Drupal and the Blogging Starter Checklist, Part 5

12 Aug 2007

Sorry for the silence; the Ace has been traveling for a while. It's back to the blogging deck to deal a new hand.

Continued from the previous quartet of installments: a look at Rajesh Setty's Blogging Starter Checklist, with a particular eye toward applying its advice to blogging on a Drupal site. (I'm only copying the item headers from that list; head over there to follow along, and to see Rajesh's comments that you'd otherwise miss.)

http://www.squidoo.com/blogstarter

Yes, it's Part 5 in the series that's turning this site into one big experimental subject. In today's episode: Another five of Rajesh's suggestions for blogger support services, pinched and poked 'til they (and I) just can't take it any more.

Update from last time

I've still got the Feedster feed going on at bottom left, though after a couple of weeks I haven't yet found reason to get excited by that. If you've got an insight into the benefit to a site owner, please let me know.

In addition, I registered this site at two blog directory services, Findory and Blogarama. Whether either of these endeavors has brought new readers to my Acey brand of goodness remains an unknown, but a big "no!" is my guess. Despite a couple weeks passing, a search for "drupal" or "drupalace" on either service's site returns nothing. So registering on Findory or Blogarama looks like a black-hole waste of time to me.

On to the Checklist goods, starting with item #16 of the Registries and Directories sub-list!

Registries and Directories

16. Get Clustrmaps for your blog

Yet another service I'd never heard of. This one provides a site widget that shows the global locations of your site's visitors.

http://www.clustrmaps.com/

That all sounds fine and good, but I've been happy with Google Analytics to tell me whence visitors hail (welcome to Drupalace.com, visitors from the United States, India, Canada, UK, Germany, Malaysia, Japan, Australia, Spain, and France, in that order!).

There is, of course, a Drupal module to assist you with Analytics (http://drupal.org/project/google_analytics), though there's no Drupal module or function that I see for placing a visitor source map widget on your site. If you have an interest in the latter, give Clustrmaps a whirl and kindly report back.

17. Enable MyBlogLog click tracking

MyBlogLog is a service that has been on my radar for a while. You've probably seen its mark: a little block of blogger face icons in a sidebar.

http://www.mybloglog.com/

And what does it do? As is too often the case with these Web 2.0 doohickeys, perusing the site doesn't make this very clear. Fortunately, there's that other Web 2.0 miracle that answers almost everything: Wikipedia! There we read:

MyBlogLog is a blogger community that is based in part on interactions faciliated by a popular web widget... Bloggers... can initiate a blog community for one or more blogs they author. Other registered members can subscribe to these communities, effectively bookmarking them for future reading and sharing... Bloggers can then display widgets on their sites which show MyBlogLog online community members who have recently visited their page... and are one way in which users connect with one another. All members can see certain basic information... [and] may also view more extensive information about traffic on their site for a small monthly fee.

And so on. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mybloglog

All righty. Some of this sounds like functionality I get from Google Analytics or elsewhere, but again, I've been curious, so let's take a shot.

There is a Drupal MyBlogLog module, http://drupal.org/project/mybloglog, but for 4.7 only. No module for me; it looks like I'll be going commando with this one.

Register. There, I'm now Drupalace on MyBlogLog (MBL). Hmm, would I like MBL to make recommendations to me based on my browsing habits? I don't think so! Scary.

Okay, time to get code. I'll get the "Recent Readers" code, but will pass on "Top Links"; Drupal already makes it easy to see what's being read on a site.

And there we go: I've placed a Recent Readers block in my right sidebar. MBL also offers some CSS code for customization, a nice addition.

Here I am online:

http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/members/drupalace/

And here are other MBL users who use "Drupal" as a tag:

http://www.mybloglog.com/buzz/tags/drupal/

Not a huge number; no doubt it'd ratchet up following an updated MBL module.

Well, now what? I'm not sure. Where's my widget that shows my "community"? No such widget creation option faces me; I'll assume that it becomes available when I actually have a community.

We'll see where this goes. To get started, I'll try joining a community myself – starting with that of the estimable Dries Buytaert (you do know that name, don't you, Drupalites?) Hmm, joining is easy enough; one could join communities willy-nilly while visiting MBL pages.

From there, I'll learn more as I go. It does look like a promising service, and unlike many of those I've come across in this blog series, MBL appears to be thriving and relevant. (But it appears I'm getting only a three-day trial of MBL Pro, after which I'll be downgraded to a regular account; I don't know what changes thereafter.)

I welcome reader thoughts on how site owners can best make use of MBL, and whether there are any Drupal connections I'm missing.

18. Publish your conversations from other blogs to your blog via CoComment

Well, at first glance it looks interesting – a place to track all of your "conversations" on the web – though an attempt to view the explanatory video has filled my Safari screen with text gibberish (something that shouldn't happen with an .mp4 file). Crash.

