Sunday, May 24, 2009

Lazy Runner

Sorry no new posts yet. (well except this one) I haven't been running lately with school ending and a bunch of events going on. I have been going on long walks with my new walking buddy, my brothers dog, Ranger aka the Pug-Man or Manny Fresh.

I actually have decided to start working towards my next race. I plan on running the Baltimore Half-Marathon in October. It seems pretty cool and extremely popular among local runners. A must for many Baltimore\Maryland natives.

I hope to start back up Tuesday but I plan on redoing my workout routine. Getting back into running after takes a week or two off may prove to be harder then I had anticipated.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


  • Search engine optimization: not a hard concept to grasp. Basically you are attempting to get your blog out there for new people to read and share. Ideally it is promoting yourself as any other business person would; a marketing campaign put on the internet. It ultimately helps people search for content on the web. SEO helps search engines find the blogs or websites people are looking for. They even have books to help decode the language.
  • Tags: not just for graffiti artists anymore. They are the key in trying to produce good SEO practices. For this reason I always try in my blog, about marathon training\running, to include running, marathon running and beginning running advice in my blogs tag field. It essentially pulls in more readers who maybe searching using broad terms. However I understand that I have to be specific as well.
  • Readers anymore are looking for niches: people who can relate to their individual needs. As such people in the blogosphere need to incorporate those ideas into their writing. For example I could write a post about shaving down times or a race. The tags for that post should have general terms the topic falls under but should include lowering race timing or tips for timing. This will help search engine focus right on my blog as opposed to another if timing is what an audience member is looking for. By using search engines I want to appear in organic search results. It is imperative to my blogs survival, if I want to become a real player in the blogosphere, to use SEO.
  • Playing up to a niche audience: best way to gain popularity. They will share your information is you have done the other blog basics. These basics can lie in the superficial aspects like color, font size or delve further into writing, voice, professionalism. This may not seem like a part of SEO but it helps if you have a strong product to be able to sell it properly.

  • Know where your posts rank based on audience perception: This can be measured using various tools. I embedded Google Analytics and it helps tremendously. I was able to see what worked and what did not, which will help raise a blog in the ranks. By using Google’s hot trends or just trends (difference is trends allows you to search individual words) tools a blogger can see what people are looking for right now and if viewed often enough a pattern begins to emerge. Over the course of a week the amount of popularly news coverage coincided with the top ten words being searched through Google.

  • Don’t drink too much of the Kool-Aid: Be careful not to overdose on trend words: This is a tool that could be implemented into the blog but should not be used a prime resource. If it is a blogger runs the risk of only writing about or aiming to have the most talked about posts. Content eventually suffers if all one worries about is popularity.

  • Hiring an SEO company: according to Google hiring an SEO is a critical step in moving a blog from just a platform for an individual into a more legitimate resource. This is done by: reviewing site content and structure, having adequate technical advice on web development, mastery of certain regions and markets, to that having content development, overseeing online business practices, using proper keyword research and finally having SEO training. Webmaster is a suggested tool which incorporates all of these elements in order to better SEO.

  • Be leery of shady business deals: some SEO companies are scams. Google says to look out for,Be wary of SEO firms and web consultants or agencies that send you email out of the blue, No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google, Be careful if a company is secretive or won't clearly explain what they intend to do, You should never have to link to an SEO, Choose wisely, Be sure to understand where the money goes, be mindful of shadow domains.”

  • Add URL to Google: I did, and immediately received a visit from the engine. It came from a runner in Baltimore who was looking for advice with shaving down their times. Other advice was to use more broad headlines and specific tags to help bring people in and zero in on their interests. I used Google hot trends to help see what words\phrases are most popular. I will try to use those more just to get traffic onto my blog.
  • Social networking sites: just get the word out. I use social networking sites but it was suggested that use them more often and follow through on the comments.

Harnessing Power of Social Media

(even Obe-One would have a problem using the force of social media)

