July 28, 2014

How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years

Posted by: of Stephan on 05/14/13

I left my blog dormant for a few years, but I’m finally back in the saddle! I drafted up a post entitled “How to Restart a Blog When You’ve Been on Hiatus for Three Years” because it seemed fitting. Here are my main points to get you started:

1. Jump in and write something. No apologies. Or a lengthy explanation or justification for being off the grid.

2. Get some tools or processes in place that will make it as painless as possible to post. Like Dragon – which incidentally is available as an iPhone/iPad app.

3. Hire a virtual assistant if that will help you. (More on using VA’s in a future post).

4. Roll out a site redesign at the same time to let everybody know you’re reengaged and committed.

5. Don’t try to get all your readers all caught up on your life all in one post. You’ve got plenty of fodder for many blog posts – so save it for later.

6. Finally, silence the perfectionist in you. I have this bad habit of pouring over my blog posts – my articles even more so – trying to make them perfect. I put a dozen hours or more into articles on search engine land. That’s crazy. That’s not good use of your time. Much better to freeze all those great ideas and insights stuck in your head – share them with the world. It’s okay if the sentence structure isn’t always on the mark. It’s a blog post for Pete’s sake.

Shorten Your Blog Post URLs So You Don’t Look Spammy to Google

One of the great things about using WordPress is that it automatically creates keyword-rich, spider-friendly URLs for your posts (as long as your Permalink settings in the Options tab of the WordPress admin are configured properly). Many times, though, these URLs are TOO keyword-rich. In other words, the URL has too many words in it. That happens if you create a long title to your post, because every word in the title is worked into the URL automatically by WordPress.

But how long is “too long” for a URL? For the answer to this question, I went to the source: Matt Cutts, head of Google’s webspam team. In my interview with Matt Cutts, I asked:

“What is excessive in the length of a keyword-rich URL? We have seen clients use keyword URLs that have 10 to 15 words strung together with hyphens; or blogs – we have seen them even longer there. A typical WordPress blog will use the title of the post as the post slug, unless you defined something different and you can just go on and on and on. Can you give any guidelines or recommendations in that regard?”

Matt answered:

“Certainly. If you can make your title four- or five-words long – and it is pretty natural. If you have got a three, four or five words in your URL, that can be perfectly normal. As it gets a little longer, then it starts to look a little worse. Now, our algorithms typically will just weight those words less and just not give you as much credit.

The thing to be aware of is, ask yourself: “How does this look to a regular user?â€? – because if, at any time, somebody comes to your page or, maybe, a competitor does a search and finds 15 words all strung together like variants of the same word, then that does look like spam, and they often will send a spam report. Then somebody will go and check that out.

So, I would not make it a big habit of having tons and tons of words stuffed in there, because there are plenty of places on a page, where you can have relevant words and have them be helpful to users – and not have it come across as keyword stuffing.”

Based on this new information from Matt, you can see that even your blog post slugs have the potential to appear spammy and “keyword stuffed,” which doesn’t look great for your readers and may end up getting flagged as “spam.” So how can you prevent your blog from appearing spammy?

I’d strongly recommend that you curb the length of your URLs. There are a couple of different approaches to this in WordPress:

  1. Hand-craft your own “Post Slug” when you are writing the post. To do so, simply type in your desired post slug into the “Post Slug” field found on the right-hand side of the “Write Post” page in the WordPress admin (you probably will have to hit the + sign to see the field). You can mirror your post’s title but drop throwaway words like “the” and “and”. You can take the first four words or so of the title as your slug. Heck, you could even write something totally different that doesn’t resemble your post title.
  2. Use a WordPress plugin that will trim your post slugs down to a more manageable size, i.e. to five or six words. There are two plugins to choose from that will accomplish this: the WordPress Slug Trimmer plugin or the Automated SEO Friendly URL plugin.

For more great tips from Matt Cutts, I invite you to listen to my audio interview in MP3 format or read the full transcript. The interview is a little over 30 minutes long, and it has some invaluable advice.

Enjoy, and happy search engine optimized blogging!!!

Trick out your blog with a video Swicki

You may have noticed (and hopefully used!) Eurekster’s Swicki widget on the right column sidebar of this blog (under the heaading labeled “Buzz Cloud”). A couple more examples of swickis can be found on my personal blog and on my daughter’s blog.

A swicki is a topically-focused custom search engine where you can define the topics and the sites that it focuses on.

