If you are a new blogger or are struggling with a blogging issue, I might be able to help you.
Please send details of your problem to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com. Pl do not make generic queries (e.g. how can I start a blog or why am I not getting traffic on my blog). Please do not spam with many queries.

Don't ignore Microsoft Bing while doing SEO for Google

Bing vs Google market share and usage 

Google is the daddy of web search, no doubt about that.

The second most important search engine is Microsoft Bing (earlier called just Bing), with market share ranging from about 2% to 16% in different geographies. In addition, Yahoo! search engine also uses Microsoft Bing data and its market share goes up to 14% in some areas. 

Though I use Google predominantly for search purposes, I do use Bing when I need better results. It might look counter-intuitive but it is a reality. Try it and you will find that its search is simple and straight, and it sometimes gives better results than Google. It might be behind Google in innovations, and it might lag when it comes to finding the intent of the search but it seems to excel when the query is straight forward.

Moreover, its filters on top of search pages are very easy to apply. You do not have to look for 'advanced search' as on Google.

I checked a dozen webpages of my blogs on both Bing and Google to see how these pages were indexed by these search engines. To my surprise, I found that Microsoft Bing had indexed webpages better for keywords that were most relevant. In the case of Google, I got a feeling that it picked up keywords randomly on webpages, I also found that Googe indexed webpages for queries that were not too relevant but left out relevant queries. Bing seemed more confused than Google for long and unusual queries such as "Is it fine to wear a broad tie or a scarf for weekend official dinner?"

When it comes to image search, Microsoft Bing is definitely better in presentation. Its infinite scrolling search results load more images seamlessly. Bing gives image format and dimensions on the image, and has very useful filters. For example, you can instantly filter images for 'Washington DC' for 'Free to modify, use and share commercially'. Quick filters include size, color, layout, type, date and presence of people in the image.

Bing SEO gives relevant search results

Bing's video search scores over Google's in that it displays videos in thumbnail view as in the case of images. You hover over the image and it plays (like on Facebook and Twitter when you configure them for autoplay). Though I have not tested this, I am told the results on Bing are more relevant to the query.

There is no doubt that Google gives more results and its pages seem to be updated much faster (as in the case of news), and perhaps it scores much higher overall. In fact, this article is not on "Bing vs Google" but the comparison and a small experiment are shared here just to highlight some good aspects of Bing so that we know that it is relevant for SEO. It might have the potential to show our webpages to people in a better way than Google if we do not ignore it.  

So, from a website owner's point of view, it makes sense to optimize the website also for Bing.

Microsoft Bing webmaster and SEO tools

Microsoft Bing has a useful Webmaster portal where you can submit your website/ blog, audit it for errors, check its search performance and use SEO tools. It is much like the Google Search Console.

I suggest that you go to the Bing Webmaster website and submit your website if not done so. Look more closely at keyword analysis and take their advice on optimizing the website. 

It can be a bother to work on both Google and Bing webmaster tools. Yet, checking Bing webmaster tools occasionally will help you in finding which webpages and queries can be optimised easily for Bing. As in the case of search, Bing's webmaster tools are less exhaustive and so simple for a new blogger. 

When and how to do SEO for Bing

It is true that once you optimize your website for Google, it does SEO for Bing too, because all search engines like quality results. Google and Bing have their own crawlers and algorithms, but they try to catch these:

  • Quality content
  • Usefulness and relevance of the content to the user and his query
  • Page authority and brand image based on backlinks, social signals etc.
  • Technical SEO factors

It is learnt that like Google, Bing also has many hundred parameters that this search engine uses for ranking webpages. Its databases and servers are also huge and pan over the planet. 

When it comes to sensing the intent behind a query and matching the query with webpages in its index, Bing is more straight, to the point. This, in practical terms, means it relies on keywords more than Google. But don't think that Bing is dumb and would rank a webpage higher with keyword stuffing or similar actions to fool search engines. So, if a webpage has good content and it has expressions that are used directly or indirectly by searchers, it will have a good chance of being ranked high on Microsoft Bing index; its ranking on Google index would depend much more on a mix of hundreds of 'signals'.

Bing is also reported to give more importance to social signals and engagement. So, it would make sense to be more active on social sites and cross-post website/ blog content on such sites.

Bing has a good following in some regions and browsers of the world. For example, it is used largely in the US and Canada, in absolute as well as percentage terms. Yahoo! also promotes itself by getting embedded with some downloads, and because it uses Bing data, people using those apps also get to use Bing resources. 

Most Bing users search using Internet Explorer or Edge browsers. Depending upon the time of purchase (Edge is the successor of IE), the browser comes preloaded on desktops, laptops and tabs using Windows. 

