SEO Friendly Blogging

One of the pluses to blogging is that it enjoys a unique advantage in search engines. There are ways that you can improve your search engine rankings and enjoy increased traffic as a result. Leverage the inherent advantages of blogging to make yours perform even better. You just need to know what to look for.

Firstly, you can save time by blogging or using a content management system (CMS) rather than developing pages by hand which entails FTP and hyperlink maintenance. A smooth-running publishing environment is crucial as major search engines consider how frequently you update your site. For this reason, blog results appear on the search page faster than static pages do. Unfortunately, these posts may vanish temporarily, especially when competition is stiff--because usually, only the latest posts appear on a blog's first page. The great thing about Squarespace combines blogging and a CMS that you can use to make categories and static pages that backlink to your favorite posts. The result is that, when posting regularly, you can build your own niche subject.

Secondly, mind your headlines. This is a crucial part of your post and requires great care. It should invite people to click the link and read your post, but it needs to be generic enough for people to find it. Make a list of the keywords you want to use, and keep it handy when blogging.

By taking these two steps and a little planning, you can greatly improve your search engine results. Squarespace does most of the work for you. Your job is to focus on writing, and great SEO will follow.

Producing Interesting Blogs

For everyone that writes blogs regularly, there comes a time when we are faced with a seemingly impossible assignment.  Even in the most interesting of blog topics, we sometimes get bogged down and have issues getting started on a given article.  We don't always have something witty and interesting to say in order to keep our blogs going day-to-day and week-to-week.  How do you manage to overcome this obstacle and get your thoughts rolling in the right direction?

It's best to keep in mind that with any given topic, there's always something you can write about.  Sometimes we forget even the most minuscule details that can be transformed into fantastic articles for our readers to enjoy and discuss.  Sometimes it just takes a little longer for the 'lightbulb' in our heads to turn on.  Here are just a few possible routes for you to take when you're trying to pass a major hurdle of writer's block:

You can always give updates on the status of your company.  Has anything noteworthy or historical happened lately?

If you're looking for inspiration, Google Alerts is always handy.  It will keep you abreast of trends and inform you of any major happenings in a given category.

Check out other sites and blogs that may have some connection to yours.  It's a way to compare and contrast your own and see if there may be something you've left out.  You can also develop relationships with other blogs, companies, and communities if you backlink to them.  You never know when you may hit your next big break in that kind of development.  

Research and decide what your customers want.  Consider what kind feedback you receive from partners and coworkers as well, because this could lead to many relevant and important ideas for your blog.

It may even be advantageous to steer away from your own company and write about a new topic from time to time.  There's a lot going on in the world that may or may not relate to your company, but would interest your customers anyway.  If they find interesting and worthwhile writing on your blog that isn't necessarily company-related, it may make your site even more successful.

If those ideas don't help, it never hurts to ask your readers.  A single blog asking for ideas can lead to dozens of potential articles in the future.  It's also a good way to find out what your readers want, and get them talking to you and to each other.

Comments Conundrum

Owning a blog requires you to answer some fundamental questions even before you begin. For example, questions like will you allow comments on you blog? If you do allow comments on your blog, then what should the comment policy be? Clearly, it is easy to that there are no easy answers to these kinds of questions.

There are arguments for blocking comments entirely. It saves lots of space and time. Managing and responding to comments can get you a lot of valuable feedback from customers, but it can also eat up valuable time which you might not have. If all you're worried about is getting a post up there for SEO, then comments may not be necessary. Also, if there is a fear of negative comments, it may be worthwhile to start the blog without comments, since it's easier to add them than it is to shut them down.

If you have the time available to manage comments, this is usually the better option even though it can be hard to keep up with comments. I haven't responded to the comments on my past blog entries yet, though they've been great to read and I intend to get to them, however, much of the reason to blog in the first place is to connect with consumers in a new way, which can't be done if they don't have a voice on your blog. Blogs are all about community and the exchange of ideas, not one voice talking to fill an empty webpage.

