Blogging

Blog Reboot #3: Web Dev Logs

Site: Web Dev Logs
Owner: Mgccl (or M)

In this blog reboot I’m going to try something different. Instead of trying to cram everything in one short hour / post, I’ll be tackling broader themes and while I’ll still be giving specific recommendations, there’ll be more ‘general info’ than before so people reading this can take something away from it as well.

For webdevlogs.com, I’m looking at three main things:

1) How to maximise site revenue – M stated that he wanted to increase rev from the site).
2) Rearrange site elements (there were several things here that would improve usability IMO)
3) Linkbait potential (M’s niche – web development – is perfect for linkbait)

Before we start though, a little bit of good and bad on webdevlogs.com.

The Good – Passion

From what I can gather from his blog posts, M enjoys writing on his blog, and he enjoys programming as well. It’s the one thing you can’t pay authors to fake, and this is also the one thing that pushes you on to improve the site when you’re stuck in a rut or hit a plateau in its development.

Passion, with focus, can lead to an excellent blog.

The Bad – Lack of focus

It’s a web dev blog. Yawn. The focus of the site is internal (directed towards the author) instead of external (directed towards readers). There’s no harm with a ‘personal’ blog, but if you want success (measured here in terms of revenue, traffic numbers and readership), you want to focus on your audience.

I’d encourage you to think about what your blog talks about, and how that relates to your readers. If you’re writing about PHP development, figure out whether you’re targeting newbies or experts. Tailor your blog content accordingly, and write on those topics that your audience wants to read about.

Finding these topics is not difficult – I’ve discussed this towards the end of the reboot.

Now let’s work on the three angles I discussed at the start – site revenue, site elements and linkbait.

1. Maximise site revenue in 3 simple steps

Before I present the 3 steps, I wanted to talk about two things – ad placement and ad objectives.

Your ad placement is mostly ‘below the fold’ – as you mentioned yourself in this post, ad placement is key to ad revenue, and putting them above the fold will definitely increase your site revenues.

Different types of ads have different objectives. AdSense ads work best if your site is designed to get clicks, and for them you need as much of search engine traffic as possible (regular readers get ad blindness). Affiliate ads work by getting the audience to read your posts and then make buying decisions based on what you’ve written. A direct contrast with adsense ads because you want them to read everything instead of just click on the ads.

CPM-based ads or text link ads often work on the basis of overall site traffic and link value passed by the site (as well as the audience of that site). Established blogs with a heavy dose of regular readership ‘outside’ that of SE traffic will use (and benefit) from direct ads more.

At your current level I’d make these 3 recommendations:

Step #1: Optimize your posts for AdSense – sabahan.com (as you’ve mentioned on your own blog) has a decent template to follow – a horizontal ad links bar on the top (below the header) and a large rectangle right (or left) floated within each post. I’d suggest that you use a plugin that only shows those ads within the post and not on the main page (being a php programmer you can hack it to make it work, I suppose) because personally ads on the main page are annoying to regular readers (hint to Perf as well there).

Two adblocks are fine – if the reader skips the ad and gets down to the end of your post, he’s probably read it (or skimmed it). At this point, take a punt that he’ll want to comment / subscribe to the site more than click on ads, and add subscribe info there. That bit is personal opinion, but I believe I’m right 🙂

Step #2: For affilate ads (hosting, books, etc), for each product you should a write a detailed review discussing pros and cons and promote the product at the end. Then, you can link all ads on your site (probably in the sidebar) to that review (good internal linking will help rankings as well). A straight ad link doesn’t earn you as many affiliate commissions as honest reviews do – and I’ve done enough of both to know.

Step #3: From the TLA calculator, your site can earn around $100 per month minimum using TLA ads. It’s worth a shot, so use that option and put the ads on the top of the left sidebar (copy sabahan.com’s placement) or the top of the right sidebar. As far as site revenue goes it’ll take some time to fill the ad slots up and TLA isn’t always a massive earner but it WILL earn you some stable income.

Personally, I’d focus on the affiliate side of things with adsense at #2 (if the SE traffic is good). Otherwise, you can also ‘rotate’ your own ads in the adsense block (inside the post) linking to internal product reviews of stuff you’re promoting as an affiliate.