There is some usage data available for Bing: People of age over 35 years use Bing more than younger people. It is also reported that more blue-collar workers (not too well educated and well-paid) and non-techies (as against tech-savvy) people use Bing. So, if your potential visitors or clientele have such profiles, do not ignore Microsoft Bing.

You can visit this page for all SEO-related articles on Top Blogs: search engine optimization and website promotion basics.

4 established travel bloggers share their experiences

This post shares experiences of four established travel bloggers. especially during and after Covid 19 pandemic. As one would expect, Covid 19 has disrupted travel bloggers’ routine badly. At the same time, this has given them an opportunity to do maintenance, reflect on their blogging journey and innovate so as to adjust to the new reality. 

Indrani Ghose, of i Share says the pandemic slowed her down but it threw up a wonderful opportunity to connect with nature. 

top Indian travel blogger

“I have indulged in bird photography and clicked several hundreds of pictures of different birds. This has kept my Insta feed live with fresh pictures. I have also contributed articles to newspapers. This period of lockdown gave me the opportunity to look back into my old posts, update and repost them and I am really glad about it,” Indrani shares.

Ami Bhat, who runs Thrilling Travel blog, says, “After a very eventful year in 2019, 2020 turned out to be a complete wash-out. The numerous plans and advance bookings had to be dropped owing to the prevailing pandemic. However, that did not mean that virtual tours were not allowed. With the heaps of content that I had been sitting on, my journeys continued through my blog. There were several new destinations that I put out while at the same time, updating my old ones with the most recent information and photographs. Live Instagram and Facebook chats as well as featured talks on platforms like India TV help keep the spirit of travel alive.

“With the world slowly adjusting to the new normal, travel too has resumed with new norms. With the right precautions – like masks and social distancing, I have taken a few weekends out to explore my own backyard.”

travel blogger from India

About his immediate plans, she says, “I hope to bring forth more of the hidden gems from our own country through my platform.”

The blogger behind Travelure , Ajay Sood, continues to be active with sharing photography, delivering talks at media conferences, publishing articles and visiting places ‘where architecture is’.

top travel blogger

On his post-Covid-19 plans, Ajay says, “Travel as soon as possible, but happier to be able to get into teaching space where I have now gained interest. So looking forward to more knowledge sessions, and workshops.”

Aravind Gundumane maintains Treks and Travels, a blog that has graduated from treks to family travel. Arvind was in the US when Covid 19 broke out. He was “traveling a lot in the last few years and the COVID situation but a brake to it. I utilized the time to learn a few things that I always wanted to do and researching the places to visit in the future. 

top Indian travel blog

“I have now slowly started to go out on day trips with enough precautions. I focussed a lot on foreign travels and I consider this as an opportunity to visit places in my own backyard, Karnataka [in India]. Not put much thought on resuming long travels but will see how it goes in the near future.”

Related post on travel blogging: You may like to visit this post on top Indian travel bloggers.

Addressing common worries of Hindi bloggers हिंदी ब्लॉगर की आम चिंताएं

This post is specifically on blogging in Hindi. A summary in English is given at the end of the post.

हमने पाया है कि ब्लॉगर प्रायः कई तरह की चिंताओं में पड़ने लगते हैं. जो लोग ब्लॉगिंग शौकिया कर रहे हैं वो भी और जो इसे एक व्यवसाय की तरह कर रहे हैं वह भी. वेब में Quora और अन्य स्थानों में उनकी चिंताऐं देखने को मिलती रहती हैं, इसलिए यह पोस्ट लिखी है. 

ये चिंताएं मुख्यतः इन कारणों से होती हैं:
  • क्या मैं ब्लॉगिंग में बे-मतलब समय तो नष्ट नहीं कर रहा?
  • क्या मैं अगले एक साल या निरंतर ब्लॉगिंग को जारी रख पाऊंगा?
  • मेरे ज़्यादातर साथी अब फेसबुक और व्हाट्सप में चले गए हैं, क्या मुझे भी ब्लॉगिंग पूरी तरह छोड़कर वहाँ चले जाना चाहिए?
  • मैं जो लिखता हूँ क्या उसे लोग पसंद करते हैं या पीठ पीछे मज़ाक उड़ाते हैं?
  • मैं जो दूसरों की वेबसाइट से कभी कभी चित्र या लेख उठा लेता हूँ क्या ये सब मुझे किसी कानूनी मुसीबत में डाल सकते हैं?
  • अगर लोग मेरे लेखन को चुरा लें तो?
देखिये, अगर आपने ब्लॉगिंग इसलिए शुरू की है की सब संगी साथी ऐसा कर रहे हैं या आप उनसे ज़्यादा प्रगतिशील दिखना चाहते हों या ब्लॉगिंग से कुछ धनोपार्जन की कोशिश की जाए, तो आप आज नहीं तो कल इससे बोर हो जाएंगे. और तब आप सोचेंगे की यह तो कोई फायदे का सौदा नहीं है. यह अनिश्चितता भी घर करने लगेगी की अब इसे जारी रखा जाए या त्याग दिया जाए. यदि आप इस कारण से परेशान हैं तो मौका है कि आप अपने उद्देश्य को फिर से जांच लें. अगर आपको ब्लॉगिंग में और अपने विषय से लगाव है तभी इसे आगे बढ़ाइए. अगर आप शौकिया ब्लॉगर हैं तब भी एक बार तो इस बारे में सोचना बनता है. 

