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Best blogs to support your websites (with examples)

Updated on March 18, 2015

My experience when I tried to make the best blog about fairy tales

When you set your first web site, you pretty quickly find out you need some kind of support to rank it in search engines. Blogs are among best tools for this.

But what are the best blogs to support my mini e-shop with picture books for kids? Setting a blog is actually very easy, but running it for several years and make it popular, with traffic, response and good rankings is much harder.

Here is my top list of blogs with some tips to make the best of your blogs for your goals. Here are also examples with some of the common mistakes i have made. I hope, you'll learn from them!

(Intro image source: Clker.com, all used images are public domain and royalty free)

Blog is sort of diary or newspaper
Blog is sort of diary or newspaper

Why blog?

Web blog is some sort of diary or newspaper on the web. It is ideal to tell your readers about all kinds of novelties and direct them to your so called landing site. In my case this is of course an e-store with picture books.

All my blogs are based on the same idea - they provide information which is already in demand and try to drive traffic to my e-shop. This can be achieved in two ways: visitors of my blog can click links pointing to my site or they can find the site through search on search engines.

Blogs are actually great way to build links to so called landing pages (this is a page where you typically try to earn some money) and quality links with proper use of anchor text will help your landing page to get higher in results of search engines too.

What is an anchor text?

An anchor text is clickable text visible to humans and search engines. When a visitor clicks on it, he is redirected to other page (hopefully on my e-shop).

The word or sequence of words in anchor text is extremely important. To present my case with real data I will use few words in Slovene language.

Example of anchor text usage

The most important html code you will ever need!
The most important html code you will ever need!

In my case anchor text would be pravljice or slikanice or something similar.

Really short course of Slovene language

pravljice ... fairy tales

slikanice ... picture books

Only top ranking sites get traffic from search engines
Only top ranking sites get traffic from search engines

When I wanted to rank my web store, I had no idea how search engines rank sites. I have read only basic tips where you can find only half of the truth. Or less than half. Search engines apparently love fresh and original content and I gave them both. This was not enough.

They need links. And links (with proper design of the landing page itself) are much more important than everything else.

O. K., I checked Google AdWords and apparently 1.600 people search for pravljice (fairy tales) every single month. I want them in my shop! But for this I need to rank my shop on first page in search engines ...

How to start blogging? - First step is the most important one

Everybody is blogging and it is time to jump on the wagon ...

Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community
Blog, Inc.: Blogging for Passion, Profit, and to Create Community

If you want to start with your own blog, if you want to do it right, if you want to make your blog profitable, this book may be just right for you. Here you'll find clear advice how to start a blog, how to get audience and how to build a brand which will bear fruits on- and off-line.

 

I opened two blogs on Blogger (Blogspot)

I started with two blogs on Blogger (Blogspot)
I started with two blogs on Blogger (Blogspot)

I decided to use Blogger for two reasons:

1. it is free

2. it is owned by Google, so I expected Google as my main source of traffic will love links from Blogger more than links from any other blogging service

Your blog without proper care reminds of the Sleeping Beauty!
Your blog without proper care reminds of the Sleeping Beauty!

Why I decided for two blogs?

Well, first blog is based on a simple idea: I translate specific classic fairy tale (I have already done that off line many times) and as a bonus I also add some interesting facts about this specific fairy tale.

Think about history, symbols, interpretations ... Things like that.

For instance, I provide a translation of Sleeping Beauty and knowing search engines connect search string Sleeping Beauty with search string fairy tales, I expected my store can make a profit with this.

I also knew many people search for Sleeping Beauty and after I gave them the info they were looking for, I also gave them a chance to check my e-shop too.

Symbolism of frogs is one of my favorite themes
Symbolism of frogs is one of my favorite themes

The other blog is aiming at more demanding audience. In every post I try to explain one of most popular symbols in fairy tales. There are posts about symbolic meanings of wolf, color red, frog, king, spinning wheel etc. in fairy tales and there are also links to examples in my first blog with translations of fairy tales.

As I already said, links are important.

There were two problems with these blogs:

My insufficient knowledge of on-site SEO and not so search engine friendly design of blogger (Google apperantly doesn't love it so much as some other blogs).

