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Genuine comments or SPAM?

Enough said about the editing of comments. I got the impression that most people would not do it and some even may frown upon the idea. Let’s leave it to that.

Something else has sprung upon me and it has made me feel a bit silly and naïve. The reason I started looking into the option of editing comments is due to the following. Many comments I received were in the kind of English that either shows that the writer is not fluent in English or that they used a bad Google translation. Almost all of them go directly to SPAM – something WordPress does, I say thankfully!

SPAM in different shapes and forms

As I am researching the ‘art’ of blogging I started tracking the comments on my blog posts. As a result I have discovered something interesting or rather something annoying and a touch disappointing. Some days I had up to 10 comments – of course all in Spam to start off with. Some of them appeared familiar and after going over older posts I discovered that I had received the same or similar remarks before. They happen to be of a positive nature much to my liking but they seem to be templates. As I have seen exactly the same on other blogs I am drawing the conclusion that I am not the only one getting them.

This is only part of what I discovered. As I read the comments, un-spammed them and contemplated to react on them I hovered over the websites and email addresses of the writers. Only to find out that they all seem to come from websites with the same topics despite the fact that the email addresses are all different. You’ll never believe it but the content of most of those websites is about the apparently ‘highly sought’ after topic of pool cleaners. Must be! –  as the amount of promoters is abundant.

My first reaction was amazement, than disbelief followed by this uncomfortable feeling that I had been so naïve to believe that those comments came from genuine writers. They obviously did not – pool cleaners of all things!  Their websites and URL’s are different but they all seem to go back to the same source. Do I miss something here? Is there a secret society of these products that post spamming comments on blogs as a sideline?

Nice comments’ to lure you in….

Digging consequently even a bit more and looking at reactions on a larger number of my older posts similar comments have been posted coming from different sites. It didn’t take long to realise that most of them originate from sites with the same source  – the good old pool cleaner.

It really annoyed me and for a couple of days I was put off to write another article. I concluded however that it is just one of those things that happen when you expose yourself publicly. Apparently some people have nothing better to do. What I do wonder is what they think they can achieve with it. I am certainly not motivated to buy a pool cleaner nor would I recommend any of those sites. I am much more inclined to Booo them off the stage to be honest!  Anyway let them be. They have had their little moment on my site but from now on my ‘spam detectors’ will be on an even higher alert.

Then on a different note altogether – I am on holiday in Europe and think I am realistic by saying that I will reduce my blog activity to one post per week.

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The protocol of blog comments

Should you edit comments on your blog?

The other day I was talking about some of the comment I have been getting on my blog. I told my daughter that the English in some of them was not very good and needed correcting before I would want to publish them. She was somehow surprised and replied that other social media don’t allow you to do this. And indeed a site such as Facebook does not allow you to alter comments even if they are grammatically incorrect.

My immediate reaction to this is that my blog is in English – grammatically correct English without spelling mistakes to be precise.  If a comment gets published on my blog I like it to have the same standards. Point blank! Is that arrogant? Maybe some of you will think so but I happen to consider correct English as one of my minimum standards.

What are exactly the rules regarding this? I work occasionally with a law student who currently prepares an exam on Privacy Law and I will consult her the next time I see her. She is quite obsessed with the subject at the moment and I bet I get a bit of information out of her. Let’s hope it is objective and not a reflection of her opinion. I’ll keep you posted on that.

Ulterior motives for commenting on blogs

Why do people comment on blogs? Many reasons come to mind – appreciation, support, questioning, criticising. All legitimate reactions on a blogpost. There are some more reasons and they tend to be less ‘legitimate’. I have been blogging since November 2011, have written almost 60 posts and have received 167 comments. Almost all comments were considered spam by WordPress but fortunately only 12 were real spam.

This leaves me with 153 comments which were mostly positive and I am very proud of that. However as I check my site every day, read, edit and reply to all comments I have started to notice something interesting. To explain this further I will quote some of the comments.

“An interesting dialogue is price comment. I feel that you must write extra on this topic, it may not be a taboo subject however typically people are not enough to talk on such topics. To the next. Cheers” (published in ‘Where to place your keywords?’)

“An attention-grabbing discussion is value comment. I feel that you should write something about this subject, it won’t be a taboo subject but typically people are not confident enough to speak out about such topics. Until next time. Cheer” (published in ’The first steps towards keyword research”)

Both these comments are by the same author and I am interested in his or her motive to place these comments. Is there really an interest to get more information about the above topics or is this a way to promote their own website.

This is not the only time this has happened. It seems there are ‘template’ comments out there and people use them on different posts. They could well be genuine and then I apologise sincerely but they seem only one step away from planting ‘a link as a comment‘ for the sake of exposure.