अगर आपके पास समय नहीं है या किसी अन्य कारण से आप ब्लॉगिंग पर समुचित ध्यान नहीं दे पाएंगे तो आपके लिए फेसबुक जैसे माध्यम अधिक उचित हो सकते हैं. यह याद रखिए की ब्लॉगिंग एक सीरियस विधा है और समय तथा लगन मांगती है.

जहां पहले ज्यादातर लोग ब्लॉगिंग अपनी बात कहने के लिए करते थे, अब नए ब्लॉग धनार्जन के लिए बनाए जा रहे हैं. इससे अंग्रेजी ब्लॉगिंग का स्तर ऊंचा उठा है, लेकिन हिन्दी के ब्लॉगों की बात अंग्रेजी के ब्लॉगों से अलग है. जिन लोगों की मातृभाषा हिन्दी है, अगर उन्हें अंग्रेजी ठीक से आती है तो वह अंग्रेजी में ब्लॉगिंग करना पसंद करते हैं. अगर उन्हें अंग्रेजी नहीं आती तो वह हिन्दी में गंभीर ब्लॉगिंग के बदले फूहड़ ब्लॉग बना बैठते हैं या यूट्यूब, टिक-टॉक जैसे विडिओ शेयर करने वाले प्लेटफॉर्म पर विडिओ ब्लॉगिंग करते हैं. विशेषकर युवा वर्ग तो इसी तरफ चल पड़ा है. इसलिए अगर आप गंभीर ब्लॉगिंग में विश्वास करते हैं, चाहे वह पैसे कमाने के लिए हो या अपने विचार रखने के लिए, तो आपके लिए अच्छी खबर है कि आपको बहुत प्रतिस्पर्धा का सामना नहीं करना होगा. 

अगर आप मौलिक लेखन करते हों और दूसरी वेबसाइट या ब्लॉग से कोई अंश उद्धृत करते समय या कॉपी करते समय आवश्यक बातों का ध्यान रखते हों (जैसे कि बिना इजाज़त के फोटो या लेख कॉपी नहीं करना) तो आपको इस बावत कानूनी परेशानियां नहीं होंगी. 

जहां तक आपके लेखन को चुराने की बात है, यह मान कर चलिए कि जो कुछ भी वेब संसार में पब्लिक है उसे कॉपी-पेस्ट करने या चोरी करने से आप रोक नहीं पाएंगे. इसलिए मूल पुस्तक या रिसर्च पेपर या संगीत को तबतक ब्लॉग में न डालें जबतक कि उसे उचित स्थान पर पब्लिश नहीं कर दिया हो. अगरआप फोटोग्राफी करते हैं या कंप्यूटर ग्राफ़िक बनाते हैं तब भी इसका ध्यान रखिये. 

हिन्दी के अच्छे ब्लॉगों से प्रेरणा लेने के लिए इधर जाएं: top Hindi blogs


Let me summarize this post roughly in English for bloggers who would want to know the content of the post but are not able to read Hindi:

We find on Quora and other places on the web that many Hindi bloggers are worried about the time they spend on blogging, with no perceptible gains. Some bloggers feel that they should move to social networks such as Facebook because their friends have moved there. Some are worried about theft of content in their blog on one hand, and the consequences of their own copy-pasting of others' content, on the other hand.

It is true that people have migrated to social networks, but that is for instant sharing of information. On the other hand, blogging is a serious business. If you want to express yourself well, blogging is for you.

Blogging is no longer a medium of quick self-expression or engagement. As said above, that role has been taken over by Facebook, WhatsApp, etc. At the same time, blogging has matured because now more blogs are being opened for serious discussion and money-making. In Hindi blogging, maturity and professionalism have not come as much because the Hindi-speakers who know English open their blogs in English, and those who don't know English maintain their Hindi blogs in poor shape or do vlogging on YouTube, Tik-Tok, etc, especially the young ones.