My favorite feature of the swicki is the “What’s Hot” buzz cloud, which I’ve blogged about before. It’s a very cool feature that visually conveys popular search terms in a tag cloud format.

The swicki widget can do image-based buzzclouds too. So instead of displaying keywords, you (the blogger or website owner) can choose to display images instead.

This month Eurekster rolled out another major enhancement to their swicki widget: video-based buzzclouds! So now you can add to your blog a video buzzcloud widget with a custom social video search engine, which pulls from over 14 million hours of video content from blinkx.

See an example video buzz cloud on the right.

Sign up for a free swicki widget (text, image, or video) and build your free, Eurekster-powered custom social search engine here.

Best of the Blog Bling

Yesterday’s New York Times article “Some Bling for Your Blog” got me thinking about widgets and plugins and how most of them are serve no real purpose to the average blog reader and simply frustrate them by slowing the page downloading. The article showed screen grabs of a few cool-looking widgets: the trivia game Blufr, the Streampad music player, and the fund-raising widget ChipIn. But do those widgets really add value — enough value to counterbalance the extra download time?

What I would have liked to have seen in the article is a list of the best of the bling. Well, since they didn’t, I will take a stab at it myself. And please jump in with your suggestions too, via the comments. Here are my personal favorites:

and these which are not really widgets, but plugins (for WordPress):

Plenty more widgets at Widgetoko

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed

For many of you this may seem basic, but there’s a first time for everything….

Have you ever wondered how us “blogging experts” keep up on dozens or even hundreds of blogs a day? Do we visit dozens or hundreds of Web sites a day hoping that each one has posted new, worthwhile post(s)? Don’t we have lives? Don’t we have businesses to run?!?

The answer is that we subscribe to the feed from these blogs and collect them in one central location. I prefer NetNewsWire (Mac only!) while others prefer the browser-based Bloglines.

Unfortunately, subscribing to a blog feed is counter-intuitive. The very action we’ve been trained to do with Pavlovian perfection–clicking on a link–instead presents us with a page of XML mumbo-jumbo.

To that end, I’ve put together this little movie (at 10.2 MB it’s actually not that little) that walks you through the subscription process. Soon you’ll be able to subscribe to blogs with the best of ‘em, keeping up on important industry information and staying ahead of your competition.

How to Subscribe to a Blog Feed: The Movie!

More Benefits of WordPress for Sites other than Blogs

In speaking last week with friend and colleague Alan Rimm-Kaufman, he told me of his company’s plans to switch their company’s site to WordPress. Very timely that he would mention that to me given my recent post about WordPress for non-blogs. I asked Alan to write these points up, they were so good. He agreed, and blogged it. In summary, Alan says WordPress provides company site owners with:

  • editing without needing to know HTML
  • easy handling of “rolling events” like speaking engagements
  • post-dating of articles so they can automatically “go live” on the scheduled date (as is required with embargoed articles until their print publication date)
  • reader participation through comments
  • organization of the content using tags
  • seamless handling of pre-existing URLs
  • easy addition of new functionality (because it is “open source”)
  • free support by the very responsive developer and user communities

I’ll just piggy-back on Alan’s points a bit:

  • Because WordPress is such a popular blogging platform, it’s easy to find developers to work on it. It also certainly doesn’t hurt that WordPress is written in PHP — the most popular programming language on the planet!
  • WordPress is easily extensible through the use of plugins. Many hundreds of plugins exist already. It’s also pretty easy (if you’re a developer) to write your own plugins. That’s a lot more elegant that directly hacking the WordPress code base.
  • Maintaining inlinks to former URLs can often be accomplished just by making the “post slugs” (filenames) consistent with the old site then adding a rewrite rule to the .htaccess file that maps to the new URL structure. If that’s not possible, you can always create a comprehensive list of 301 (permanent-style) redirects to add to your .htaccess file.

So I made my case for running WordPress on non-blogs, based primarily on the positive impact on SEO that you’ll get out of doing so. This rounds out the reasons for switching to include compelling reasons beyond just search rankings.

Actually, I’ll add one more. WordPress allows you to add cool sidebar widgets, such as the Swicki buzzcloud, with the greatest of ease. I love widgets! (A swicki, by the way, is a custom search engine, like this one, and a buzzcloud is a tagcloud type thing but of popular searches rather than tags, like the one in the right column on my daughter’s Neopets Cheats site.)

How can we help you understand the power of RSS?

