5 Truths about Professional Blogging


Ok, let’s get straight to the point of this post.  Have you ever thought about making your casual blog a professional oneIf yes, then you know that this is not straight forward. I am not going to get into the depths of professional blogging, in this post.  But I will share a few truths about Professional Blogging, that should help you maintain the focus.

There is NO overnight success in Blogging

Different bloggers have different targets.  Some wish to get popular by blogging, some are happy with thousands of readers/subscribers, some want to make money from their blogs… Whatever the target may be – there is no overnight success in Blogging. If you are into serious blogging, I am sure you have a few PDF files on your computer hard disk that claims to earn you $XXXXX from your blogs.  Though possible, I can tell you that it doesn’t work 99.99% of the times.  So understand the truth – there is no overnight success in Blogging.

Content is the King

Nobody keeps visiting a blog, to admire the design and layout.  An attractive and clean design definitely appeals to a first time visitor, but it is the content that brings in repeat visitors and subscribers. Engrave it in your minds – Content is the King! Once you have all ingredients of a professional blog in place, spend quality time on the content of your blog posts.  It can do wonders to your blog!

I strongly recommend you to bookmark Copyblogger.net, a copywriting blog by Brian Clark.  This blog helps you write compelling content, that people will read.

Subscribers are your blog’s Lifeline.  Treat them special!

Treat your blog’s subscribers special.  They are the ones who have shown interest in your blog and waiting for something great.  It can be a freebie, a goodie or a tip that helps them with something.  But make sure you keep them happy and help them get something out of your blog.

Writing Style makes a lot of difference

A blog post is not an article or a research paper.  Keep that in mind when you write.  On an average, I read about 100-200 blog posts everyday and it is not possible to read through the complete text of everything.  I am sure this is the case with most active readers.  So keep your style simple, give a gist of your post at the beginning and entice the reader to continue.

Networking with Bloggers of similar niche is vital

Your blog is never alone.  There are hundreds of similar bloggers, blogging about almost the same topic.  Networking with those bloggers and sharing your ideas, are definitely good for your blog’s health.  Some ways of networking are – commenting on the blogs you regularly read, writing guest posts and promoting others’ content. I am sure this is vital, if you with to succeed as a professional blogger.

I am not yet a blogger, who makes a living out of his/her blog.  But I am sure I will get there.  This post is purely a collection of lessons learnt, during my 8 months of professional blogging.  Share your ideas and experiences as comments to this post.  I would love to hear them all.

Photo Credit: emdot

Setup Google AdSense for Search for your site in 5 minutes [Blogging]


Google AdSense for Search is a great way to setup custom search on your blog – powered by Google – and make advertising money out of it.  If you are running a blog and not yet part of Google AdSense, I would strongly advise you to get started here.

1. Setup Google AdSense for Search

Once you have setup your Google AdSense account, the next step would be to configure Google AdSense for Search.

From your Google AdSense Home click on “AdSense Setup” link at the top.  In the page that comes up, choose “AdSense for Search”.


The custom search page you are about to setup on your blog/website will have Google Ads.  In the next page, make sure that you provide the right keywords so that the ads are relevant to your site’s content.

Also you can configure the following aspects of the AdSense search – look and feel of the search box, where the search page would open, Ad Location, Search Palette – and so on.

To have the search results open in a page of your blog/website, enter the complete address in the provided textbox.

If you wish to create a new page in your website where the results will be displayed, enter something like – //search.php”>//search.php”>http:////search.php


Once you complete the wizard, the code snippets would be displayed that you must configure on your blog or website.


2. Create the Search Results Page

If you have configured the Google AdSense Search results to be displayed in a new page like – //search.php”>http:////search.php – you need to create the page first.

Assuming that you do not wish to have any custom components on the search page (other than Google’s components), just copy the Search Results Code (refer to the figure above) and paste it in the new search.php page.

3. Place the Search Textbox into your blog/website

Now choose where the search textbox would reside on your blog/website.  Normally this would be on the header or sidebar, that are available on all pages.

Copy the Search Box Code (refer to the figure above) and paste it where you like the textbox to appear.

Make sure that the

value of action rightly points to the search results page that you have just created.

And that is all to it.  Now your site visitors can start using the custom search box, to search for relevant content on your website.

Everything you wanted to know about XML Sitemaps [SEO Tips]

What is a Sitemap?

Sitemaps are an easy way to tell search engines about pages on the site, that are available for crawling.  There are two types of sitemaps:

  • HTML Sitemap – Listing of the pages of your site, so that the users can find relevant and important information faster
  • XML Sitemap – List of URLs for a site, along with additional metadata that are particularly useful for Search Engines

In short, XML Sitemap is a list of URLs on your website and a way to make sure that the Search Engines knows everything about them.

Why does your site need a XML Sitemap?

As said earlier, a Sitemap makes it easy for Search Engines to understand your site.  This translates to your site featuring in relevant search queries, thus increasing your site traffic.  In short, your site needs a Sitemap to increase the traffic.

