Tuesday, April 05, 2011
1. Choose the topic of your blog wisely. You don’t want it to be too broad or too specific. If it’s too broad, then your blog isn’t any different then the thousands of other blogs that discuss almost the exact same topics. If you make it too specific, you will have a difficult time coming up with new blog entries and your audience will be too small.
2. Stay consistent with your blog entries. If you normally post a new entry every day, then try and keep it up. Otherwise your viewers will stop coming back to see the latest posts.
3. “101 Ways to” lists, “Top 10″ lists, “How to” articles, etc are good ways to start your blogs. For some reason these posts get the most attention, are more interesting reads, and in turn get the most back links.
4. Comedy sells. The more humorous your blog posts are the more interesting your readers will be. Sure there are times when you need to be serious, but when your post allows for it, use as much humor as you can.
5. Publish your posts on Weekdays. Sure, you can publish some on Weekends too. However if you only have time to write your posts on the weekends, then write them then, but publish them on the weekdays. More people read blogs on the weekdays. You should always have posts stored on your computer for days when you can’t write. If you have extra time one day, write an extra post and store it away.
6. Encourage readers to digg your posts at digg.com, as well as the other social bookmark sites. There are plenty of social bookmarking sites out there. The more you have your site bookmarked the more traffic you will get. If you are using a WordPress blog there are social bookmark plugins that will automatically add these bookmark links under each blog entry. I highly encourage using the plugin.
7. Make your blog easy on the eyes. For example, don’t used a black background with blue text. You want a high contrast between the text and the background color. The easier the blog is to read and the neater it looks the more return readers you will have.
8. This isn’t always the case, but you should really try and focus your blog on topics that are “timeless”. You want these posts to generate interest for months or even years rather then just a few hours or days.
9. Even though you don’t know your readers personally in most cases, treat them as they are friends and family. Write things in your post directed to them as though they are your friends. The more you make the reader believe you are talking directly to them the more interested they will be.
10. BE UNIQUE – I think this is self explanatory.
11. Link to blogs that are similar to yours. Since most bloggers check to see where their traffic is coming from, if they see you linking to them they will in a lot of cases link back.
12. Use Meme trackers to find the hot topics. Meme trackers are sites that will track information posted on blogs and news sites, and then provide information about which topics are the hottest. The largest and most popular meme trackers are http://Memeorandum.com and http://Techmeme.com. When you find hot discussions, contribute to them. Your opinions can bring valuable visitors to your site, and will get linked to from other opinions on the topic. If you’re posts are tagged properly, people will be able to find them easily, so make sure you use tags on your posts.
13. Use forums to find topics which people do not understand or need help on. Then write a guide or tuturial on it.
14. Install a text translator on your blog. English is the #1 language online, but Chinese is quickly gaining. Why not cater to both English speakers and Chinese with a language translation script?
15. Set up blogs for other people and add a link within the sites script to your blog.
16. Trade links with other bloggers. It is better to trade them within posts rather then on the blogroll, since you don’t have to put a permanent link up. Check out http://www.lavalinx.com to sign up and trade in post links with bloggers.
Now, I’m sure you want to know how you can make money through running your blog.
There are really 4 ways:
1 – Donation buttons
2 – Affiliate programs
3 – Advertising sales
4 – Paid to Blog Programs
(1) Donation buttons are a great way to make some money especially if you want to keep your blog ad-free. If you don’t have a paypal account, then you need to get one right now. Paypal offers donation links that you add to the HTML code of your blog. Your visitors can simply click this link and donate an amount of their choice. You would be surprised how many people actually donate money to blog owners (especially those that have ad-free blogs). There are a couple ways to encourage donations without sounding as if you are begging for them. The first way is to keep a tally of the total donations you have recieved, as well as the largest donation you have recieved from an individual. People like adding to a tally, and everyone has a little competition in them. Try this out before you add any advertising to your blog.