  • Ask yourself, now what?: you have a blog, which is wonderful and exciting but new media is overloaded with content. It is more powerful and immeasurable then people think. Trying to harness that power of social media is an important part of blogging.
  • Linking and trackbacking: Linking is to bloggers like food is to people. It is how they get around and function properly. If you eat properly you will feel better then if you overindulge. A blogger has to remember good linking practices. They should link effectively with sites and medias that are compatible to their writing topics. Standard operating procedure of linking says, if you link to a another person’s content, tell them and they might link back to you, this is called track backs. I did this many times in my blog and I always ended up with another follower or at least a comment on the site. This is important since it opens the people they know, up to you as potential readers. It is also proper web etiquette to give create were it is due. If someone else writes a piece embed the link in your article. It will make you appear more professional.
  • Social Networking sites: Facebook and Twitter grabs at an already established collection of people. I linked my blog to my Facebook and received more comments there then on the actual site. However my philosophy is that at least they are reading and discussing my writing, which is the whole point of communications. If I used my Twitter more I would link that too. These sites are not to be taken lightly they provide immense potential. If used correctly people can view your blog through the sites or at least pick up the links and share them with their friends.
  • A blogger is not an island: you should use its resources to build bridges to other networks.
  • Create a strong blogroll: follow other people’s blog on the topics. This shows a more active interest in the field and subject matter. As previously discussed having a well-composed blogroll with result in potentially more traffic and opens all lines of communications up.
  • Understand Search Engine Optimization: it sounds more imposing then it is. This will be discussed later on but it basically makes the internet work for you not the other way around. Expanding you media literacy and sharing it with others will broaden the likelihood of success. SEO can have a positive impact on social media and if done properly this along with all the tips mentioned above will give a blogger that edge above the rest.

Blog Content

  • Be an expert on your topic: even if you may not know everything about your subject, it is critical to at least understand you are an authority on your knowledge base, beliefs and techniques.
  • Write with confidence: it instantly translates to your blog making it more relatable and professional. Example, When I first starting blogging I was leery about this idea. I knew how to run but I knew little about the actual sport, all the training a person needs and what people go through. I choose my topic actually for that reason, to learn two new things at once. To compensate for shortcomings in expertise on a subject, link to other blogs. This is how I got through the first few weeks and as I reviewed my blog I determined I was actually linking less and less and writing more as the semester progressed. I became more informed on how to start marathon training, running the race and running itself. This is because I was logging my experiences but also forced to read other blogs, informational sites and tips, the interest grew and I wanted to learn more throughout the blog time.
  • Variety of topics: it is a quick way to make you blog more appealing. I wanted to talk about training but it is not only about the workouts. In fact its less about the actual running and more about strategies with the diet and exercise and the programs which occur along the way. I talked about everything from diet to footwear to weird things runners to injuries. The other side to this process is that it brings more traffic to your site. For example, people might be training for a marathon but are looking for footwear advice, they might find the site and there is one more view. It makes your blog that much more interesting.
  • Having subgroups: will make your content fuller and readable
  • Strong layout: the amount of people online is tremendous and your job as a blogger is to get those readers to your blog and have them stay there for as long as possible. Just like in marketing you have to promote yourself in the best light.
  • Short, concise reads are more appealing: makes visitors to the site more compelled to stay. It should be written in a more conversational, informal, free voice then that of traditional writing. The visual look of your blog should be clear and neat as opposed to cluttered and unappealing.
  • Step back and review: How do you like blogs to look? Remove yourself from the situation and look at your content skeptically. If you look to other blogs for references it could aid in a better understanding of what you may want to try out. Which is also any other key trait; be willing to attempt new formatting and writing styles. However do not loose site of your original goal and idea for the end product, always remain true to yourself and your style of writing but tweaking it here and there will serve your audience better.

Secrets to a Great Blog and Why?

  • Pick a good topic that you can be passionate about: You do not necessarily have to know everything about your subject, in fact it may be more beneficial if you don’t. This way your judgments do not get in your way of evaluating new information.
  • Take slow: do one day at a time or else you'll run out of steam or become overwhelmed.
  • Be playful and expansive with blog content, voice, visuals and formatting: Along with experiments, writing styles vary from person to person, but that should not limit people from trying different styles. If it is a person’s first blog this is even more important. Because one blog which talks about cooking is set-up one way, while others just as successful are different. If every author wrote the same, about the same topic people would read books less then they already do.
  • Be open to new ideas: should be readily available to your audience members. People will appreciate if they comment on you page for you to write them back or possibly take their suggestion.
  • Example, In the case of my blog I received several comments which helped me with my formatting after my initial posting. First comment was on how to better embed my links. The other was on my bio.That little checkup factor helped me learn how to better my own writing techniques. I also trusted the people who commented (The Dillonator) (The Columbia Conversation)and I linked to their blogs. In turn those small changes helped me become a cleaner writer\blogger.

  • Niche audience: a key element to blogging is figuring out your niche audience and appealing to them. The appeal can come be varied. A person does not have to be the best writer to blog but they should appear to always be professional and personable. A niche audience takes awhile to discover. This is done through appropriate language, presentation and clarity within the actual writing. I changed my audience several times because you never know how people will take the information you put out. You have to be willing to change and be versatile to their suggestions.

