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Blogging 101: Pulling The Plug. The Effects of NOT Blogging


Last week I pulled the plug on my site to prove a point.

Ok, I didn’t REALLY pull the plug.

I’m reading Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. In the book they refer to a set of doctors who were trying to prove their credibility. The doctors were trying to prove that ulcers were caused by bacteria. One of the doctors drank a vile of bacteria, to demonstrate ulcers could be cured by antibiotics. This past week, I stopped posting to watch my stats drop like a rock.

The Stats

In the example graph above, you can see the chart taper off. This is when I stopped posting. This is where you see my stats drop. This is where I start losing visitors interest in my site.

Duh.

This is an obvious cause and effect test. I stop posting, I start losing traffic – no real secret here. But there are two points that I noticed, which really weren’t the case a little over a year ago.

The Social Effect

Traffic to my site didn’t fall off the grid. Google analytics tells me I lost 37% of my visits compared to the week before. However, I’m still at a 28% increase for the month compared to the last. That thirty-seven may seem like a lot – and it is – but the main drop is in traffic coming from twitter and stumbleupon. A lot of the spikes in my traffic are attributed to broadcasting my posts out into social media. I was still getting a steady flow of traffic organically, directly, and from referring sites/projects I’m associated with.

The Commenting Effect

Notice that slight blip on the radar near the end of the graph? I had commented on a popular blog that day.

So what, you say?

Well, it shows a fairly interesting metric. Just how important it is to get out there and comment on other blogs, forums and sites that interest you. This week I attended one of Chris Brogan’s first webinars to an open audience. He was doing a recap of blogging for small business and it was quite entertaining. Someone raised a question in the Q&A session if it was OK to post a link back to your blog in comments. Chris tends to feel it’s on the spammy side of internet eticcate. I tend to agree, but I certainly have posted links back to my sites when I’m passionate about a topic that I may have already wrote about.

Conclusion

So I didn’t unearth anything mysterious here. I didn’t post anything for a week and I lost visits. What I found interesting was the traffic I lost mostly came from not posting to social media. Organics and linked referring sites still maintained traffic.
It was also proof that increased traffic does not mean just posting to your blog. If you want more uniques – get involved more in social media, comment on sites that are relative to your content and guest blog on other sites.

What else have you found useful to increase traffic to your site?

[photo credit]

Mentoring Like A Manager


For the last three years, I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for a local community college. Students that are enrolled in the CIS program are directed to me for small assignments, projects and general help. Each semester I have anywhere between three and seven students that are communicating with me. It’s a rewarding experience and I look forward to the invite every year.

The students are instructed to introduce themselves, give a little background on their interests and describe the outlook of their education. They ask me to describe my current position, day to day responsibilities, and how education prepared me for my career. It’s always exciting to talk with an eager group of students and hope they can learn something from me.

Mentoring like a Manager

Students often asked, “What are the most important skills for an employee?”

I look for three major skills or traits when hiring. Communication, collaboration and fundamentals. In my experience, this really defines how well an employee will perform. I try and reflect these traits when mentoring the students.

Communication

Communication is the basis of any good relationship. It’s crucial you are communicating properly. Whether to an employee, a purchase at the store or a passing comment on a blog or website. I put a lot of emphasis on this with my employees and expect the same from the students.

If I find that I haven’t heard from a student in some time – I reach out to them to make sure they are keeping up with their assignments. I’ve held group sessions when they are assigned more complicated projects or have a lot of interview questions. I want to ensure that we are all properly communicating with one another – beyond just e-mail.

Collaboration

Team work.

You know, you use to get graded on it – “Plays well with others.”

If you can’t work with your team, clients, managers or owners – you simply will not succeed. You will have trouble accomplishing daily tasks, monthly objectives and year long goals. Communication plays a huge role in your efforts to collaborate effectively. However, it’s not the only aspect.

