blogging

Web 2.0 drives individuality killing the power of the collective

Lately, I’ve been trying to be less of a reactionary and say something different for a change, but right now I can’t help myself. I’ve an hour to kill and this beats hoovering or washing up!  Bryan Appleyard wrote an interesting piece today in the Sunday Times, one of those provocative, thought provoking pieces that speaks volumes. Continue reading

Sticky SEO

Make your site sticky, not bouncy…

I read an interesting document the other night –  “Sticky SEO” by David Leonhardt.

The essence of what David is saying is that in order to do well on the web in 2008 and beyond, you have to make your site sticky.

Nothing new there I hear some of you saying, and yes absolutely, site stickiness is something that any good web dev / site owner should strive towards. Complete reliance on search engines that can take away their traffic in a blink is never a good idea. Far better to build something that fits the queries and gives users what they need, after all you do want them to come back at some point! The added bonus to this is that as a result search engines will probably like your content too and your site will rank well as a result. People will cite it, you’ll see your sites popularity rise and well…all good really.

It’s a good e-book and it’s free too, whilst I wouldn’t agree with every single little thing he said, it was nonetheless thought provoking and has fired my cannister to come up with a post that draws upon a lot of what he says and ties it in with where we are today in late 2008 Interwebs.

I was going to write something this evening, but have had a sudden attack of the I can’t be arsed, but will at some point, so…watch this space, and don’t forget to check out Davids’s Sticky SEO book!

Bebo Promotes Herbal Viagra

I’m kinda wondering what Bebo stands for. Bonk early Bonk Often perhaps?

But hey, at least it’s natural and organic! 😀

Buying links without a creditcard

It’s good to rant

I’ve probably written other stuff like this in the past, but hey, I might say it a little differently this time, so i’ll say it again and see how it comes out this time. You can’t beat a good rant! 😀

We all know already, I don’t need to preach to the converted, that amongst the inhabitants of this planet of ours that there are these people called the spam police who just so happen to have a lot of Internet user market share and naturally enough want to hold on to as much of the monetary pie that comes from this for themselves. In terms of the whole search economy they’ve been very clever indeed. What they’ve done is this. They’ve demonised the whole concept of buying links. They’ve made it seem like this hugely unfair unethical thing that gives people an unfair bump in what is supposedly an otherwise fair algorithmic system.

*non seo bod note:links drive the search economy, they push sites up the search engine rankings. Without them sites would not rank for jack

Here is the news – It isn’t a fair algorithmic system! Seriously, I shit you not! It’s based on a string of metrics that give those at the head of the race a distinct advantage. If you want to catch up then you’ve got to do things to compete. Acquiring links is one such way. However, by buying such links you are seen as manipulating the index and risk some form of penalty especially if ratted out or investigated for not spending enough on some PPC program.

See the thing here is that competitors, or those wanting to be on the 1st page of a SERP just don’t have the time to wait around for years of brand and so called ‘natural’ link building to take effect. They need to compete today, not tomorrow. They want the same competitive advantage afforded to their competitors in positions 1 – 10 of a SERP and provided no one dies and no laws are broken they’ll pretty much pay what it takes to get there. PPC won’t do it. PPC is dead, spend once money, whereas SEO is a real investment in actions and factors that will make a tangible benefit to their positions in some algorithmic link dependent system. Yet to say all that it needs to be said that it isn’t you or I that decides what is spam. The search engines decide on what is and what isn’t spam, it is as they like to say,  ‘their index’. Link buying is  spam, because they say so. Yet the irony is that link buying actually improves their indices! Funny.

The search engines will often say that it’s all about safeguarding the integrity of their index or stopping those pesky evil spammers but the reality is that those arguments don’t really hold water as at the end of it all, it’s all about money and advertising and where those advertising budgets are spent. Most search engines with PPC programs believe that such money is better spent with them on their PPC programs, contributing to their bottom line. I can’t blame them for this, they are after all a business with a profit mission, just like you and I. Yet as SEO’s with clients to rank and bottom lines to maintain and an Internet to play with we SEO’s still have to get our links from somewhere. We can buy them sure, do secret deals, set up little networks that no mofo knows nothing about. We can duck and dive and bob and weave and …yeah, we can get very tired playing a cat and mouse game of hide the link source. The more competitive the niche, the more we will see others either rat us out or tittle tattle at a search forum or some moody blog somewhere. You know the drill, those link bertie small characters giving it “ooh how did these guys get to be 1, so quick so fast…” tittle tattle tittle. Shame on the lot of them really, but hey you can’t stop people saying what they want to say, especially if they are desparate for a link or two or are being pushed to do so, selling their negative SEO services to some party with a vested interest.

