Thursday, 9 June 2016

How to create a custom XML sitemap for blogger blog

An XML Sitemap is used by the search engine bots to index your site. You can create a custom XML Sitemap for your blogger blog anytime you want and direct Google bots what content to index and what to ignore on your site.

If you want to create an XML Sitemap for your blog you can use various online tools. If you have BlogSpot blog you can use this sitemap tool to generate one for your site. Moreover, there are several other online sitemap generator tools  that you can use to create XML Sitemap for your site.

Once you have created an XML Sitemap for your blog you need to add it to your robots.txt file and also submit it to Google Search Console.

Custom robots.txt plays an important role in improving the indexing and search ranking of your blog pages. Therefore, it is extremely important to use this option very carefully. Make sure you copy the full code and paste it in the right place. Here is a sample code to help you understand how a custom robot.txt file looks like.

Blogger blog xml sitemap

In the above code replace Sitemap code with the code you have generated using the above-mentioned tools.

To add XML Sitemap to BlogSpot blog simply follow the following steps.

  1. Open you blogger blog’s dashboard 
  2. Click on setting then click search preferences 
  3. In search preferences, you will find custom robot.txt under Crawlers and indexing. Now click edit next to custom robot text and past the customized code 
  4. Finally, save the arrangements and you are done (make sure to save the arrangements)

This method will not only help you to add XML Sitemap but also create custom Robot.txt for your blog. Now search engines will be able to index a maximum of 500 pages in your blog.

Once you have published your blog post, sooner or later search engines will index your blog content. However, you can significantly improve the indexing of your site by submitting it to Google Search Console.

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If you liked this article, please make sure to share it with others. If you have any other suggestion to create a better Sitemap, please feel free to share with us in the comment box. Keep reading! Keep sharing!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

How to add XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

If you want Google bots to index your site pages quickly and efficiently, you will have to add your XML sitemap to Google Search Console (also known as Google Webmaster Tools). 

Although Google automatically indexes your blog pages after a certain period of time, however, you can significantly improve the indexing of your blog pages by submitting your Sitemap to Google Search Console. It will also help you to keep track of any changes in indexing of your blog content.

Steps to add your XML Sitemap to Google Search Console

If you have already added a custom XML sitemap to your blogger blog you can simply copy your Sitemap and submit it to Google search console.

If you have a blogger blog, open robots.txt and copy the sitemap as you can see in the screenshot.

However, if you have not created a custom XML Sitemap, I would suggest you to first create a custom Sitemap for your blog. You can automatically create a custom XML Sitemap for your blogger blog by visiting this link or any other online XML sitemap generator.

Once you have added your Sitemap in your blog’s robots.txt file you need to copy the sitemap and add it to your Google Search Console account. If you do not have a Google search console account yet, you will have to create one using your Gmail account.

Once you have created Google Search Console account, you will have to add your XML sitemap to it.

  1. Open Google Search Console and click sitemaps under Crawl. Before submitting your Sitemap you must test your Sitemap. It will help you know about the errors in your sitemap. 
  2. If there is an error, Google will ask you to rectify the problem by offering solutions. However, if everything is fine with your sitemap you can submit it. See the screenshot below.

3. Once you have submitted your XML sitemap to Google Search Console, make sure to refresh the page. It will show you the updated status.

Things to remember while copying and submitting your sitemap to Google Search Console

  • Copy only the sitemap rather than the whole code. As shown above in the screenshot
  • The Google search console automatically adds your domain name so there is no need to add it. Paste the copied code only after your domain name.
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If you liked this article, please leave your comments and make sure to share it with others too. keep learning, keep sharing!

Friday, 3 June 2016

How to Make a Living as an Online Freelancer

earn money as a freelancer

Freelance aspirants often ask is it possible to make a living as an online freelancer. I would say YES if you have requisite skills to work as a freelancer. And NO if want to pursue freelancing just because you believe it would be easier for you to earn money as a freelancer.

Freelancing is one of the toughest jobs in the word. Unlike traditional jobs, it neither provides you job security nor paid leaves. Freelancing brings with it the responsibility of consistently looking for new jobs and carrying out the job as per the demands of the client. 

If you lack the requisite skills to do a job, you cannot make a living as a freelancer. As a new freelancer, not only you find it difficult to get job contracts but also fail several times to meet the expectations of the client.

