David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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Digg Shouts are back! But not on Digg.

May 07, 2012 - filed under marketing 6 Comments
 

Can you pronounce “Thruzt”?

The latest in the line of Digg-killers hits the streets…er…the Internet today.  And Thruzt is its name.  And it has several things going for it that should make Digg - and it’s evil twin Reddit - take notice.

I said at the time that Digg made a big mistake getting rid of “Shouts”.  Shouts were a means by which a Digg user could send a message to one, two three or any number of friends on Digg, seeking votes, comments, shares or whatever.

Shouts lasted only six months on Digg.  But ending them was a big mistake, because it sent people (like me) off-Digg to share content.  Mostly to Twitter.  And Digg lost users to Twitter.

Digg shouts are back, but they are not Digg’s.  They are called “Howls” and they belong to the latest upstart challenger to what is left of Digg (which is actually very little compared to Digg’s heyday when “Popping” to the front page was known to rash servers – when Shouts were part of its landscape).

Will you use Thruzt?

You can be forgiven for being skeptical about the success of Thruzt.  Other challengers have come and gone.  But Thruzt is different, and not just because of Howls.

First, Thruzt has a much more visual feel than any other social bookmarking or social voting website.  Yes, it has that Pinterest feel to it.  And in this day of the visual Web, that is a big bonus, because people will feel more comfortable browsing through the submissions.

Second, Thruzt has been previewed by a bedazzling line-up of many of the who’s who among Digg users.  It is hard to kick-start a new social bookmarking site.  But when so many “power users” are there to kick it off, I have to believe the odds are in its favour.

I was blessed with a preview of Thruzt before its public launch, and I asked its founder, Marcus Hirn (aka ZetaDog ), why he started Thruzt.

In a nutshell, he loved the old Digg, before Version 4, before Digg started bleeding members.  He doesn’t feel comfortable with Reddit’s layout.  And he kept seeing Digg lose members and lose community:

 “I waited for over a year. I stayed very loyal to Digg but when all my friends dropped off one by one, I decided to do something about it. I thought, well if Digg won’t fix itself then I might as well build my own site.  Being a web developer in my “normal” life helped. The process with thruzt started during the summer of 2011.”

I asked him what was different about Thruzt, and he talked a lot about the Pinterest layout and how it inspired him.

“But the problem was that their site did not provide me with a great tool to promote content to 3rd party sites. It is designed to keep members on their site with the occasional click through to original content.”

And the results are…

 So he put Thruzt together with what he saw was the functionality of Digg, the communications of Twitter and the layout of Pinterest.  And here is how he describes the result:

 “Instead of it being another social network I want visitors to see it as a game, where you use real life information, submit it and then try your hardest to get attention to it. You will need to be very clever, active and build a powerful network of friends in order become successful. Bear in mind not everyone wants that. I also want to have a site with great content. For instance we have a few interesting categories or  “paths” as we have chosen to name them. Military (marines, navy, army, cyber warfare), Household (with emphasis on family), and Body & Mind (with focus on the individual) as a few examples.”

I know more than a few people who have had dirty thoughts when the name “Thruzt” came up, so I asked Marcus where the name came from.

 “Ha, ha, ha… Well it started with my search for action words. I wanted to have a verb that could either inspire, give indication of what the site is about, and something that would mean “moving forward’ or “boosting”. I found a bunch of words I liked but as we all know, most names have been registered .com’s already. When I found that thruzt.com (a twist on the word thrust) was available I jumped on it. It answered all my wishes. Only a few moments after I registered it, did I realize the “pelvic thrust” association. I started laughing and the more I thought about it, the more I loved it. The only drawback with the name was the spelling. It is a bit too hard to memorize and spell. But I figured that if people learned how to pronounce and spell Schwarzenegger they could eventually learn the same with thruzt. I only later realized it is a great community gimmick. It attracts laughter and people are having fun with it. I want all visitors to be thruzted. It’s more fun thruzting together then thruzting alone and I’ll thruzt any of my friends gladly.”

I am in trouble.  I could never spell “Schwarzenegger” without seeing it first.

Markers, don’t beware…but be smart.

Given that this is a blog about marketing, I had to ask the question: “Let’s say you have a blog or a website to promote.  Will you have your head chopped off like at Reddit?  What are the boundaries a webmaster needs to follow to be cool on Thruzt?”

