I got an opportunity from my good friend, Gaman to review his blog, Sabahan.com, when he runs a contest to review his blog almost a month ago. I was not interested at the beginning, but when I saw his latest post saying that he needed another 2 reviews to complete his Group 5 entries, I just decided to give it a shot.
This review of his website will based on my novice knowledge about webmastering and blogging which I learned from scratch for the last 2 years. Most of my reviews will bias towards the few professional bloggers in the blogosphere, as I am going to make them as the benchmark of my review.
I really hope that my reviews can be useful, especially for new aspiring bloggers, as well as the seasoned bloggers. Gaman, hopefully you can take it as a pinch of salt.
Let me begin.
After few clicks on Sabahan.com blog, I can conclude that you can learn 4+3 things from it, i.e. 4 “Good” and 3 “Can Be Improve” features of the blog.
4 “Good” Features:
- Uncluttered blog design.
- Gaman is using WordPress, that I must admit as the best platform for bloggers, with 2 column and white background.
- Black font and white background is the best combination for longer reading time and ease to the eyes (that is why books use white coloured paper).
- Almost with no images, it can be an advantage for visitors with slower internet connection, as it will reduce the upload time.
- By using his own domain name, the blog gives Gaman 100% control over his blog, as compared to free services like Blogger and WordPress.com.
- For blog optimization purposes, I see that Gaman use few WordPress plugins such as Post Teaser, User Online and Subscribe To Comment plugin.
- With Google Site Search on the upper right corner of the page header, Gaman gives a good exit options for his ‘lost in his space’ visitors.
- Various monetization methods. This is the part which most of aspiring new bloggers wants to know about. I must tell you that Gaman really knows how to use this tool properly. He did not put all his eggs in one basket by having a lot of advertisers. He did it cautiously also. By having relevant ads – the ads that is relevant to his content – makes his blog credible and not seen as an advertisement billboard.
- Gaman did not utilize Adsense ads campaign to the maximum, as he only use one Google Adsense 336×280 ad campaign in every post and a 728×15 link unit for the header on every page. He could actually put more ads than that, but I think he tried to avoid cluttering the page with too much ads.
- Positioning the Text-Link-Ads links high above the fold on the left sidebar has made the area filled with sponsored links.
- The other monetization methods that Gaman uses are ReviewMe, Chitika, AzoogleAds and some affiliate product reviews. I can’t comment on these as I did not go through all his post to look for it.
- He ‘burn’ his feed with Feedburner, i.e. using RSS feed to syndicate his content. By having Feedburner, his loyal computer literate blog readers will easily subscribe to his feed. Nobody should miss the syndication image that can be obviously seen on the top left sidebar. I won’t suggest you to put your number of your feed subscribers, if it is less than 20 (Gaman’s feed subscribers are hovering around 180-200 at this moment).
- Link exchange page (he labeled it as ‘Partners‘) . This is a good old webmaster school lesson but still a relevant way to get links from other website and blogs. With social networking platform is building up, link exchange methods like this are usually confined to the traditional static websites. I am not surprised to find that Gaman has only 39 links in his link exchange page, and still can get a PR5 from Google, as most of his inbound links will come from social networking platforms and other blogs. Maybe that is why he put MyBlogLog widget on the sidebar!
3 “Can Be Improve” features:
- No photo of Gaman himself. Oh c’mon Gaman… If a professional blogger like Darren Rowse and Yaro Starak put their photo on their blog, why can’t you? My mentor Ken Evoy said that by having your photo on your website and blog, visitors will be more adaptive and connected to you compared to one which didn’t have one. With emerging social networking platform, its easier for the visitors to ‘get connected’ with you in the virtual world with your photo on board. Even a primary school textbook has a photo of the writer at the back of the book!
- No favicon. I use Firefox as my official web browser, and the one feature that I like is favicon. I know it is not necessary, but I don’t think there is any harm on having one. Apart from making your URL beautiful, favicon can speed up your time looking for a specific URL in your bookmark folder only by looking at the favicon. Get one free from the numerous favicon generator around.
- To get the most out of your older post (which can really become dusty and buried deep in your webhost database), I would suggest that you install Popularity Contest plugin by Alex King. One problem with blog that I notice is that; older post get pushed down and out of the homepage as the day goes by, and this process is even faster if we post everyday.
- Like for example your Technology>Google category. How would you know which is the most popular post from that 183 post that you have written? Some visitors will judge your blog just by looking at the most popular post that you have written. If they like it, most probably your blog will be bookmarked and they will subscribe to your feed. Put up the link to the 10 most popular post on your blog sidebar. It will keep your visitors a little longer in your blog, and your popular post won’t be dead buried inside your webhosting server. Oh… with that you might need to consider changing your theme from 2 column to 3 column to optimize the presentation.
As a conclusion, I don’t think my review matter most to Gaman, as at this moment, he still could earn a good sum of money (a lot more than what I am earning now!). Mind you that Gaman took some TIME to reach this stage…