Sitemaps are particularly helpful if:

  • Your site has dynamic content, like Blogs that have new content added almost everyday
  • Your site’s pages are not easily discovered by search engines (e.g., your site has lots of AJAX and Flash pages)
  • Your site is very new and has few incoming links into it
  • Your site has lots of archived pages that are not really linked with each other

To know more about Sitemaps and their need, refer to Google Sitemaps help.

How does a XML Sitemap look like?

If you are technically savvy and interested to know how a XML Sitemap looks like – following is an example:

[sourcecode language='xml']

   1.00    daily


XML Sitemap has many such elements that points to a location on your site.  The Priority denotes the relative importance of an URL in your site and Change Frequency denotes how often the content at the URL changes.

Enough Theory.  How do I create a XML Sitemap for my site?

Command line Sitemap Generator

Google has a Python script, that creates a Sitemap using the Sitemap Protocol.  But to use this script, you must have a command line access to your web server and Python 2.2 installed.  In a few cases, this is not readily available and the command line sitemap generator may not be used.

Refer to the Google Sitemap Generator page on instructions to setup and use this tool.

Web based Sitemap Generator

A lot of web based XML Sitemap generators exist, that takes in the Homepage URL of your site and gives you the “sitemap.xml” file.  You will have to upload this file to the root of your Website.  For example, if your Hompage URL is https://thoughtsunlimited.net, then the “sitemap.xml” file must be copied there.

XML Sitemaps is one such site, that takes in your Website URL, some optional parameters and crawls your website to generate a complete XML Sitemap.  But the downside with the free service is that the number of URLs are limited to 500.  If the number of URLs on your website exceed 500, then the free service may give you only the partial XML Sitemap.  However, you always have an option to use the “Paid version” to get the complete XML Sitemap.

Google XML Sitemap Plugin for WordPress

If you use WordPress as the CMS, then the help is right there in the form of a WP Plugin.  You can download the Google XML Sitemaps plugin here [ZIP file].

Plugin Homepage has the complete set of instructions on how to install and start using the plugin.  This plugin has an elaborate administration page, but the default options must hold good for most the WP sites.  Also, this plugin takes care of updating the XML Sitemap whenever posts are added, edited or removed.

XML Sitemap is created.  Now What?

If you use any of the manual methods to create the XML sitemap, then the “sitemap.xml” that is generated must be uploaded to your website’s root, using your favorite FTP tool.  Once this is done, the file must be submitted to the Search Engine webmaster tool for crawling.

First you must setup your website with Google Webmaster, so that it can be considered for crawling.  Google Webmaster Central has sufficient resources to get started with.

Once your website is configured with Google Webmaster, navigate to the ‘Sitemaps’ area and submit your “sitemap.xml” file.

Last word

So, a XML Sitemap helps your site gain better visibility with the Search engines and increases the traffic.  This is a must have SEO enhancement for every webmaster, who wishes to popularize his/her website.

Starting with SEO #2 – Page Titles and Meta Tags

Page Titles

Title tags provide a description on the content of the page, to both search engines and users. Title tags are recommended to be unique for each page and post (in case of blogs). This will highly improve the chances of your posts, making into top search results.

As per Google SEO Starter guide (PDF), following are the recommendations for efficient title tags:

  • Accurately describe page content
  • Create unique title tags for each page
  • Use brief, but descriptive titles

But as a blogger, it is virtually impossible to hand code the tags for each of your pages.  A better solution is to install a plugin like WordPress SEO Title tag plugin.

This plugin provides you with flexibilities to achieve appropriate tags for each pages and posts.  When creating a post, an option exists to provide tags for the Title, using which suitable tags are created.  Otherwise, you can choose to use the Post title as a tag.  In addition, it provides more options, that can be found in the plugin home page.

Meta Tags

As every Web developer might know, tags provide information about information.  With a Search Engine, a page’s description tag gives a summary of what the page is about.  With reference to Google, description tags might be used as snippets for the pages, in search results.

Google Webmaster blog has an informative post on using meta tags to improve page snippets.  This post should give you a better idea on how Meta tag information is used by the Google Search Engine.  For further information, you can refer again to the Google SEO Starter Guide (PDF).

Again, as with tags, it is not possible to customize the tags for each post and pages.  This is where the Add-Meta-Tags WordPress Plugin comes handy.  Once this plugin is installed, you have the following options:

  • Define tags for Home page and other pages
  • Define tags in XHTML format for each of your posts

Hope you found these useful.  Be tuned for further tips and suggestions on making your Blog, SEO friendly.  After all, it is good to learn together!!

Previous posts in this Series:

  • Starting with SEO – #1

Starting with SEO – #1

I have been blogging for quite some time. But only recently I was struck with the buzzword, SEO. For those of you who are unaware of this term but running a blog (and looking to popularize it!), I would like to share my learning through this series of posts.

SEO stands for, Search Engine Optimization. This means, optimizing your web page or blog, so that your pages shows up (possibly at the top!) for any relevant searches using the search engines. (I know this is a crude definition!!)

To start with, you can have a look at the video of a speech given by Stephen Spencer, in the WordPress conference.

Once you appreciate the need for SEO, have a look at the SEO Starter guide compiled by Google. This should help the blogger optimize or fine tune his/her blog, for searches.

Stay tuned and I will share more of my learning through this series. Happy blogging!!