(2) Affiliate programs are a great way to generate revenue. If your blog is about technology, then you can sell high tech devices on your site. If you blog is about reading, then you can sell books on your site. Affiliate programs usually offer between 2-65% of the sale back to you. The higher range is for online products such as e-books etc where the production costs for 1 more unit is 0. There are literally thousands of affiliate programs out there. We feel Amazon.com, Overture.com, Doubleclick.com, CNET, ShareASale.com and CommissionJunction.com are the best. However there are affiliate programs for just about every product imaginable. If you believe you would be able to sell a certain product on your blog, then go search google for an affiliate program for that product. One good way to really capitallize on commissions is reviewing a certain product on your blog. If the review is a positive one, then why not provide a link for your visitors to purchase that product? Afterall you get a percentage.
(3) Advertising sales are probably the most simple, yet one of the most efficient ways of earning money through your blog. There are 2 kinds of advertising sales. The first is where you manually sell advertising space on your site to people who need it. This is really the old-fashion way. Now there are companies that basically do the selling for you. Google Adsense is the most popular ad publishing agency online. You simply put a little HTML code on your site. Google does the rest. They will automatically crawl your site to determine what it is about. Then it will put ads up that have to do with what your site is discussing. You will then get paid everytime someone clicks on an ad. The amount you are paid per click ranges anywhere form a few cents to $50+. Remember when using Google Adsense, to NEVER click your own ads. This will get you kicked off of their program for life. The most used Blog ad publisher online is blogads.com. There are blogs that earn over $60,000 per month just by putting this code on their site. You name the price you want per advertising spot and then people can search blogads for a blog that matches their criteria. We highly recommend all blogs to use blogads.com.
There are also other advetising publishers out there which include:
- Yahoo Publishers
- text-link-ads.com – similar to google adsense but you get paid a fixed monthly income rather then on a paid per click basis.
- chitika.com – If you have a shopping or technology related blog then try this one.
- blogads.com – This is the most popular among bloggers with traffic of 1000+ unique visitors daily. You can sell ads virtually anywhere on your site through this broker. They do take 30% of your commission though, but you can usually find a good amount of advertisers here.
(4) Thats right, you can blog about peoples services, products or websites and get paid for doing it. If your blog is popular enough you can charge as much as $500 for a simple blog post discussing a service, or website that an advertiser is trying to advertise through you. Here are some of the Pay per blogging sites:
- http://payperpost.com- As you can see offers range from $5-$400 per post and the top bloggers are earning in excess of $1,000 per month here. This site also offers money for posting at forums and even commenting on Youtube videos.
- http://reviewme.com – Another great site for bloggers to make money reviewing products, websites, and services.
- http://sponsoredreviews.com – Same as the sites above it. Also very active.
- http://www.buyblogreviews.com – Advertisers meet Bloggers to have their products or services reviewed, or to buy contextual ads
- http://www.blogitive.com – Once you get approved to Blogitive, you are given instant access to opportunities from companies to post in order to generate buzz. You are then paid per posting
- http://www.linkworth.com/products/partner-linkpost.php – Paid to post a blog about companies, products or services. The advertisers have more control though over what is said.
- http://www.blogsvertise.com – Their advertisers pay you to mention and talk about their websites, products and services in your own blog.
- http://smorty.com – Earn $6 to $100 dollars per post you write on your blog. Amount paid for each post depends on the overall popularity and page rank of your blog.
These are only a few of the other companies out there. There are lots more, so just search around.
Remember, starting and maintaining a blog is not like maintaining your yard at home. Whereas to maintain your yard, all you have to do is mow it, and fertilize it once in a while. Maintaining a blog takes a whole lot more. You not only want to maintain it, but you want to make it better every day. You want to set new goals on a monthly basis. Set these goals higher then you believe is a good target. Keep in mind that it takes atleast 1 full year before your blog will even be able to be remotely successful. This is why so many blogs fail. There are not enough type A individuals out there that work their butts off, even though they aren’t seeing much progress. It takes time, and effort. Don’t give up when you aren’t seeing the traffic and revenue that you had hoped for. Just make that another reason to work harder.
Now that you know all about blogging, it’s time to get start. So goodluck. Please feel free to post any of your questions here and we will be glad to answer them.
