Your Ad Here

Basic Blogging Questions You Might Have Been Afraid to Ask


Small Business Ideas Forum

A friendly place to find help & encourage one another

Top Commentator and brave reader Lorna Doone asked me some questions recently about blogging. Although her questions cover the blogging basics, I must admit she asked me some really great questions. By no means is she computer illiterate (in fact, she’s quite tech savvy), but I realized that these questions she asked are things that I ASSumed you knew (my bad!!).

I was going to send her an email, then I realized that if she was asking, perhaps a few others might want in on the action as well. :) If you like this post, I might make a habit out of this!

What the heck are tags?

Tags are basically keywords, and Technorati is the only site that pays attention to the fact that you add them to your posts. When you search for a blog on Technorati, you can search by regular keywords AND by tags. When you put up a post, you add just a few tags (keywords) that you think are the most relevant and most common to the content in the article.

So if you did a keyword search on SEO, you will pull up EVERY post that mentions SEO. But if you did a tag search on SEO, you would only pull up the posts specifically ‘tagged’ “SEO”, which would narrow your search results to the posts that authors have written more specifically about “SEO” rather than mentioning it in passing (like I just did).

For the complete lowdown on tags - and it’s way more than I could ever *yawn* write on the subject, A Consuming Experience wrote an, um, “Consuming” post on everything you could ever want to know about Technorati Tags.

What’s the difference between Technorati and FeedBurner?

They are related, but do two totally different things. Your blog automatically produces a feed - which enables feed readers everywhere to pull, or “syndicate” your content to wherever it is that your blog readers want to read your posts. Different blogging platforms have different feed formats, which raises compatibility issues. Additionally, some blogs generate several different feeds just from one blog - I know, confusing.

All you need to know about this is that FeedBurner takes care of all of this, so you don’t have to. It is super-simple to set up. Then they will also provide statistics on the number of people who are subscribed to your feed, how many items are clicked, and several other things.

Technorati, on the other hand, is basically a blog search engine. Technorati pulls the feeds of millions of blogs into one place so that people can search them, organize them, read them, etc. They also track who links to who. Because they were the first to do this for blogs, they became the industry leader in knowing which blogs were the most popular based on who got the most links. This is where your Technorati rank comes in - the more links from the more blogs, the lower (and better) your rank. The way that they track all of this is with the feeds that FeedBurner (and a few others) provide.

Why would someone want to set up a web site vs. a blog?

Well, a blog is a web site - the difference being primarily that blogs display posts in reverse chronological order. Some blogs platforms ONLY show posts, whereas others (like WordPress), also have pages. You would want to set up pages for anything that you want people to access on a regular basis, such as an About or Contact page. I use pages frequently for things such as advertising info, email subscription confirmation pages, landing pages, and to highlight areas of the site that I want to drive traffic to, for example, this Top Articles page.

I originally set up this site as a site, with an added blog. Once I realized I could manage almost everything within WordPress, I pretty much gave up on the rest of the site. But there are a few times I want pages completely outside of the blog:

  • Ecommerce - you don’t want a sidebar stuffed with links and widgets distracting potential customers from buying a product. If you are selling products, you want the entire focus to be on that product, and you want to control that page much more closely than you would in a blog post that is intended to drive interactivity with the rest of the site.
  • Lead generation - same as above. If you are trying to build a mailing list, you want the ONLY option on that page to be one thing -> grab the email address. You want to control these pages even more than a product page. A product page might still have site navigation or product reviews. This page for my 10 Days to a Better Blog free email eCourse is this kind of page. Although this is the fourth or fifth revision of it, at this point about half of the people who land on it sign up for it - that is a really, really great conversion ratio.

Sites like aren’t blogs, but they are still run on what’s called a Content Management System (CMS). With THAT much content, they really need something more powerful than a blog, but they both work on the same premise - content is stored in a database and pulled up into pages by the CMS. Their site is kind of like a blog on steroids. :D

Um… what is PHP? Will I need a professional to set up a WordPress Blog, or will pure tenacity and strength of will get me there?

Lorna, I didn’t know PHP when I started and I STILL really don’t know it. Many hosting companies offer one-click installation of WordPress (and after much trial and error, Blue Host is my absolute favorite ).

I will say that you do need to know (or learn) some html. The extent of my web development skills is putting a table together in DreamWeaver in WYSIWYG mode (and I can’t even get that right sometimes!!).

To customize your blog, yeah, you will want to dig around in that PHP code. But pure tenacity and strength totally can get you there - I basically just stared at that damn code for a long time until I understood the concept of it. PHP does use some natural language, and with what little I understood of HTML, I was able to change font colors, fonts, and manipulate at least a little bit of where things appeared on the page.


Got a Blogging Question you’re afraid to ask? Send it to me, and I’ll post your answer - and even give ya a link in the process!

