September 30, 2017

Releasing the 2017 edition of Best Hindi Blog' Directory

The Directory of Best Hindi Blogs for 2017 is before you. The Directory has about 140 blogs that we found to be the best among those we have examined over months. And, as you'd know, we try to locate good blogs from every nook and corner of the Hindi blogosphere.

We'd talk about our observations on the Hindi blog-world sometime later. Right now, let's repeat what we have been saying about the Directory on earlier occasions: All blogs in this Directory are outstanding in their own ways. If you find some blogs not that good in terms of design, they must be good in terms of content, overall resources and the blogger's commitment to blogging.


This year onward, we are dispensing with the badge as we find the badge also on blogs that were never in the Directory or that have been in the Directory earlier but have turned bad now. 

We are proud to announce that we are the ONLY people who survey the Hindi blogosphere so carefully, manually, year after year. We are also the only people who do not bring extraneous factors such as registration, fee, use of badge or any type of reciprocation in selecting blogs for the Directory.

topmost  in 2017Hindi blogs

हमें आपके सामने हिंदी के उत्कृष्ट ब्लॉग्स की डायरेक्टरी पेश करते हुए बहुत ख़ुशी हो रही है. इसमें क़रीब 140 ब्लॉग हैं जो हिंदी के सर्वोत्तम ब्लॉग कहे जा सकते हैं. जैसा कि आप जानते होंगे, हम कई महीनों तक हिंदी के ब्लॉग संसार के कोने कोने में जाकर अच्छे ब्लॉगों को ढूँढने का प्रयास करते हैं और यह डायरेक्टरी उसी का परिणाम है. 

हमें इस बात पर गर्व है कि केवल हम ही हिंदी ब्लॉग-संसार को इस तरह साल-दर-साल काफ़ी मेहनत से खंगालते हैं और बिना बाहरी कारकों के प्रभाव में (जैसे कि ज़रूरी रजिस्ट्रेशन करवाना, बैज लगाने की शर्त लगाना, पैसे लेना), हम अच्छे ब्लॉगों को डायरेक्टरी में स्थान देते हैं. 

डायरेक्टरी के संकलन के दौरान हमने क्या पाया, इसपर चर्चा बाद में कभी होगी. अभी केवल अपनी इस बात को दुहरा दें कि इस डायरेक्टरी का हर ब्लॉग अपने आप में एक उत्कृष्ट ब्लॉग है. अगर आपको किसी ब्लॉग का डिज़ाइन कुछ कमतर लगे तो भी पठन सामग्री की गुणवत्ता और इसका समग्र आकार, तथा ब्लॉगिंग के प्रति ब्लॉगर के समर्पण के मामले में आप उस ब्लॉग को उच्च कोटि का पाएंगे.

September 26, 2017

How to write a long post? When not to do so?

Yesterday, I was sent a question by a friend on Quora asking how can he write a 3000-word post. I wrote an answer about what techniques he could use, and then sat thinking more about the intent of the question and what can a well meaning blogger do if she/ he is struggling with 'writer's block'. So, this post.

bloggers also get writers block
A painting by Leonid Pasternak

Why write long posts on blogs?


Long posts are seen to be valuable, because they are likely to contain information on different aspects of the issue. Therefore, visitors are more likely to refer them to others and visit the page again and again.

Long posts are also liked by search engines. Google has said, it likes long, well-researched, blog posts and articles. So, they are good from SEO point of view too.

So, a long article is likely to get more readers, better search placement, more links, more social shares and more engagement, and more traffic.

How big a blog post is considered long enough?


Blogging platform Medium says, its posts of 1600 words that can be read in 7 minutes are the ideal length. SerpIQ has found that from SEO point of view, about 2500 word long articles are the best as they are likely to come on top of search pages. Moz has reported that 1800 to 3000 word long articles attract many more links than shorter posts. Popular blogger Neil Patel says, he finds 1500 word long articles performing the best.

The length would depend on the subject. If your blog is on daily environment news, you might initially not have much to write on individual events, e.g. sudden appearance of dead fish in a lake. In a few days, when public protests have taken place, government agencies have taken some action and so on, you can write a full-fledged article on the larger issue of water pollution, also telling about such other recent events, the worst such reported event, why it happens and what are the remedies.

Hard-core scientific papers might intrinsically be lengthy and needing technical illustrations and bibliography - and if your blog is on basic science and technologies, you have limitations of minimum and maximum wordage. Other blog have no limits and if the article reads well even after 2000 words, keep going. At that stage, however, think of a series rather than a single post. 

How to write long blog posts?


