3.1 Search Engines

3.2 Using hyperlinks

3.3 Using social media

3.4 Using Email

3.5 Interacting with other blogs

3.6 Aggregators

3.7 Statistics

3.8 Can I add video or audio to my blog?

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3.1 Search Engines (titles; categories; keywords)

Good news.  Most blogging platforms are optimised to work with search engines such as Google to place your blog high up on its search lists (called ranking).  However, there are some simple things to consider from your end as well; some of which should be part of your regular process of creating a blog post, whilst others might be things to consider from time to time.

  1. Keywords – when you write a blog post consider the keywords people might use to search for that topic and try to include them either in the post itself or in the title, web address or category/tags options made available through blog platform.
  2. Categories/tags – Include around 5-6 tags for each post and link posts to specific categories (create only a few of these).  This allows you to divide up your posts within subject matters but also enables search engines to find content.  You may wish to use tags to include variant terms of names given to the item you are talking about.  Thus when you talk about a ‘monarch’ you might wish to include as tags ‘king’ or ‘queen’.
  3. Title – Ensure that the blog post title is descriptive as well as interesting.  Consider amending slightly the web address url so that it uses slightly different key words.  You might, for instance wish to change ‘change’ for ‘changing’ if that is appropriate, to better accommodate variations on search terms that people might use to find your blog.

If you would like to find out more about optimising your blog for search engines then it is worthwhile looking at this video lecture by Matt Cutts of Google.  In the video various suggestions are made to improve ratings, but also a word of advice not to get too caught up in the mechanics.  At the end of the day you can easily overdo it.  Don’t just keep using the same words repetitively – you only need to include them a few times and only if it doesn’t affect the flow of a blog post – don’t add too many tags or over complicate things, and don’t spend too much time on it all.  Google is pretty good at capturing the information from what a blogging platform provides.

For the video webpage with slide show and accompanying commentary check out the Matt Cutts video here.

Matt Cutts suggests that page rank is the important thing to consider.  By this he means the number of people who link to you and how important those links are.  Thus fifty links with friends are worth less than ten links with credible institutions (with more followers).

On WordPress under the Tools menu you can select ‘Website Verification Services’.  This helps search engines to find you using relevant keywords and helps you to see how Google indexes your site.  This is useful if you become serious about trying to attract more interest and visits.

3.2 Using hyperlinks

Hyperlinks are basically those words that you press to click through to content relevant to those words (i.e. the name of another website or resource clicks through to that website or resource).  Using hyperlinks or URLs to cross-link to other blogs and sites help readers to learn more about useful resources and is another way to share knowledge.  It also helps to link your blog to the wider internet, making it more useful and hopefully encouraging links back from other people.

You might also want to take this further by sharing links to your own posts via social networking sites and on the comments features of other blogs.  Obviously be careful when doing this as you don’t want to be ‘spamming’ others’ websites.

Note: Try not to copy and paste a URL directly into a post as the long URL address looks messy on the page.  It is better to add the link to the title of the page you are sending people to (see image below); also, as shown in the image, try to avoid using (see here) as this doesn’t necessarily make it clear where the link goes.

Ways to display web-links in a blog post
Ways to display web-links in a blog post

 

3.3 Using social media

Even if you are not a big user of Twitter it is worth spending some time to create an account and promote your blog there.  If you connect on Twitter with others who hold similar interests to you and your blog, then you will find that the amount of traffic to the blog increases fairly substantially.  After the initial setting up and finding like-minded people, you don’t even necessarily have to do much more.  WordPress, for example, will post a Tweet whenever you release a new blog post.  All you have to do is set it up on the WordPress dashboard.  However, it should be noted that Twitter is, itself, a useful networking tool and by only setting up automatic tweets you will be limiting both your effectiveness in terms of interesting others and in terms of what you, yourself, might gain from actively taking part on Twitter.  It is very much worthwhile spending time establishing your Twitter profile and becoming an active member.

To do this:

1)      Go to the WordPress dashboard

2)      Using the left-side menu click on Settings – Sharing

3)      You can then ‘Add new Twitter connection’

This page also allows you to link to Facebook, Linkedin, and tumblr.  In each case a post will display on the selected account automatically whenever you blog.

If you scroll further down the page you will also find the ‘sharing buttons’. These are displayed at the bottom of each post on the blog and can help and encourage visitors to share the post with their followers, further spreading knowledge of what you are posting.

If you are particularly keen you may also wish to share the link to your blog in bookmarking sites such as Delicious.

3.4 Using Emails

Most companies, university departments, and archives/libraries make use of the signature feature in email software.  Why not add your blog (if allowed) to the signature so that anyone you email can see that you have a blog?

3.5 Interacting with other blogs

It is possible to build up a rapport and community between bloggers.  One means to promote your blog whilst also promoting the blogs of others is to interact with those sharing similar content and interests.  Post comments on their blogs about their posts with a link to your blog (where relevant).  Be careful not to spam though!

3.6 Aggregators

An aggregator is a website or piece of software that aggregates a specific type of data, in this case blogs.  In terms of History blogging there is only one aggregator that provides a service useful to finding blogs on a particular historical period, and that is the Early Modern Commons.  If you have a blog on any topic of early modern history it is well worth adding it to the list here, as it will bring in traffic and help other users to find your blog.  Early Modern Commons is used by a variety of people, but it does include many academics, archivists, and librarians.

