Save The State Library of Massachusetts Badge

Save Mass Library

Thanks to Dick Eastman of  Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter and others for alerting me to this issue. If you are not familiar with the issue involving the library and its fate due to budget cuts, read Dick’s post and realize that what was achieved in saving the Michigan State Library can also be achieved in Massachusetts.

If you would like to show your support for the State Library of Massachusetts, see the instructions below on how to use the code and create your own badge.

For Blogger:

1. Highlight the text in the box below, right-click and select Copy
2. In Blogger, go to Layout
3. Select Add A Gadget
4. Select HTML/Javascript
5. In the Content area, right-click and select Paste
6. Click Save

For WordPress:

1. Highlight the text in the box below, right-click and select Copy
2. In WordPress, go to Admin
3. Select Widgets
4. Locate Text and select Add
5. In the list of Widgets, locate new widget and click Edit
6. Right-click and select Paste
7. Click Done
8. Click Save Changes

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Your Blog’s Welcome Mat


How welcoming is your blog? What impression does it make on new visitors?

I ask this because on Saturday, October 11, 2009, I will be giving a presentation entitled Become A Genealogy Blog User at the California Genealogical Society and Library in Oakland, CA.  And during this one hour talk, I will be not only highlighting many different genealogy blogs in our blogroll here at GeneaBloggers, but my handouts will also list over 50 genealogy blogs and their URLs.  It is likely that attendees will go home and visit most of these blogs at some point after the presentation.

And if that isn’t incentive enough to think about shaking out your blog’s welcome mat, consider that many web surfers make very quick decisions as to whether or not a blog or website are useful.  As Mother said, first impressions are important!

I will have more posts on this subject soon – specifically on how to create a permanent landing pad area right below your banner and right above your latest post.  A landing pad can give a quick glimpse as to what your blog is about, your best and most popular posts and more.

While I work on these posts, consider some of these tips and tricks:

  • Where Are You? Not knowing where a blogger is based or the geographical area of their genealogy research can cause confusion for new visitors or force them to disregard your site as unimportant to their own research.  Create a simple text widget or add a map for your side bar.
  • Add a Search Engine. Many blog visitors won’t take the time to go through your entire blog to look for information.  Add a search engine widget similar to the one here on GeneaBloggers. For instructions on setting up Google Search and using the link on your blog, see this post on Bootcamp for GeneaBloggers.
  • What Are Your Surnames? Sure Google and other search engines will pick up your blog posts with the surname in them, but having them on the front page of your blog gives them greater page ranking abilities for your site.  Again, a small sidebar widget perhaps linking to the tab or label for that surname would be useful for visitors.
  • A Simple Welcome.  Here’s a great example of a welcome mat at Everything’s Relative – Researching Your Family History: Cindy has created a graphic for her sidebar which reads “Did you land on my blog because you searched for a name that’s here?  If so please contact me at  I’m always looking for cousins and exploring possible family connections!”
    contact me large 2

Welcome mat photo used under Creative Commons 3.0 License courtesy of King Dumb at Flickr.

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee

New Blogger Stumbling Points


The other day I found a great post at Mashable discussing common blogging mistakes that businesses make when setting up a blog.  The points discussed could actually apply to any type of blog especially genealogy blogs and should serve as touchstones as to what not to do.  Here are my variations on those same points:

  • Don’t Recycle Press Releases.  Most genealogy bloggers are on the same mailing lists with genealogy-related vendors and companies.  If you are just starting out with your blog, realize that most of the more established genealogy blogs may already have posted the same information – verbatim.  A better idea: if you have personal experience with the product or event, add your opinion or take on it.  Readers often like to see how others are reacting to the information.
  • Blog Regularly.  If you want to build a loyal readership, make sure you have at least three new posts each week.  This can be a challenge but the Daily Blogging Prompts provided here at GeneaBloggers can make it easy to create new content.  Also leverage the concept of an Editorial Calendar to help plan content weeks and even months in advance.
  • Allow Comments.  Blogging can really only be considered a social media tool if you enable ways for readers to converse with you.  Some new bloggers are afraid of spam comments or inappropriate comments.  Most of the major blogging platforms have ways for you to keep comments from being published until you review them.  See Creating a Comment Moderation Policy.
  • Highlight Great Content.  One built in feature of blogging is to have the latest post appear at the top of the page.  But if you have posts which generated lots of comments or that readers find useful, create a “best of” list in your sidebar.  New visitors will gravitate to those posts and get a better idea of the type of information to be found at your blog.
  • Go Slow and Stay In The Race.  Good blogs are not built overnight nor do good blogs gain lots of readers in an instant.  Provide consistent and interesting content and you’ll gain new readers gradually plus you’ll keep your loyal readers interested.

Top 5 Business Blogging Mistakes and How to Avoid Them (via Mashable)

© 2009, copyright Thomas MacEntee