(39/52 - Smileys)
After I had kids I became concerned with how to balance blogging with protecting my kids' privacy online, but particularly when it comes to pictures of my kids. I actually wrote a whole post about protecting blog images here, and I describe some of the ways I do that.
However, one thing that kept bothering me was that I would get visits to my blog through pictures of my kids that showed up in Google Image searches. Not that anyone was searching for anything inappropriate, but it just made me uncomfortable to have pictures of them showing up in random searches. Because my kids are so cute, who wouldn't want to steal their pictures, right?
I actually disabled my blog with search engines for a while to try to keep that from happening. But after a while I felt the Lord was telling me to make it open to search engines again. So I did, but I still didn't like the picture thing.
Then one day I decided there must be a way to tell Google not to index the images on my site, so I did some research - and lo and behold, I figured it out! All you have to do is edit your robot.txt file to tell Google not to index your images!
Yeah, that deer-in-the-headlights look you probably have right now? That was my reaction too. But this is easier than it sounds.
First of all, when should you do this, and when should you not? Good question. Here's what I think.
Do Use This Tutorial If:
1. You are getting visits through pictures of your kids using keywords that are inappropriate. I think you should definitely consider it in that case. There are weird people out there.
2. You are uncomfortable with pictures of your kids showing up in searches.
3. If you may have kids in the future and don't like the thought of their pictures showing up in searches.
Carefully Consider Whether To Use This Tutorial If:
1. You get a significant amount of traffic that is helping your site from image searches. If you have ads on your blog, you need to be aware that preventing your blog images from being indexed will affect your traffic in some way. If that is a problem for you for whatever reason, don't do it.
Okay, if you are still wanting to ask Google not to file your images, proceed.
Take the following bit of code . . .
User-agent: Googlebot-ImageDisallow: /
I would like to note that you shouldn't expect the images to disappear from Google overnight if you didn't have your blog set up this way from the start. It takes time for Google's little bots to come crawl your site and see the changes. Your privacy settings for your image hosting site can also affect this, but that is probably a different post.
You should also be aware that any images that you post of your kiddos on other people's blogs, like for guest posts or linkups, may still show up in Google searches. It also does not prevent people from pinning your images, so they will still show up in searches from Pinterest.
It's not fool-proof, and some images are likely going to sneak through here and there. But I've noticed a big decrease in the amount of visits I get from image searches, and hardly any come through from pictures of my kids anymore.
This gives me a lot of peace of mind about posting pictures of my kids on my public blog. I do, however, still recommend watermarking and using other methods to protect your photos (and again, you can read more about that in the "Protecting Your Pictures" post I wrote).
You can read more about how to block specific images from searches here.
Any other tips for protecting pictures that I haven't covered? I always like to hear how you protect your images, or whether that's even important to you!
We went to Derek's mom's house for dinner last week. After dinner Wyatt walked up to me and nuzzled his nose against my arm. Then a second later he rubbed his nose against my sleeve again. I asked him what he was doing and he said "I'm wiping my nose." Gee, thanks Pal! It made me laugh!
Every time he hears Gwen fussing after her she wakes up from her naps, he comes over to me and tells me "Gwen's cryin'". I'm usually finishing up whatever I'm doing or making her a bottle, but if I don't get her quick enough for him he says, "I'm gonna get Gwen," and rushes off to her room. As soon as she sees him she usually cries harder, but I think it's sweet that he's so concerned for his sister.
He has figured out how to open pretty much every door in the house now. He's usually up before I am in the mornings (especially since Gwen's sleep has been so rough lately), so he'll usually run into my room and say "Morning, Mama!" My favorite alarm clock, for sure!
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Note: I received this book for free from Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for this review. This is my honest opinion.
Sometimes I decide to talk about a problem or a struggle with someone just because I want to talk about it. And when they start to try to "fix" my problem by giving me advice, there can be that temptation to feel annoyed. But most of the time they are doing this because they hate to see me struggling, and they want to help my sorrows disappear. So they give advice. When you realize they aren't trying to boss you around, they are just trying to help you, it becomes easier to take the advice for the good intent behind it, even if it's not what you were looking for.
Sometimes people will offer advice because they have been through something similar, and they feel a connection to me. They want to talk about our shared problems or experiences, and sometimes the easiest opening to make that connection or let me know they know what I am going through is to offer a snippet of advice! When this happens, take the bait. Carry through with the conversation and make the connection.
Sometimes people give advice because they are trying to show off their vast knowledge on the subject. This usually happens with acquaintances or new friends and is one of the most annoying kinds of advice to deal with. However, I try to look at it from the other angle - they wouldn't feel the need to "show off" if they didn't think I was someone worth impressing. That's kind of flattering! The best way to deal with this motivation for advice is to say something along the lines of "Wow, that's a really good point, is that what you do/did?" or "Interesting, tell me more", and try to take the conversation more in the direction of personal stories. Then you can share experiences and advice back and forth without feeling like you are being lectured.