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 11/1/06

One thing I learned during Blog Business Summit is that for most people RSS is over their heads, like Goodyear blimp over their heads.  This isn’t their fault, it’s ours.  We, as the blogi masters, just haven’t done enough to help people get it (or “grok” it as I like to say).

Anita Campbell has an article in Inc Technology that brings it all down to this: “The simple reality is:  RSS still has far too much geek factor.”

The question is, then, what can we do about it?  I think it comes down to two things, education and application.

First we have to educate people what it is, how it really works, how to look for it on sites, and how to subscribe.  Then we need, we absolutely need to show people why it is so important.  Why it can save them time and help them in their day-to-day jobs.

Read on at Bloggers For Hire.

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Google’s lingering problem with editorial versus advertising

I was recently searching for “sprint broadband” and “Mac OS X” and noticed a very interesting problem: the matches I got from both Google and Yahoo were incorrect because the matching pages included “Mac OS X” in the editorial and were also matching on “sprint broadband”, but ephemerally: they were advertising or sponsor information and no longer appear on the page.

There are a couple of reasons this happens, notably the inevitable delay between when a page is indexed in a search engine and when that cached or analyzed copy is updated due to changes on the site, but the bigger problem is that neither Google nor Yahoo can differentiate between the editorial on a Web page and the advertising.

In my book, that’s a problem, and a search on the matching phrase “connect at blazing speeds with the sprint mobile broadband card.” you’ll doubtless be surprised just how many matches there are!

At least Microsoft caught the problem (or just lucked out and didn’t see the Sprint advertising on the page): their Live Search did not show the same erroneous results from Infoworld.com as one of the top three matches.

As i say in my main blog post about this subject — Why can’t Google differentiate editorial from advertising? — the problem is just a matter of expectations more than anything. I rely on Google to offer up good matches to searches and this was a failure on their algorithm, one that’s repeated at Yahoo.

What do you think? Is it critical for search engines to differentiate between editorial and advertising when analyzing and scoring the content of a page?

Blog Inside: IT@Intel Joins the Blogosphere

Posted by: of Thinking Home Business on 10/12/06

There is a new arrival on the corporate, indeed Fortune 500, blog scene – the IT@Intel Blog.

The site will probably not appeal to people who want the full array of possible effects – audio, video mashups etc. Because unlike the groovy, dancing main Intel site, the IT@Intel blog is visually and organizationally sparer, along the lines of the related IT@Intel web site.

The blog uses MovableType’s Enterprise 1.3 platform, but again the graphic presentation is quite unlike some other corporate blogs using MT Enterprise, such as the rather jazzy GM FastLane blog.

The appropriateness of the IT@Intel Blog’s very neat design becomes evident when you see that, although this is a public blog, it appears to be aimed not so much at the general public as at the IT community and people with related interests.

And although I am not an IT engineer, and I like my rococo in its place, for me the visual spareness of the blog’s layout reflects a pleasingly elegant clarity of architecture and navigation.

There is a simply stated manifesto of guiding principles:

  • We will provide unique, individual perspectives on what’s going on at Intel and in the world;
  • We will post comments, except for spam and remarks that are off-topic, denigrating or offensive;
  • We will reply to comments promptly, when appropriate;
  • We will respect proprietary information and confidentiality; and
  • We will be respectful when disagreeing with others’ opinions.

For anyone who thinks that’s a bit light on for a corporate blog, never fear. There is a more extended and decidedly heavier statement in the legal page, whose phrasing, with its caveats and warnings, reminds us that this blog is indeed a corporate one.

The neat architecture is expressed in the simplicity of layout. The navigation menu along the top has just five items, so whatever your interest in the blog you can find your way there quickly – no need for head-scratching:

  • Recent Posts
  • About the Blog
  • Meet the Bloggers
  • Archives
  • Contact us

And as indicated above, other than the almost monochrome banner there are no pictures, no audio, no videos.

One other comment on underlying concepts and architecture is that the URL structure, http://blogs.intel.com/it/, allows nicely for any number of additional blogs to be created within the Intel blogs framework. Admittedly that’s not a big revelation from an IT engineering-based company, but it is a handy reminder of the value of thinking through structure and architecture before launching any blog in the business space.

There are four bloggers listed and posting at the IT@Intel blog, enough presumably to spread the load but not so many as to make it a case of “everyone’s responsibility is no one’s”. All have titles that indicate a high, or reasonably high level of seniority in the corporation (I don’t know the corporate structure or Intel’s policy on titles). And all are apparently working in an IT engineering or user experience framework. No one from marketing.