Good news.  You are free to promote.  Promotion and spamming are not the same thing, and Thruzt recognizes this.  There will be some rules so that it’s a fair game for all, so it’s smart to play by them.  Smaller niche marketing-related bookmarking sites like BizSugar and Blokube and My SEO Community and MMOsocialnetwork encourage self promotion.  Big general interest sites like Digg and Reddit (and the old Mixx and Propeller) have always discouraged it and would treat anyone promoting a website as if they were terrorists or rapists.

But at Thruzt it looks like the quality of the content and the quality of the networking are what really counts.  Promote your political views.  Promote your hobbies.  Promote a pic that grabs you or a story you find interesting.  Promote videos of your son’s yo-yo competition entries.  Or promote your own blog or website.  Just make it interesting to others.

“As I mentioned above, thruzt is a game of social networking. If blogs or site owners think that they need to submit every story on to thruzt let them. It will still require much more then submitting to get any attention. Please note all links are no follow until they pop. You will have to work each story on to the front page in order to have traffic (if that is what you are after). Nobody likes a spammer and I think webmasters will quickly understand this. There will be some common sense rules but no more restrictions are intended.”

He said a lot more on this to me, and I think it is worth reproducing it here verbatim.

 “It is wrong to confine user behavior. I want to give users the opportunity to choose their own path. On thruzt I have tried to give them the tools and will be adding more. I have no intention of trying to restrict members in their creativity and passion for sharing and promoting whatever content they want to highlight to the world. The only “restrictions” will be what I believe are common sense rules for a community to function and to fight spam etc.”

“For instance, on all social media there is a fear of “gaming” the system. That power users take over and the individual user is pushed aside. Well that is assuming that a community is only about “popping” a story to get traffic.”

“On thruzt I will have a new approach. I will not restrict users. No, instead I will encourage all users to learn the system. Figure out clever ways to push your own stories. I believe in free markets and freedom of choice. I believe in people’s ingenuity. Thruzt is meant not to be a ‘fair’ playground where “everyone gets equal attention”. No, thruzt should be looked at more as a game, where the player has to overcome obstacles and find ways to grow in power.

There are many ways to make yourself a name. You can become a great submitter of great content in your genre, you can become a very powerful and respected (and followed) commenter, You can become a great front page ‘popper’. Or you can be one of the unknown silent people who prefer to watch and read in the shadows, perhaps with the only interaction being a thruzt vote. There are tons of ways to get attention and I believe a great community will always reward people that are passionate and active. I will run thruzt with a motto I have lived my whole life by: ‘You get what you give’.”

So, it might be more than a hybrid of Digg, Pinterest and Twitter.  Thruzt might be the first “official” social voting game – where “gaming” the system is actually part of the game.

You can find me on Thruzt at http://thruzt.com/user/history/amabaie/.  And you can follow my Howls at http://howl.thruzt.com/amabaie/.  Let’s have some fun.


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How to NOT Lose Money with AdWords

May 04, 2012 - filed under Google, PPC pay per click 3 Comments
 

Google AdWords is the perfect way for you to reach more members of your target audience online. When you create an account, you’re immediately given $100 worth of free credits. With this amount, you can instantly post ads that millions of people around the world can view. While this is a great thing, it also means that you can easily spend tons of money on your online marketing campaign without yielding a return on your investment.

Below are a few concepts that you should know so that AdWords advertising will become more effective for your business.

Keyword Research

This is to help you figure out what search terms users are entering to find you and other similar businesses, you may use one of the many free or proprietary keyword tools out there. Utilize those tools to create a good list of short and long-tail targeted keywords that will broaden your reach.

A final tip on keyword research is to remember that AdWords is a prime space for ads. This means that you’ll have to compete with others in terms of relevancy to searches. The way to win is to set a fixed budget and look for keywords that won’t cost you so much per click. Remember, that there are other keywords that your competitors haven’t exploited yet. If you only choose popular keywords, you’ll find yourself strapped on cash.

Keyword Matching

When you input your key phrases into AdWords, you’ll be given three matching options. Let’s say that your keyword is “wooden doors.”

  • Broad Match. This tells Google to match the searches that it thinks are relevant to your ads. Don’t get surprised if Google decides to match “glass doors” to your ads.
  • Phrase Match. If you choose this, Google will match your ads to searches using your key phrase in its exact form and sequence. Using the example above, Google will match your ads with “etched wooden doors” but not with “wooden front doors.”
  • Exact Match. With this option, Google will display your ad in searches that strictly matches your phrase. For instance, your ad will only be shown if someone searches for “wooden doors” and no other words.

 Negative Keywords

 Apart from the three keyword matching options above, there’s negative match, which tells Google NOT to display your ad for searches containing keywords you specify.