  • Some people, though wanting to write long articles, find that it is not their cup of tea. Some get 'writer's block' when trying to write a long article or post. You can overcome this problem by following these tips:
  • Choose a topic in which you have sufficient knowledge. Better if you have expertise and experience too.
  • Make an outline of the topic on which you propose to write. Break it into sections and then expand each section. This will also make you more focused and you will cover the topic from all angles.
  • Research the topic. Even if you are an expert, you might not be able to recall everything when you write; there might have been some new developments that you don't know; you might get a view counter to your own view. 
  • For research, you need not go to a library. Search the web. But don't take all facts on face value, because all types of half-baked or false information floats round. 
  • Use imagination. Not all types of topics are amenable to research; some need imagination. Some need sharing of your and others' experiences. Fictional topics would need sheer imagination that is presented in an absorbing story. 

How many lengthy posts are 'a bit too much'?


Generally speaking, one long post after 4-5 short posts should be the ideal ratio. Of course, that depends on many factors.

Why I recommend one long post after 4-5 shorter posts is that if you write long posts too often, your frequency of posting is likely to suffer; on the other hand if you insist on writing long posts one after the other, you might soon feel exhausted. 

One more reason for that. Your regular visitors need breathing space. If they like your content, they should eagerly wait for your next 'epic' post. 

I'd also recommend that you write a line about the coming big post in your short posts between two long posts. You can pre-publicize it in other ways, e.g. through email.

When not to write long posts?


I will not recommend long posts of the following types:

  • Bloated posts: posts that have been unnecessarily expanded.
  • Copy-pasted posts: posts in which others' content has been pasted so that the post becomes bigger.
  • Not on the right platform: You should not write too long posts on Facebook and other social networking sites.
  • Not the right type of posts: Do not write too much on posts where visitors expect to see/ watch. Photo-blogs, vblogs and blogs on leisure usually do not require long posts. In some cases, extra text only spoils the post/ blog.
  • Do not have long posts when the audience might  dislike such posts. For example, long, didactic, posts on kid blogs and long political commentary on personal blogs are sure to put off visitors.

September 22, 2017

7 best ways to bring traffic to a website or blog

An eternal question, asked all the time and on almost all social media platforms! We bring you here the distilled wisdom which is current and effective in 2017 and will remain so in 2018.

Before we go to the techniques, let's hurriedly remember that what we need on our blog or website is relevant traffic, not any type of traffic. Whether for spreading your messages among people who will appreciate them or for earning money from blogging, relevance of the traffic is of paramount importance.

What relevance of traffic means is: Are the people who are visiting your blog interested in your content? When the traffic comes from bots and spammers, people who landed on your page due to presence of your website on search engine pages for wrong search terms, people landing there due to your email or someone's reference or a link but finding your website not what they were expecting, traffic from link farms, traffic for which you made payment, or your own traffic - this is poor quality traffic.

We often get frustrated because even after following all the advice that we get from experts, the number of visitors to our blog does not rise significantly. If your blog suffers from this, please read on. 

Many times, it so happens that we concentrate on one good thing (e.g. quality) but ignore some key areas. I have said it before and allow me to repeat that if you set up a shop in a busy street full of buyers but do not show up your product to people by display and advertisements, you will not be able to sell it, however great the product might be. 

Conversely, if you spend too much energy on selling the product but the product is bad, potential buyers will come to know of its poor quality and you will lose buyers.

So, the key is to have a blend of good product and good promotion.

I am presenting below, the 7 best tips for getting relevant traffic to a blog on long term basis. I have grouped very similar tips in one point. Please note that all tips do not work on all websites. You need to choose what you think are the best suited to your website, analyze the results after a few weeks, experiment again and then stick with what works best for you.
 

These are the 7 best techniques for getting tons of traffic to your blog:

 

1. High quality of content and relevance to target audience

 

Though this look obvious, it is also the most ignored mantra of getting targeted audience. Quality of content matters the most not only to keep getting regular stream of visitors but also for retaining them. At the same time, it is necessary that the content must be relevant to the people you are targeting. 

Quality content that gets attention and is shared/ referenced has one or more of these attributes:
  • Has well-researched information
  • Has actionable advice that is based on experience
  • Has information that helps the users, better if told with the help of illustrations or a video
  • Is grammatically correct and the language used is of high standard  

Google says, it likes long posts as these are likely to be better researched.

Presentation of posts matters too. It has been found that well-formed headings and titles get more readership. It helps in two ways: on the blog, the visitor gets hooked and reads more of the article; and whenever the title appears as a hyperlink (in search results, others' websites...), the surfer is prompted to click on them. 

Putting of visual content is found to be more shared on social media and clicked. 

2. Regularity of updation


Freshness of content and its regular updation are essential for long-term success of blogs. Being regular helps by coming on search pages. It also makes people bookmark/ subscribe to the blog so that they get their dose of information regularly. 