Anyways I digress, yet again. What I wanted to say is that it isn’t so hard to get links, and lots of them too. You just got to be more imaginative and creative than the next guy. You can linkbait your way into a link or two. Controversialise yourself (check my link bertie smalls reference earlier) and get all the jealous naysayers cooing and oohing, you can spam peoples blogs with your crappy comments and make out that you give a stuff about what they wrote on their dofollow blog or you can use your brain instead and do something productive with your life.

Don’t get me wrong; buying links is productive, there’s nothing criminal about it except in the eyes of the search engine. No one looks at what they get up to, no one is allowed to look into their activities or question their profit motives, they have carte blanche to do what they like with the online activities of the planet, yet in fairness no one is forcing people to use their platforms either, so I suppose that at some point be it through law or natural boredom with it all, it’ll balance itself out.

Damn I did it again (digressed) getting back on topic.

Writing and stimulating buzz and getting links. Shit, for some verticals it must appear to be damn damn hard.

How can anyone really get excited about some of the commercial crap out there, but there’s the rub. Speaking with a colleague the other day about some project or other I remarked something along the lines of ‘yeah right, well I find it hard to get excited about that sort of stuff (finance)’ and why? Well, because in most cases nearly everything you read about it is piss poor or boring, to me at least. If you want me to get excited about it, then you’ve gotta hit my buttons and speak to me.

You’ve only got to look at TV and see how they approach it to see it for what it is. Humour is a good approach (Nationwides Mortgage TV ads -Brand new customers only) as are cheeky chirpy youngsters singing and dancing (Halifax Building Society) , yet the serious message is that they recognise that money and saving and banking IS boring shit (for most) yet they’ve got to turn people on somehow, so what do they do? They appeal to our emotions and build associations and feel good factors designed to make us look at them in different ways. We’ve all got to bank after all, and if we are young and looking for somewhere to bank then we might just be more inclined to bank with an organisation that resonates than with one that does not. Guess what? It’d the very same with links too! If we can get people to invest in us and in what we write then we get those links.

I’m sure you get it by now, I won’t ramp on anymore about it, other than to say that really, whoever you are, whatever you are doing, with a little creativity and some traditional marketing approaches you’ll most certainly be able to fire those synapses, get people talking about your customers and their brands. By doingit right in the online world, you’ll get a bucket load of links back in return. You won’t escape the effects of negative SEO, but it might make your job easier in the longer term.

Writing or Buying Paid Posts

Writing paid posts

Do you blog? Do you sell paid posts or sponsored reviews? If the answer is yes and you want to get top line dollars for your blog posts then here is a little message for you.

STOP WRITING ABOUT EVERYTHING AND ANYTHING AND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. PLEASE LINK OUT TO OTHER STUFF WHEN YOU WRITE!

I looked at a few blogs last week that offered paid reviews. There was a disturbingly typical pattern that occured over and over and over.

If you look at a typical blog post (by that I mean a blog that doesn’t do the paid post thing)  you’ll often find that a person might link out to a variety of sources. They’ll point to this domain or that domain to add weight to a point. Sometimes they might not even link out at all, sometimes they’ll write the piece as if they actually cared, they’ll inject a little passion, a little enthusiasm for their muse, they’ll write with a little panache a little style and verve, they’ll add something different to the mix, at least the good ones will.

What am I saying here? I’m saying that on the whole, a lot of the blogs out there writing for profit simply aren’t making a big enough effort! Ok, so yes, a lot of the people purchasing such posts are doing so because of the value they get for the keywords they target. It’s a big reason behind why some search engines come out so publicly against the things. They like us to believe that paid posts harm relevancy. They formulate arguments and show examples of poor quality posts that purport to review important topics and say that they harm the user experience. The odd thing about such a claim is of course that the opposite is true. People using these services do so because they have a real world product that is spot on and laser targetted to the market that they serve, the bloggers who write about their products don’t end up ranking for them in the SERPs either, the products that they write about do. I’ve written about such things in the past already but never really expounded on the topic itself but as its Sunday and Ive got an hour or so before I pick my son up, then heck, why not.

