Friday, August 31, 2007

31 Days: Days 22, 23 & 24

I've been seriously lagging in this 31 Day Blog Challenge. For me, the Challenge has worn thin.

The tasks are relentless -- every single day there's something new to do. And yet I feel compelled to continue and fulfill my duty to my fellow Challenge Participants.

Rather than tackle the last nine days in one really long post, I think I'll chunk things out a bit. For my sanity as well as yours.

Day 22: Catch Readers Up on the Basics of Your Blog

As your readership grows, new folks will be wandering in. The idea behind this task is make sure your new readers know what you're all about.

Some key questions Darren suggests you write about: Why did you start your blog? How is it designed to be used? How can readers connect/subscribe? How can readers get more involved? Where should new readers start?

I recently did this in my About Learning Visions page, which is now displayed prominently at the top of my sidebar.

The idea would be to periodically (say every couple of months) write a post answering one or two of the questions above to let any new readers know just what you're all about as a blogger. I'll keep this mind.

Task sort of completed, but one to think about in an ongoing fashion.

Day 23: Go on a Dead Link Hunt

Also known as "Link Rot", this is the phenomenon when items that you link to return the dreaded "Page not Found Error". So the answer is to periodically check your site to make sure that all your links are still valid and active.

Rather than go through each page and test each link manually, there are a number of tools you can use that will spider your site and check for links.

I tried and at first couldn't seem to get it to work for my Blogger blog. It only got as far as my main page and returned a link not found error. I came back again today and tried again. This time it seemed to "work." Dead-Links found what were supposedly a bunch of dead links, but I clicked on most of them and they worked just fine.

When Dead-Links wasn't working at first, I tried Google Webmaster tools. This was new to me and a nice discovery. Turns out there's a lot of tools in there, including a view of who's linking to you. I found a number of blogs that had linked to mine without my ever knowing!

If you're using Google Webmaster to check for dead links, you'll first need to claim and verify your site. I had to add a wee bit of code into my blog template. Once you've done that, go to the Diagnostics tab and choose "Web Crawl".

As far as I can tell, Google didn't find any dead links on my site. But this may simply be a dumb user not fully understanding the data I see.

So I think I can say task completed and also complete waste of my time.

Day 24: Do a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Audit
This is exactly the kind of task I hate and as Darren notes, definitely makes my head spin. The idea here is to make sure you're writing your posts in the best possible way to ensure they get picked up by the most readers and you get more hits and a better ranking.

Darren has a good post on the topic: Search Engine Optimization for Blogs -- SEO that you should read if you're interested in maximizing your search results.

"My main advice to people wanting to optimize their blogs for Search Engines is to keep it simple. Start with quality content on a specific topic and then tweak it using the best current advice going around."
I'll keep it as simple as that.

Task completed (in a completely half-assed way).

If you're just tuning in and would like to track my progress (or lack thereof) in the other days of the challenge, you can read more:

31 Days: Days 17, 18, 19 & 21
31 Days: Days 12, 13, 14, 15 & 16
31 Days: Days 8, 9, & 10
31 Days: Days 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8 (I got my numbering off somewhere along the way)
31 Days: Days 1, 2 & 3

And check in with the other 31 Day Bloggers who are taking part in the great Chocolate Challenge:

Tim Davies
Kate Foy
Christine Martell
Michele Martin
Frances McLean
Alex Miller
Kate Quinn
Sue Waters
Laura Whitehead
Al Upton and the miniLegends


Christine Martell said...

I did better with xenu for link checking, as suggested by Paul. What I liked about it compared to some of the others, was it gave me a list of broken links and where to find them, broken down in multiple ways. I found most of my broken links were from events I had mentioned. Seems many take their pages back down after they happen.

You are doing great, even if you are feeling a bit sassy about the whole thing.

Cammy Bean said...

I am feeling sassy, aren't I?

And thanks for the Xenu tip -- next time around I might try that one....