brand building

Getting noticed in a sea of endless chatter whilst avoiding the schizophrenic monster

Most bloggers and site owners want to be heard.

Lets have it right, who really likes sitting in the corner chatting away to themselves? Blogging for most is a conversational medium. For some it isn’t of course, but for most who do get it, they actually want to engage with other like minded humans who have an interest in what they write about.

The same can be said for other site owners. Those who run businesses desire to have conversations with peoples wallets and purses. Informationists and academics want to have conversations with their lessers and their peers, everybody wants to chat it seems.

Getting your site noticed through social mediums

There are a number of ways that people notice what we say.

We can talk about other people in the blogosphere and link through to them. Bloggers are curious beasts, blogs like wordpress for example, come complete with a dashboard that pulls links from Technorati. Technorati gets these from the various pinging services that are ‘pinged’ when a wordpress user publishes a post.

Ok its state the obvious time for most but it needs saying nonetheless.

By seeing who is ‘talking’ about us, we can then go over and participate in the conversation. If we say something worth listening to, then we might even gain a few new visitors and overtime a good subscriber base.

We also get noticed when we leave a comment on someone elses blog. People can read what we say and if sufficiently interested can click on our sig link and visit our blog.

We can also tag our posts with related keywords. By doing this we help social aggregators classify our content. People who subscribe to these tags or classifications might then notice a relevant or interesting post in their feed readers and decide to pay us a visit.

We can also participate in well trafficked sites that are relevant to our topics and participate in the groups and conversations that develop. Forum type sites with established communites topical to our content, social media type sites, like Stumbleupon Bumpzee Mybloglog and Blogcatalog .By doing so (as in the scenario above )we draw attention to ourselves and might even get a click through to our little personal hives of inactivity.

Pushing the envelope and going that little bit further

Of course, to take such an approach takes a lot of hard work time and effort. We don’t just build up a rep overnight. It takes time to build a subscriber base, we gain these by getting noticed and building a readership. As we get more involved in some of the principals of building traffic, we might well get into things like logfile analysis, user click through paths, traffic referals and other metrics that show us who is coming to us and from where.

We might notice that our post about our topic close to our hearts is getting a lot of traffic from a particular source this will often be a search engine. Some of us might get a little fascinated by how all this works and delve a little deeper. We’ll do a little seacrh on the Internet for stuff about blog promotion or website promotion or blog marketing and encounter this thing called SEO . We might then read up on it and think to ourselves ah, so I just got to get me some links of the right kind and write about stuff in the right way and kazaam, more traffic will follow.

So we set out on our road and begin to modify our tactics somewhat to fit in with the plans of those who seem to know what they are talking about. We might begin to behave in imaginative ways that we might not have behaved in otherwise. We begin to think like a search engine bot and forget who we are as we find ourselves signing off as ‘Big Money Keyword’ or ‘What I Do keyword’ in our blog posts or social interaction signature links. Some of us have huge sucess too; we get a little arrogant and brag about how great our content is and how marvellous our abilities are. We effectively say, ‘hey its easy to game the search engines and here’s how’

Searchbots have human faces 

It’s tempting to think of search engines and algos as some cold non aware construct oblivious to all that goes on around it.

Would it be right to think of them in terms of a simple series of ifelse statements and databases with indices and bits and bytes? No of course not, they are of course much much more than that.

Google for example has a team of people dedicated to ensuring the integrity of its index. It can’t just sit idley by and allow a situation to develop that gives an impression that they are easy to game or manipulate. The fact may well be that technically they are. It may well be that given the right amount of resources and commitment to a topic that anyone on the planet can rank for anything they so wish, but hell it doesn’t happen in isolation and you’d better not stand there and say, hey look at what I did. If you do, then you are opening yourself up to some greater scrutiny. Do not expect the people behind the search engine technology to sit by and just let you get on with your ‘I’m the dogs bollocks boasts’ they can’t and they won’t.

It is their baby, their show, their index.

Don’t break the golden rule

I might be helpful to paint a little crazy world anaolgy – Consider a big house owned by a schizophrenic monster .

She owns a house with a lot of food in it created by a magic larder that is stocked by a bunch of unsuspecting farm labourers, she has so much food that she doesn’t know what to do with it.

She manages to sell a lot of it, but not all, she accepts too that every once in a while a percentage of this food will taken by people who don’t pay for it in the conventional sense. This isn’t so bad as these people help in other ways; they help fix up the house and make it look a little more attractive and presentable to those who do pay.

