Sunday, August 31, 2008

A new blogger's log: Post 3

Week of 8/3
Still trying to figure out how to do tables. I spent hours trying to find hints on how to create tables without having to learn HTML. Finally broke down and decided to learn some HTML. Found a great site that has an on-line tutorial. Learning most of what I needed to know about tables took maybe 30 minutes! You can also try writing HTML code and have it validated there.

Table creation is somewhat laborious, so I started developing some techniques to make the process less labor intensive. Then I found a very useful site that generates the appropriate HTML code automatically. Only problem is there are some additional Blogger-specific table formatting issues. I was able to find some hints on how to deal with those, and all seemed acceptable, though not perfect, when I finalized my post. (However, subsequently I discovered even more formatting issues when the posts are distributed via RSS or e-mail. If I ever get my tables to look the way I want them to, I may do a special post on tables.)

The only remaining problem for the post was including a picture. The mechanics of inserting a picture are trivial in Blogger. The biggest problem was finding a suitable picture without violating someone’s copyright. I found a good source of free pictures at Public Domain Pictures.

Week of 8/10
I’ve started a list of ideas for potential posts. I have about 50 items on the list so far, in various categories. However, every time I start a new post, part way through, I find myself drawn back to housing. So, here I go again with another housing post. I just think there is a lot of misinformation about housing out there. I hope I can help.

Besides working on my next post, I am trying to get a better understanding of searching and search optimization. I haven’t really developed a formal strategy for my blog yet. However, already it is clear that because I don’t want to focus on any one area it will be difficult for me to develop a “following.” Therefore, I’m thinking a larger percentage of my traffic must come from searches than is typical for a blog. One very useful book I have found to help me address this issue is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for Dummies.

I have some Google alerts searching for posts related to housing. This week, for the first time, one of MY posts came up! In addition, again for the first time, a visitor found the site via a search rather than via a direct link. My final milestone this week was my first visitor from outside North America and Western Europe. This is fun.

Week of 8/17
I have created a spreadsheet to track important SEO-related data such as the number of visitors, and my Google “page rank.” I’ve added the Google toolbar so that I can track page rank (Someday, I hope to actually have one). Another very useful piece of data is the number of inbound links to my site. This I am getting from Yahoo Site Explorer. However, virtually every new data source raises new questions. In the case of Yahoo Site Explorer, I am confused by a number of inbound links from sites that appear to be in the Soviet Union. When I go to these sites to find their link to me, I can’t find the link. What’s up with that?

Somehow, I manage to post “The Disadvantages of Buying a House” despite being distracted by SEO stuff.

Week of 8/24
I have yet to get a visitor via a non-Google search. That’s a problem. Google is, of course, my priority since they account for over 50% of all searches. However, I’m concerned about Yahoo and MSN. When I search for my posts using MSN I find nothing – which explains why I get no visitors from there. And, even though Yahoo Site Explorer seems to know about links to my pages, only one of my posts seems to be indexed. One potential issue is whether I should have included the “www” prefix in my initial URL submission. So, I’m resubmitting to both MSN and Yahoo to make sure they have the URL with and without “www.”

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