ï»¿When you first start blogging, there are a lot of new concepts, terms, and
skills to get your head around. Listed below are some of the more important
topics and a short explanation of each.
Every day, visitors will arrive at your website to read and browse the
pages there. These visitors are collectively called "traffic," and they are the
lifeblood of a site. A common misconception for new bloggers is that traffic
will mysteriously appear on a new site. In reality, a site needs to be known
and found somehow, hence a large portion of this book is dedicated to
generating traffic to a site.
â€¢ Visitors: A person who has navigated to a page on a website.
â€¢ Uniques: Refers to unique visitors in a given period, so that means
counting each person only once and not once for each time they have
visited. If you have a blog with a large number of repeat visitors each
month, you may find your visitors per month and uniques per month
are two quite different numbers. Advertisers will sometimes ask about
uniques as it lets them know how many actual people are visiting.
â€¢ Hits: Hits generally means the number of times a server processes
requests from a visitor's browser. So if a visitor looks at a page that
has three images, the server will register a hit for each of those images
as well as more for the page itself. Unfortunately, the word hits is
sometimes misused to mean visitors or visits. Consequently it's good to
clarify the term before you assume its meaning.
â€¢ Pageviews: Each visitor to a site will browse one or more pages.
Each page that is displayed registers as a pageview. Typically blogs
average 1â€“5 pageviews per visitor depending on how old they are and
appendix: a Blog Basics Crash Course
how frequently they are posted to. Certain other types of sites, for
example social networks like Facebook, will have much higher average
pageviews per visitor because a typical visit involves more activity.
Pageviews are extremely important because they will determine how
many times an advert will be displayed on the page.
â€¢ Analytics and Stats Packages: To measure and analyze a site's traffic,
you need to install some sort of analytics package. The most common
is the freely available Google Analytics (http://google.com/analytics),
which is installed using a small bit of code that gets placed on every page.
Google Analytics has a huge range of functionality and detail, and will let
you measure everything from where people click on a page, to what sites
they arrived from. You can read more about Analytics in Chapter 6.
Another common type of statistics package is the log analyzer. Log
analyzers are installed on the server itself and have typically less
features and functionality. Given the choice, you are probably better off
using Analytics or a similar package.
There are two ways to read a blog: the first is to visit it in a browser, and the
second is to subscribe to the site's updates via an RSS feed. Every blog
platform can be set to produce an RSS feed for the site. Visitors then grab
the URL for the feed and add it to their feed reader where they get notified
of updates. It's also possible to have the feed send updates via emails for
readers not familiar with RSS.
Subscriber numbers are important as they provide a rough gauge of how
large a blog's audience is. It is also possible to serve up adverts on a site's
feed, thus providing another source of revenue.
â€¢ RSS Feed: RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a format
for a file that your blog software keeps updated with the latest blog
posts. Feed readers then check in with the file to pull in updates. In fact,
there are other types of web feeds besides RSS.
Feeds, but most people simply say "RSS" or "Feed" and use it to mean
any type of feed.
â€¢ Feed Reader: A feed reader, or feed aggregator as they are sometimes
called, is a website or program that lets the user subscribe to multiple
feeds. There are a variety of feed readers around, ranging from
customizable homepages like iGoogle and Netvibes, to online readers
like Google Reader, to desktop applications like Newsfire, to regular
browsers like Safari and Internet Explorer.
â€¢ Feedburner: The most common service for measuring, analyzing,
and serving adverts on feeds. A blogger will typically set up a regular
feed on their site, then "burn" the feed through a Feedburner account,
which really just means repackaging it with a Feedburner URL that can
measure subscribers and other statistics. Then the blogger publicizes
the Feedburner URL in the place of the original feed URL on the blog.
"Social media" refers to websites where users interact in different ways.
Social media includes social networking sites like Facebook and LinkedIn,
social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Magnolia, social news sites
like Digg and Reddit, as well as a variety of other sites like StumbleUpon
(a hybrid social news and bookmarking site), Twitter (a social chat and
microblogging site), and many, many others.
Social media is important to blogging as it is a major source of traffic for
many blogs. Sites like Digg and Reddit can provide a flood of traffic if
a particular blog post hits the front page, while sites like StumbleUpon,
Delicious and Facebook provide a way for users to share blog posts they
like with their friends and the world.
â€¢ Submitting: Sites like Digg and Reddit require a blog post to be initially
submitted as a story or link. Submission creates the entry on the site
where users can then vote for or against, as well as comment and
appendix: a Blog Basics Crash Course
discuss. On Digg, it makes a big difference who submits a story, since
so-called top diggers have legions of followers who pay attention to
what stories they are submitting.
â€¢ Voting: Social news sites like Digg and Reddit rely on users voting for
stories to determine which are the most newsworthy. The more votes
a story gets, the higher the story is ranked and the higher the resulting
traffic will be. On Digg, stories need to hit a certain threshold of votes
before they get front-paged, at which point the resulting traffic can be
enough to push many servers into overload, commonly known as the
â€¢ Bookmarking: Social bookmarking sites require users to save or share
a URL on their account. Often there is a "Popular" page, where other
users can see what URLs are currently getting a lot of attention, and
they in turn may save or visit the site themselves.
Arguably one of the cornerstones of blogs is the ability for readers to
discuss the content being posted. This discussion occurs in the form of
comments on the page itself, and blog posts by other bloggers linking back
to the original post, known as trackbacks. Comments can be switched off
or require an account, and while a few famous blogs are set up that way, in
most cases commenting is open to anyone and everyone. This also allows
spammers to fill the web with comment spam, in much the same way as
they do with email spam. Any good blog software package will have some
form of spam filter, and it's a good idea to install one of these early on to
save yourself time moderating comments endlessly to get rid of the rubbish!
â€¢ Moderating Comments: Most blogs are set up so that the blogger
must approve, reject, or mark a comment as spam, known as
moderating. To make life easier, the blogger can set a rule that once a
particular commenter has had one comment approved, they no longer
need to have comments moderated.
â€¢ Trackbacks, Pingbacks, Linkbacks: All three of these terms mean the
same thing. They are links back from another blog to a specific post on
One of the biggest topics in blogging is monetization, which as the word
suggests, means finding ways to make money out of a blog. Monetization
methods include advertising and sponsorship, sales of products and
services, and even selling the blog itself!
â€¢ Affiliate or Referral Program: Many companies offer affiliate programs
whereby a blogger can sign up to help sell the company's product or
service, in return for a commission or affiliate payment. Usually signing
up to an affiliate program, or referral program as they are sometimes
called, will mean getting a special affiliate link and banner adverts to use
to promote the product or service.
â€¢ CPM: When selling advertising space on a site, there are a few different
ways to price the placement. CPM stands for Cost Per Thousand (M
is the Roman Numeral for 1,000) and means the cost for an advert to
be shown a thousand times. For example, a site that serves up 2,000
pageviews a month and that is selling advertising at $5 CPM, would
cost $10 to advertise on for one month (2 lots of $5).
â€¢ CPC: CPC stands for Cost Per Click, and is used when the cost is
measured not for the number of times an advert is shown, but for the
number of times an advert is actually clicked on. CPC is used largely
in search advertising like Google Adwords, where the advertiser is only
interested in actual click-throughs.