Good blogs versus bad blogs

There are good blogs and bad blogs – I’ll focus on the bad type and tell it like it is. If you have a blog and you are looking to monetise it via some kind of paid post or review route then you really have to start looking at it from the angle of a potential advertiser. You have to convince the prospective customer that what you are going to write is going to stand the tests of time.

Off putting flags from a buyer perspective

  • If your blog is plastered with badges and words that say “I SELL LINKS” in twenty five foot neon lettering then that really is not good – Do not stand on street corners shouting, hey officer of the law, I have a Bren gun under my coat and I’m going to shoot yo ass with it! Cos, you’ll just get busted.
  • If you have a blog in a particular niche, say Computing or Floristry and your home page is littered with posts about phentermine, cialis, online gambling, hotels in timbukfarkintu, then it’s going to look a little crappy, it’s going to shout out “LOW QUALITY” – By selling out to the highest bidder you’ll ultimately lower your value to advertisers. When a search engine cop stops by, they’ll instantly see your blog for what it is and kick you up the hiney. If you really must chase every vertical, then go and set up a few other blogs instead. Don’t ruin what you’ve built up over the years for that quick fast buck.
  • Do not have a one or two post blog home page where your posts stay on the home page for one or two days only – Keep your home page long, output 10 or 15 blog posts on your homepage, snippetise them and ensure that a link to your advertiser appears amongst them. Advertisers want to get maximum exposure for their money. By maximising the time that your review stays on the front page, you are increasing the attractiveness of your offering.
  • Crap crap posts. The anti paid post camp like to point to instances of low quality stuff. They love to point out how awful some of the stuff that’s out there is. It makes their whole PR job that much easier. Do yourself and the advertiser a favour. Write the post like you would any other. Say it like it means something to you, if it doesn’t then maybe you ought to consider why the hell it is you are writing about it. If you simply say ooh company x is really cool and they do this wonderful keyword product, then people are going to see through it. Be inventive, be imaginative, make an effort.
  • Don’t be an idiot. If you use a brokerage service to advertise your blog, then please please please, don’t say high quality pagerank n blog in your blog title or description. It really doesn’t help and sticks out like a plasma tv in ancient Rome. Don’t make the job of those looking to hurt you any easier that it already may be.
  • Terrible terrible english – Some people write the most awful blithering nonsense full of typographical and the most basic of grammatical errors. I appreciate that for some people, especially those in emergent economies that $10 for 20 or 30 minutes work can seem very appealing, but do know this, to some, it’s a reason not to purchase. If english isn’t your mother tongue and you know it’s a little rusty then take a little time to ask a native english speaker to run your work over once finished, it’ll pay dividends long term.
  • Nofollow – I don’t need to say much on this. If you blog and your post links are nofollow, then the level of interest in your offering will speak for itself. Nuff said.

It’s not only the bloggers of course, they need help from the advertisers and the brokerage services too. Whilst it’s not for me to teach snakes how to suck eggs and all that, I do nonetheless have an opinion or two on the topic built up on the back of having to work with and sift through a platform or two.

Advertisers

  • Write good adverts – Inspire your bloggers with your creatives. Think about the type of blog posts you want to see for your products or clients. Help your bloggers by giving them ideas or examples.
  • Be flexible – Give your bloggers options. Let them link out liberally, instruct them too even. Tell them to cite other sources than your own. Get them to link to wiki’s or Y! answers other companies even. You want your post to look as natural as you can get it. Get away from that bog standard approach. Be creative for your brand and your products. Deep link and vary your requirements, chase that long tail , take a long view.
  • Create more opportunities – Don’t just write one advert and be done with it. Write lots of different ones and vary your requirements. Mix it all up . By doing so you will get a whole lot more diversity. You might have to spend a little more to get what you need, but in the long term, it’ll pay.
  • Innovate -use your noodles, lower your costs and deliver more effective solutions. Consider  combining your efforts with other themed advertisers. Build relationships with  advertisers and quality bloggers, employ them directly, use them to help build new content and projects. Break out.