Share and Enjoy: These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages.
  • Digg
  • Netscape
  • StumbleUpon
  • BlinkList
  • Fark
  • Furl
  • Ma.gnolia
  • Reddit
  • Technorati
  • Bumpzee
  • Slashdot
  • TailRank

Related Posts

  • Taking the Plunge
  • The Questions We Fear to Speak
  • Help Wanted :: Work at Home Doing Blog Design
  • Ian Lurie Posts Google Analytics Video Tutorials

  • Tags: , , , , , ,


    What do you think? Leave a comment. Alternatively, write a post on your own weblog; this blog accepts trackbacks [trackback url].
    This blog has removed the "nofollow" tags, so each comment counts as an inbound link to your site. Comment Policy


    On April 17th, 2007 at 10:10 am, Amanda said:

    I have to say blue host is decent but some of the main things that hsould be unlimited aren’t thats the only thing. There is no reason you should be limited on ftp, pop3, forwarders, mysql, subdomains etc.

    And the only problem I can see with blue host is the overselling of their servers. Its fine if you have all small sites but sometimes a site will get huge or put a message board on it and that sucks up all the stuff. it happens. I’ve owned a webhosting company i’ve gone through it.

    On April 17th, 2007 at 10:40 am, Blain Reinkensmeyer said:

    This is a great post Wendy, really does a good job of explaining the basics behind these services and sites. I take for granted that I understand feedburner, technorati, and the like but those just stepping into the arena would probably be pretty confused by all of this!

    Solid read :)

    On April 17th, 2007 at 10:42 am, Blain Reinkensmeyer said:

    O also regarding the last paragraph, yes it is weighed with php, but a lot of it just understanding simple html.

    When I think of php I think of hard coding that is tedious and needs a coding junkie to do it, wordpress’s platform is laid out so really anyone can do it. Besides all you need is to just download the templates an upload them!

    On April 17th, 2007 at 2:10 pm, Derrich said:

    I would say knowing HTML is the key here. It’ll help you shed some light on php…or you could get the Wendy Piersall decoder ring. =)

    On April 17th, 2007 at 3:25 pm, lornadoone said:

    Thanks for all of the thought and time you put into answering my questions, Wendy. You have cleared up some thoughts for me, and I feel better moving forward with ideas for my next endeavor(s). I sort of feel like I have a mentor or an ally in my corner, and it adds an extra little spring to my step! The fact that you can do non-blog pages on WordPress has sold me on the idea of using it, and I feel a lot more confident in facing the PHP issue now that I know my HTML experience will help decrease the learning curve.

    On April 17th, 2007 at 5:25 pm, Sharon said:

    I think wordpress rocks. You can basically have it function as a website (actually even better). there are loads of plugins to use to make it however you want your blog to be

    On April 18th, 2007 at 7:09 am, Suzanne Lamoutte said:

    You really touched the core of what is necessary for internet marketing. Way to go, Wendy.

    On April 18th, 2007 at 7:09 am, Jenny said:

    I have a friend who keeps asking me what tags are. I should show this to her since you explain it so much better then I did. :)

    On April 18th, 2007 at 7:50 am, Dan and Jennfer said:

    Hey Wendy, great post.

    I would add that Tags are very important since tag pages rank VERY highly in natural search results with Google.

    Also they help you slice and dice your content, so when you have 2,000 posts in a year you’ll be able to reorganize your site rather than junking stuff. :-)

    That having been said, UTW and such can be a royal pain to install - we spent a bunch of time figuring out the best SEO approach to wordpress, and tags are a key part of it. But it has to be set up right, or it’ll bite you. :-)

    Have an awesome day!

    On April 18th, 2007 at 7:52 am, Amy said:

    That is really informative. You would be correct in assuming I knew these things, but I did have a somewhat different perspective on them.

    On April 18th, 2007 at 8:00 am, Amanda said:

    I ask questions like that to my friend jenny. Things I should know about wordpress but never bothered to learn I ask her.. repeatedly till it sticks into my head.

    On April 18th, 2007 at 11:02 am, At Home Mom said:

    Thanks for the information. I´m a relatively new blogger and although I know some HTML, I´m finding other areas a little more challenging, so it was nice to have links to where I can get better explanations. I use Wordpress as well, and have found it to be very useful.

    On April 19th, 2007 at 6:04 am, Jewelle said:

    Such help! Thanks for making it clear.

    On April 19th, 2007 at 9:00 am, Ariane Benefit said:

    Awesome post Wendy! Your new blog/site is amazing!!! Gorgeous, too. I what what CMS uses? It’s a really neat site. Do you recommend any particlar CMS systems for article management on a website?

    On April 20th, 2007 at 5:55 am, Tara said:

    Nice article. I am a newbie blogger myself. As a print based designer you lose touch with whats going on in the web - all these words blog, RSS, CMS are in the the mags and you wonder what they are. Some magasines give you descriptions but they always assume a certain amount of knowledge on the subject.I would have liked to read an article like this a few months ago when I started my blog.

    Mentions on other sites...

    1. Speedlink’s: April 20 2007 | Alpesh Nakars’ Blogosphere on April 20th, 2007 at 2:01 am
    2. Working at Home on the Internet on April 22nd, 2007 at 5:37 am

    Leave a Reply