Quality Score

Your Quality Score is Google’s estimate of the relevance and usefulness of your keywords, advertisements, and landing pages to viewers. If you score high, your ads will rank better, additionally, your clicks will be cheaper meaning more savings for you.

Focused Ad Groups

Grouping together highly-specific targeted words with the same theme is one of the crucial steps to AdWords success. By doing so, you can track your bids and conversions better. When you know how a certain cluster of keywords are performing, you can put them on hold in order to bring your PPC spending down.

Ads Written for Click-Through Rate

Click-through rate (CTR) refers to the number of actual clicks on your ad per one hundred impressions (i.e. number of users who see your ad regardless if they click-through or not).

General keywords definitely create a lot of impressions, but result in lower click-throughs and conversions because they won’t filter your audience. Targeted keywords, on the other hand, will have a better CTR with less impressions.

If you want to improve your ads’ CTR, you should avoid very general search terms. It’s better to focus on specific keywords that more closely describe your products/services.

Position Preferences

Before, you can specify whether you want your ad to appear at the top of the page or “other” (i.e. side or bottom). But in April 2011, Google retired this option so ad owners have to optimize their AdWords accounts manually to target a specific position. An excellent way of doing this is by focusing on ads’ quality scores in order to not only drive down your PPC costs, but also improve your ranking. But should you determine that the top spot isn’t for you, since your ads are already earning is enough, then you should stick with your conservative keywords.

Targeting Search Network vs. Content Network

When you register for an AdWords account, you’ll eventually have to specify whether you want to advertise on the Search Network, Content Network, or both. Choosing content network means that your ads will be placed inside websites relevant to your keywords. Selecting search network means that your ads will be found on Google SERPs.

It would be better if you avoided Content Network because it will only bring in traffic that’s not qualified. For instance, if your website is about coffee beans, your ad can get placed in a site that’s about a song containing the phrase “coffee beans.” Because your ad isn’t relevant to the content of that site, you won’t get any traffic from it and hence your conversion rates will suffer.

Creating the perfect Adwords campaign requires constant monitoring to make the best use of your marketing dollar. With a keen attention to what works and what doesn’t, you can drive down costs and raise your CTR to improve the bottom line for your online sales.

This is a guest post by Michael Hendsbee of Convurgency SEO Toronto.

 


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Ghost Town Link Building

Mar 28, 2012 - filed under deep links, linking 7 Comments
 

When the search engines follow links to your website, do they find a ghost town from a movie set? You know what those are like, right?

A movie set ghost town is all facade. There are windows with sills, nicely painted or stained wood fronts, doors, front steps or at least a threshold. But if you actually open the door, it is empty inside. When you pass through the doorway, you find nothing . Not furniture. No interior wall, nor even side or back walls. No people. Only support beams to hold up the facade.

A lot of websites are like that. You look at their link profile, and – Wow! – does it ever look impressive. Hundreds of links from dozens of domains, maybe even thousands of links from hundreds of domains.

But wait, something looks out of place. Something doesn’t look natural. Something looks like… a facade. All the links point to the home page. All the links point to the website’s facade. Just like the cameras that always show us carefully just the fronts of the buildings, the links all show us carefully just the front page of the website. Like there is nothing else on the site worth linking to.

Like a movie set ghost town.

 

 

Deep Linking Makes It Real

When you build links to a variety of pages, you are showing the search engines that your site has depth. That it has substance. That it is real, not just a facade. And if you want the search engines to take your web address seriously, it helps to show that there is really something there.

Some tips on deep linking

Make sure you have content on your website. Content is not a home page or a sales page. Content is useful information. For instance…

How-to articles
Case studies
Interesting photos
Top 10 lists
Recommendations

But how does this content lead to inbound deep links to your website?

  • Let bloggers know about your content. Some will find it interesting and link to it.
  • Share on places like Twitter, MySpace, FaceBook, Pinterest, Digg, Tumblr, etc. (learn how to use these sites, build a network, and follow the official rules AND the unwritten guidelines)
  • Write articles about the same topic for other websites, and link back.
  • Create related videos for video sharing sites like Youtube, and link back to the original content.
  • Write related guest posts on other blogs, linking back to the original content.
  • Let the media (local, trade, etc.) know about the content, in case it will interest them.
  • Prepare news releases related to the content and distribute to press release websites.
  • Comment on related blogs, using the content pages as the “website URL” field.

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Creative Link-building Email Spam

Mar 21, 2012 - filed under linking, SEO scams 7 Comments
 

I get my share of emails requesting links.  I do consider those that look realistic and worthwhile, but that is very few.