For more information about the Early Modern Commons site check out the full podcasted interview with its creator, Sharon Howard: Interview with Sharon Howard creator of The Early Modern Commons.

Aggregators also allow you to join your blog with other blogs within your institution/department.  For instance the British Library has various individual blogs but these are all placed together on a single web page (this is admittedly more an index to their blogs than an actual aggregator).  The Institute of Historical Research aggregates its blog on its social media pages, including basic details – logo and title of blog, title of blog post, date.  By doing this it enables people to find your blog in context with others and helps to achieve greater transparency.  An alternative method to aggregate blog and other web content is described below:

Name: Paper.li

Address: http://paper.li/

Costs: Free/$9 per month

Information: Paper.li is a variation on the blog format; more an online newspaper or platform to gather together daily news items from a selection of sources.  Once set up this is an automated process.  Paper.li is not a blog platform but an aggregator of content from across the web.

3.7 Statistics

Most blogs have their own internal statistics system which varies in terms of what it records and how it displays the information.  If you are particularly interested in understanding the number and type of people visiting your blog, then it is always worthwhile installing Google Analytics where possible (Note: some blogging systems won’t allow you to add Google Analytics on their free services).  Google Analytics takes a while to understand but is by far the best free statistics system available.  For most people just interested in seeing if anyone is visiting their blog the internal statistics system is often enough.  Be warned though, staring at the stats can become an obsession!

It is possible to use statistics as one measure of the impact of your blog.  This can be done in several ways:

  • Tracking traffic – check how many times each individual blog post is viewed to get a better idea of what your readers are interested in and then try to focus more of your future posts towards similar subjects.
  • Read Comments – always read comments posted to your blog.  If someone has commented then they have been interested enough in your subject to do so – see what they have to say and consider replying.  This might even start up a conversation and again gives you an idea of what your readers find interesting.
  • Monitor incoming links – through tools such as Google analytics (and to a certain extent through blog services’ own statistics) it is possible to see who has linked to you or clicked through links.  This gives you an idea of your reach.  One very useful tool for monitoring links is Google Alert which allows you to check who has linked to a specific URL on your site.  An alternative is Yahoo Site Explorer LINK.

Here is a list of other tools you might find useful:

Keyword Tool

This tool is useful to find out what the search terms are for your site or another site.  This is worth checking out.  Find a site that is doing a similar thing to you and then see what terms people are using to come to that site.  From that information you know more about the words you should try to use in your blog posts.

Google Analytics

A comprehensive suit of statistics that you can customize for most websites, including blogs.  This is one of the best statistics suite available for free and it also allows you to check which posts get the most visitors over a period of time.  You can therefore see which ones have proven popular and which have not.

 

3.8 Can I add video or audio to my blog?

Yes, although often you can only upload the video directly to the blog if you have paid for the service.  It is possible to embed audio and video from other sources, however, and this is often the easiest way forward.

To embed a video you will need a piece of html code that will need to be pasted into the html editor option of the blog post.  This might sound complicated but in most cases it is actually very easy to do.  Here are the instructions for doing this on a WordPress.com blog and a Blogger blog using a video found on YouTube.

WordPress – This is easy.  Just copy the video’s URL from YouTube from your web browser’s address bar and paste it on a line by itself on you blog post or page editor (making sure that it doesn’t appear as a hyperlink).

Blogger – There are two ways to do this.  The one Blogger recommends isn’t necessarily the easiest one.  This is: Underneath the YouTube video click on the ‘Share’ button, select ‘show more’ and then click on the Blogger icon.  This link will take you to your blog – sign in if necessary – then choose the blog you would like to post to from the drop-down menu.  Once done you can then publish your post.  Alternatively copy the embed code from the ‘Share’ options on YouTube and then paste that code on your blog post when it is in the ‘Edit HTML’ option (you will most likely need to switch tab on Blogger from ‘Compose’ to ‘Edit HTML’).

If your video is not already available on the internet you can easily upload one yourself to YouTube or Vimeo.  YouTube is the most popular option; however the file you upload is limited in both terms of size and length.  Vimeo can sometimes be the better options for larger videos.

To embed audio is an entirely different process.  For audio files you will need the URL link to the file itself, which will need to be uploaded onto the internet somewhere and freely available (i.e. not behind a registration or subscription wall).  If the audio is not already available online and you have no obvious place to put it you can upload your own audio to SoundCloud.  This website provides space – free of charge – for up to two hours of audio files with payment plans for adding more.    Again, here are the instructions for doing this on a WordPress.com or Blogger blog.

WordPress – If you have a SoundCloud account simply select the ‘WordPress embed code’ from the SoundCloud ‘Share’ option.  Then embed it in the blog post.  Otherwise copy and past the url link onto the blog post.  In the editor this will just appear as the link but click on the preview or publish options and the link becomes a basic audio player.

Blogger – From the editor select the ‘video’ option (it appears as a director’s clapper board) then add the url in the appropriate box (if you are selecting from YouTube there is  a specific option for this).  The insert that video into the post.

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