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A new tool to calculate your blog's worth has been released called the Blog Juice Calculator. What's very interesting about this tool is that it tries to categorize your site against other sites based on topic category. It's a good way of gauging your site's performance based on such factors as Bloglines subscribers, Alexa traffic rankings, Technorati rankings and backlinks. Now, of course, all of these rankings are so incomplete and inaccurate; however, if you take enough random samplings you'll probably draw a pretty accurate total picture (basic statistics).
It's great viral marketing for Text Link Ads, but at the same time, it's worth the page load and the query.
The Official Google Blog recently posted about the availability of the Google Blog Pinging Service which allows bloggers to contact Google when content updates have been made to their sites. In addition, Google released an API that allows developers to build the pinging service into their content management systems. Currently, my Drupal installation is not indexing itself in the Google Blog Search Index and I have the ping module installed and enabled. Therefore, there's a need to make sure that an API call is built directly into Drupal.
I'd like to hear if other Drupal users are havign problems getting indexed in the Blog Search Index and their solutions to this problem. I'll be working on implementing this solution soon.
Speaking of Google coding solutions, another Official Google Blog announcement states that the Google Code Search index is now live and available for use. This index allows users to search for code snippets that have been indexed all over the Internet. Although this project is very beta in my eyes, I believe it will prove very useful when developing code libraries in the future and making the programmer's life just that much easier. Currently, my only issue with it is if you don't know exactly what you are looking for, I find it difficult for it to give me the code I really need. However, couple this index with the Google Web Search and Google Groups search options and you should be able to find what function you need to call and then the actual code to execute the necessary operation.
Recently, Google Blogger went into the all-too-familiar Beta status recently when trying to integrate existing Google Accounts with the standalone Blogger accounts that had been created over time. It's a terrific idea by Google to integrate all their services and products into one, all-encompassing login. I also appreciate the tremendous difficulty Google would have trying to integrate two seemingly independent services without blog stealing, conflicts, data loss and other "evils" that come from such a migration. However, it's going even worse than I could have ever imagined.
Where do I start?
- Everyday Computer Users are Completely Lost - And finally, a problem I always thought Google would have when introducing any services outside of their search application has finally developed on a large scale. Blogger's attractiveness comes from its simplicity in allowing the "newbie" to publish their unique content to the Internet. A side effect of its ease of use is that the user base is generally not as knowledgeable as those users using more complicated software ("Technical Darwinism" as I like to think of the concept). I was reading a few relationship-based blogs run by non-computer people and almost 100% of the commenters and posters had very little understanding of what the Blogger Beta was really all about - not to mention, some were encountering problems posting content, comments, pictures, etc. I've always thought that Google would eventually run into a problem where the average user would not be able to follow the intricate details of their services and this migration is bringing the problem to the forefront.
- Duplicate Username Issue - Personally, I have run into this problem without any relief. My Blogger account name and my Google Account name are exactly the same. In addition, it uses the same password so there really is no way for Google to determine which account I am trying to sign into. Or, does it? When I login now, it automatically assumes I am trying to login into my Google Accounts login - only problem with that is now I can't post to my blog and when I comment on other blogs my original profile information isn't attached. So, you can say that my migration hasn't been successful in the slightest.
- Blogger Help Who?: - As any RTFM user knows, go read the FAQ and see if you can figure out your problems yourself. I did that. Then, I read the Google Groups postings related to the Blogger Beta - still nothing. Blogger provided a help form to fill out in order to get a response which I happily filled out knowing I would never get a response. Unfortunately, I proved myself right. Therefore, I am currently stuck in Beta Limbo awaiting some miracle from the heavens to resolve the problem.
Blogger currently sits in a state of serious flux. Many users don't know exactly what is going on, the migration is not transparent to the user and many informed users are still having issues successfully switching over to the integrated login. Hopefully, Blogger can resolve these issues pretty quickly - just makes me glad I don't use Blogger as my primary outlet for posting content to the Internet.
Rachel at Cre8d-Design has a great post concerning blog cluuter or "noise" when dealing with social bookmarking applications. The new trend seen on many blogs is to include a whole bunch of links to the bottom of their posts so that users can add their stories easily to social bookmarking sites.
Obviously, there are some pros and cons for this inclusion. First the pros could be seen as:
- Additional functionality for the user especially those without bookmarklet functionality installed into their browsers.
- Ability to specify the most appropriate tags and description for your post by defining them in your custom link back to the social bookmarking site.
- Potentially increased web traffic as your stories are bookmarked more frequently.
There are definitely benefits to including these links on your site. However, what are the drawbacks? Some of the drawbacks (some pointed out by Rachel) include:
- Not all users even know what a social bookmarking site is. Although Hagrin.com is a tech blog, there is a substantial amount of readers who come here who aren't technical or up-to-date with every Web 2.0 social community site. Therefore, having a link (like I currently do) that says "Add to delicio.us" may seem confusing and will increase the noise on a site.
- If you include textual links back to these bookarmking sites, you run the risk of substantially lowering your keyword density for the terms you want to rank highly in search engines.
The arguments for and against are both extremely valid and really do show the current power of social bookmarking really needs to be balanced by good design and solid SEO principles. I will evaluate how I will use social bookmarking here on Hagrin.com over the next few days.
Chitika now offers category hints to its publishers looking to increase the amount of money they make through their sites. These category hints allow you to specify a group of products to target and automatically capture new products that you don't already have in your product array. Chitika, showing constant innovation, really has proven themselves to me over time and this offering just helps bloggers make even more money.
In other news, Chitika also completed their PayPal payments today as well which is fantastic and just as promised.
Finally, my first blogging paycheck. Chitika eMiniMalls sent me my Paypal payment last night and everything was processed 100%. This is fantastic news as now it seems Chitika has really improved their system over the last 3 months and, most importantly, the money is REAL. Plus, if you have a small traffic blog, Chitika pays out at balances as low as $10 USD. In comparison, Google's AdSense requires you to earn $100 before you ever see a penny.
Very cool use of text-to-speech technology. Feed2Podcast has created a technology that will take your blog or RSS feed and convert it into a podcast by using a text-to-speech translator. Now, you can use this type of technology to take your blog posts and automatically create your very own podcast so you can enter the ever growing podcasting market. This is a great tool to get an extra mile off your existing blog setup and from such tools as Wordpress.
The Chitika eMiniMalls blog has announced that although they are still delayed calculating the November auditted numbers, they are expecting to have December's numbers done by January 15th due to their new robust, automated auditting system.
Chitika has been very apologetic and forthcoming with their issues which gives publishers like me a good feeling about the company. True, they are still working out a few bugs, but their commitment to their products enables users like myself to endure a little pain to reap the long-term benefits.
The Official Google Blog talks about their year of blogging and offers some highlights from the year. What I find amazing is that they generated over 4 million unique visitors to their blog (tracked by Analytics for only half the year!!!). This shows the power of corporate blogging to disseminate information to the masses - a trend that I am sure we will see more of in 2006.
An interesting topic sprung up at Search Engine Watch about the ability to track website changes. At first, I dismissed the article with a "Uhhh RSS and Atom?", but then decided to take a look at the tools mentioned.
One of the major issues that RSS, Atom and other blog feeds have when trying to keep up-to-date with changes to your favorite pages is the ability to securely see "behind login" content. The article suggests a tool (which I have no experience with) that can actually monitor pages that are secured by user login. This got me thinking - why aren't RSS feeds being secured? Email requires you to login, certain HTTP GETS require you to login so why not RSS?