Positive comments are great to send around the office to show customer appreciation as they reveal when you are doing things right and are really helping people. If you run across a particularly satisfied customer, you can ask them to share their experience on the blog and this unbiased feedback can give rise to new customers. There are many advantages to having these kinds of responses.

As far as negative comments go,  I think it boils down to remembering that these opinions exist somewhere on the Internet anyway. They will find a way to make themselves heard whether it's on your blog or elsewhere, however, if it's on your blog, you can respond directly and engage in the conversation. You can explain what you agree with and what you don't. Most importantly you can let them know what you are doing to fix the problem, whatever it may be. Negative comments, as long as they are constructive, can actually be an asset and can go a long way towards improving your product and increasing customer satisfaction.

This brings me to the comments that simply are not constructive and, hence have to be dealt with. Before you begin blogging, consider creating a comment policy. You can include it in the comment form page or on the sidebar. This way, everyone knows exactly what the blog is about and there is less chance of a backlash from people whose comments are excluded. Usually, this involves deleting any spam comments, foul language, and personal attacks. This can be done by moderating comments and having to approve them before they appear on the blog or letting all comments go up but removing those that are not appropriate.

In the end, each company has to make up its mind in regard to the comments question. As long as you're clear and consistent about your decision, this is a question that doesn't really have a wrong answer.

Understanding RSS & Stats

Squarespace offers a number of important components, but one of the most important is the journal module. The journal module is used to create a blog and offers many important features. One of the most useful and hardest to understand features is the automatic publishing of xml feeds. These feeds are also known as Atom, RDF or most commonly RSS Feeds.

As soon as a journal has been created and your users have been alerted to the feed URL, Squarespace will begin tracking subscribers for you. This number is referred to as the subscriber count. It can be located in the Admin area under Traffic > Subscribers.

To fully grasp the concept of the subscriber count, you need to understand something about web feeds. They are an anonymized piece of technology and therefore are not easily trackable. People don't subscribe to a feed in the same way that they subscribe to an email list, so the only record that is present of feed subscribers is the list of which IP addresses downloaded the feed. A further complication is that feed readers may check for content multiple times a day, showing that reader as a multiple-occasion visitor. This is remedied by only counting unique IP addresses, but unfortunately as a result subscriber counts are not known absolutely accurately until the day is over.

Feed aggregators like Bloglines, NewsGator and GoogleReader give additional information to help Squarespace in providing an accurate subscription count. These aggregators download feeds for multiple users, so when a feed is grabbed by an aggregator from Squarespace, they report the number of subscribers that they have for that particular feed.

Squarespace is able to take the number of people reported by Bloglines and add that to the subscriber count. Unfortunately, not all aggregators provide this information and thus Squarespace must count them as only one subscriber.

The subscriber count is reported on a daily basis, which is common. It combines the aggregator numbers and unique feed downloads from the day and that is the daily count. If the subscriber stats are viewed in weekly mode, then the average number of subscribers per day is calculated, not the sum of views for the week. The monthly view functions in the same way, as a daily average for the month rather than a lump sum.

Now that we understand the basics of the subscription count, let's address the most frequently asked questions about subscriber stats:

  1. What is the total number of subscribers?
  2. Why have my subscriptions increased/decreased?

Unfortunately, the first question is not a very good question to ask. Due to subscribers being anonymous, we are unable to truly check how many people are subscribed on a daily basis. The number changes frequently, which is why it's called a daily subscriber count rather than a total. This shows the answer to the second question. The subscriber number is not a true subscription count each day because if, for example, a reader doesn't open their RSS reader that day then they won't be counted as a subscription and the count will decrease. This is important around big holidays, because most readers will take a break from their RSS subscriptions and your count will naturally drop. This is normal, and it's important to keep this in mind when viewing daily count fluctuations.

In the grand scheme of things, if you're checking your subscriber count every day, you should relax. The count is merely an estimate, and due to fluctuations it's better to track long term averages. This provides a more accurate view of the readership of the blog. Don't worry about the daily subscription counts, especially in the beginning of the blog, and instead utilize that time for producing quality content for the blog.

