January 19, 2018

Blogging in 2018: 3 recent trends to continue

Around 2005, blogging was the in thing.

Around 2010,  since Orkut and Squidoo were growing in popularity, naysayers predicted that mainstream blogging was doomed.

Then came the mighty Facebook and Twitter who wiped out the earlier social media and are still on top.
Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Google Plus and other social networking, media sharing and chatting sites too gained ground. Some are floundering and some still are relevant. 

The question is asked every new year, whether mainstream blogging has a future.

Data and reports show that it has never been as good for blogging. 

People are using blogging more effectively than even in 2005. The influence of blogs is growing.  Read on...

Yes, mainstream blogs' number has flattened.

It is guessed that many thousand blogs take birth a day, but the total number of blogs does not seem to be growing. That is, as many blogs are dying everyday as new ones are coming up.

English blogs in traditional format seem to be going down in number while the number of blogs in non-Roman languages and blogs on Facebook, LinkedIn etc is going up.

However, more and more blogs are being maintained professionally.

Personal/ hobby blogs are the most ephemeral ones, being created in large number (and mostly on free blogging platforms) and being left after sometime to decay and die. 
On the other hand, professional blogging has gained significantly. Sellers and advertisers recognize good blogs, and a good number of bloggers take up blogging as part-time or full-time business.

And, blogs' influence is growing.

Blogs are being taken seriously for marketing. That's not only due to rise in professional blogging, but also because of realization among brands and advertisers that blogs serve more value per dollar spent, and the impact is more long-lasting - than traditional media as well as social media as a whole.

These trends have set in profoundly in the field of blogging. Expect more of it in 2018 and beyond.

Happy blogging!

January 15, 2018

Why pay for keyword suggestion when high-quality ideas are free?

Keywords are important for bloggers, we all know if we ever tried to optimize our blogs for some specific subjects. SEO guys suggest buying tools or SEO plans for getting hundreds of keywords to choose from. Is that required? Is that the best way?


For those not much familiar with how web searches work, let me give a brief introduction here. Search engines, though they blurt out thousands of results the moment we press the search button, do not go out at that moment to search for that subject on the huge world wide web. In fact, if Google did that every time we looked for 'veggie burger', it would take at least a few weeks before it came with '28.2 million results in less than one second'. 

So, what do they do? They index web pages for important words. In this example, Google already has over 28 million pages which have information on 'veggie burger'. The first search page of Google gives the links for such web pages as look to be most relevant for this expression; they are mostly on best veg burger recipes. 

If I create a nice, big, page on veg burgers but don't mention about it anywhere even indirectly (e.g. I call burgers as zolatos and vegetarian as xubina), Google will not index my page for burgers, however good the page may be. That's where keywords come - to let Google know that the page is on that particular subject.

There has to be some way to tell Google and its sister search engines that the page in question must be (i) indexed and (ii) brought to the top of search results.

Keywords need not be very direct, and one post can have keywords on different subjects. Today's search engines are becoming smarter by the day to know how relevant and useful your web page or website is for a particular subject/ keyword.

Keywords must be put wisely. Search engines do not like websites that are too much 'optimized' for keywords. So, the advice from them is to put keywords in a natural way and do not overuse them. On ITB, we have discussed this aspect in detail in the following posts, so I will skip it here:
Get the blog on top of search pages
Maximize gains, avoid slap from search engines

Let's reserve this post to finding keyword suggestions on a particular topic. 


When we type the first word on search box of any modern search engine, it starts giving suggestions. That is one great way to know what all are the topics on which people are making searches. (However, it will include suggestions based on your own recent searches too, so exclude them to know what others are looking for.)
Google's search box keeps giving natural search terms.

The other place where Google (and Bing) give suggestions is at the bottom of search page, where the link to next pages is located.  

SEO 'experts' suggest many paid keyword tools for finding out keywords around a topic. Some such tools give all types of word combinations just to make their list big. As bloggers we perhaps do not need such tools, even if they are given free, because they end up wasting a lot of our time and energy and we gain hardly enough.

Bing, Google give keywords
at the bottom of search pages.

These two types of suggestions are good enough for a blogger to know about the relevant keywords. 

We can get many more suggestions by typing out long phrases instead of one or two words (e.g. 'veg burgers with cheese'). These are organic, i.e. naturally obtained, because Google etc do not invent their suggestions but offer search terms that have actually been used by their users. 

I am not saying that bloggers should not do well-researched optimization but only suggesting that as far as collection of search keywords goes, the suggestions given by search engines themselves are the most valuable and sufficient.