Brokerage services

  • Educate – Your bloggers are the lifeblood of your service. Some of you just don’t do enough to educate those who are contributing to your bottom line. If they aren’t kept abreast of changes and policies and shifts in the market place, then it’s going to affect the perception of your product. If you want the continued patronage of agencies and big spend clients then you really must step up to the plate and deliver more on this.
  • Incentivise – Reward quality posts, quietly behind the scenes. If blogger x writes above and beyond the call of duty then reward them. Just because Johnny bloggo writes 10 posts per day and earns you x profit doesn’t necessarily mean he is doing a good job. Encourage quality, weaken the arguments of those who would see you destroyed.
  • Innovate – Keep on innovating, don’t stay still. One brokerage service I know of offers a fantastic sub product that is very popular and very powerful, products like this are an immense asset in competitive webmastering, please deliver more of these.
  • Build trust in your products. Give us the option to trust in what you say, evaluate your bloggers and what they write, tell us who they are, what they do, yet controversially perhaps, do so in a way that masks their identities. Too many bloggers are getting caught up in unfriendly fire. It needn’t be so, be inventive with your platforms and deliver.

I’m sure there are more, but you get the general gist. If you want to make paid blogging attractive and want to build a quality resource then be smart about it, it’s a big cake we can all have our equal share. The internet doesn’t exist to benefit those who just happen to have found a way to make good money from it. It’s there for the little guy too. Let’s not forget that fact.

Have a great day!

Closed for a long lunch

I’m taking a note out of David Aireys book and have decided to take a break from this stuff.

Lately I find myself either rehashing what others have done, or getting all hatey with a company who couldn’t really care less about what I think anyways, and that’s just all a little crap and life’s too short for all that nonsense. I’m going to concentrate on some of the more positive things out there on the Internet and try and have a little fun with it all instead.

To my American friends, I’d like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving. I hope it’s spent with those you care for and who care for you too. For everyone else, stay safe , see you when I feel a little less gloomy about this particular niche!

Meantime, I thought it would be nice to leave you all with some of the things you’ve said here these past 11 months, and give you a little link love too. To the guys a big firm pat on the back, to the girls a warm friendly hug. BFN

No paid ads, no paid links, just blog monetisation

There’s more than one route to the chip shop

Against the backdrop of a bunch of negative posts about bloggers and Google and their general anti blogger behaviour, I thought it might be useful to just touch on a method or two that I’ve not discussed here so much that might just help fill the void for those worried about any further actions from the Google monster down the line.

If you are worried about getting hit more than you already have, then this could be a post for you.

Before the meat and potatoes though, I just wanted to add a few words on some of the nonsense and hypocrisy on all of this. The bottom line is do what is right for you and your blog. Don’t get too caught up in safe theories. Weigh it all up and decide what is right for you and go for it.

It is my opinion that the next stage of the Google actions could possibly be a dumping of ranking ability or a removal from their index of bloggers who promote advertisers via the use of advertorials with KW rich anchor text.

I don’t think that it really matters if a company invents a new metric and calls it something new as ultimately savvy advertisers will know that at the end of the day, a good dofollow link is still a good dofollow link.

The creation of new metrics as a buy in tool does virtually nothing to reduce the impact on any text link dependent algorithm of 10’s of 1000’s of bloggers writing about 1000’s of different topics so IMO, I can’t really see how Google or any other company dependent in this way can publicly stand by and do nothing…well it could, but I think it unlikely, especially when word gets round that advertisers using this method are seeing a good ROI. Google will not only be exposed to arguments that say that their algorithmic index is corrupted by paid advertising, they will also see a potential loss of income as advertising dollars are diverted to alternative more cost effective streams.

Yet in the same breath, it’s kinda funny that when you think that virtually every single page in any competitive KW SERP is in some way there by virtue of a paid leg up from some tech savvy SEO, then you do begin to smile and see the inconstancies of any defence.

The perceived distinction between their algorithmic results and their paid ads is as important today as it was when they first started, if that perception is diluted, and their SERPs actually become more relevant into the bargain, then the urge to click those ads might just diminish too.

Google like to insist with their mantra that so long as it is of quality and of use to their users, then ultimately they are happy to send traffic to people in search of good on topic stuff. I’ll leave you to work out why the same can’t be said for bloggers being paid to write about on topic services and products for companies. It seems like it’s ok for a company to use an SEO or SEO methods to boost themselves up the SERPs, yet not ok for individual bloggers to enagage in actions that help do the same.