Getting Traffic to Your Blog

How great would it be to be able to have a blog that practically writes itself and that get lots of folks interested and looking and coming back for more?  To most bloggers, this would be heaven.  And it is possible.  We have some simple advice that can help you with this so read through the following ten easy suggestions that we provide to assist you:

1. You are an expert in something.  Be sure to start your spot off with a list of tips on something you know a lot about.  When people get good advice they are likely to add your spot to their favorites to see what else you can tell them over time.

2. Blogernity and Blog Catalog are two different blog directory sites that you can sign on for and there are more that will add you as a link so people can find you.  Some ask to be linked to your site, but some will require nothing from you that way.

3. Squarespace makes it easy for you to put a search feature on your blog, which will really be appreciated by your readers.

4. Make sure you do not have cluttered sidebars. You don't want old ads or listings for blog after blog that look ugly and confuse readers.

5. Get some extra punch by pinging sites that relate to your latest post. You can be helped in this by Squarespace for larger site trackers and Ping Shot for smaller site trackers.

6. Make a calendar for yourself so you know what you would like to write about over time and nothing seems haphazard.  There's a site called Copy Blogger that can help you set one up.

7. Make sure to incorporate images, whether photos or clip art, to illustrate your text.  A site called Graphic n Graphic Design can give you the stock photos you might be seeking.

8. Emphasize what you would like your reader to do in terms of follow through.  You may think you have made your point but people easily lose their focus.

9. Whenever you send an email, make sure your blog address is included in the preset signature.  That way you'll be spreading the word without even having to do any extra work.  You'd be surprised how many people will take note.

10. Sign up with Technorati, a top blog search engine, so that your blog is tagged relating to the topics it covers.

Squarspace for iPhone v1.2

They felt that the world needed more after our recent Android release, and a new Squarspace app is what they decided the world could not do without. This new version has been built on a completely different framework in order to greatly improve the stability of the app. The great news is, the new and improved Squarspace does not have the same problem with crashing people experienced with the older version. In addition the following new features have been added.

Markup Editor: This new editor allows the user more control over their content. One of the ways it does this is by allowing the user to choose the editing mode while they are creating each of their drafts. Choose between Text, HTML, Textile, and Markdown.

Updated User Interface: A whole new range of icons, images and animations are now available with the app.

Audio: To improve the user experience there are now sounds to help you navigate the app. This feature can be turned on or off depending on user preferences, through the account settings window.

Visit the iTunes App Store to get your new and improved Squarespace app now. If you have any questions feel free to contact the support team at Squarespace, they will be happy to help you get started.

Bloggers Should Avoid

There are plenty of resources out there that tell you what to do for improving your blog, but this one is taking a slightly different angle. If you understand what all the mediocre blogs are doing, you will better understand how to make your own blog stand out from the pack.

1. Use of sound and music

No one likes having their ears assaulted by unwanted music and noise when they surf to a new website, especially office workers in a normally quiet environment or people who like to listen to their own music while reading blogs.

2. Lack of contact and blog information

Why would anyone want to hear what you have to say if they know nothing about you or why you're blogging about your topic of choice?

3. Sticking with the default setup

Many first time bloggers just play with the deck they are dealt and don't change a thing with the way their blog looks after signing up for one. Nothing is more boring than seeing a blog that looks like all the other blogs. Take the time to create a colorful, eye-catching blog. At the very least, choose a template that fits in with your blog topic or theme.

4. Keeping the blog host domain

There's nothing wrong with having a blogspot or wordpress domain for your blog, but if you look at the professional blogs out there, you will notice they have their own domain. It's easier for readers to remember and separates the pros from the beginners.

5. Letting the archives be the only form of organization

If you want readers to find your best blog entries, don't make them search through the arbitrary dates of the archive. Create specific links and categories that point right to the important posts.

6. Not sticking to a schedule

Nothing is more frustrating to a reader than finding a blog they like that seems to suddenly stop updating. They will move on to more satisfying blogs. Even if you don't post often, keeping a consistent schedule will keep your readers happy.

