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October 25, 2009

Sunday Morning SEO: The Role of Design and Formatting

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You may be surprised to see a post about design and formatting in an SEO column. These elements have nothing to do with keywords. But in my experience, they can play a crucial role in link building.

I found this out from one of my blogs about a year ago. A couple weeks after I started the blog, I started getting links and some of the linkers commented about how they liked my blog’s design. This was the first blog I launched that had a custom design. In the past, I would start blogs but just use a common free theme. I would modify it a little bit, but you could still tell that it was a common design. (If you’ve seen all the similar Thesis themed blogs running around, you know what I’m talking about.) read more

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September 28, 2009

Movable Type Monday: New MT5 Beta, Single Sign-On, Easy Install Video, and Theme Tips

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Happy Monday, folks! Movable Type Monday took a break for a couple of weeks, but now we’re back with the latest from the MT community.

First off, there’s a new MT5 beta. Lots of improvements and bug fixes over the previous beta. But, if you haven’t installed it yet, you might just want to wait: I’ve heard that beta 3 is supposed to be released in the next day or two.

Next, Byrne Reese has a new plugin that implements OpenSSO. This allows you to use an OpenSSO server as a single sign-on solution for your MT installation. For more on OpenSSO, see the documentation from Sun.

Need help installing MT?, Sahas Katta has created a video to walk you through the process. His process includes a shell script that does most of the work for you. Thanks, Sahas!

Finally, Tom McGee wrote a post with several tips for customizing MT blogs. Tom’s tips focus on creating custom themes and modifying banner images in default themes. Good information for those less familiar with MT’s current theme system.

What have you done with MT lately? Let us know in the comments.

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September 19, 2009

5 Design Tweaks to Improve Your Blog Conversion Rates

Blogging success boils down to two things:

1. Get traffic

2. Convert it

“Convert it” means “get people to do what you want them to do,” which is usually clicking an ad, subscribing to your blog/newsletter, or buying something. (Or linking to your blog, or telling their grandma how awesome you are, etc.)

If you’ve been blogging for a while, you probably have a fairly constant stream of traffic flowing to your blog from one or more sources – search engines, social networking websites, online directories, and so forth.

But are you converting it as well as you can? read more

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August 17, 2009

5 Ogilvy Tips for Blog Design

ogilvyonadvertising

David Ogilvy is a legend in the advertising world, despite having first retired some 30 year ago and not having published a book in nearly 25. His works are required reading for advertising students today and his philosophy of creating ads that generate sales made millions for his clients. He had a characteristic style or writing and design that remains instantly recognizable to those who’ve studied him, even today.

Though Ogivly died in 1999, just as the Web was beginning to take off, many of his lessons and ideas remain just as valid today as they did half a century ago. Last year I wrote an article entitled “7 Blogging Tips from David Ogilvy” that focused on applying some of Ogilvy’s techniques to blog writing. Ttoday however, I’m going to focus on how his design tips can help you choose a good look for your blog.

Ogilvy had a very famous and classic layout that focused on combining visuals with easy-to-read text. It’s a simple layout that draws the reader’s eye and lures them into the content. It’s a design that at least some elements easily apply to blogs, including the ones below. read more

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July 29, 2009

Twitter Gets a New Front Page

newtwittercomsplash.jpgTwitter just rolled out their new front page, which was known to come. I’m a bit ambivalent about it, mainly because it seems to follow all of the design trends out there at the moment.

Anyway, the new front page features search from the front as well as a selection of trending topics, which is good. The reason for this is, well, I’ll let Biz Stone tell it himself:

However, demonstrating the power of Twitter as a discovery engine for what is happening right now through our Search and Trends often awakens a sense of wonder which inevitably leads to a much more compelling question, “How do I get involved?”

So what’s the verdict? read more

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July 20, 2009

Movable Type Monday: Version Announcement, Twitter Comments, Custom Styles, and More

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Happy Monday, folks! Sorry for the lack of updates last week — I was out of town and didn’t make it back in time for Movable Type Monday. Which was a shame, since we got a couple of pieces of really exciting news. First, the beta for MT 4.3 has begun. A few of the new features include:

  • Entry Pagination via MT-Search
  • Clone a Blog’s Structure Without the Content
  • Comment Pagination
  • Per Entry Asset Management

Plus lots of bug fixes. The new asset management is what interests me the most — it means the end of the awful form tags currently used to associate an image with an entry. If you’re the beta type, download and try it today. read more

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May 6, 2009

Glenda Watson Hyatt: Is Your Blog Disabled?

Glenda Watson Hyatt presenting web accessibility at SOBCon09At the Successful and Outstanding Bloggers Conference (SOBCon) this weekend in Chicago, the famous Left Thumb Blogger, of the Do It Myself Blog rocked the attendees world with her powerful How POUR is Your Blog presentation, reminding us that if our blogs don’t meet web standards for accessibility, it could be disabled.

Glenda’s powerful presentation wasn’t the typical dry stuff of web accessibility. Dry? Boring? That’s not possible with Glenda around. She has a wicked sense of humor and used it in her PowerPoint presentation, accompanied by her voice program, Kate, which read her presentation out loud. I’ve never laughed so hard over such a serious subject as web accessibility.

Glenda has cerebral palsy. It restricts her movement and speech but it doesn’t impact her intelligence, though many have labeled her otherwise in the past. In her book, I’ll Do It Myself, she shared the trials and tribulations as well as the challenges of being a highly intellectual woman trapped in a body that just can’t keep up. I highlighted Glenda in How WordPress Changes Lives, showcasing how WordPress changed her life by giving her a voice that connects with people around the world through her blog.

One of the great points she made was on how to justify using ALT attributes in your blog images: read more

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April 20, 2009

Blog Design: What You Don’t Know About Your Blog Audience Can Hurt

blog design timeline iconI had an interesting discussion with a client last week about when and how to implement a new blog design. She wanted to warn her readers that a change was coming, and take a few months to implement the changes step by step.

We talked about the process and created a timeline for the slow unveiling of the site design, a smart decision for those with a large audience, especially when making dramatic changes to the site’s navigation and content handling. Some audiences can handle it, and love design changes, but some can’t. They just don’t respond well to change.

We talked a little more about her readership, covering some basic web analytics such as where her readers come from, how they access the site (through the front page, single pages, tags and categories, or through aggregators, email or feeds), and I stumbled upon some stunning facts that shifted the entire game plan.

While her site gets a steady stream of visitors, several thousand a day, only 10% return. Of those, only three percent return to the blog at least once week. Honestly, that’s about 9 people a week.

This changes everything. read more

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April 16, 2009

What Changes Your Mind About Leaving a Blog Comment? Some Criteria

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

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April 15, 2009

What Changes Your Mind About Leaving a Blog Comment?

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?

No? Well, maybe it should. read more

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