In the mean time you might want to check out a list of the most visited blogs online (that use sitemeter to publicly trace their stats): http://truthlaidbear.com/TrafficRanking.php
Here are some of the Top Blogs about Blogs:
- http://www.successful-blog.com – This is by far one of the most informative sites for all bloggers.
Get A Top 5 Google Ranking In Under 30 Days!
Friday, April 01, 2011
Here are a few useful strategies to get you started building value with social marketing.
This may seem obvious, but many of us forget social marketing was made popular not just when teenagers started using it, but when businesses started. Some early adaptors had huge success with Facebook and Twitter by taking a risk and trying something different. Think beyond your business page and today’s status update and do something complete out of the norm. Come up with a campaign that will utilize its interactive and viral capabilities.
The myth is that being personal is bad. Another myth is that you have to show what is happening in your life every moment. Unless you’re an entrepreneur living a vicarious life, this is unnecessary, but you can build value by showing happy moments you had with family. Instead of looking like a corporate suit out for money, you can appear to be a regular person living life. This boosts your value and makes you stand out from the competition.
Answer Questions, Or Ask
If your business is in a more technical field, perhaps one where customers don’t exactly understand how you help them, you might show them how you do certain things. If you run a computer design company, you may answer common questions about faults in computer designs, or how much it really costs to build a computer, or even how you build them in the initial stages. On the other hand, you may ask questions of your customers yourself. You may ask for complaints or how they use your product. You may ask how you can help them save money rather. These are the types of strategies that build value.
While creating an entire video can seem daunting, just about anyone can do it for cheap. And YouTube commercials actually get viewed, especially if you can somehow add humor. Just as some movie trailers have taken off on YouTube, your product on safely downloading music with the right program may become a hit. This happens more often than you might think.
Bottom line: Have fun with your social marketing campaign. Don’t follow all the rules you read online. Get creative and try some new ways to market your product or service and you’re sure to build value.
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Saturday, March 12, 2011
New Change Impacts 12% Of US Results
The new algorithm — Google’s “recipe” for how to rank web pages — starting going live yesterday, the company told me in an interview today.
Google changes its algorithm on a regular basis, but most changes are so subtle that few notice. This is different. Google says the change impacts 12% (11.8% is the unrounded figure) of its search results in the US , a far higher impact on results than most of its algorithm changes. The change only impacts results in the US. It may be rolled out worldwide in the future.
While Google has come under intense pressure in the past month to act against content farms, the company told me that this change has been in the works since last January.
Officially, Not Aimed At Content Farms
Officially, Google isn’t saying the algorithm change is targeting content farms. The company specifically declined to confirm that, when I asked. However, Matt Cutts — who heads Google’s spam fighting team — told me, “I think people will get the idea of the types of sites we’re talking about.”
Well, there are two types of sites “people” have been talking about in a way that Google has noticed: “scraper” sites and “content farms.” It mentioned both of them in a January 21 blog post:
We’re evaluating multiple changes that should help drive spam levels even lower, including one change that primarily affects sites that copy others’ content and sites with low levels of original content. We’ll continue to explore ways to reduce spam, including new ways for users to give more explicit feedback about spammy and low-quality sites.
As “pure webspam” has decreased over time, attention has shifted instead to “content farms,” which are sites with shallow or low-quality content.
I’ve bolded the key sections, which I’ll explore more next.
The “Scraper Update”
About a week after Google’s post, Cutts confirmed that an algorithm change targeting “scraper” sites had gone live:
This was a pretty targeted launch: slightly over 2% of queries change in some way, but less than half a percent of search results change enough that someone might really notice. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content rather than a site that scraped or copied the original site’s content.
“Scraper” sites are those widely defined as not having original content but instead pulling content in from other sources. Some do this through legitimate means, such as using RSS files with permission. Others may aggregate small amounts of content under fair use guidelines. Some simply “scrape” or copy content from other sites using automated means — hence the “scraper” nickname.
In short, Google said it was going after sites that had low-levels of original content in January and delivered a week later.