A second attempt and crash later, I think I'll leave this to someone else to explore. There's no Drupal module for CoConnect; if it looks useful for your blogging exploits, please check it out and let me and others here know what it does for you.

19. Leverage the power of HitTail to get more traffic

Another new one. In his overview, Rajesh appears to have shifted from writing his own mini-review, to pasting the service's own self-description: "HitTail reveals in real-time the least utilized, most promising keywords hidden in the Long Tail of your natural search results. We present these terms to you as suggestions that when acted on will boost the natural search results of your site."

http://www.hittail.com/

To HitTail's credit, there's a "What Is It?" section that helps explain things. The video does it best:

http://www.hittail.com/what/long-tail.html

The service aims to point out "long tail" keywords that can better increase your showing in natural search results, as an alternative to buying pay-per-click Adwords or similar services. In other words: HitTail gives you a list of "long tail" keywords and suggests you write articles full of those, so you'll attract searchers for those topics.

But one early fact: HitTail bills itself as a tool for sites with a lot of content (100+ pages). So there may not be much point in my trying it out yet on this site.

In addition, I've already got Google Analytics to point out the keywords people use to find my sites. What's more, there's a Drupal module that claims to extract keywords from referrers. And because this card aims to please, I'm going to test it out for you.

http://drupal.org/project/search_keywords

Easy enough. It places a log inside Administer > Logs > Recent keywords, which reports keywords used to reach the site, along with the search engine name. Or should, that is, as soon as I give my new installation a little time to catch that incoming information.

Those tools are there to tell us what keywords people use to find our sites. There are other services to find out what keywords people are using to find everything and anything. For an up-to-date peek at top keywords, take a gander at the Google Trends Top 100 (and get caught up in the excitement, or fear for the human race; your choice), Yahoo Buzz (Britney is way above Jessica Alba? Not in Aceland!), or Dogpile Search Spy (now with regular Filtered or spicy Unfiltered!).

http://google.com/trends/hottrends?sa=X
http://buzz.yahoo.com/overall/
http://www.dogpile.com/info.dogpl/searchspy/

Useful stuff. But I can see what HitTail claims to offer that's different: a unique look not at the keywords that reach my site, or the top keywords that everyone is clamoring to claim, but the other, lesser keywords that I could conceivably dominate if only I'd pepper my content with them. Yet I don't yet have a firm grasp on this business of putting search terms to use in this way – I'm creating sites to write about given topics and themes, not to write about whatever random words people are searching for; how would I (and should I?) do the latter?

I'm not knocking the concept; I'm saying that it's still a foggy area for me and I could use further enlightenment. As always, if you have experience or thoughts on the topic, please write in!

20. Give back some link love with WhoLinked

Who links to you? How can you tell?

You've got your referrer log, at Administer > Logs > Top referrers. But if your log is like mine, it'll show the good stuff mixed in with internal self-links (what's up with that?) plus a lot of incoming Google searches, and only for a couple weeks anyway. What's a better way?

I'm not aware of another module to add functionality here. On the services side, Google Analytics has you covered. You can also just ask the search engines directly. Google's "link:" tool is famous: do a Google search for "link:www.drupal.org", and you'll get a big list of pages linking to that domain.

But surprisingly, Google's tool is also infamously incomplete; for reasons I know not, you'll get only a little subset of linking pages – in www.drupalace.com's case, nothing. That's a heck of an ego-bruiser, until you discover that Yahoo kindly offers a much friendlier count. Try this service:

https://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/

I've added a link in a block at right, "Who links here". Click and see the Yahoo love.

But what Rajesh is suggesting here is openly displaying a list of who links to you, as a way to reward those linkers with some front-page linky good lovin' of your own. Let's see what WhoLinked does for us here.

http://wholinked.com/

Looks like there's some ready-made aid for major blogging platforms like WordPress. Drupal falls under "other blog type", but that's okay, there's nothing scary behind the link. Within seconds, you'll have some code.

Hmm, grabbing some quick code via the "Get It" tab, I got a block that displayed a very unexciting list of search engines, even though I know there are Drupally sites that have linked here.

I think this is the trick: go to "Edit It", and you'll find a way to register. Do that, and the WhoLinked site displays a better list that, for me, includes Drupal.org and the such. It then lets me remove my own site from the list, and make a few more tweaks.

But enabling the new code in a block on my site, I still see search engines, not the "real" list that WhoLinked showed me on its site. See the results at right, under the Yahoo link. Maybe it takes time for meaningful results to show; I don't know. If it starts to work well, it'll be a useful service for this blogger, alerting me to any new sources of traffic without my delving into logs or Analytics.

Next time

Whew, that's enough for this installment. Next time, I wrap up Registries & Directories.

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