But none compare with an email that was sent to Tom over at Canadian Finance Blog. *

Hello Tom and greetings from New York and Mrs. Fowler’s 4th grade class!

I hope it’s ok that I’m contacting you directly! My class is currently working on special unit on Money and Finance and as part of an assignment, the kids had to go out and find an educational website/article(s) on a related topic of their choice, along with a list of websites to share them with. My job of emailing their lists is quite the task as you can imagine…

canadianfinanceblog.com was on one of the students’ lists (Amy) and her suggestion for you can be seen below:

“All About Money”
http://www.mycoupons.com/store/all-about-money/

Her suggestion is to add this resource to your links page
(http://canadianfinanceblog.com/friday-links-84/) so that others may benefit from it and learn something new. Some sort of prize or extra credit will be given to those students with the most implemented suggestions to reward them for their hard work!

Thank you for considering playing a role in our project, and please let us know if you post the link :)

Have a great day!

Mrs. Nancy Fowler (and Amy Byrk)
Harrison Wing A – Rm 322
“If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.” -Jesse Jackson

OK, Mrs.  Fowler.  So your class project is to spam bloggers on behalf of MyCoupons.com?  Yeah, right.

This gets the award for most creative link-building. Creative is good; dirty, rotten, sticking, liar is less good.  I wonder whether there is anybody out there gullible enough to be fooled by this.

* I have disabled the spammer’s link in her letter.  Otherwise, I have left it untouched


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How to Reach New Markets with Facebook

Mar 05, 2012 - filed under FaceBook, marketing, social media 2 Comments
 

Creating lasting connections was the idea behind the creation of Facebook. The network allows people to document friendships and keep any sorts of “promotions” lined up in one place, so it is no question why businesses started hopping onto the Facebook bandwagon. It’s a great place to reach new markets whether you’re a well-established business or just starting out.

Unfortunately, there are still businesses today that don’t take advantage of the benefits Facebook has to offer. Many businesses feel they are doing just fine with their current marketing strategies, and some claim that there are simply too many social networks to possibly keep up with them all. If you fall into one of these two categories or have your own reasons why you’re ignoring Facebook, it’s time to consider how you can reach new online markets with this social network.

Top 3 Ways to Discover New Online Markets with Facebook

The biggest myth about Facebook is the idea that it is simply another way to reach your already existing audience. However, Facebook works great if you’re looking to expand your audience and discover others who might be interested in your business—and you might be surprised with who you discover.

  1. Microtargeting – Many businesses immediately consider having a Facebook business page, but there are actually huge benefits that lie within the ads you see on Facebook. Facebook offers microtargeted ad campaigns where most target a small audience with customized messages. However, Facebook is now encouraging businesses to expand their audience base by testing different microtargeting standards. You can start with a large audience and then use Facebook ad analytics to see who is clicking on your ads. Although these initial ads will be someone broad, they will give you a brand new audience. Once you know who is clicking on the ads in your first test, you can start creating customized messages.
  1. Facebook Insight – If you have a Facebook brand page (aka a Facebook page for your business), you will have access to Facebook Insight. Facebook Insight is a way to gather information about your followers. You can learn where they are from, their age, what other companies they follow, etc. You might be surprised to find that most of your followers on Facebook are kids between the ages of 13 to 18. This will help you realize that you should change your promotions and advertisements to things that would appeal to this age group; an age group you may not have expected.
  1. Facebook Junkies – Many businesses are starting to offer promotions via their Facebook pages, and users are starting to catch onto this and pay attention. Facebook is a medium where approximately 845 million people feel comfortable (or at least take notice), so it makes sense that more and more people are turning to Facebook to learn about new businesses and find some great deals. Many people don’t even bother looking online anymore because they know they can look on Facebook. They are already using Facebook to chat with their friends, so when your company pops up on their feed their bound to give it a look. This is an entirely new audience that would have likely never found you had you not been an active member of the Facebook community.

How to Get Started with a Facebook Page for Your Brand

Whether you’re just starting a business or trying something new with your well-established business, Facebook brand pages are extremely easy to setup and use. Simply visit Create a Facebook Page and then enter in all the information required (city, description, type of company, etc.). Once you have your page setup, it will ask you if you have a Facebook account. If you do not, you have to click “I do not have a Facebook account” and then enter in your email address. This is a way to make sure that the right person has access to the account, so use an email address you know you will have forever.

You can also connect your blog to your Facebook page so that every time you upload a new blog post, it will update onto your Facebook page. You can do this through Twitterfeed. Once you’re set to go, you will have the option of writing status updates or connecting with customers and clients. The site will take you through all the steps and features of Facebook, so it’s easy to get started.