By the way, sometimes Google names big algorithm changes, such as in the case of the Vince update. Often, they get named by WebmasterWorld, where a community of marketers watches such changes closely, as happened with last year’s Mayday Update.
In the case of the scraper update, no one gave it any type of name that stuck. So, I’m naming it myself the “Scraper Update,” to help distinguish it against the “Farmer Update” that Google announced today.
But “Farmer Update” Really Does Target Content Farms
“Farmer Update?” Again, that’s a name I’m giving this change, so there’s a shorthand way to talk about it. Google declined to give it a public name, nor do I see one given in a WebmasterWorld thread that started noticing the algorithm change as it rolled out yesterday, before Google’s official announcement.
Postscript: Internally, Google told me this was called the “Panda” update, but they didn’t want that on-the-record when I wrote this original story. About a week later, they revealed the internal name in a Wired interview.
How can I say the Farmer Update targets content farms when Google specifically declined to confirm that? I’m reading between the lines. Google previously had said it was going after them.
Since Google originally named content farms as something it would target, you’ve had some of the companies that get labeled with that term push back that they are no such thing. Most notable has been Demand Media CEO Richard Rosenblatt, who previously told AllThingsD about Google’s planned algorithm changes to target content farms:
It’s not directed at us in any way.
I understand how that could confuse some people, because of that stupid “content farm” label, which we got tagged with. I don’t know who ever invented it, and who tagged us with it, but that’s not us…We keep getting tagged with “content farm”. It’s just insulting to our writers. We don’t want our writers to feel like they’re part of a “content farm.”
I guess it all comes down to what your definition of a “content farm” is. From Google’s earlier blog post, content farms are places with “shallow or low quality content.”
In that regard, Rosenblatt is right that Demand Media properties like eHow are not necessarily content farms, because they do have some deep and high quality content. However, they clearly also have some shallow and low quality content.
That content is what the algorithm change is going after. Google wouldn’t confirm it was targeting content farms, but Cutts did say again it was going after shallow and low quality content. And since content farms do produce plenty of that — along with good quality content — they’re being targeted here. If they have lots of good content, and that good content is responsible for the majority of their traffic and revenues, they’ll be fine. In not, they should be worried.
More About Who’s Impacted
As I wrote earlier, Google says it has been working on these changes since last January. I can personally confirm that several of Google’s search engineers were worrying about what to do about content farms back then, because I was asked about this issue and thoughts on how to tackle it, when I spoke to the company’s search quality team in January 2010. And no, I’m not suggesting I had any great advice to offer — only that people at Google were concerned about it over a year ago.
Since then, external pressure has accelerated. For instance, start-up search engine Blekko blocked sites that were most reported by its users to be spam, which included many sites that fall under the content farm heading. It gained a lot of attention for the move, even if the change didn’t necessarily improve Blekko’s results.
In my view, that helped prompt Google to finally push out a way for Google users to easily block sites they dislike from showing in Google’s results, via Chrome browser extension to report spam.
Cutts, in my interview with him today, made a point to say that none of the data from that tool was used to make changes that are part of the Farmer Update. However, he went on to say that of the top 50 sites that were most reported as spam by users of the tool, 84% of them were impacted by the new ranking changes. He would not confirm or deny if Demand’s eHow site was part of that list.
“These are sites that people want to go down, and they match our intuition,” Cutts said.
In other words, Google crafted a ranking algorithm to tackle the “content farm problem” independently of the new tool, it says — and it feels like tool is confirming that it’s getting the changes right.
The Content Farm Problem
By the way, my own definition of a content farm that I’ve been working on is like this:
* Looks to see what are popular searches in a particular category (news, help topics)
* Generates content specifically tailored to those searches
* Usually spends very little time and or money, even perhaps as little as possible, to generate that content
The problem I think content farms are currently facing is with that last part — not putting in the effort to generate outstanding content.
For example, last night I did a talk at the University Of Utah about search trends and touched on content farm issues. A page from eHow ranked in Google’s top results for a search on “how to get pregnant fast,” a popular search topic. The advice:
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