I am interested to hear if this has happened to other bloggers and what your opinions are. So please keep your genuine comments coming and let’s crack this nut!

How to select keywords for your blog

Since I started having a closer look at SEO I have found myself checking my blog a lot more. Every time when I publish a post I keep an eye on the amount of views and comments I get. Quite exciting to be honest to see the figures and as a result I have become more interested in getting up in the rankings.

Also interesting is that I have received a lot more comments since I explore SEO and it seems that this topic is close to many readers’ heart. Some comments have been bizarre but most of them are useful and give me the feeling that I am adding value to people’s websites and blogs.

So thanks for all the positive and inspiring comments!

How to choose effective key words?

‘Is there a magic formula to ‘find out’ what keywords to use?

This is how I ended my last post. I have been trying to get an answer to this question and have again found out that there is a lot written about keywords. I am trying to simplify it and have picked some of the main points to work with. Let’s start at the beginning.

  • You have a blog and write content for it. Your aim is for people to find you, to read and ideally subscribe to your blog
  • You have an idea who your target audience is and you write your posts accordingly
  • You want this audience to find your blog when they search for information. In other words you need to anticipate what words they put in search engines such as Google and Yahoo
  • If you can anticipate such words you can use them as keywords in your blog
  • Search engine spiders depend on keywords to find your site therefore a lack of keywords in your blog prevents the spiders from finding you and consequently your readers as well

Keyword selection is an important part of your marketing strategy and is vital for your search engine optimisation. The words in your blog are indexed by search engine spiders who classify your blog content.

To my opinion one of the main objectives of your site is to provide a satisfying user experience. If you have been capable of selecting appropriate keywords and place them in your blog content, you will attract more searches and your readers will be able to find your information. It is as simple as that!

The process of keyword selection

Brainstorm keywords:

Once you have defined your target audience, anticipated what words they search, you can start brainstorming possible keywords. No need to be too hard on yourself at this stage as the main aim is to get a list with keywords. Be creative, persistent and stay clear from words that are too competitive.

For example if you want to write about ‘organic herbs’ don’t use the word ‘herbs’ as a keyword. It is too general and you will compete with every other site that has anything with herbs on it. Use a keyword phrase instead that indicates that you write about ‘organic herbs’.

Research keywords:

The next step is to research the effect of your selected keywords. There are a number of specific tools for this purpose but before I go further into this topic I like to widen my research. Examples of keyword search tools are ‘Google Trends’, Word tracker and Trellian Keyword Discovery.

Placing keywords in your content:

Place keywords in the content of your blog ensuring to maintain a natural flow. You have to use them where they make sense and where they facilitate a better search result for your target audience. Ideally each page should have 1-3 related keywords.

Once you have placed well researched keywords in your content, search engine spiders can find your site and you will be able to offer your readers a better experience. The result may be that they come back for more, talk about your site and become one of your followers.

 

I am in therapy – I blog!

The other day I stumbled upon a blog post about ‘blogging as therapy’. This particular lady had started blogging as an outlet for certain emotional issues. She had found great support in expressing herself through the medium of a blog. What helped her even more was the fact that many other people were reading what she was writing about. Her statistics were impressive and she must have inspired many others to start blogging or at least take in what she writes about.

A group of researchers in Israel have conducted a study amongst teenagers who were struggling with issues such as social- and emotional well-being. None of the teenagers were bloggers before. Half of the teenagers were asked to blog regularly about their problems while the other half did not. And again half of these bloggers were allowed to receive comments while the other half was not.  All of them were tested regarding their self -esteem and interaction with other peers before and after the blogging period. The results showed that those participants who wrote the blog significantly improved on all measures. And the teenagers, whose blogs were open to comments, gained the most.

Blogs, diaries and therapy…

Blogging can indeed be a great way of getting rid of baggage if that is what you need. It somehow feels more ‘real’ that it is being published although you don’t know who will read it. It is an exciting awareness that anyone could read your words. A diary on the other hand is just written by and for you and probably never read by anyone. That‘s what it is supposed to be at least.

Blogging is different. You initially write for yourself but deep down you are aware that someone might read about your issues and even come up with a comment. While blogging you may think about the way you phrase whatever you like to say because you don’t want to come across as dumb or short-sighted. To come to the point writing a blog is an effective way to reflect on your issues and that is essentially what you do. You express, write, edit and correct and then you publish it – almost as if it is someone else’s stuff.

‘Therapeutic value’ of a blog

From a psychological point of view this is indeed therapeutic, because while you are writing you take distance and reflect on whatever is in your mind. In a nutshell that is what a therapist wants you to achieve. That you are able to ‘step back’, look at your issues and hopefully see the path to a solution. Therapists are not supposed to do that for you – you’ll have to do this yourself. They are only supposed to guide you in the process! If you are made to believe differently, consider changing your therapist!