2. Increase Site Usability

Just a few basic ideas here:

  1. My first question was – where are the feeds? They’re stuck in the right sidebar right above the ads. I’d shift the feeds module to the left sidebar, below the search tab (the TLA ads can come below them).
  2. If this is not a multi-blogger site and you don’t require registration for comments, why do you have the login panel featured so prominently in the left sidebar? That’s valuable space – can be used for ads or to promote key areas of your site. I’d put the recent posts / recent comments panels there, and take this login panel out altogether (or shunt it to the bottom of the sidebar).
  3. You can save space by putting the ‘contact’ panel on a separate page and linking to that page from the topside navigation.
  4. You can also push the personal blog panel on the right further down and put the recent posts / comments panels there (with the ‘tracker’ link at the top). It’s all about site focus as I discussed earlier and also of making the best use of the space above the fold.

    Stuff like recent posts, comments, topics, feeds, sponsors / ads – they’re all below the fold when they should be above it.

The theme is fine, good even although you could spruce it up with a nice logo in the header (to give the site more personality). I didn’t like the over-use of the head-banging emoticons but you could use one of them for the logo, maybe? Just a thought, don’t blame me if that backfires 🙂

I’d also have a panel that lists affiliate products / product reviews – good for internal linking and gives regular readers (more likely to scroll down and more likely to read the sidebars below the fold) more to read.

3. Linkbait Tips

When we’re talking about linkbait and the linkerati, it’s good to know (in your case) that a signficant portion (not a majority by any means, mind you) of the linkerati are from the web dev niche. These are the people most likely to be at the forefront of technological developments, and if you’re targeting the early adopters through one of their prefered topics (web development), you’ve got a very good chance of tapping the power of link baiting.

As an exercise in link bait, I’m going to ask readers to suggest topics here, but for M’s reference, here are a couple of resources.

Linkbait reference

The Art of Linkbaiting This is probably Perf’s most linked-to article, and one of the best articles on link baiting ever written. Nick Wilson may be a prick at times but when he’s right (and he’s right a lot of the times), he’s spot on.

The SEOmoz series of linkbaiting articles Worth reading for going through the whole process of understanding link baiting on a basic level, on making your site linkbait-friendly and targeting the right audience, in the right terms.

And before you think that linkbaiting is all about links, read this quote by Seth Godin:

“The challenge is to either deliver a message that causes change or to have a business model that scales after the initial flurry of interest moves on.”

Idea watch

If you’re looking for ideas for linkbait topics AND if you want to get a feel of what type of topics (or more accurately, what type of angles) get linked to and are popular, here’s a quick list:

Digg (programming section)
Reddit (programming subreddit)
Slashdot (developers section)
Del.icio.us – head over there and browse tags relevant to your site’s topics.

4. Wrapping it up

This was the third blog reboot, and I hope this series is helping other Perf readers as well as the site owners. The big challenge here is to make it valuable enough so that the site owner can actually implement the suggestions without being overwhelmed by an excess of information as well as fostering a discussion and getting other readers to help with the reboot (more eyes are always helpful).

So…

1) Let me know what you guys think is beind done right in the reboot, and what can be improved.

2) Suggest linkbait topics for webdevlogs.com – a few will do.

3) If there’s something you think I missed out on for webdevlogs, tell us in the comments.

Author: ahmedb

10 thoughts on “Blog Reboot #3: Web Dev Logs

  1. thanks for the feedback mate.

    Good to see that the reboot helped. And you’re right, your site is easier to navigate now.

  2. Much sharper looking, though check your font mgmt as the letters are a bit grainy.

  3. Ahmed: you’ve covered so much here that I had to read a second time this morning to see if I forgot anything. I can only think of one:

    Mgccl: The “WebDevLogs” logo does not contrast well with the darker blue horizontal rectangle. Consider lightening the blue or darkening the green of the logo.

  4. wow – thanks ryan – it improves things for me at least, hopefully it will for others as well.

    also, refer to the search thread i mailed you earlier – that’s something missing as well.

    And yes, he did say he was ‘getting on it’ asap.

  5. Ahmed,
    I’m glad that my blog got selected I learned a lot especally about Linkbaiting and going to work on rebooting right now. Thx a lot for your time.

  6. Ahmed,
    This Blog Reboot is priceless. Love it. Going to bookmark it and keep coming back to reread.

    BTW, thanks for the Performancing tip. We really should run a Performancing reboot one of these days. Lots of things to improve!!! The big problem is that we’re running Drupal which is a pain in the ass to upgrade and theme.

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