So, if you are a serious Hindi blogger, you are better off than English bloggers as there is much less competition in Hindi blogging as compared to that in English. 

As regards actions that you might face if you copy-paste others' content (Hindi bloggers do that a lot), my advice is - avoid that. 

Worried that someone will steal content from your blog? Yes, that is a real issue and, as a blogger, you will not be able to take action against content thieves. So, be prepared to accept that the content is prone to theft. To keep your very valuable content safe, do not publish original research or books or high-resolution photographs on the blog before publishing them where they deserve to be posted first.

Should a writer / author have a blog at all in 2021?

This is the first in the series of two posts on writer websites/ blogs. In the present one, we are discussing the following. In the next post, we talk about what makes an author’s website / author’s blog great for the author’s career.

Before we move further, let me clarify how some expressions have been used in these posts. In general usage, writer includes all types of writers, and author is reserved for book writers. Sometimes, only prose writers are called authors while poets are regarded as separate. I have used the expression author and writer interchangeably in a broad meaning of a person who writes as his profession and has either authored a publication or is aspiring to do so. Thus, these words depict published as well as unpublished writers of books. 

The books can be in any literary genre (including poetry) or non-fiction; they can be published through trade publishers or self-published; they can also be print publications or ebooks.

The second thing: websites and blogs are not the same, but since most of the discussion is about web presence of an author or writer, these have been used interchangeably unless where a distinction is required.

Why at all should a writer or author do blogging?

Being on the web offers many benefits to budding and established authors. Sometimes these give the extra push that is needed for success (more on this in the next post), and thus a blog helps them in a big way. The main benefits of blogging/ having an author website are as follows:

  • The author website helps in establishing you as a serious author (creative writing) and an authority on your subject (non-fiction writing). This is more so in the case of self-published books, books printed on demand (PoD) and ebooks.
  • You can use the blog / website for explaining things beyond the book, or giving new perspectives to your book’s subject.
  • It enthuses you to keep writing fresh content around your characters or subject.
  • Your web presence exposes your talent to publishers and others who might be on the lookout for talent for writing/ speaking/ ghost-writing assignments.
  • The author blog or website supplements marketing and sale of books, though the direct benefits may be small till you are an established author.
  • Blogs integrate very well with social networking. Each new post on the blog gives you enough material to cross-post it on Facebook, Twitter, etc. That helps in growth of all social channels.
  • The writer website/ blog gives you the opportunity to create your fan base through email subscription. Subscribers are a ready audience for your blog posts and are likely buyers of your future books.
  • Besides social networks, the blog is the best place to announce something new (new releases, a nomination for a national award, actually getting an award, the book being read in public, etc) to readers, fans and general public.
  • Books cannot be written every week, but the blog becomes a medium of constant communication with the world, especially the existing and potential readers.
  • Some established authors use their blog as a sounding board - a place where they get ideas and critical feedback from readers. Readers also offer a new point of view, and sometimes they even collaborate directly or indirectly into the making of a book! 

What is that an author blog or author website does not achieve?

Some authors have shared in public interviews that they find blogging or maintaining a website wasteful and therefore avoidable. A few have even said that instead of wasting time on these activities, authors should utilize that time in writing and promoting their writings. 

There, indeed, is truth in the criticism of blogging as an aid to an author’s writing career. Blogs or websites do not suit all authors, and that happens due to many factors (including one’s writing discipline, time management, writing inspiration, subject, type of book, etc).

Let me give you a small but important piece of advice, and allow me to highlight it so that you act upon it: Decide whether to open an author blog/ author website after properly analyzing whether it suits you or not. Then, if you decide to open the website/blog, stick with it. It is better to decide not to open a blog, or do an experiment and leave it, rather than sticking with a wrong decision.

The author blog/ website can drag you down if you do not care about the following: 

  • Opening a writer blog or website is a one-time affair but maintaining it needs time and patience. If you are short of time or do not have the discipline to keep giving it some time every week, the blog does not work. 
  • Blogging, or writing for the web, means you have to write extra - and this writing is not exactly the same as your core writing. Like any other form of writing, this also needs time and energy in collecting thoughts, spending creative energy, composing the post and editing it, adding an image and so on.
  • Author website may promote books but it does not sell many books directly unless you are an established blogger. Some new authors think that by selling books through blog or website, they will be able to make big profit as they won’t have to pay commission to agents and intermediaries. But that rarely happens because not many books get sold through the blog/ website. In addition, the blogger-author has to set up e-commerce facility on the website/ blog, and that costs money.
  • An independent (= not free) website or blog needs many types of maintenance (web hosting, updating, security, etc). The blogger also has to incur yearly expenditure on web hosting and domain name registration. 