At the same time, I don't assume every time someone tries to give me advice they are trying to show off. That can lead to unnecessary annoyance. The motives behind the advice are more likely one of the first two. I always assume it's one of the first two motives listed here until it becomes obvious that it's motive #3.
Strange people you see in the mall really shouldn't be telling you what to do, unless it's along the lines of "You are blessed, enjoy your life!" (which is probably the most common stranger advice, especially when they see your cute babies). When Wyatt was a month or two old some lady at Joann's told me I was holding him wrong. But actually Wyatt was just trying to look at the lights (he's always loved lights). Annoying? Yes, this is probably the type of advice that is truly annoying with no real redeeming factors. But it's not something to dwell on. Your blood pressure will thank you if you just learn to dismiss it.
People can give me all the advice they want, but in the end I pray about it, and I decide what's going to work best for me or my family. I'm not obligated to take any specific advice, especially the advice given by random people at the store. And those who love me are going to support me whatever I decide. That knowledge is freeing and makes the advice less frustrating. I've learned to listen to the advice, to consider it because a multitude of counselors is a good thing, and to have confidence in the final decisions I make.
This goes back to the week we got back from our honeymoon. Someone who is close to me noticed that I kept correcting parts of the story when Derek was telling about the different things we saw on our trip, and they advised me not to do that and just let Derek tell the story his way. It annoyed me at the time, but two years later I read something that reminded me of that conversation, and I realized that person was right. It was silly of me to keep correcting Derek on things that didn't matter - it was disrespectful and sent the message that Derek was getting everything wrong. I vowed right then to listen to the advice that was given me in the future and try not to be immediately annoyed, because even if I disagreed at the moment the wisdom could become more apparent to me later.
Some people are controlling. Some people are trying to push their agendas. Some people are insulting you personally and hide their insults behind "advice". I try to give people the benefit of a doubt, but I think if you suspect that this may be the reason behind someone's "advice", you should run their comments by someone you trust. If you feel like someone is being controlling or manipulative, it's okay to respectfully stand your ground and refuse to accept the hurtful words.
P.S. Also making sure to take some time out today to remember 9/11 and to pray for our country. We won't ever forget.
Lately I've been having a difficult time blogging. Honestly I know it's just a dry spell - this happens to me probably once a year, so it's not unusual (I'm not going to quit blogging!). I've just been feeling a bit discouraged and uninspired.
And then on the weekend I discovered that one of my pages (that was bringing me a significant amount of search traffic) seems to have been penalized by Google's algorithm. Meaning, my page rank for that specific post is lower, and it's no longer showing up in searches! This was a big deal to me, because like I said, I got quite a bit of traffic from just that one post.
After frantically searching the internet for possibly causes for the penalty I made sure that my page was squeaky clean and then I went through and emailed the owners of some spammy websites asking them to take down their links to my site (spammy links can hurt you with Google). But I was feeling pretty discouraged and overwhelmed. It's as if all my hard work for that traffic was just erased. Practically speaking, I can't get every single unnatural link taken down from these bogus websites - maybe if I had a full time staff for the blog, but it's just me.
So after staying up until 2:00 AM on Sunday trying to figure this out I wasn't even sure if any of that work was going to fix the problem, since I can't be positive what it was that caused me to get a penalty.
I still dragged myself out of bed for church though, and as I was sitting there in the aisle listening to the music I felt like the Lord reminded me of something.
Why am I blogging anyway? I have always wanted this blog to first be a place to share with others what the Lord is teaching me, as well as a place to just record everyday life stuff that my kids might like to read someday.
It's easy to lose sight of that purpose when I'm staring at visits and pageviews and backlinks, when the focus of blogging as a whole seems to have shifted to product reviews and paid posts and blog sponsors.
And is it nice to get a product for review or a little extra spending money? Sure. Is it nice to have your post show up on the first page of Google and get lots of extra visitors per month? Yeah, it is.
But is that really why I'm blogging? No.
Honestly, my biggest hope for this blog is that it will point others to Jesus and ultimately bring glory to Him. I forgot one of the reasons I enabled search engines to find my blog in the first place - I wanted to open it up to searches hoping that more people would find their way here and see something about Jesus that would get them thinking.
The Lord knows that, even when I forget it. If He feels like the right people, the people who are supposed to find my blog will find it without that post showing up high in search results, then maybe it has served it's purpose and it's time for me to move on. He'll still make sure the right people find me. He doesn't need Google.
I think I might just have forgotten that this blog is not supposed to be a place to bring glory to me. And if I'm honest, that's part of the reason I was upset about that post being penalized, because I felt sorry that my good idea wouldn't be front and center anymore. This blog is not supposed to only be something that will make me money or boost my own self esteem. It's not even all about the blogging community (as much as I love you guys!).
If that's all I'm doing here, if those things become my focus, I'm going to get discouraged, Google penalties would be the end of the world, I'm going to compare myself too much to other blogs, and I'm going to get burned out.
This blog is supposed to be a place to bring glory to God. And the Lord knew it might take a little ding from Google to remind me of that.