Huge amount of work to provide really best possible info with all proper credits.

My progress was really slow. Both blogs got only couple of visitors a week and my e-shop wasn't even in top 100 for my target keyword (pravljice ... fairy tales).

Is Wordpress really better than Blogger?
Is Wordpress really better than Blogger?

Then I heard about Wordpress. It supposed to be easier to use than Blogger and it also supposed to be more popular to Google's search engine.

At the same time I decided to try to rank for other keyword: 'slikanice' ... picture books. This word has only 140 searches every month, but it is much more related with my e-store than 'pravljice'.

Why? The term pravljice (fairy tales) is too general. Even if I got few visitors to my store with picture books they were not necessary looking for picture books.

Slikanice (picture books) was on the other way aiming at people who can actually buy a picture book!

So I opened this blog:

Illustrations are crucial part of picture books - Best blogs also have great images!

To learn who was real Rapunzel press here!
To learn who was real Rapunzel press here!
Search engines are suspicious
Search engines are suspicious

My e-shop started to rank for slikanice (picture books) on first page in Google only few weeks after I started blog on wordpress. As a side effect it also started to rank for pravljice (fairy tales) on second page!

My top tip for your top blog:

Always vary (use different words and sequences of words) your anchor text. This will not only give you a chance to rank for different search strings in results of searches. It will also look more 'natural' in the suspicious eyes of search engines!

If you don't know, where to start ...

This blog started to send me traffic right away. Here are the reasons for that:

1. I already learned few basics of writing posts for people AND search engines.

2. With its simple form (I choose a book, make a comment about it and give a recommendation or not) it was much easier to write, so I quickly made more than 10 posts. With some interlinking with already existing blogs on blogger rankings were improving very fast.

Making a lens is not enough
Making a lens is not enough

For real success I wanted to achieve number one position. This is when I started to work on Squidoo.

Squidoo was the only Web 2.0 site where I was able to write in my native language, so I made few lenses and waited for results.

Nothing happened. I started to learn about Squidoo and Web 2.0 in general. Writing is only part of the process.

Promotion is maybe even more important.

Sounds familiar? It is basically the same situation as with every page on the web!

And any business, no mater if it is on or off-line ...

It's hard to communicate in two languages
It's hard to communicate in two languages

Unfortunately my English wasn't too good (still isn't) and when I visited other lensmasters many hesitated to return visits because they didn't understand my lenses in Slovene language.

So I decided to translate some lenses and present them in two languages in the same lens: Slovene (for so called organic traffic from search engines, mostly google.si) and English for lensmasters who can help my lenses with participating on them (like, vote, comment,...).

Bilingual lenses were only partly successful. Many visitors were confused when they have seen two languages on the same page and looking from the eyes of search engines this was not ideal solution either.

So I started to write lenses in English only.

With skills I have learned on Squidoo (it was a huge educational resource) my lenses started to get some traffic, but they also needed some kind of support.

I have to start blogging in English too ...

My first English blog is called:

Scene from The Bluebeard (Walter Crane, PD license)
Scene from The Bluebeard (Walter Crane, PD license)

This blog is set on Blog, which is old and well known free blogging service. It is based on wordpress platform, so it suppose to be similarly SEO friendly.

Every post I made is in the same form - I provide three interesting facts about a specific fairy tale, author, illustrator, collection etc.

It has relatively good traffic at the moment, but I suppose it would be even better if I set it on Blogger or Wordpress, because Blog has some technical problems from time to time and it seems search engines penalize that in their rankings. If I would start this blog from the beginning, I wouldn't use Blog anymore.

(The image above is work of Walter Crane.)

Then I heard about Posterous

Posterous can multiply your blogging efforts
Posterous can multiply your blogging efforts

Posterous was a free blogging service with many innovative features. And it was very very simple to use!

It has no limitations about the size of posts, you can even post through your e-mail and what is probably most important - it is fully integrated with many different blogging platforms, Twitter and Facebook, so you can spread the word about every new post very easily..