7. Ad spamming

There's nothing wrong with earning a little money by posting ads on your blog, but a blog that's flooded with ads will let your reader know that you are more interested in profit than an enjoyable reading experience. Sparing and carefully placed ads are much more profitable.

8. Opening links in new windows

Most internet users don't like having their screen cluttered with new windows and tabs, so don't make every link pop open a new window. Assume your readers are smart enough to know how to return to your site.

9. Blogging blindly

If you have no idea how new readers are finding your site, how are you going to know how to appeal to even more readers? Use built in stat tools and a little research to see how effective search engine use can pull in an interested audience.

10. Rambling

Most readers visit blogs for only minutes at a time. A long, unbroken dissertation of a blog post will scare most readers away. If you have a lot to say on a topic, break it up into several smaller blog posts. Your readers will appreciate it.

Blog Visibility

Now that you've created a blog and you're regularly adding quality content to the blog, what's your next step in maintaining the blog? It's time to increase your visibility, by raising awareness and attracting a substantial and involved reader base. Unfortunately, this task is easier said than done, but there are a number of things that can be done to raise their interest and increase the reader retention rates.

One of the easiest and most efficient ways to increase traffic to your blog is to just increase your personal involvement within the blogging community. Find a list of blogs that discuss the same topic as your blog, and make an effort to always read those blogs. When you have something substantial to add, comment on the blogs, and if something big is mentioned then you should definitely mention it on your personal blog. As you increase awareness of other blogs, they will begin to notice you as well.

Another way to increase awareness of your blog is to utilize company resources and the existing customer base. Use the business to your advantage, and do things like including news about the blog in company publications. Alert everyone in the business and rely on them to help spread the word. Link to the blog in press releases, so that it's shown in search engines, and importantly, read by reporters. Anyone who reads the site has the possibility of becoming a subscriber and lending significant readership to the blog. Don't forget about the little things either, like providing links to the blog on the company's homepage.

Features and widgets on the blog itself can help you to increase readership. Don't neglect to offer easy subscription options via RSS, as readers are more likely to subscribe if it's an easy option. Squarespace has a tracking application that can let you know how many people sign up for the blog's RSS feed. This allows you to track the number of readers and the retention rate. If readers aren't returning, then create exciting posts and polls to get comments and build a participatory community.

Giving the audience reasons to come back is important, but don't forget to remind them how to get there. There are millions of blogs out there, so make sure that your blog link is frequently shown to the audience. This helps interested readers remember to come back to read the blog. Incentives can be given to increase readership in the form of promotions for blog readers only. To reward frequent readers, the promotion could last just a few hours. This gives them a sense of urgency about the importance of reading the blog and gives them reason to keep coming back.

These are all great tips, but the most important part of a successful blog is content. Readers might check out the blog once because of one of these tips, but if the content isn't great they won't keep coming back.

Podcast Advertising

With about 160,000 of podcast recordings currently available for download, business for podcast producers is thriving.

Podcasts are recurring videos that can be downloaded on iTunes or from the websites of the entity that originally aired the content. Some podcasts are made available weekly, while others can be downloaded daily.

While some creators have experienced success in the podcast market, far more have failed. Still, the lure of high advertising revenue leads some into giving podcasts a shot.

Ad sales can run more than $50 (CPM), which can be a lucrative payout for publishers. Ads are sold as sponsorships, but often come with a long list of publisher requirements.

Bulk ads may prove more realistic, as they come in pre or post-roll, or banners, that pay $1-8 CPM.

How can you reach that number?

A few factors that affect payout include viewership, content type, brand and infrastructure. A general rule-of-thumb is that a publisher needs to gain about 100,000 subscribers per month, measured in number of downloads, to start making money. That number could fluctuate depending on the market and content.

One factor the publisher can control is the brand, which can garner more viewers depending on its recognition and value in the marketplace. If your brand isn't Sony, consider strengthening it to make it more appealing to sponsors.

The first step to gaining higher ad sales is creating a better landing page, which will handle 30 percent of your viewership. 