How to make a living with online freelancing

Join freelancing sites

The online freelance sites are the best places to start your freelancing career. Here you can earn money as a freelance writer, web designer, programmer, graphic designer, virtual assistant etc.

To get success on online freelancing platforms you will be required to create your profile. Once you have created your profile you will be required to send a proposal to potential clients. The majority of the freelancing sites provide you the opportunity to take tests in your field of work. These tests help you showcase your skills to the potential clients. Your portfolio and past experience play an important role in winning job contract on online freelance sites.

Learn more: 

How much you can earn as an experienced freelancer

You potential to earn money online as a freelancer entirely depend on your skills, experience and ability to attract right clients. Clients are ready to pay $50 to $1000 to an experienced freelance writer for an article of 1000 words.

On the other hand, a newbie freelancer gets only $5 for an article. As a new freelancer, you might not be able to earn much but you will be able to get invaluable experience on the way. If you are really serious about earning money online as a freelancer, you will have to prepare yourself as a freelancer.

If you are a web designer, graphic designer or a programmer your potential to earn money is much bright on online freelancing platforms. Companies are increasingly looking for competent and talented freelancer designer and programmers.

Since a majority of the companies are outsourcing their noncore functions to external service providers; therefore, you stand a better chance of earning money online.

Moreover, these works do not require your physical presence on the company sites. So you can work from the comforts of your home or office. In fact, many freelancers have created their own company on online freelancing sites due to growing demand for freelance writers, designers, and programmers.

Create your own blog

If you want to grow your business or want to reach out to more clients, a blog can significantly improve your online presence. 

A blog will enable you to showcase your work and experience on your blog. It will help you in three ways.

First, you will be able to attract clients from outside the freelancing platforms resulting in higher earnings (the majority of the freelancing sites charge 10% service fee).

Second, you will be able to win more clients on online freelancing sites by driving them to your blog. For example, you can place your blog link on your profile or portfolio to showcase your work which in turn will help you win more clients.

Third, you can also monetize your blog in the long run. As you know, a blog enables you to share your experience and expertise with your target audience. Once you have enough content on your blog you will be able to monetize it using different monetization methods such as Google Adsense, affiliate marketing or banner advertising.

Do you think you can make a living as a freelancer? Please feel free to share your experience or freelancing tips to earn money online. If you liked this article, please make sure to share it with others. Keep learning, keep sharing. 

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Thursday, 2 June 2016

The Ultimate Blog Commenting Tips for Driving more Traffic

You would have read several times blog commenting is one of the best ways to bring more readers to a website. However, few people know exactly how to use blog comments to make most out of it.

Bloggers often underestimate the power of commenting and never us it as an important tool to drive traffic to their site.

I have personally experienced a decent increase in traffic from reputed websites and forums through quality commenting. Over 21% of the visitors to my blog come through referrals as a result of commenting on blogs and forums. 

The benefits of commenting are not limited to traffic. Here are the top five benefits of commenting on other blogs, websites, and forums.

Benefits of commenting on blogs, websites, and forums

  • Helps you get quality back links
  • Facilitates the process of connecting with other bloggers
  • Helps you use the knowledge in practice
  • Leads to interesting and in-depth discussion
  • Enables you to drive quality traffic to your blog
    Blog commenting benefits

If you want to take full advantage of these benefits, here are a few things you should keep in mind.

Leave quality comments

If you want to make most out of your comments, you need to first understand different types of comments. I have classified comments into five broad categories;

  1. Generic comments 
  2. Interrogative comments 
  3. Informative comments 
  4. Argumentative comments 
  5. Critical comments 

Generic comments include all those comments that are used either to appreciate the post or agree with the viewpoint of the writer. One line phrases or sentences such as “nice post” “informative post” “this post is amazing” all fall under the category of generic comments. 

Generic comments are not quality comments as they do not contribute much to the growth of your sites. Such comments might help you get a backlink to your site but not always.

Unfortunately, 90% of the bloggers use generic comments in the hope that it would help them bring more traffic to their blog.

Interrogative comments include all those comments that aim at;

  • Gathering more in-depth information
  • Clarifying doubts
  • Asking further questions related to the topic

Interrogative comments could be a great source of bringing more traffic if your question is good enough to provoke thoughts and bring something new to the table. 

