Best blogs to support your websites (with examples)
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)
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
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
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 ...
I opened 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
My first steps...
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.
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).
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!
This image is work of Anne Anderson.
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.
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 ...
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:
My favorite blog about fairy tales
- Fairy Tales and their Hidden Power | Fairy Tales
Fairy Tales and everything related with them: symbolism, history, vintage illustrations, collectors, writers, ...
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 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
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.
This is the new home of my blog from Posterous
- Fairy Tales and related stuff
Blog about vintage illustrators of fairy tales and other works for children. Every post presents exactly one artist and have exactly one example of his or her work with few additional info which in many cases could not be found anywhere on the web.
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!
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:
And now for something (not so) completely different!
Maybe the best blog is actually not on classic blogging platform? - Zujava and Wizzley can serve for blogging 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.