From the category archives:

Blogging Tools

Whether it is trying to stave off writer’s block, or trying to quickly find news & information without looking everywhere, what better way than have the information come to you? Here are a few of the sources I find particularly useful.

  • Google News Alerts: This is probably a well known source of information. What you might not know is that you can type in sets of keywords and have articles matching your keywords delivered to your inbox. Particularly useful for tracking information about your team of choice, or that free agent you’ve been tracking.
  • Sports Blogs: You probably know that virtually every sports blog feed is captured here. My favorite aspect is being able to get an aggregate feed for a particular team.
  • Topix: Offers typical search categories, plus a plethora of preconfigured Topix including all major sports leagues and teams. It has a combination of newspaper and blog stories. With each story are relevant tags, that when you hover a pop-up box will show the top stories for the corresponding tags.
  • Technorati: Right now this isn’t that fruitful because not many sports blogs are tagging. If tagging becomes more widely adopted among sports bloggers it could be a rich information option. You can search indexed blogs, search by tags, or even subscribe to a feed of your search

This is by no means a complete list, but it is a starting point. If you have other sources of information, please feel free to include them in the comments.

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Tagging for Traffic

by Bill Ferris on January 8, 2006 · 0 comments

in Blogging Tools

Most bloggers are probably already familiar with Technorati. Many have at least checked to see what other blogs are linking to them. Some may have claimed their blogs, and a few more may have added Technorati as a ping option in their blogging software. What I haven’t seen many sports bloggers do is incorporate tagging into their posts.

What are Tags

In the most general sense, tags are labels assigned to pieces of information. Given our context, tags are kind of like a categorization system for your post (or your blog). The tags can identify key elements of your content, and are typically one to two words. It is common that an individual post will have multiple tags.
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Leaving Blogger – How

by Bill Ferris on December 26, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blog Software,Blogging Tools,Case Studies

Earlier I posted about my reasons for moving from Blogger to WordPress. Now I’ll discuss some of the steps I took to make the transition. I planned to go into considerable detail, but seeing as how WordPress 2.0 offers additional support for importing from various platforms, I’ll keep it brief.
Wordpress ships with a script that will import from Blogger. What the script didn’t do was insure that permalinks would remain the same. It also didn’t import comments. Fortunately, people way more talented than myself took the initiative to fix both the former and the latter.

The first step I took was to setup a subdomain to install WordPress to. I didn’t want to be working in the same directory as my live site. If you’re using Blogspot to host your blog, you wouldn’t need this step. You would however need to secure web hosting in the first place. After setting up the subdomain, and installing WordPress it was time to configure Blogger. This involved changing the template (backing up the old one first of course), and changing publishing and date formatting options. Once the options were configured correctly, I published the blog to my new subdomain (test.detroittigersweblog.com). Immediately after the publish was complete I restored Blogger to my original settings. This isn’t completely necessary, it was just my own paranoia about forgetting what my previous settings were.

Fortunately, it appears that in 2.0 the import script handles the Blogger configuration for you. I haven’t tried it yet, but it appears that you simply provide WordPress with your Blogger login information and it does the rest.

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Leaving Blogger

by Bill Ferris on December 25, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blog Software,Blogging Tools,Case Studies

I started blogging with Blogger almost 5 years ago. Sure, Blogger frustrated me at times but I had developed a certain loyalty. Back in the day, it was one of the most accessible, easy to use, and free offerings available. However, the competition has caught up with Blogger and in many cases surpassed it. When I launched this blog, I chose to try WordPress, and I couldn’t be happier. While there was a slight learning curve for working with the templates, the features, functionality, and ease of installation overwhelmed me. Finally, this week I transferred 4.5 years of my Tiger blog from Blogger to WordPress.

I know many sports bloggers started off using Blogger. Many are still using it. Some have probably considered switching platforms, while for others it may have never crossed their minds. I’m going to do a two part post about my migration from Blogger to WordPress. The first part (this one) will focus on my reasons for switching. Many of the reasons aren’t specific to WordPress, and many of the same principles apply to a variety of blogging software. WordPress just happens to be the one I picked. Part two will cover the steps I took to do it, and will be more specific to WordPress.