It is noticeable that there are no buttons or icons, not even a modest orange button for XML/RSS.

I like the way they have set up the sidebar with six elements, each in its own text box: Most Popular Tags, Recent Comments, Most Active Posts, Blogroll, Related Links, and Subscribe.

The treatment of the tags is interesting – no cloud in the sidebar, just four tags and a link to All Tags for anyone who really needs a cloud to make their day. There are only seven blogs in the Blogroll (that would have been an interesting discussion to be a fly on the wall for, surely – who’s in, who’s out?), only six Related Links and a simple, linked list of basic feed options in the Subscribe box, including a “What are feeds?” text link to a clear explanation on a separate page.

And content? Style?

Early days, but I liked what I read. Four individuals, each with a different style and each evidently keen to make his (yes, all males) mark as a blogger.

But they might have to up their rate. Four posts on October 9 and, at this posting, none since, is not exactly off to the races, guys. But those four posts have already attracted a number of supportive comments. So I hope the bloggers are encouraged by that and produce more, and more frequent, posts.

Pickedup from a Techwhack story via Google Alerts.

Knock, knock. Is anyone reading my blog?

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 10/3/06

BBS 06 Speaker BugWell Dave already spilled the beans (here and here), yep I’m speaking at BBS at the end of the month.  The question is, then, just what the heck am I speaking about.  RSS Metrics.  Oh boy, yeah.  I wrote a bit about it on my blog already, but essentially what I’m going to help people work out is how to measure their audience on their blog.  This, btw, is no mean feat.  The reason Feedburner has been so successful is that they do give those metrics.  But, my talk isn’t going to just be “Use Feedburner.  Thank you.  Any questions?”.  That’s more than a little lame.  Don’t ask me how I’m going to simplify the discussion, because I’m still noodling that around in my head (ouch).

The reason, besides I was stupid enough to agree, that I’m talking about RSS metrics (and maybe blog metrics in general), is that as businesses get into blogs, bosses want to know what impact the blog is having.  Who is reading it, how often, when, what …  And while it might seem easy to dismiss these things, it really isn’t.  It is important.

If you are interested in biz blogging, BBS (as Dave said) is a great time to learn and network.  Pick the brains of folks already doing it.  Hang out with fun folks and just bask in the general blogginess.  I know that after BBS you will have a ton of new ideas and ways to start blogging or improve your blogging.   Now let me sweeten the pot a bit.  If you want to go I have a discount code for you worth $100 off any package.  When you register use code LCAS06 and the discount is yours.  There are deals to be had for hotel rooms (I use Hotwire myself) and I’ll be there Tuesday night and for the workshops and conferences.  Stop by and say hi.  I’m sure Dave and I will be hanging out somewhere chatting (look for the tall guy with the beard and the shorter geeky guy with glasses).

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New Social Media Tools

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 08/31/06

One aspect that gives social media its power punch is the ease in which we can share and link information. Tools are being developed as fast as the growing blogosphere. Just when you finally figured out how to spell del.icio.us up pops a toy box of new fun – from a tool that sounds like a disco dance linkaGo Go to something that you’d find on a dessert bar Raw Sugar.
How to keep track was a nightmare for most people. Offering more than a couple of options to your readers was even more frustrating. Lee Odden, Online Marketing Blog, has developed a couple of nifty social media tools that make all that a snap. In true blogger kindness, has provided them gratis. Of course, what would you expect from one of the Business Blog Consultant site contrbutor bloggers.
The first tool allows you to add a social bookmark menu after each post or on a static web page. The jazzy thing about this tool is the social bookmark links are presented in a drop down menu to save screen space.

The second tool is an RSS Button Maker. By placing your cursor over the orange RSS icon a list of the top RSS readers folds out so you can subscribe using your favorite reader.

Sweet!

Spam Attack!

Posted by: of One By One Media on 08/28/06

You never really know what good something is doing in the blogosphere until it is broken and you don’t have it anymore. Over the weekend, the popular spam assassin Akismet was down and out. I only knew this after logging in to my site and seeing over a 1000 comments. At first I thought I had been the newest news story out there and my popularity had soared through the roof based on something that was said in the land down under. I was far from that fantasy.

With as many as came through the filters in that period of time, I was convinced that Akismet would be worth it even if I had to pay for the service (my site does not make enough money to be paying for the service yet. They require big companies to buy a license fee). I spent most of the day cleaning up the comments and the trackbacks and wasted a better part of my day.