The house has lots of these helpers, new volunteers arrive daily standing outside shouting ‘hey I can do the ironing, or the painting or the cooking’. The house has a continual long line of people all queueing up to do their bit for free food.

These queues stay long because those who are already inside eating obviously like their jobs and their free food so much, that they don’t ever want to leave.

There are only a maximum of 10 of these places at any one time. However, there is also a golden unwritten rule which says you can never ever brag about the free food you get. If you do, and she hears you then you might just be kicked out and forced to wait in line again like all those others who don’t like to pay.

The golden rule is that if you are doing wll in the search engines then you just mustn’t mustn’t brag about it. They know what they send you, they can flick the switch at a whim and you have no say whatsoever. They aren’t a democrasy, they aren’t accountable, they can do what the hell they like and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it.

She is always listening, always paying attention, remember that and you’ll be just fine.

Build your own traffic sources, create buzz, create your own sustainance, plough your own field, grow your own crops. If you happen to get invited in for some free food, then great enjoy it while it lasts, but don’t get too comfortable as its a cold long wait in any queue.

Brand Building – How social media sites help build your brand

Anyone who’s been paying attention to anything worth paying attention to recently will no doubt be aware of the many social media resources out there today. Facebook, Digg, Stumbleupon, Reddit,, Myspace etc blah blah blah. I’m sure you don’t need an exhaustive list (thats’ for another blogpost perhaps)

Anything that’s frequented by large numbers of people in an area that you have an interest in should be something worthy of your consideration. If it isn’t then you are missing a huge trick. The opportunities for connecting with real people are just waiting to be snapped up. People want to connect with like minded people with like minded ideas. They’ll enjoy becoming familiar with the guy who stumbles stuff they like, the guy whose icon is always on a story somewhere.

Getting out and being sociable

The guy who is Stumbling or Digging or Sphinning or Bumping blog stories will at somepoint make it to the top of a list somewhere, his ‘brand’ will become increasingly associated with the ‘products’ that he is pushing. As time progresses he may even be seen as some maven, the opinion former, that guy who spots ‘good’ things and brings them to the attention of others.

Lets look at my friend Lyndon a Cornwall SEO. Lyndon also writes great linkbait articles . Lyndon is a top Stumbler, Digger, and Sphinner. He doesn’t Sphinn or Digg or Stumble just any old tosh – no, he pushes items that are interesting and have something to say. It is one of the reasons why he has a good little network going on in all 3 places. Unsurprisingly enough, a knock on effect of this promotional love is that his friends invariably talk about him.

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Making the most of the social media tools

Good social media sites like Sphinn have the added bonus of helping your brand, or in this case Lyndon’s by getting his face on to the pages of Sphinn that are frequented the most.

Sphinn’s home page shows their ‘Hot Topics’ these are the stories that are currently receiving the most ‘Sphinns’ from people reading blogs that are Sphinn enabled.

Practically every day this week I’ve seen Lyndons face on the front page. In other words myself and practically everybody else with a finger anywhere near the carotid artery of search marketing may at somepoint have noticed that guy with the red boat race peering out at them.

Sphinn wise, Lyndon has made a number of noteworthy inroads. He is already a top Sphinner on their ‘Greatest Hits’ page. By being a top Sphinner, he also gets a little kudos from his peers, the page linking to his profile also gets a dofollow link just one page deep from the Sphinn homepage. The Sphinn homepage is a well connected site that gets a lot of link love. By getting his link on to the their greatest hits page, Lyndons own site benefits from the resultant link love.

A look at Lyndons profile is also revealing. It shows that he is an active Sphinner. 80 comments 585 Sphinns, 48 Submissions with of these 35 going ‘hot’. Topics that go hot are usually promoted to the homepage. A direct benefit of getting Sphunn by Lyndon is that your story, whatever it is, will end up before the eyes of all manner of knowledgeable and connected people in search. What price a home page ad on Sphinn today I ask?

A combined look at his submissions and latest activity shows that he averages around 2 submissions a day. He joined the site mid July and has averaged around 9 Sphinns a day. Each little Sphinn helps bump that story up in the Sphinn attention hierachy. Those that benefit, remember such things and will usually act accordingly.

Lyndon is in good company too, he certainly isn’t alone. People like Andy, Maki , Chris, Sebastian, Loren to name but a few all actively sphinn and submit stories. They do so simply because they understand and recogniose the value and importance of the social side of this kind of stuff. They all write good stuff that receives lots of attention too. A net effect is that in all cases without exception, their brand awareness is increased. By associating with good stuff their reputation is enhanced.

What are you doing to build your brand and enhance your social media reputation?

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