This means you couldn use Posterous to post at the same time on very different sites and reach very different audience what is pretty cool idea. Even cooler was another fact - Posterous has nice blogging community where you could build authority pretty fast.

I decided to make some kind of photo blog with very simple posts: every time I post one public domain illustration of one illustrator with years of his / her birth and death.

But - Posterous was bought by Twitter and shut down on 30 April 2013. I moved my blog on Blogger!

This illustration from Arthur Rackham is only one of many on my ex-Posterous blog

More about and from Arthut Rackham right here!
More about and from Arthut Rackham right here!

Let me finish, just to make a point based on my own experience. Several months after I started to post on Posterous, all of my traffic on Posterous came only - from Posterous. Search engines never indexed it!

I submitted the address of the blog to search engines and still nothing.

I started to build backlinks to my Posterous blog from my Squidoo lenses (Squidoo is a dead service right now, too, by the way). Nothing.

I added one page of description to feed bots from search engines. Nothing.

Finally I gave up and started posting illustrations AND text, just like at any other blog I have. The blog was indexed the very same day, but only the posts with text. Apparently only images are not good enough.

Then next bad news happened.

Posterous was bought by Twitter. There were mixed feelings about this business but it seems Twitter only wanted to get employees from Posterous because of their skills, the blogging service itself never interested them. Nobody knew how long it would be running.

Less then a year after Posterous announced their service will discontinue in 30 april 2013, so I have to move my posts somewhere else.

The situation with Posterous and Twitter can serve as good example of web reality.

On one hand nothing happens over night, you have to build sites, blogs, authority for months and even years.

On the other hand you can never be sure about your position. Your site, blog, authority can be lost literally overnight.

My traffic on blogs is increasing all the time
My traffic on blogs is increasing all the time

So what is the best environment for your blogs?

In the search for the best blog (free of charge) I can recommend only two favorites at the moment: Wordpress and Blogger (Blogspot). My blogs on both platforms have about 250 visitors a day altogether at the moment and the traffic is clearly up.

If I had to pick my best blog I would like to have a mix of one blog on Blogger and one on Wordpress with a lot of interlinking between them.

Anyway, things are changing all the time and I decided to open a video blog on YouTube too. It is already owned by Google and it can become important source of traffic in the future or not. I made few videos and pretty much forget it.

You can see it right here!

Don't work too much!
Don't work too much!

If the idea set it and forget appeals to you, you can check my lens about microsites where you can also see some real examples of my work.

No, it's not over yet. I also opened accounts on two Web 2.0 services very similar to Squidoo.

Here they are:

Maybe the best blog is actually not on classic blogging platform? - Zujava and Wizzley can serve for blogging too!

I promote reading and fairy tales on Zujava and Wizzley too!
I promote reading and fairy tales on Zujava and Wizzley too!

They are both easy to use writing platforms based on modules with pretty nice community behind. Stuff is skillful and responsive, but work on these sites still differs from the Squidoo.

Most important of all - Zujava and Wizzley are young sites. They don't have the huge credibility in eyes of the search engines. Yet. But they are both built with really good SEO knowledge, and I got traffic from search engines on both from my first published articles even without backlinking and with much less help of the community (it is not nearly as big as on Squidoo what has its pros and cons).

Anyway I predict bright future to Wizzley AND Zujava, so they are both on my list for the future projects. Mostly to support Squidoo lenses, but you never know in the web... I suppose my quest for the best blog will never be finished.

If you use free blogging platforms ...

... please share, which is best in your opinion?

See results

What is best free blogging service in your opinion?

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    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 2 years ago from Ljubljana

      Thanks, vocalcoach, for your visit and sorry for my late response. I'm glad you found my comparisons useful It's always good to know few alternatives, if something goes wrong with your favorite blogging platform.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 2 years ago from Ljubljana

      Thanks, Ruby H Rose, for stopping by and sorry for my late response. I'm glad you enjoy the blogging communities. It's a wonderful way to meet new people with similar interests and if we learn a bit on the way, even better!

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 2 years ago from Nashville Tn.

      I appreciate this useful information with the comparisons between blogging sites. Thanks.