A majority of the bloggers would not mind answering your question if your question is good enough to make their post more informative. At the same time, such comments will help you come to the notice of the writer as well as several other users.

Informative comment aims at adding additional information to a post that the writer might have forgotten or failed to include in the post. Informative comments are the best way of bringing more readers to your site if the information is adding value to the existing post.

The argumentative comment includes all those comments that question the reliability of the information and aims at proving one’s point of view on the subject rather than finding the truth. Such comments can also help you drive traffic to your site if your viewpoint holds water. 

However, such comments can also damage your reputation and strain relationship with the writer or the publisher.

Critical comment can also help you bring more readers to your post if you use it in a constructive way. Here you need to understand the difference between critical comments and argumentative comments. 

An argument can never be a source of bringing a discussion to a fruitful end. A critical comment can become an argumentative comment if the writer or the commenter adopts an egoistic approach to the topic.

However, a critical comment that aims at discussing a topic critically has great potential to drive a large number of readers to your site. 

Critical comments can be used to:
  • Question the authenticity of the information or phenomenon
  • Disagreeing with the viewpoint of the writer
  • Proving your point of view using relevant sources and data
  • Discussing the topic in the light of latest trends or new developments and discoveries

 A Quality comment adds value to a post. It makes an existing topic more interesting, informative and engaging. There are several things you can do to add value to a post. Here are the key features of quality comments.

Features of quality commenting
  1. Critical yet constructive 
  2. Adds value to the post 
  3. Thought provoking 
  4. Informative 
  5. Relates to the topic

Inherent Benefits of Quality comment

  • Helps you improvise
  • Helps  establish you as an authority on the subject
  • Helps all the parties view the topic from a new perspective (readers, writer, and commenter)
  • Helps all parties gain new and latest information
  • Keeps all the parties engaged

How to Leave Quality Comments

Blog commenting tips

Avoid posting generic comments: First, remember one phrase comment or one sentence comment will not help you much in bringing traffic or gaining back links to your sites. 
Phrases or words such as informative post, interesting post or good information are not really going to help you much. 

Some bloggers use such comments with the objective of getting back links rather than actually adding some value to the post. In fact, such comments will do you more harm than good in the long run especially if you use links along with your comment.

Believe me, such comments are not really going to help in the long run. If you think you will be able to get quick backlinks if you leave such comments on a blog without comment moderation, you are hardly mistaken. 

All the comment links on blogger platform are Nofollow links by default. Users on WordPress mostly use comment moderation and do not allow links if you are using it with the sole objective of getting some backlinks.

If you follow a blog or read the posts and comments regularly it’s ok to leave one sentence comment once in a while as you just want to appreciate the work. However, if you want to bring yourself to the notice of publisher it is important to post quality comments.

Avoid posting commenting if you are running against time: a quality comment not only requires 100% focus but also time and knowledge to stand your comment out from the crowd. You will find it hard to post a quality comment if you do not have the time or you are busy with other important things.

Avoid leaving a critical comment if you have not understood the topic fully:  critical comments can backfire if you have not understood the topic or you lack the knowledge on the given topic. Some readers make the mistake of leaving a comment without getting into the depth of the topic. 

Such comments lead to more confusion and misunderstanding. It can also damage your reputation badly.
For example, if something is not working for you as a blogger it does not mean it hasn’t worked for the publisher of the article. He or she might be just sharing their personal experience or knowledge they acquired over the years. It is up to you whether you implement them or not.

Leave a critical comment in a constructive way: Don’t be argumentative as the objective is to find the truth or solution rather than proving someone wrong or defeating someone in the discussion. Such attitude is not going be help anyone neither the readers nor the writer nor you.

If you really do not agree with the viewpoint of the publisher or the writer, you should prove your viewpoint with some facts or figures including links from reliable sources. It is always beneficial to use polite words even if you disagree with the opinion of the writer. It will help you in four ways.

First, the other readers would not view your comment as your arrogance or show off.

Second, it will lead to constructive discussion which in turn will help you bring more readers to your blog

Third, you will not strain your relationship with the publisher or the writer of the blog.

Fourth, it will add value to the existing post.

So it is a win-win situation for all.

Ask questions if you have any doubts: One of the best ways to make most of the comments is to ask questions and gain new information. 