Infrastructure also can be managed easily by hiring staff that can handle advertising sales. Internal infrastructure maximizes profit margin, but outsourced work can also help get a publisher in the game.

To summarize, focus you energy on launching a good show, strengthening your brand, using guerrilla marketing tactics and outsourcing work.

V6 Template Development Kit

The Squarespace Template Development Kit (TDK) is about to enter V6 beta testing.  If you have signed on to be a beta tester, watch for your invitation to begin testing very soon.  Be patient.  Their internal team is currently exercising the new kit vigorously.  Following beta testing, the formal release should take place later this year.  Below you will find a description of some of the new features you can expect.  The template engine has been completely redesigned to be much more user friendly.

The Template Development Kit V6 key features include:

  • Instant availability of any font from the Google font directory
  • Complete control over the HTML produced
  • Use of JavaScript Object Notation (JSON) for open interchange of your data set, including all URLs, plus use of JSON Template for formatting the V6 templates, making them readable and easily edited even by non-experts
  • Use of LESS CSS for processing, taking advantage of its dynamic capabilities for functions, variables, operations, and mixins; this greatly simplifies inheritance and expands the complexity allowed among properties
  • Ability to instantly push updated templates from a master site to all client sites with a click

Slideshow 2.0

New Options For Style
The slide indicators and options to configure the slideshow control placements allow you to control what style you want. In order to make your slideshow have the look and feel you want, you can change fonts, colors, and sizes. You can also modify background images for the controls. Style descriptions and more are also included in this feature.

The size and placement
The new slideshow 2.0 version lets you reposition navigation and any titles or descriptions on your slides. Customization for the width or auto-filling the width of the content area are also included.

Gallery Settings
The link between slideshows and galleries are now improved. You do this by enabling the automatic gallery sync button. When new images are added to the galleries or single images are changed, the slideshow now reflects those changes almost immediately. The slide limit has also now increased to 100 images per each slideshow.

Advanced settings
Thanks to requests, a new Advanced panel has been added to allow you to link slides to specific URLs. Slide-specific titles can now be set. Also included in version 2.0, HTML in the slide descriptions have been added, and slides can be reordered with changing anything within the gallery.

Three Snippet Blocks

Squarespace has gone a step further by introducing three HTML-based Snippet blocks that allow you to use your Journal's config to add in just about any code you want; including a Facebook Like button, Tweet button, Google Buzz button, or just about anything else.

The simple drag-and-drop blocks make it easy to modify the page without technical programming skills. To activate them, use the variable they have provided while you're setting up the code. You can control where the buttons or blocks appear in your blog post quite easily, but it's a good idea to review the technical specs in the manual entry.

Squarespace on the iPad

Squarespace already offers a great experience on the iPhone, but the greater space on the iPad lets them add even more features and elbow room. The experience is similar enough, though, that users of the iPhone app won't have any trouble adapting to Squarespace on the iPad.

The iPad app makes it easy and enjoyable to edit blog posts. As you would expect, they allow you to view comment counts, categories, blog excerpts, tags, the posting date and time, and the author's identity. A simple tap on any comment or blog post opens a section immediately below where you can find all your options. This is nice, because you can choose one of those actions while still being able to see the post that it will affect.

Users can easily switch between editing modes (basic HTML, Textile, Markdown, and text) just like they can in the iPhone version. However, with the iPad app, now you can add hyperlinks and images, highlight quotations, format the text with bolding and italics, and even define an excerpt in each mode.

Wherever You Go

Have you ever wanted to show your friends all of your favorite places at once? Now you can, with our unique, customizable Squarespace widget. You can include your Fourquare, Facebook and Gowalla check-ins, and they will all be displayed by a map. You will literally be able to map out a whole night of fun activities and invite your friends to meet you at each stop! Best of all, you can easily customize the widget, choosing which check-ins and messages to display, and even customizing venue icons. Musicians will be able to use this widget to help their fans follow them on tour.