The folks at Akismet had the same thing to say on their blog:

“I’m really sorry about this, when things are working smoothly it’s easy to forget how much vile junk is actually being blocked day to day.”

The better part of this lesson is that the folks at Akismet could talk to me about their problem. I don’t mean to say that they called me up at home while I was cursing all things spam, but when I went to their blog they had the information right there on their site and I was able to know what happened in real time. I knew that the glitch came after an upgrade or some similar technical backend move and it caused the system to fail. I was given the problem, the solution and an apology. Here is a company that understands the power of a blog as a communication tool.

Content: The Gold Standard For Your Business Website

Posted by: of One By One Media on 08/22/06

Good quality content is like the gold standard to companies wanting to be found through organic search. Many SEO experts will all agree, after you have a website optimized for search there is nothing better than good quality, relevant content to make you successful. This is what drives the robots and spiders used by search engines to find information about you and your company and eventually to your site. If you don’t have constantly updated and quality content on your site, the spiders and robots will stop visiting and stop telling the world about your business.

Why do I continue to mention quality content? This question is often asked by my clients that want to merely throw up some stuff on their website about their company without really having a voice or direction to the content. The first thing a business should recognize is that their website is often the first chance they will have at an audience for a potential customer. The content on their site should be relevant to the customer’s needs. A customer wanting to look for a replacement battery for their latest gadget doesn’t want to come to your site to learn about the history of your company and why you started business, they want that battery and they want it now. If your company is on the cutting edge of that technology you should be talking about that gadget and why your company is providing the best replacement batteries for the best cost and can have it to them when they want it. This is what the search engines can root out and find for their searching customer.

My good friend and colleague Dave Taylor has coined the term (and I wish I had done it first) “Findability.” This may seem to basic and it is beyond simple, but many companies don’t understand the concept. Taylor describes findability in his latest speech during the Affiliate Summit in Florida thus:

 

“…findability is the concept of how easily can people find you when they’re looking for your service or product.”

The yellow pages in my home is taking up wasted space. I simply do not use them to find a business or product. I use a search engine like Google, MNS or Yahoo to get me what I want when I want it. Recently, my wife and I needed a plumber to take a look at our water heater. Where did I go to find this plumber? I went to Google and stuck in the search phrase “water heater, maintenance and plumber and Longmont, Colorado”. Within minutes of that search, I had a plumber on the way to my home and he was gone in 4 hours (I’m definitely in the wrong career option). Now imagine if you were the hot water heater guru in Colorado and every day posted a little something about water heaters, maintenance and plumbing, you could guarantee you would probably be very high on the list in the natural search results. You didn’t have to out bid that other company that came up in the paid search results. Your company was front and center on the screen because you provided that search engine quality content that was updated constantly and robots and search spiders where there waiting in line to gobble up what you have to say about your industry. Taylor in another portion of his talk in the affiliate marketing conference made me chuckle with:

“I don’t care whether you’re a marketing and affiliate program, or you’re marketing products as an affiliate, either way, if I’m searching for your product or service, and I can’t find you, you really have a problem. And for most small businesses, I think it’s absolutely the case that they’re already dead, and they just haven’t noticed yet.”

Thanks Dave and those of you that are interested in the rest of what Dave has to say about “Findability” you can see his whole presentation at the Affiliate Summit 2006 East and at his own site at The Intuitive Life Business Blog. 

Content is the gold standard of blogging.  Keep it fresh, keep it relevant, and keep it contstant.  You won’t be one of those small businesses out their walking around with the walking dead.

Monitizing Blogs

Posted by: of Diva Marketing Blog on 08/17/06

One of the benefits of contributing to Business Blog Consulting is the opportunity to tap into the expertise of some of the best and brightest bloggers. The lively discussions that occur “off-blog”, on the contributing bloggers’ Yahoo list, are often as valuable as the BBC blog posts. With the permission of Rick, Dana, Jeremy and Dave here is a recap of a recent thread on monitzing blogs.
The Question

What kind of revenue return can one expect from a blog that gets an average of 12k unique visitors a day and whose readers are engaged to the extent that some posts pull over 600 comments? The blog focuses on the champion racing horse Barbaro. (Backstory is on Diva Marketing)

As you might expect there were a range of opinions and projections along with specific tactical advice.
Business Blog Consultants’ Responses

Rick Bruner
My $0.02: it’s going to be hard for a consumer blog site to command much over $1 CPM on average (maybe $3, as Dave states, but as I say, not much over). A few reasons: little perceived premium for those audiences. Even if they are focused, they’re not big, so they’re a pain in the ass to buy.