Be they paid blogger or paid SEO, both have the same outcome, potentially. The only difference is that someone somewhere decided that the paid blogger route had a greater potential for loss of advertising income.

Where to go to next for your blogging pennies and dollars?

So, you’ve tried adsense, you saw that it sucked for your blog, you’ve looked at Kontera and Bidvertiser and Adbrite and Ebay and all the other bunch of stuff out there that’s vaunted as a good way of earning money and found that without adequate traffic levels it just hasn’t paid, what next? Where to go?

Niche affiliate blogging

In this blog here I talked about how we all have our interests in life, every single one of us. In virtually every area of life there is a product or service that could be of benefit in some way. It’s how we humans work, we like to do stuff and we like to have tools and things to help us do it. Be it food, clothing, transport, love, toys…you get the picture I’m sure.

There are a literally 1000’s of affiliate programs out there today, with millions of products looking to be bought dissected and discussed, millions.

All you have to do is identify the products that interest you, or that you have a little knowledge about and write about them.

How you do that is entirely up to you. The trick is to be able to write about things in such a way that your visitors and readers will be inspired sufficiently to want to buy the product or use the service. What you want also, is for people to find your reviews in search engines too, write good stuff and people will link to it, it’s that simple. By getting  people in ‘buy’ mode, you’ll be getting visitors  who are actively seeking product reviews or the products themselves in the search engines. Search engines have no problem with affiliates, provided that they add value. An affiliate review or discussion of a service or product is one such way of adding value. You can do this via all manner of ways too, the only real block is the limits of your imagination.

Finding the right kinds of products and services

You could just go into your favourite search engine and type ‘product keyword’ affiliate program. You might get lucky too. You could also type into a search engine affiliate programs and take a chance with those you find, alternatively you could just sign up with one of the great ones that you know others have used and are reliable. I guess this is where I come in and get to recommend 2 that I’ve used that not only have a fantastic range of items, but have actually paid out too. In other words, they are a safe bet.

Commission junction being one and Tradedoubler another.

It’s very simple, both offer a similar route. In short, you search for a product or brand that you wish to discuss, apply to the program, and wait to see if you are accepted. Once accepted, you can choose from their inventories and discuss whatever product it is you wish to write about. In most cases you are paid if a visitor from your page clicks through to their page and performs a pay trigger action. A pay trigger action could take the form of a sign up, a lead generation or a sale.

You get a choice in terms of what you put on your pages.

You can use plain text links generated from vanilla html or if you don’t want to do that, javascript, or where they exist you can also use product imagery or banner type ads within your content as provided by the companies in the program.Subject to individual policies there’s nothing to stop you getting a little imaginative and doing some creative creation of your own.

An upshot is that you can still make money from your blog and you don’t have to be reliant on programs that could jeopardise your blog or content long term through clashing with some search engine monolith.

A downside is that you ‘ll need to take into account that if you are too brand specific then you could find that at some point down the road the brand has left the program or that the product no longer exists. It’s one of the reasons why I’d sugest going with a big provider like those mentioned as both have great tools and a wide segment of markets.

Keeping your readers happy

I think it also needs to be said that you have to think about your readers too. If you suddenly start writing a load of shitty stuff about products that bore the pants off of people then you’ll quickly see a big exodus and lose the very essence of what attracted people to you at the outset. Perhaps a good initial approach would be to allocate say one post per week to a product or service, or a 80/20 split between what you usually say and what you are reviewing.

If you are smart then you should be able to take an idea and put a different spin on it. The last thing you want to do is create some thing that is very little other than some snooze inducing advertorial.

Take this post from a Perfume Gift blog and you’ll see how the writer has injected a little humour and supplemental content to discuss a product called love scent pheromone. It doesn’t just say, ‘buy this love scent pheromone product ‘ expecting the sales to rock on in, no, it attempts to get behind the science and explore the whole phenomenum a little, making it all a little more appealing than it perhaps may be. Laughter and mirth are much underrated selling tools. Another good example of a niche blog is Darren Rowse’s Photography Blog there are lots of others too, I’m sure you’ve encountered them along your travels.

The bottom line is that if you can retain your style and add a new angle adding value into the process, then you can suceed in doing well with this stuff and making yourself some good money online. We live in a world built on commissions and kickbacks and %’s, there’s no reason why you can’t do the same.

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