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 2 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Great tips. I enjoy wordpress, do much reading over there in that wonderful community. Blogspot on google is awesome too, I have a website there, ever evolving.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 2 years ago from Ljubljana

      Good to hear that, ologsinquito. Now just repeat the formula and you'll have double amount of traffic in no time:)

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      Hi Tolovaj, I think you're right. One of my blogs that I update once a week or every two weeks still gets okay traffic.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 2 years ago from Ljubljana

      Indeed, ologsinquito! But let me tell you a little trick - blog doesn't have to be updated on daily basis. It can have decent traffic for weeks before new update. I try to update my blogs once per month and it works all right. Good keywords are much more valuable than fresh content just for freshness sake.

    • ologsinquito profile image

      ologsinquito 2 years ago from USA

      This is very useful information. It is a lot of work to keep a blog fresh with new updates.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 3 years ago from Ljubljana

      @marcy34: I like wordpress to, although I try to diversify my blogging efforts because you never know ... Thanks for stopping by!

    • profile image

      marcy34 3 years ago

      Thanks for the great information.And for me wordpress because it is used by millions,user /searched engine friendly.

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 3 years ago

      Back to get more good advice.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @gadifi lm: Thanks, I hope this can be of some help!

    • gadifi lm profile image

      gadifi lm 4 years ago

      great lens great information thanks for sharing this information with us

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @blestman lm: It's a great platform and I highly recommend learning it. Thanks for your visit:)

    • blestman lm profile image

      blestman lm 4 years ago

      Great lens. i am beginning to work with wordpress right now. It is a new item for me so I am taking my time until I understand it enough. Thank you for sharing your experience

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @TheCaveMan LM: Go for it. Wordpress is a standard.

    • TheCaveMan LM profile image

      TheCaveMan LM 4 years ago

      Very informative lens. I have only tried blogger. Not sure if I really like it. I might have a look at Wordpress

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @electrolion: I hope it helped a bit:)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @prakash-mishra-9212: Great to hear that!

    • profile image

      electrolion 4 years ago

      Thanks for all this information. I've learned a lot.

    • profile image

      prakash-mishra-9212 4 years ago

      I found your lens really interesting. The way you narrated your journey about blogging is appealing. I will use blogger and wp to drive traffic towards my lenses. Thanks for the best content. And also thanks you like my lensi. It is really inspirational for me. I will keep writing.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @adammuller003 lm: Nope, it is payable and I am limited to free options with this review. I have checked squarspace from outside and it does look professional but has too much fancy additions like flash in my opinion, so it is probably not best solution from SEO point of view. If you are looking for free blog where you can learn a bit and support your main site, Blogger and Wordpress(COM) are best options by far.

      If you are willing to pay, self hosted wordpress blog has best conversion by far and you can learn a lot on many forums and from many well written books.

      And if you are looking for something fancy, don't forget Typepad.

      I hope it helps:)

    • Dusty2 LM profile image

      Dusty2 LM 4 years ago

      Very interesting lens with some good info on blogging and trying to find the best platform. I tried Blogger on Google because; 1) as you stated it is "free" and 2) from what I have read you need to be blogging as well as building lenses on Squidoo and link the two together. After reading this lens I guess I need to go back to Blogger and put more of a concentrated effort into it. Appreciate you sharing this info. Thank You for stopping by my Healthy Gluten-Free Oatmeal Vegan Muffins lens and giving it a "thumbs up" as I really appreciate it. Hope you enjoy the muffins with your favorite topping.. Bon Appetit!

    • adammuller003 lm profile image

      adammuller003 lm 4 years ago

      Has anyone tried squarespace for blogging?

      Your thoughts?

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Dusty2 LM: Thanks!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Felicitas: You are too kind:)

    • Felicitas profile image

      Felicitas 4 years ago

      The most important thing I learned from this lens is not that one particular blogging service is better than another, although it likely is. The reason I think you are successful, in your publishing business as well as ranking in the search engines, is because you are persistent. There are many times that I think of giving up. But, you just keep on going. If one thing doesn't work, you try another. I believe you will be successful in anything you undertake. And, you deserve it.