Also, BlogAds creates extra work for advertisers in making them recreate a different type of creative units for a small audience, compared to the leaderboards and skyscrapers and boxes their agency already created for the mass online ad audience, which BlogAds doesn’t support.

The biggest reason, however, most bloggers can’t make decent money from ads is this: they don’t sell. They expect the mountain to come to Muhammad. Their logic seems to be, “Hey, I spend a lot of hours on this thing, I get a few thousand people, advertisers should do the work to find me and give me money.” That ignores the golden rule: he who has the gold makes the rules. A few thousand visitors a day is small change compared to the big sites dominating the online ad space.

That’s where Tig and Rafat have stood apart. First, they’ve aggregated an audience (B2B) that commands a high CPM ($30+). Second and more importantly, they both personally broke their asses for hours a day actively selling ads, calling agencies, making a real business out of their sites. Now, they’ve both hired ad sales teams.

Dave Taylor
It can be all over the map. Let’s look at AdSense since it’s easy. AdSense effective CPM can range from under $1 to over $10, depending on placement, subject and the click thru rate. If this blog uses a typical placement they’ll see approx 2% CTR (ballpark). Racing will draw some good ads, but much of the gambling is prohibited by AdSense, so let’s just guess that these will be okay value ads and the overall effective CPM with that CTR will be about $3.

Now we can do the math: 12,000 visitors/day = 20,000 page views/day. At a 2% CTR that means that this 20,000 page views account for 400 clicks. If we stick with our resultant effective CPM based on this, that’s really $3 per thousand views, or 20,000/1000 * 3 = $60/day. That’s $0.15/click, not bad for AdSense. Multiply that out and we might be talking about approx $20k/year.

These are all out of thin air, of course. The ads could be more valuable, the CTR could be higher (or quite a bit lower), producing an effective CPM far different than my guess of $3. There are also lots of other advertising alternatives, including BlogAds, etc etc, and
they could just sell their own adverts so they could delve into gambling ads directly, which I imagine would be far more profitable for the site.

Jeremy Wright
Hard to say, BlogAds is its own little economy. We (b5media) have a few similar sites that get 100$/week for a BlogAds ad spot. They’re in the Entertainment space, though.

I’d probably get the blog included in one of the BlogAd Networks, price a unit at 100$/week and then raise it as it starts to fill up. Personally I think a unit’s worth about 250$/week on that site, but it’s always hard to tell with BA’s buyers.

Dana VanDen Heuvel
That would depend a lot on the advertiser and the category…horse racing…not sure what’s out there on that, in terms of advertisers… It’s not like B2B tech where they’re getting $50CPM…at least, not that I know of.

You’d have to find the right category advertisers to make a go at it…or do
Google AdSense.

BBC Readers
What advice would you give?

Tracking the buzz on the blogosphere

Posted by: of A View from the Isle on 08/16/06

From iMediaConnection this morning comes some hints at how to track the buzz around you and your business on the blogosphere.  The tips and techniques are good ones, but they miss a couple important things.  First let’s look at the metrics they suggest:

  • Technorati: Blogs linking to your site
  • Technorati: Total incoming links to your site
  • Bloglines: Citation search total
  • Analytics: Pageviews
  • Analytics: New Visitors
  • Analytics: Repeat visitors
  • Analytics: Referrals
  • Analytics: Organic
  • Analytics: Direct
  • Datasource: New Members/Subscribers/Customers
  • Datasource: Revenues from (direct sales/affiliates/partners/resellers/etc.)
  • Alexa: Weekly rank
  • Email: Opens
  • Email: Clickthroughs
  • Email: Forwards

Super.  Lot’s more here than just bloggy buzz, but let’s run with it.  Since I’m in charge of the metrics stuff at Qumana, well I’m usually up to my elbows in all this data.  So … what’s missing?  Well first an RSS reader.  The blogosphere is about immediacy if nothing else and you have to keep on top of it.  You need to subscribe to the RSS feeds provided by Technorati, Google, etc to be able to react and contribute to the conversation.  Bloglines and Lektora (disclosure I work for the company that makes Lektora) are two good choices.  Then for buzz and conversation measurement I really like BlogPulse.  Here is an example of a BlogPulse trend search comparing me (Tris Hussey), Debbie Weil, and Rick Bruner:

What this shows is that, well, sorry Rick … but no one is talking about you.  I tend to be talked more about than Debbie, except recently because Debbie just launched her book (man I gotta get cracking!).  Imagine doing this for your brand, CEO, competitors.  Something like this:

This compares Qumana (my company) to Ecto and Microsoft’s new Live Writer.  As you can see Qumana is talked about more than Ecto, but Live Writer is clearly a blogosphere darling at the moment.