Blogs can attract comments and those comments can be eye openers. They can act as a mirror, be critical or supportive. Sometimes they are insulting but if indeed such remarks are enticing you to explore a different avenue than you are used to – listen and explore. Who knows where it might lead you.

Albert Einstein had a great view on that:

You cannot solve the problem with the same level of thinking that created it!

Me – a writer!

The other day I had lunch with a friend who mentioned that I had really got into this ‘blogging thing’. It felt good to know that she noticed. Then she said something that made my day. She told me that my English was really good – she even looked to be impressed. She seemed surprised that my writing English was of a high standard.  I suppose my speaking English must be of a lesser standard!

You have to know that I am not a native English speaker. I am from the Netherlands and only started to speak English fulltime in my twenties when I left Holland to live in London. I speak English fluently but I do have an accent – over time less than when I first went to live abroad. I very likely have picked up some Aussie slang, a bit of London jargon and before that Swiss German influences may have tainted my way of speaking, so who knows what it sounds like…..

But – when I write, nobody knows, as I have the time to think about whatever I am going to write. I do take my time to review, re-read and rephrase my articles. I actually spend a lot of time on getting it right. Certainly after I took the effort to blog about grammar in one of my earlier posts I make sure I use it correctly. I prefer to genuinely ‘walk the talk’- at least I try!

When I read other blogs I usually can pick up when the writer is not from an English speaking background. Most people write in English but the way they express themselves gives away that they may not be native English speakers. This also counts for comments I get on my blog. Some are unfortunately so cryptic that I can’t post them as I honestly do not understand what they mean. Sometimes I don’t even know whether they are genuine or whether they are attempts to ridicule.

Same letters – different pronunciation!

Hopefully I am not insulting anybody but this is the way it is. I have developed a rather thick skin when it comes to languages as on many occasions I get to hear that people do not understand what I say. It has to do with the way we, Dutch people pronounce certain letters. We apparently have an issue with the ‘a’s and the‘s’s. My name is also a good example – Marijke. I know it’s not an easy name for Anglophiles. In general people are thrown by the ‘ij’ but I pronounce it the way English people tend to pronounce it and not the Dutch way. So what I don’t understand is why half of the people seem to hear that I say Veronica when I answer the phone! It must be me but it does make me frown.

To be honest I have given up on being annoyed a long time ago. Actually the whole thing justifies me pronouncing names wrongly as well. Not that hard in a country where it is possible to have 20 nationalities in one gathering!

So hearing the other day that I surprised one of my friends with my writing ability makes me smile and gives me confidence. It confirms my choice to ‘indulge’ in writing about things that matter to me and publish it for anyone to read. It’s a wonderful feeling and it shows me I am on the right path.

A belated Happy Easter to all who read and enjoy what I write!

How to deal with unwanted comments

It is interesting to get comments, it is even better to get nice comments but it is a thrill to get a comment that shows that someone just ‘got’ your post the way you meant it. It gives you the feeling you are on the right track and it reinforces what you have to say.

There are occasions though that you get comments that are not nice. They can be negative, putting you down and even be insulting. Then there are comments that should not be allowed to be called ‘comments’ as they are reactions to your post to promote something.

I have had a couple of such comments lately. Some were actually quite nice or full of praise and they left a link to their website. I explored their link only to find out that they were on a mission to market their products – some were the kind of products I might not want to be associated with!

I have had others that did not have the courtesy to actually comment on my blog post. They just left a link hoping that I would explore that link. And just yesterday I had a comment with an invite to check out their link.

Quite often these comments are worded in such a way to lure you in as they offer a service that you may benefit off. My daughter told me that companies hire people who do nothing else than targeting blogs and websites to promote services and products and plants links. What a job to have I can only say!

What to do with a negative comment?

You are in control! So what do you do when you get negative comments? Many hosted websites make it easy for you because they act as a filter for all comments. Most of my comments actually end up in spam. When that happens I have various options of dealing with the comment before I allow it to be visible to all. Usually there is an email address and if you feel you need to react the option is there.

In principle you want people to comment on your blog as they give you the opportunity to engage in discussions. Not everyone will agree with what you say but that’s life and it makes it more interesting.

Get a thicker skin! When the comments are negative or insulting one way of dealing with it is to get a ‘thicker skin’! Not everyone will agree with what you write but disagreement does not mean that you are disliked. As adults we should be able to deal with the difference between ‘disliking you’ and ‘disliking your behaviour’. Two completely different although related things. In generally it is children who don’t understand the difference but by the age of 10 they should have sussed it out. Some adults will never learn it though!