Republishing Hell
One of the biggest fundamental differences between Blogger and many other solutions is static versus dynamic pages. Blogger uses static pages. To achieve this they republish pages whenever you post or change your template. Many other services use dynamic pages, where they typically use a programming language (like PHP) to query a database (typically MySQL) to generate the page when it is requested.

In my case I had nearly 1000 pages of content. Every tweak to the template, like changing links in the sidebar or changing Chitika keywords, resulted in the republishing of every one of those pages. For me this meant making all changes off hours. If I tried to republish while the east coast was awake, it would frequently timeout in the process. With dynamicaly created WordPress pages, all I do is save changes to the template. There is no republishing because the next person to request a page will see the changes.

I don’t know if this was the biggest reason for me switching, but it was definitely the one that pushed me over.
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Feedflare from Feedburner

by Bill Ferris on December 13, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blogging Tools

Today Feedburner unveiled a new feature called Feedflare. It will add in various useful tidbits to your feedburner feed. From within the feed the reader will have the option to email the author, or email the post to someone else. It will also use Technorati to show how many sites are linking to a post. In addition there is del.icio.us integration which shows tags for the post, and the ability to post to del.icio.us. Finally, if you’re a WordPress user, it will show how many comments have been left.

I’ve enabled Feedflare on the feed to this site to test it. At first glance I’m pretty enthused. It seems to be a great use of functionality, and it sounds like more functions are on the way.

In other Feedburner news, you may have noticed a spike today in your subscriptions (assuming you’re using Feedburner). It appears that Yahoo is now reporting the number of MyYahoo subscribers. Previously, Yahoo wasn’t reporting how many people were subscribing, so it showed up as one reader. The bad news is that your site didn’t become wildly popular overnight. The good news is that now you have a better handle on the size of your subscriber base.

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Subscribing – Make it Easy

by Bill Ferris on December 1, 2005 · 2 comments

in Blogging Tools,Traffic

The vast majority of blogging software generates some sort of subscribable feed, whether it is one of the versions of RSS or Atom. Even though these feeds are generated, bloggers don’t always make it easy for readers to subscribe. The result is that bloggers may be missing an opportunity to capture additional readers and/or subscribers. [click to continue…]

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Leveraging Google’s Tools: Sitemaps

by Bill Ferris on November 26, 2005 · 0 comments

in Blogging Tools,Traffic

For the last several months, Google has been allowing webmasters to submit sitemaps with the intention of better capturing information. By using sitemaps, Google hopes to be able to more efficiently direct their spiders to crawl the pages of a site. So how does this help the blogger? By submitting your sitemap to Google, you can help Google find all the pages on your site. While Google states that submitting a sitemap won’t enhance your pagerank, it could help drive search engine traffic by notifying Google of content it could have been missing. Furthermore, after submitting a sitemap you’ll be able to see statistics from Google’s crawl of your site. Now that you know why you should submit a sitemap, the next question is how?

There are tools available to automatically generate a sitemap of your site. Google offers it’s own sitemap generator Google’s generator is a python based script. To use it, you must be able to launch python scripts on your web server. If the previous sentence didn’t make much sense to you, don’t feel bad. We’re sports fans here, and not web programmers, and there are alternatives available. If the Google generator sounds too tough, there are options for many of the more common blogging platforms.

My Detroit Tiger blog is run using Blogger, and to generate a sitemap, I used this. To generate the sitemap, you simply replace your existing template with the given code. And then, instead of publishing your site, just preview it. The resulting output is your new sitemap which can then be pasted into a text editor and uploaded to your web directory. The only drawback to this method is that the sitemap isn’t continually updated, it is simply a snapshot. While I don’t update my sitemap after every post, I do make sure to update it at the beginning of the month when a new archive is generated. I found the sitemap to be particularly advantageous when I changed the archive structure of my blog. I went from monthly archives to individual post pages, and in the process went from 50 pages of content to 900. I wanted Google to find all this information quickly, and I believe the sitemap helped.

This site runs on the WordPress platform, and there is a plug-in available to help with sitemaps. Not only does it create the sitemap, it rebuilds it everytime you update your site and pings Google.

Movable Type users, I have no personal experience with this but there are templates available for you as well.

If you’re satisifed with your search engine traffic, or think that Google has you covered, then maybe this isn’t necessary. But if you’re concerned that Google isn’t capturing all your content, or you plan to change the structure of your site (ie changing permalinks to post-titles) then this is something you should definitely pursue.

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