Bottom line: check out the analytics article (there are good suggestions there), start subscribing to RSS, and add BlogPulse to your toolkit for some fast measurements on the bloggy buzz

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TypePad Adds Technorati Tag Support

Adding Technorati tags to posts has never been easy in TypePad. In fact, I created a little movie a while back so that clients could watch it as many times as they like.

But now TypePad has added a Technorati Tags field near the bottom the New Post page. Just separate your tags with commas and you’re all set. No need to muck around with the Edit HTML tab.

While this is a good solution for most users, not being able to get under-the-hood does frustrate me on a few points:

  • I don’t like to brand my tags as “Technorati Tags.” I prefer the more agnostic “Tags.”
  • I like the flexibility of sending those links to places other than the Technorati tag pages. I.e., a tag on Search Engine Optimization could point to my page on SEO at my own Web site.
  • I prefer pipes over commas. (I know, small thing.)

However, if you’re a TypePad user and you’ve wanted to take advantage of tags (which help drive additional traffic to your site) without learning HTML, this is a great solution for you.

Now, what to do with my movie?

Bloggers, Increase Your Organic Search Results

Posted by: of billflitter on 07/26/06

Nick Wilson at the Performancing blog does a great job of summing up what it takes to increase your traffic to your blog through search. Extremely straight forward recipe for success.
Wilson says it comes down to three things:

  1. Copywriting
  2. Links
  3. Networking

I encourage you to read the full article for all the details. Print it out and keep it by your computer everytime you write a post.

How to Customize Your Blog’s Title Tags for SEO

Anyone working in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry knows that title tags are one of the most important elements on the page.

By default, blogs usually put the blog name first and then the name of the post. In the past, I have suggested rearranging those to put the name of the post at the beginning of the title tag to increase the keyword prominence within the tag itself. Or perhaps you should just drop the name of your blog altogether from these permalink pages.

I also shared how to customize the title tag of your blog’s home page.

But such tools are really quite crude. What you really need is a tool to fine-tune title tags on individual pages — from the home page, to category pages, to tag pages, to permalink pages. This may not work on your blog platforms but it definitely works in WordPress, so let me explain how to do it in WordPress and then you can try to fit it into your own blog platform if you are running on something else.

The idea is to create a custom field. We’ll call that field title_tag for the sake of argument. When that field is defined, the text in that field is what gets displayed as the title tag. If that field is not defined, then it defines the title the way it normally does.

In WordPress, you can define a custom field on a post and a static page. But what about category pages? Or tag pages (if you’re using a tagging plugin like UltimateTagWarrior)? Well, for category pages, there’s an easy answer: a category’s description (editable under Manage: Categories in the admin). For tag pages, there isn’t an easy answer as there’s no obvious place in the database to stick the custom titles.

Wouldn’t it be great if there was a WordPress plugin that set this all up for you and knew where to grab the custom title from and when to display it? Well, you’re in luck! I just wrote it!

Introducing… the SEO Title Tag plugin.

This fantastical new plugin won’t just utilize the custom field as described above. It will also make your UltimateTagWarrior tag pages more search optimal by placing the tag name in the title of tag pages. It will reorder your blog name to go at the end of the titles. It will use the category’s description as the title tag on category pages, if defined. It will allow you to set a custom title for the home page (changable in the plugin’s Options page in the WordPress admin).

Once the plugin is activated, you will simply need to make a single edit to your header template, which is under the Presentation tab in the WordPress admin. (This is described in the installation instructions.) Then you’ll be able define custom title_tag fields in your posts and pages to your heart’s content!

Not running WordPress? Hmm… why not? ;-) Ok, well the concepts outlined above should still be applicable to many other blog platforms. Whether the approach will work on a specific platform — Movable Type, Drupal, ExpressionEngine, etc. remains to be seen. I’m not really familiar with those platforms. But I doubt it would work on a hosted blog platform like Blogger.com, TypePad, and WordPress.com. Have fun!