Forums and blogs are the best places to get the answer to your question. If you have thoroughly read a post and found it interesting and thoughtful, there could be several other questions related to the topic that you might like to ask the writer.

Though provoking questions not only add value to a post but also creates a favorable environment for a discussion. Sometimes discussion leads to a solution and which in turn helps all the parties gain valuable information. 

Questions do not necessarily show that you lack the knowledge. It also indicates that you have some authority over the topic. There are several other users who might be looking for the answer to the question you asked.

Comment on do follow as well as no follow blogs: some bloggers often make the mistake of commenting on only do follow sites as their main aim of commenting is to get backlinks. There are several tools available online that help you identify the do follow sites. Moreover, some bloggers use comment spamming to get quick backlinks and target passing PageRank juice to their site. 

However, to prevent comment spam many sites by default automatically add the nofollow attribute to posted comments. If your want to reap the real benefits of blog commenting you should not fall into the trap of do follow and no follow links and do not indulge in comment spamming. 

If you liked this article, please leave your comments and share it with others. Which type of blog comments help you drive traffic to your blog? Please feel free to share your opinion with us. 

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Thursday, 19 May 2016

Google Plus +1 Count Problem on Blogger Blogs

As a blogger, we all put in hard work to build the reputation of our site on social media sites. Social media signals such as votes and comments are some of the metrics that the readers use to judge the quality of the post. However, when some technical glitch or bug adversely impacts the social media signals it badly impacts the performance of the blog not only on the social media sites but also on the search engine results.

Google plus is one of the most effective and reputed social media sites on the web and the +1 count that the bloggers get on this platform play an important role in improving the overall performance of the website. 

However, in the recent past year, a large number of bloggers are complaining significant drop in the plus one count as well as the disappearance of +1 count from the dashboard as well as blog posts. Such problems not only result in low motivation but also distract, disturb and distress the bloggers.

Many BlogSpot bloggers have reported this problem on the blogger help forum and I am one of them. For the past several months many bloggers have been experiencing several problems related to +1 count in their blogger blog. Some of them are as follows:

Mismatch in the +1 counts

 The +1 votes do not show up on the blog post resulting in the mismatch in the actual number of +1 count a post gets and the number of +1 counts that the blog post shows. As you can see in the screenshot. 

A significant drop in plus one count

A large number of posts have not been displaying the plus one count. No matter how many plus one you get, the number of plus one count does not show any change. Moreover, the post with a large number of +1 votes has been registering a big drop in the +1 count.

For example, I got more than 100 +1 likes on one of my blog posts but now it shows only +3 counts. However, in the comment box, the count of plus one has not changed as you can see in the screenshot.

Disappearance of plus one count

The +1 count has been disappearing from the dashboard as well as the blog post. Some of the blog posts have stopped displaying plus one count in the dashboard and the post itself. As you can see on the screenshot.

The problem is getting from bad to worst. By the time you would be reading this post I would have lost several more +1. Google engineers have been working on this problem and have assured to resolve the issues. But they are not sure how long it may take.

Meanwhile, I would request the Google team to please provide the answer to the following questions. It would help the bloggers to focus on their work and encourage them to keep sharing their post on Google plus.

  • What could be the possible cause of this problem?
  • Will the disappearance of Google plus count from the blog post affect the performance of the site on search engine results?
  • If the problem is resolved will the bloggers be able to retrieve all the plus one counts they have already lost?
  • What would you suggest the affected bloggers to minimize the impact of this problem?

Have you also been experiencing a significant drop in +1 count in your blogger blog? Have you also noticed that +1 count have been disappearing from most of the blog posts especially the posts that have received a large number of plus ones? Which of the above mentioned problems you have been experiencing in your blogger blog? Please feel free to share with us in the comment box.

Please do share with us the following information.

  1. When did you notice the problem for the first time? 6 months back 
  2. How many posts do you have on your blog? 50 
  3. Which template have you been using in your blogger blog?   Awesome Inc, however, this problem continues to exist on other templates as well. I have tried simple as well as dynamic templates but results are same. 
  4. Have you been using third party badge on your blog? No 
  5. Have you linked Google plus comments to your blog? Yes

I am sure it will help the Google team to understand the enormity of the problem and the pattern of affected blogs. 

If you have faced the similar problems in the past and have managed to resolve the problem please share with us too.