conversation.
It’s true that a lot of people comment on blogs for link bait and Google juice. While that may be true, what is unsaid about the importance of a blog comment is probably the most important consideration when it comes to commenting on blogs: Association by commenting.
A blog comment says you want to participate in the conversation. It says you are interested in the topic. It says you are supportive of the blogger. It says you are who you say you are. It says that the link in your comment form takes the reader to your blog, which should speak well of you and match the quality of the blog you are commenting on. It says you want to be a valuable contributor to the blogosphere and the world of communication. Right?
Save us from the out-of-control blogrolls, lists of links that run on and on and on and on and on and on and on…listing everyone who ever started a blog on the whole planet – well, it feels like it.
Your blogroll links are important in the minds of Google, and they can add or subtract points in your PageRank scores. You better take your blogroll links seriously, ensuring you are linking to blogs that will complement yours as well as complement theirs.
Is your blog filled with “Your Ad Here” titles with empty space all around it? Honestly, WTF?
As part of our ongoing WTF Blog Design Clutter article series, let’s look at people’s attempt to inspire advertisers on their blog, and where it falls down as a design element.
The empty ad space that sits there with the note “Your Ad Here” isn’t very inviting. In fact, it’s just wasted space. If there are no ads there, then there is a lot of wasted space in your blog’s sidebar. read more
While most of this ongoing series on WTF Blog Clutter has been focused on the blog sidebar and design elements, a big clutter element is the continued use of the CAPTCHA with comments with the misguided belief that it would stop comment spammers. NOT.
CAPTCHA stands for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart, created to ensure that humans can read the letters and numbers in a way that computers can’t, so automated scripts and bots can’t leave a comment on your blog. Pass the test and you’ve earned the right to comment. Except that the CAPTCHA techniques have been broken and bypassed easily by computers for years. read more
The WTF Blog Design Clutter continues with a look at your uncategorized category. Have you been ignoring it lately?
Most blogs start life with a single category as an example called “Uncategorized”. I don’t know why or who started it, but it’s a dumb category name, especially if users don’t know they can change it from the start. It could be called General, Topics, Articles, Stories, or a lot of other non-specific labels. Unfortunately, it is Uncategorized and we’re stuck with it.
With more and more people covering their categories and tags into heat maps or clouds, they often choose the design look emphasizes your most popular categories or tags in the largest, most bold font. For many, the word most emphasized in these category clouds is Uncategorized. read more
Many of you asked me what title or label should be used to lure your visitors into clicking on your ads and subscribing to your feeds without driving them away or confusing them. Let’s brainstorm some possibilities.
Naming Ad Sections on Your Blog
If you use a misleading title for your advertising or “sponsored” section, you can really upset your readers and visitors when they click through to an ad. That’s a sure way to lose visitors. You need to warn them, but you also need to entice them to click, if your blog is serious about making money.
“Visit Our Sponsors” is simple and generic, as is “Our Commercial Recommendations.” You can be blatant with “Advertisements” or “Ad sponsors” as long as that still complies with the terms of service for the advertiser.
What about something more appropriate to your blog’s topic?
If your blog is about cars, why not title them, “Drive Some Business to Our Sponsors.” If your blog is about cats, what about “Our Sponsors are the Cat’s Meow” or “Here Kitty Kitty! Shop Here!”
Contextual ad services require keywords near their ads and on the page, so why not add more by being clever, not deceptive. You cannot imply the links in the ads are publisher-created content, but you can say they are ads or sponsors with some imagination.
You can also color the background or the area around the ads to set them apart but also integrated into the blog’s design to draw the eye towards them without distracting from the content. There are many ways of highlighting your ads without words that helps the visitor recognize them. Research the guidelines the advertiser provides, as some do not allow graphics or design emphasis, and check their top revenue earners to see what they are doing.
As part of the ongoing series on WTF Blog Design Clutter, it’s time to tackle all those videos and pictures you want to share with the world through your blog.
There are two ways of sharing video and pictures with your blog readers and friends. Only one influences your blog’s design.
Example of appropriate use of videos in a blog's sidebar, reflecting the blog's purpose.
Typically, pictures and videos are shared through your blog posts as part of your blog’s content. Many bloggers want to share videos and pictures through their blog’s design, typically in the blog’s ever crowded sidebar. Some even want to go so far as forcing videos to start the moment someone lands on the page with the video, a serious no-no on the web. Let the reader choose to initiate the video. read more
Maps have come a long with with the advancements of Google Maps and Yahoo! Maps, especially with the integration of satellite maps and introduction of Google Earth where you can actually see where you are going or want to go. Or where you live. Online maps make the world closer and smaller, and they can make your blog more personal.
Is it important to have a map of where you live or work or play on your blog? read more