The Nofollow Rule = No Good?

Posted by: of One By One Media on 05/30/06

I have been following the conversation in the blogging world of “Google’s Embarrassing Mistake” started by Dylan Tweney.  It seems that he as well as others feel that the nofollow tag was a patch that failed the blogoshpere and in fact may have been a detriment to bloggers:

Worse, nofollow has another, more pernicious effect, which is that it reduces the value of legitimate comments. Here’s how:

Why should I bother entering a comment on your blog, after all? Well, I might comment because you’re my friend. But I might also want some tiny little reward for participating in a discussion, contributing to the content on your site, and generally enhancing the value of the conversational Web. That reward? PageRank, baby. But if your blog uses the nofollow tag, you’ve just eliminated that tiny little bit of reciprocity. Thanks, but no thanks. I’d rather just comment on my own blog. And maybe, if you’re lucky, I’ll link back to you.

Jeremy Zawodny makes his own statement about the Nofollow tag with the cavalier attitude of “Kill em all let God sort em out” with his statement:

Look. Linking is part of what makes the web work. If you’re actually concerned about every link you make being counted in some global database of site endorsements, you’re probably over-thinking just a bit. Life’s too short for that, ya know? Link and be linked to. Let the search engines sort it out.

This is actually decent advice that Jeremy discusses as stated by Nick Wilson at Performancing and I would have to agree.

Comment spam continues to be an ever increasing problem in the blogosphere, and there have yet to be any applications that are the end all solution.  Dylan does come up with a fairly simple solution to the problem in his step by step tutorial:

In fact, the solution to comment spam is simple. I’ve used it both on this blog, and on my haiku site. Here’s the step-by-step solution:

Step 1. Automatically moderate any comments that include hyperlinks.
Step 2. There is no step 2.

Moderation of any and all comments does pose somewhat of a problem in the fast world of the blogosphere.  I have moderation of comments on my own blog when a hyperlink is placed in the comment, but the problem is when I am not in front of the computer making sure comments are moderated in real time.  I could miss out on a great conversation if after 2 days I finally get around to allowing a comment. 

One thing about the discussion is certain, comment spam for the future is here to stay.

Optimizing your Blog for the Search Engines

My two-part article for Marketing Profs titled Ten Tips to Help Your Blog Soar in the Search Engines, was published a couple weeks ago. If you are a premium subscriber, you may have already read it; if not, here’s a brief overview of the secrets to SEO success contained within…

  1. Customize your title tags with keywords
  2. Rewrite your URLs for link gain
  3. Tag clouds and tag pages are your twin secret weapons
  4. Link to related posts
  5. Create a Top 10 Posts list, regardless of posting age, and offer links to these
  6. Lose “permalink” and “click here” from your linking vocabulary and instead link with keyword-rich anchor text
  7. Create sticky posts to gain keyword prominence on category or tag pages
  8. Use heading tags to reinforce your keyword theme
  9. Guide the search engines to your key points with bold, strong or emphasis tags within the body of the post
  10. Multiple author blogs need author pages and the links to their sites need to be cleverly done to maximize SEO benefit to them

The complete article is around 3000 words and goes into much more detail, including suggested WordPress plugins and specific PHP code to insert into your blog. Sign up to MarketingProfs to read the full article, or access most of the information on my blog optimization tag page.

Bloglet Says Good-Bye

Today, for the first time in over a year, there’s a new post on Bloglet’s home page.

Bloglet began as a hobby of mine to help manage the random blogs I’d read on a daily basis. This was back when words like “blog” and “rss” had yet to enter most people’s vocabulary.

Now “blogs” are being mentioned on the Daily Show, but Bloglet still remains a hobby. It’s obvious that I don’t have the time to turn this hobby into something that offers a fair level of service to users.

Bloglet, for those of you who don’t know, was an early free service that allowed visitors to subscribe to email versions of your post. The service was always a bit spotty, and I remember on several occasions having to log into Bloglet and resetting my account after realizing that it had been a week since I received my last update.

If you’re still using Bloglet, Feedblitz is offering a Bloglet-to-Feedblitz converter of all of your subscribers, which is now promoted on the Bloglet home page.

Other options include Feedburner and AWeber.

Any business still relying on Bloglet needs to convert their subscribers sooner rather than later, as Bloglet says they may be phasing out the site entirely over the next few weeks.

 

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