Autosave Feature

With the auto save feature, your text is saved automatically every 30 seconds as you write it. This means that if you experience a computer program and the browser closes, or if you accidentally leave the page before you have finished, your work won't be lost, or at least no more than what you'd written in the last 30 seconds. Please note, however, that if you click the cancel button, your changes will not be saved. In addition, the auto save has a built-in feature to protect your work from accidentally deletion. Our auto save feature will only save content once you have added new text. If you have simply changed an existing post or deleted existing text, the auto save feature will not automatically save the new version. This is helpful in instances where you did not actually intend to delete the text. At present, the auto save feature is available only within the editing environment for blog posts.

Improved Help Section

The help guides have moved in an effort to improve the content. You can enjoy the new guides at help.squarespace.com.

Search- The search function is more responsive, simply type in the search field and select from a list of a list applicable entries.

Ratings- Take the guesswork out of selecting the files by using the ratings feature. The new system allows the user to find the most relevant answer to the question.  

Videos-  Aside from providing quality articles, they also provide help videos that outline many Squarespace functions. These videos are a useful supplement to their guides.  The videos have been recently updated to provide a more enjoyable viewing experience and to display on a wide range of devices.

Slideshows Galore

Have you ever thought about putting your pictures in different places around your site, other than just on your gallery pages? Squarespace has developed a new slideshows concept where you are able to take the images from your gallery pages and showcase them in other places around your site. To do this, you need to open up the WYSIWYG editor. On the right, click on the new slideshow icon. There you go. You could now click to add slideshows anywhere you want it to be. On your blog posts, HTML pages, sidebars, anywhere you like.

That is just one of the ways you could be creative with the slideshows. You could take your creativity to the next level by changing the animation style, controls and delay, speed, the size and aspect ratio plus also the presentation of image names and descriptions. As for the content width, it will be automatically adjusted to fit. Those are the examples of the ways to create your own slideshow.

Social Widgets

Squarespace Social widgets have an important niche to fill in the arena of data presentation. For example, when you attempt to link a third party service to your website, such as Flickr or Twitter, the load time of your site will be dramatically slowed down, as content is gathered from different services around the web. Squarespace Social Widgets provides the service for you- by eliminating the middleman and caching all of your data onto the familiar Squarespace control panel. They plan to expand the services offered to include Digg and Delicious.

Squarespace has some excellent visuals preexisting in the page, but never (before now) presets for individual site components. Social Widgets now has a style selector, allowing you to completely customize the way your social data is displayed. With Social Widgets, it is possible to play with the font, colors, and style of all data, allowing you to change the display to fit your exact specifications. Before Squarespace, there has never been a social widget that has enabled this complete customizable capacity.

Squarespace for Android

Need to manage Squarespace sites on-the-go? With a customizable interface and tons of functionality, Squarespace for Android is the best choice. Here are the reasons why:

Posting - Need a faster way to create your blog posts? With this app, you are able to quickly create your blog posts, adding photos, retrieving from your library and adding them to your site.  Rest assured that all your current tags and categories will be there.

Content Management - This allows you to edit, delete or preview your posts easily, all right from the app.

Comment Management - This app allows you to review, replying and marking the comments as spam with ease. You do have the option to receive push notifications for new comments as well as those that are waiting for moderation, all in this app.

Multiple Account management - Using the "Accounts" setting on your app, you are able to multi-task, managing the contents on multiple Squarespace sites all in one place. You could switch back and forth and juggle between the sites using the settings provided in the app.

Real time Statistics - Statistics such as number of page views, unique visits, popular search terms, subscribers, can all be viewed from the application's statistics tab.

Live Site Preview - You are able to preview your site live, just as what your visitors will view your site.

Squarespace 6

If you are ready to build websites in an environment that facilitates the creation of beautiful and manageable interfaces, than you should check out Squarespace 6. The speed and ease of use are like nothing else out there.

This beta version will launch with a full set of portfolio templates.  The most integral components, including galleries, blogs, page builders, and widgets(blocks) have been optimized for ease of use. The variety of styles available within the portfolio templates are diverse.

A convenient FAQ, that should answer many if not all of your question, is currently available.  This new platform is a first for Squarespace. Compared to their previous version, you will now be able to build new templates much faster than before.