      I watched your Three little pigs Christmas on youtube. I absolutely loved it! And by the way, your English is excellent.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Phoenix2361: I hope it helps:)

    • Phoenix2361 profile image

      Phoenix2361 4 years ago

      This is very good advice. Thanks for posting.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @soaringsis: Thanks!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @soaringsis: Thanks!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @jvcronje: I hope my mistakes can help somebody to avoid them...

    • profile image

      jvcronje 4 years ago

      Well written lens. We can all relate to the problems you had.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @soaringsis: Thank you!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @soaringsis: Thank you, I appreciate it!

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing very clear info, nicely done. Blessed:)

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing very clear info, nicely done. Blessed:)

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing very clear info, nicely done. Blessed:)

    • profile image

      soaringsis 4 years ago

      Thanks for sharing very clear info, nicely done. Blessed:)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @JenwithMisty: I hope it helps!

    • JenwithMisty profile image

      Jen withFlash 4 years ago

      This is a great lens!! Thanks for the information!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: I hope you have found something useful!

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      These are very nice reference points for any blogger. Thanks for sharing!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @pumpum: Thanks for you visit and comment. I hope I helped a bit:)

    • pumpum profile image

      pumpum 4 years ago

      Great advice you have given us here, thanks for sharing :)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @CoolFool83: I hope it helps:)

    • CoolFool83 profile image

      CoolFool83 4 years ago

      Some really helpful advice. Thanks for sharing!

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
      Author

      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Thanks for your kind words. I am blushing...

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      This lens is very informative. Thanks for sharing your experience. This lens (as do all of your other lenses and articles elsewhere on the web) reflect a lot about your character or personality. You have a very determined, self-motivated, enterprising and entrepreneurial spirit. Keep up the excellent work! You inspire me! :)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Wayne Rasku: Yes, you need content and promotion. The trick is to find the balance - to spend less than eight days a week blogging;)

    • Wayne Rasku profile image

      Wayne Rasku 4 years ago

      Your experience is quite common. I have been trying for several years with limited success. I do know that the more time you put in and the more places you have a presence are important.. I don't think you can succeed with a blog without doing mass promotion in many different areas. Plus, you need to have super good content. Thanks for sharing what you have tried and the results.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Better one full basket, than many empty ones:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I have pretty much kept my eggs in Squidoo's basket and love it.

      A friend started a blog for me, but I haven't kept it up too well. :)

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @clothing4boys: :)

    • profile image

      clothing4boys 4 years ago

      Great insight for online marketing! I have read this at least 3 times.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @Melissa Miotke: I am sure Squidoo gave you a lot of experience already!

    • Melissa Miotke profile image

      Melissa Miotke 4 years ago from Arizona

      I'm not very experienced with blogging yet...

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @cjbmeb14 lm: I think so too. But I don't want o put all my eggs in one basket either...

    • cjbmeb14 lm profile image

      cjbmeb14 lm 4 years ago

      Wordpress is by far the best option.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @darciefrench lm: This is interesting situation we are all dealing with I suppose. to maximum effect we have to spread our activities, but we should never spread them too thin.

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 4 years ago

      I really need to get blogging more to support my lenses. I currently have a freewebs and a few redgage mini blogs, but I don't think I am using them to capacity. I'm very attached to working mostly on squidoo.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @anonymous: Tumblr has many similarities with Posterous. Yes, I agree wordpress.org is probably still the best of the best, but it demands some more knowledge and it is not free like all others I mentioned. I think about wordpress.org as a choice of advanced users with more than only basic SEO knowledge:)

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I thought Tumblr had a lot of ice features but if you want real SEO impact then you need to go to WordPress utilizing the WordPress.org platform. I haven't really looked at Posterous yet but after reading your article I will invest some time in it.

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @WriterJanis2: Oh, thanks, my leaves there are little dusty...

    • TolovajWordsmith profile image
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      Tolovaj Publishing House 4 years ago from Ljubljana

      @angharad: I hope it helps!

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 4 years ago

      I like Zujava and Blogger. Just visited you on Zujava.

    • profile image

      angharad 4 years ago

      I don't know much about blogging, but this lens has lots of useful information, thank you!