It’s quite possible you could communicate too much. Giving too much information to people that could lead them to confusion or more complexity. Knowing how to properly handle information going in and out is essential for working together efficiently. When the students have a lot of the same questions on a project, I try to get them to work together on it.

Fundamentals

You can’t build a house without a foundation.
That holds true with any great professional, student, or employee. If you don’t have the proper ground work or knowledge of something, chances are the long term outcome will not be a great success.

When a student has a question about their assignemnt, I try and direct it back to them to assure they understand the greater sum. Even when managing staff, I never just dole out the answer.

Employee says, “Client X has a question about how to fix the cog. Do you know how?”

I reply with, “How did the cog get this way? If you put the cog back to it’s original place, is it still broken? Understand more about the situation and you will be able to fix the issue.”

A true professional should always have a working knowledge of the fundamentals. They don’t need to have all the answers, but should adapt  enough to find them or the people to address them.

3 Useful Blogging Articles to Enjoy on Columbus Day

Looking for some light reading on Columbus Day? Here is a recap on some of the Blogging 101 tips from the last month. If you’re a Web Professional or part-time blogger you may benefit from these 3 fundamental articles.

<!–more–>

How long does SEO take to work?

A quick case study of how fast your SEO can turn around with little effort.

Don’t Force Your Content

A post that discusses the drawback on posting content based on volume. Discover a more committed audience through passionate blog posts.

What’s your timeline for drafting featured posts?

A behind the scenes look into developing featured content for your blog or website.

[Photo Credit]

Blogging 101: How long does SEO take to work?

Just how long does it normally take you to see your SEO results? I saw results in about a month. Remember this post? If not, let me give you a recap.

A little more than 30 days ago, I got back into the game of blogging. Exiting from my stale and neglected Drupal blog and back to WordPress. In the aforementioned post, I provided screen shots of what was happening to my SEO keywords in regards to Google search results.

Well a few blog posts later and the good SEO is starting to take shape.

<!–more–>The image below represents how Google is interpreting my site now. As you can see, in a little over a month’s time, things have improved greatly.

Vs.

Big difference right? Let’s take a look.

The Problem: I Didn’t Maintain the Blog

I was running a Drupal based blog that was a bear to keep up with. It’s very important when running web applications like Drupal or WordPress that you keep the core files updated. Applying recent security patches insures your keeping yourself and audience safe from malicious activity. My last blog fell off my list of priorities and eventually became over written with spam.

You may think comment spam is just annoying for readers and your moderation efforts – but it actually changes how search engines define what your blog is about. Hence the reason why I was referred to as a Swedish trading post.

The Fix: I Ran For The Hills (And I Wrote Along The Way)

Aside from totally uprooting the the technology I ran my blog on, I started writing again. More posts, more content and more keywords shapes your identity. As you can see, it took a little over a month to start forming some relevant keywords to define my site. Now when people are searching for the terms I’m connected with – I will show up more often in their search results.

Conclusion

If you’re new to blogging or SEO, it’s not instant. It’s not passive. You have to work at it. You also need to be passionate about it. It’s not easy to create content if you don’t like to talk about it. On the flip side, if you’re not talking at all, your presence could take a shape onto itself.

As a Web Professional, we need to take into account for the entire ecosystem. Chose your technology, maintain it, support it, and by all means utilize it.

In the long run it benefits you, your clients, and the community that follows you.

[Photo credit: MGCamacho Blog]

Blogging 101: Don’t Force Your Content

I’ve been blogging consistently for a little over a month now. It’s my first major effort aside from tweeting to followers or tracking and responding to certain Web Professional topics on Twitter. I’ve been trying to post at least 2 – 3 times a week. One “full blog post”, one “half blog post”, and a quick post series I call “Thinking for the Weekend” on Friday’s.

There I was, sitting on my sofa watching the New England Patriots special teams beat the Miami Dolphins. I’m mentally planning out the rest of my week and thinking about tomorrow morning’s meeting. Then I almost did something very dangerous.

Force a blog post.

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