3. Social media engagement


Earlier, blogs themselves used be magnets of social media, but no more. If you want people to discover and come back to your blog, you need to be active on social media. 

Social media engagement includes being active on the most popular platforms of the day (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), placing content on social bookmarking sites (e.g. Digg, StumbleUpon, Reddit), sharing content on chat apps (e.g. WhatsApp), being active on forums/ communities/ social groups, commenting on others' blogs and so on.

Do choose the social activity that is best suited to your type of blog. Also consider whether you feel happy socializing on a particular platform so that you don't get bored of it after some time. 

I find Twitter chats and Google Plus communities a good way to attract attention. However, the Google Plus communities and Facebook Groups stop helping when they become too big and most members are interested only in posting their stuff and not engaging meaningfully. 

If you are a new blogger, guest posting on popular blogs can result in traffic coming to you from that blog. However, be careful about posting on websites that sell or aggregate articles.

Posting interviews of celebrities and other popular figures is seen to draw traffic to blogs. That also leads to healthy long-term interaction with these crowd pullers. If new, you can start with popular bloggers, local heroes and achievers and artistes.

You should give social buttons next to your posts so that if a reader likes your post, he instantly shares it with others on bookmarking platforms such as StumbleUpon or social sites such as Google Plus.

Please also remember that social media engagement needs reciprocity and willingness to spare time for others. You should not all the time promote your stuff, nor should you directly ask others to 'like' your post or follow you. 

Social media is a big time sucker, and so be choosy.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO)


You cannot afford to leave SEO altogether. However, you need not be too obsessed with it, because unethical and overly done optimization can invite penalties from modern search engines.

Very simple yet effective SEO techniques include:
  • Giving the blog a relevant title and each post a relevant headline
  • Giving a meaningful description to the blog
  • Putting long-tail keywords in the content in a natural fashion
  • Linking other posts on the same blog when the content is related
  • Optimizing images with alt tag

5. Subscription building


This works quite well for all types of blogs. You can offer an ebook or something similar that your potential audience will find useful, when people subscribe to your blog. You can also think of an embedded or pop-up subscription form on the blog, so that when people like your content, they opt to get email updates from you. Over a period, you develop a big email list of people who love to get emails from you.

6. offline promotion


Publicize your blog and its important posts by sending emails to friends. Add your blog URL on your visiting card. Attend blogging meets and workshops. Such type of publicity might not give you big traffic but it adds to your brand building and recall among people.
 

7. Paid advertisements


If you want to grow the blog fast, you can think of paid advertisement as one of the main activities for its promotion. Though you end up spending money, you get almost assured traffic which may earn you more than you spend on advertisments.

Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube - all have their own advertising plans, starting from a few bucks a week. You need to choose the best platform and then target the advertisement well so that the ads are served to the potential buyers/ readers. My experience is that Google (through AdWords) and YouTube are very effective for blogs.

What not to do in trying to get traffic to the blog:


Let me quickly list some techniques that have become less effective in drawing traffic or are a waste of time or can result in penalties from Google etc:
  • Blog comments are now quite ineffective unless you make highly pertinent questions or share experiences. Commenting on others' blogs just for getting reciprocal comments is a waste of time. 
  • Do not comment just for getting backlinks; most good sites now have 'nofollow' linking to URLs that come from unknown people.
  • Directories are useless, except when they list good blogs. Moreover the listing should be transparent, and with no obligation to put their badge or code on the blog or payment.
  • Avoid at all costs link farms or link exchanges in which people link one another's site to make them artificially popular.
  • Do not fall for offers of thousands of likes/ links/ backlinks. They are often a sham. There are also such people on websites such as Fiverr. Beware of such offers!
  • Don't guest post on blogs that have no standing.
  • You might get advice to make your posts controversial or gossipy so that people get interested. Agreed that such posts can go viral, but do that only if you are sure of your standing; otherwise such adventures may badly backfire.
  • Some people suggest writing small posts in big numbers. If your blog is on daily news or something like that, fine. However, serious blogs are better off with well-researched posts, some of which should be exceptionally good and long.

September 15, 2017

trawellblogging : a fine travel blog by Rajat

Pack-Ur-Bags
https://trawellblogging.com/

"A travel planning blog focused on self-planning your trips, both
domestic and international. It deals with using travel maps, public transportation systems, airline miles and hacks, accommodation reviews and travel insiders. The blog lets travel bloggers and other travelers
learn 'how to convert their travel expenses into investments'."
-Rajat

September 11, 2017

Social media and tech updates: Google Drive down, ultra rights up, privacy a fundamental right in India

Google Drive shuts down, breaking many hearts


If you thought, Google is invincible, at least in the internet world, Google gave you evidence that it is not. When it went down for some time on 7th September, those who depend on Drive for various purposes including collaboration though Google Docs suite of online tools and online sharing of files and pictures were a worried lot. Not only were their resources not available, their trust that Google would keep their resources intact even if their laptops might fail them due to a malware attack or hardware glitch, was shattered.