Use them to your advantage! If you do allow comments no matter of what nature, you can make sure they are legitimate by checking out whether their email address is a real one. If they are real but disagree with you, then it is up to you whether you like to include the comment in your blog. You could use the comments as inspiration to write new blog posts or alternatively invite more readers to comment to promote a discussion. One way to increase your traffic – a tip I should use more myself!

How to get more traffic

Your blog is up and running, it looks gorgeous and what you write about is interesting. Everything is in place for success. So how do you get people to stop by and have a look? In other words what can you do to increase the traffic to your blog?

Interesting content – It seems logic but nevertheless it has to be mentioned. Whatever you write about or show should be interesting, original and be up to date.

Regular posts – You have to post regularly, not once a month or even once a week but more like 3 times per week. That way your followers are not overwhelmed by your stuff but will be intrigued to see what you have to say next. Nowadays people are bombarded with news on a daily base. The statistics are horrendous! So don’t overdo it but in order to stay connected with your blog readers you do have to see you on a regular base.

When I publish a blog post I usually have enough inspiration to write a couple more posts but feel that I ought to make myself useful in other areas. Before I know it is a couple of days further and I have to dig deep to get that initial inspiration back. I suppose it would be better if I let myself be guided by my drive and creativity on the spur of the moment.

By invitation – A pro-active way to get more readers is to invite them. By checking out other blogs, leaving comments and introducing yourself you may entice bloggers to have a look at your site. If they like what they see and if it is relevant to them they may become a regular visitor.

I think I am a little guilty of not looking at other blogs enough. It seems a little indulgent to just browse the net and look for interesting things to read. Well I’ll also say to myself – if you like people to read your blog, you may have to take the time to read others’!

Don’t overdo it! Your comment on someone else’s blog should not be an advertisement for your own blog. If you leave your link with your comment it should be relevant to the blogger otherwise it is the same as getting a random email to promote something. And I don’t appreciate those and very likely you don’t either!

Be creative!

Looking at other blogs – I realise I am doing it for research purposes – I came across a couple of more interactive ways of creating more traffic. Giving away something, swapping items with other bloggers and organising competitions are some of them. I like to look into this a bit more myself and maybe set something up at a later stage.

One way that appeals to me to get more readers is to ask for opinions about a certain project. For instance I am looking into making insect screens for a rental house I am currently living in. I could ask for suggestions. But that hasn’t got anything to do with blogging!

Although, anybody out there who has got some ideas?

 

 

What is good ‘content’ for your blog?

4 simple techniques to make your blog post stand out!

2012, there we are. First blog post of the year, full good intentions and maybe even some resolutions.

Although I have postponed the commitment to the final structure of my ‘future’ blog, I have already started to write posts for it. Exciting stuff as I get to go places. The idea is to review places in Brisbane and immediate surroundings. Places such as restaurants, cafes, cinemas, galleries, shops and what else I can think off. To start off locally but I may expand to other areas.

Okay, back to blogging about blogging. In a previous post I was talking about content and I realised I had more to say than I could in one post. I wrote about simplifying information in an easy format for people to find and to read. I suppose writing a good blog post is a bit like writing a good essay. It has a heading, possibly a sub heading, an introduction, explanation, discussion and a conclusion. It requires logical thinking and creating a natural flow. Anybody who thinks that it is easier than that is wrong!

So what contributes to ‘good content’?

  • Keep it simple and easy to understand
  • Keep it fresh
  • Keep it unique
  • Keep it useful
  • Make it look nice

Simple! A good way to ‘keep it simple’ is not trying to be everything to all people. This is a trap and it easy for an enthusiastic blogger to fall into. The majority of successful bloggers have created a ‘niche blog’ and concentrate on a narrow topic. If you have inspiration for a wider point of view, splinter this into a number of more specific topics.

Fresh and nice’ is an important one for me. I am not keen on busy web pages with so many ads that you can’t distinguish ads from blog content. It is confusing and it tires the eye too much. When I find such a blog/ website and when  I realise it is successful, I feel a little cheated. I feel that potential advertising income has replaced the originality of the blog. There must be something in between. Give your topic an ‘attractive jacket’ and it will be a pleasure to look at!

Unique! That is a big one. How difficult is it to be ‘unique’ with millions of blogs already out there. As a blog is an opportunity to show your ‘voice’, it should be exactly that. Don’t copy someone else’s stuff. If you want to use information from others, reference properly and acknowledge that it is not yours!

Useful! A good way to find out what is ‘useful’ for other people is to have a good look at comments. The issues people raise in comments can give you as a blogger countless ideas for future posts. After all if you want readers you must find out what people want, so you can give it to them!

I found it hard to come up with a ‘good title’ for this post, so I suppose that is what my next post will be about…