Author blog is useful if maintained well.
     

Should an author open a blog or website? 

An author blog or author website may mean the same or different things. The options are like this: 

  • A ‘static’ blog or website. Such websites have a traditional look. They usually have a beautiful home page on which the author or his books are branded. There are other sections too, that give author’s biography, book excerpts, upcoming book events, new releases, awards and accolades, reviews, book purchase and payment page, etc.
  • A proper blog. Blog will suit you more than a static website if you are a budding writer yet. You can open a free blog on a blogging platform or open a self-hosted blog; both have their advantages and disadvantages. In short, blogging on free platforms is totally free and you do not have to bother about technical maintenance and security of the blog; on the other hand, self-hosted blog costs a lot but you can set up ecommerce facility on it. Unlike the author website, which need not be updated regularly, the author blog needs to be very regularly updated.
  • A website, which has a blog section. This option suits authors who make good money from writing. They can hire people to maintain a website with many sections. Blog is one of the sections - the one regularly updated.   
  • A blog or page on literary/ book platforms. You can also open a page on a platform of publishers/ printers (e.g. Amazon Kindle self publishing or a print publisher's portal), book sellers (e.g. Amazon), book author-reader platforms (e.g. Goodreads, Reedsy). Major book and ebook aggregators (e.g. Smashwords, Draft2Digital) also have pages for author promotion. When you open a page on these platforms, you do not have to bother about the design, technical maintenance, etc. You become a member of the author-reader community of that platform. I suggest that if you are not a too busy and well established author (that’s why you are reading this article!), you should open an author account and be at least be slightly active on one of these platforms, whether you open a blog/ website or not. 
  • A blog or page on social networks. You can also think of this option, and it goes well with other modes of promotion. What I am referring to here is opening a page on Facebook, LinkedIn (for non-fiction), Instagram, etc where you display, promote and talk about your books. If you write scholarly articles, you should register on Google Scholars.
Authors can make good use of Goodreads..
Related: India's best literary blogs

What is blogging?

It is 2021, and blogging has become more than 25 years old since it first started. In the meantime, its definition, use, importance... everything has undergone a big change. So, in this small post, let us have a look at this activity in modern context.

What is blogging, in 2021?


Blogging is the publishing of long-form content on the web on a regular basis. 

Blogging has matured and become much wider than the narrow ways it used to be defined.

In 2021, the earlier definitions of blogging do not hold. Blogging is no longer "maintaining a web diary", "writing on a blogging platform", "having articles on a website in chronological order", etc. 

You are a blogger if you regularly issue videos on your YouTube channel or publish photographs on Instagram. On your standalone blog, you need not keep posts in chronological order. You also need not have the earlier tool of engagement (comment box) because you can better engage with visitors and followers through social networking and social sharing platforms.

You are a blogger even if you regularly post tweets, but it is expected that your tweets have substance more than just a "Wow!" or "Stupid!". Perhaps important information with a link to a relevant webpage qualifies the tweet to become a blog post in its own right.

Blogger now is a respected fellow who has substance in his head. The blogger of today is either a thinker or a web entrepreneur or both. He/ she is independent in thinking and actions, and is not a lazy guy who passes time by blurting out useless stuff on free writing platforms.

More than anything else, you must keep publishing, keep regularly updating content. The regularity is what makes your website a blog.

To see a list of good blogs, varying in design, content and other blogging attributes, click on this link:
what is blogging

Different types of blogging


 When people use blogging for professional gains or making money, it is called professional blogging, as against personal or hobby blogging. Professional blogging also involves content writing and is an integral part of a firm's content marketing strategy.

You call video blogging as vlogging, and audio blogging as podcasting. The term sociallogging is also there to refer to blogging on social networks. But the expression blogging prevails.

Then there is live blogging. You maintain a single blog post and keep updating it, without removing the previous content. Live blog becomes a quick log of a developing story, so is popular for updating a cyclone, a match, and counting of votes during elections.
 
Blogging used for formal education is called edublogging. Blogging gets associated with online [money making] activities such as travel (travel blogging), cooking (food blogging), fashion and lifestyle (lifestyle blogging), literature and book reviews (literary blogging), photography (photo blogging), and so on.

Blogging overlaps with many web activities. It is a part of social media or web media. Blogs are online publications. Blogging format is popular among news websites. In fact, some of the biggest news portals (e.g. huffpost) are a form of blog.