Luckily, the service breakdown was not worldwide and it was resolved for most users within two hours.

Just for record, Google Drive also went down in January this year for about two hours.


The way ultra right websites are creating storm on the web


Stormfront, the hyper-nationalist/ neo-Nazi website that was in operation since 1990, has been pulled down by its registrar. The site, its owners and members have been linked with many hate crimes including murder of about a hundred people. Under local laws, Google had removed the site from many country indexes.

Stormfront had over 300000 registered users who used to spread white supremacist hatred and violence wherever they could. It is reported to have experienced huge traffic spikes all through the Presidential debate in the US in which Donald Trump often gave pro-white and rightist statements.

Another such website, The Daily Stormer, has also been removed last month following racist rally and violence in Charlottesville, USA. The site owner wanted to host the site it on other web hosts who either refused or removed after investigation into the site's credentials. This led to another site, PunishedStormer, which too has been renedered inaccessible. However, the founder- editor of the sites, Andrew Anglin, recently tweeted a series of Tweets saying he is not a neo-Nazi and is fighting for freedom of expression!

Interestingly, Anglin's free speech bogey got a shot in the arm when his article was taken down by Gab, a social network promoting right ideas, and it stoked debate around free speech.

It is reported that finding hosts against him, Anglin has hosted the site on the dark web.


The less privileged do adopt social media but late?


A recent study by Pew Research Center on use of social media for news among Americans shows that about two-thirds of them get at least some news from the social media. One-fifth of Americans are reported to be using social media very often to get news.

What is more relevant is that the use of social media for news has not risen among the youth and whites and has gone down among the well-educated lot; on the other hand, it has grown significantly among the older (50 years plus), non-whites and less-educated people. Let me add that one year's change does not make a trend.

Just for record, Facebook happens to be the biggest source of news, followed by YouTube. Not Twitter! But wait, this is because of a very large user base of Facebook. Otherwise, among those who use a particular social media, the percentage of users using it for news is the highest in the case of Twitter.


Indian supreme court gives citizens the fundamental right to privacy


The debate around privacy has been raging in India over the last many years in the face of points and counter-points for controlling social media and chat apps, the IT Act and the regulatory authority TRAI seeking public views on its sections and so on.

India is one of the few nations in the world to have introduced a unique identity for its citizens. When this was made mandatory for getting welfare funds and services, and then for banking and tax purposes, concerned citizen groups raised alarm and took the government to the apex court.

In its historic judgement on August 24, the Constitutional Bench of the court ruled that privacy was a fundamental right though not written in the constitution. Though the unique identity (called Aadhar) is/ was in question, the privacy ruling will now have a huge bearing on cases relating to online content and social media control.

September 5, 2017

How can you change the registrar of your blog's domain?

Domain name registration is done only through registrars registered with ICANN, the international body for internet naming. So, all domain name registrars have to abide by the norms set by ICANN.

Generally speaking, you are free to change your registrar. However, in certain cases, you may be denied such a transfer, e.g. if some fee payment is pending or someone else has represented to them to be the real domain name holder.

The present registrar might even charge you for the transfer, and that is supposed to be legal!

Domain transfers are allowed only after 60 days of purchase of domain or its earlier transfer.

The process is slightly procedure-bound. Registrars generally have a facility for domain transfer, which once clicked guides you till you agree to their terms, and then it generates a code for unlocking the domain for transfer. You then apply to the new registrar for accepting the transfer through such a link on their website, and supply the code. The new registrar usually charges a fee for transfer that includes registration for one year from the original expiry date. The transfer materializes in a few days. 

In some cases (e.g. country level domains), sometimes the code is not required; you can check this up with the new registrar.

There might be some variation to the standard procedure given above. Both the old and new registrars will likely have their terms on their websites.


Why at all will I need to change the domain registrar?


There can be situations - good or bad - in which you will need such a change. For example,
  • You might be shifting to a new web host and he might give you a domain name of your choice free.
  • You might want the convenience of having the same host and domain registrar so that billing, customer service etc are seamless.
  • You might find the present registrar costlier than others.
  • Some other registrar might have options for automatic renewal or multi-year plans that the present one does not have.
  • You have run into a dispute with the present one, for whatever reason.
  • You have sold your domain and have to transfer it to the buyer.


ICANN has this FAQ page on domain name transfer between registrars.