  • Care: simply caring about your subject and the time you are putting in to the process, makes all the difference. If you care about your topic and want to find new sources and build more insightful multimedia packages\visuals, then people will get excited too. Like starting a fire, the idea is only the spark, it is the atmosphere which is created, that sustains the blaze while the amount of wood and pine cones you put on the fire acts as the writing, pictures, etc .

  • Posting regularly will give your readers a routine to follow as well.

  • Think of blog like a package deal: multimedia packages could be presented through, linking. A link should be embedded into a blog post at least once if not more times within one segment. It enriches your content. When you link, picking the appropriate words within a post help steer readers and inform them as to what they will be looking at. This also gives create to the sources you use, it is like writing a bibliography within a post. It may also give you more readers from their site or blog, if you link back. Just remember be aware of overlinking and it ends up looking more like an aggregater then a blog. The more varied the media used, like photos, visuals, websites or videos the better the blog appears.

  • Little tidbits which should be included in your blog: mainly basics of the internet. By linking to other blogs and creating a varied blogroll on your site you create more traffic and therefore become more reputable. Use sites like YouTube to embed video clips for example. RSS feeds and comments help in people’s perception of your content. Try new applications even. Being up-to-date with current and future trends could help your blog as well. Be able to spot other good blogs and offer them to your readers. Understand how to use social networking sites to your advantage which will build a stronger presence on the web.

Ignore Next Few Posts

The next few posts might not make much sense to the followers of this blog. But I put this whole thing together for a course and I have to do this as part of my semester grade. Thanks for reading and going along for a ride. I will most likely be starting a new blog about, what now, a guide to finding a job and a life after college.

Who Blogs and Why?

  • Simplest answer anyone who wants to: can be any person, company or outlet, can blog about any topic. The variety can be seen in our serious they take the experience and what they want the end product to look like.
  • Blogs Role in society: (within social institutions)

o Education Systems: use them not just as a tool, in classrooms, but as a communication level. They provide platforms for dialogues to exist; thus exchanging information among the masses but on an individual level.

o Business are using blogs more and more: seen in the ways they communicate with their public. Businesses are using new media as a way to talk to their consumers about their products. They are traditionally looking to promote their items but also to get feedback. This can be seen as a trend all over the world.

§ Ex: They could be aiming to corner the market on used books for example and so have blogs set up to have a forum for people to discuss

o New media markets, Mass Communications Field: have incorporated using blogs as a form of expressing, interpreting and reporting news. According to recent studies 95% of the top 100 newspapers have some form of a blog. With the shift from old to new media blogging is finding a home along side the reputable news sites. As outlets which promote creativity in an otherwise structured environments, audiences take to blogging. It is the same notion behind being able to learn more in a practicum situation verse a tutorial. Media, especially journalists, are reformatting the current market structure with this type outlet. They can discuss the news formally, in the old journalistic sense, or informally, in the more op-ed way. Here in Baltimore, there is a cousin-like paper to the Sun, B, which fuses the old media (newspapers) with new media (blogging).

  • Journalist vs Bloggers: Journalism use of new media technology like blogging is growing everyday. The original differences arise out of the foundations of journalism's. For bloggers sources for posts can be linked to and immediately contacted. The research element for bloggers is much smaller, since in today’s circumstances finding resources are easier. The contact lists for sources are endless which in turn makes discusses richer. The topics are the final major difference among journalists and bloggers. Where journalists have to interpret the facts and regurgitate events, bloggers get to talk about the news on a more informal level and discuss their belief relative to the topic. However bloggers should attempt to remain as subjective as possible but still inject their own voice into posts. It is not so easy for every country however to make this transition from Journalist to blogger has some are catching backlash at home.
  • People want to be thought of as individuals: Since blogs should follow one niche topic to reach a niche audience people can share their knowledge of a topic with others and create a more varied viewpoint on a subject which enriches our culture.
  • Individual people (biggest contributors): They are building strong communities centered on a niche hobby, idea, belief, topic, etc. Typically the blogs are recreational in nature but that is not a requirement to ensure success. They can reach as far as the boundaries of the world will take them.

o I had a follower from the United Kingdom reading my blog. It is an amazing tool considering less then 100 years ago America had to watch the news at only certain times in the day and relied on newspapers for their information.

  • Blogs give a voice to anybody willing to speak up: They are a provocative tool for accessing information about subject matter. They enhance and reform social networks by creating a platform for communications to exist. At the end of all the discussion, any person, company or outlet, can blog about any topic. However, certain criteria have to be met in order to ensure the blogs success.