 

Amanda DiSilvestro is a writer on topics ranging from social media to VoIP phone service. She writes for an online resource that gives advice on topics including government small business loans to small businesses and entrepreneurs for the leading business directory, Business.com.

 


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How long does SEO take to get results?

Feb 07, 2012 - filed under rankings, SEO 8 Comments
 

From the SEO mailbag…

QUESTION: “I’m looking for SEO, how long does SEO take effect and get results?”

MY ANSWER:

Your question is a lot like how deep is a hole? How high is up? SEO is like a sport, and you are competing for various positions with others. Results could be a top 10 ranking for one search term. It could be a #1 ranking for three search terms. It could mean hundreds of things for any given site.

Even if you determine exactly what you mean by results, so much depends on exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness you put into the campaign and exactly what the search terms are, how much money, time, effort and cleverness each of your competitors put into the campaign.

Even if you can define all these things, the answer still would be a combination of “it depends” and “I don’t know”.

For certain, don’t expect to see any significant results before six months in a tourism niche. Your competition are already way ahead of you, and they are probably not just sitting on their duffs waiting for you to catch up.

(Related post: SEO FAQ)

YOUR ANSWER?

Would you have answered differently? Would you have answered the same? What are your thoughts. Please comment below. And please share on Twitter and FaceBook so we can get more perspectives.


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Reputation Management: How Suze Orman Jeopardized Hers

Jan 19, 2012 - filed under marketing, reputation, reputation management, Twitter 17 Comments
 

This is the story of how NOT to manage your reputation online, following Suze Orman’s mess last week.

If you don’t know who Suze Orman is, she is (was?) one of the most respected personal finance gurus around.

And if you missed the “mess”, it started out innocently enough. Suze Orman released an “Approved” pre-paid debit card. It was a big publicity moment for her, and should have resulted in accolades and sunshine.

But something went terribly wrong.

Without going too deep into financial details, a pre-paid debit card can be a very useful tool for certain situations, and this card compares favourably to similar card, according to many analysts. But many personal finance bloggers were “shocked” and “surprised” that Suze Orman would be recommending a card like this at all, pointing out numerous less-costly alternatives. (If you wish to read more on the details from a financial perspective, there is a good round-up of related posts at Credit Cards Canada’s overview of the issue, but here are three of my favourites:

At Planting Money Seeds
At Free From Broke
At Hi That’s My Bike

And so the PR war begins.

And here the lesson begins.

Because Suze Orman struck back. Hard. And used some harsh language. She took on her challengers and called them names. The personal finance blogosphere is well-connected. They all read each others’ blogs and comment on them and follow each other on Twitter. If you check out any of the links I posted above, you will see what I mean.

And so, Twitter got real messy. These images are among those shared by Briana at 20 And Engaged.

You know she blew it. I am not saying that she no longer has any respect, but she sure lost a lot of it last week among a very important audience. What lessons can we learn from this?

DON’T GET PERSONAL.

What really set things off was when she called one well-respected blogger an “Idiot”. The rest of the personal finance bloggers circled wagons, especially because they had the same concerns about this whole Suze Orman Approved Card thing as the “Idiot” did.

To their credit, most of the bloggers kept it above the belt, and spent the rest of the week giving their analysis of the card itself and of pre-paid debit cards in general. In other words, they stuck to the issue, which is what Suze should have done. Did she really have a good product or was she just fleecing her starry-eyed followers?

STICK TO SUBSTANCE.

None of the bloggers (to the best of my knowledge) accused Suze of malice, and yet the whole affair left one feeling like she was trying to cash in on her celebrity status, misusing the trust her followers had placed in her and picking their pockets. All because of how she reacted, by throwing back insults rather than responding to the concerns and correcting misperceptions.

Instead of getting out her side of the story, she went off message (yes, this is sooooo like a political campaign screw-up).

RESPECT

OK, so let’s suppose you are really angry at somebody? Do you punch them in the face? Do you tell them to “Got to Hell!”. Do you call them an idiot? Of course not. No matter how angry you might be at the moment, you don’t want to burn bridges for things you will want to do in the future.

Social media is social. And it is amplified. It would be bad enough if Suze Orman had called a blogger an idiot in private. But she did it in public, in front of all her Twitter followers and, more importantly, in front of dozens – maybe even hundreds – of personal finance bloggers.

This showed at best pathetic judgment and at worst a mean and nasty streak.

Interestingly, a number of personal finance bloggers I know made comments to the effect of “I hope that was just some PR advisors that wrote those tweets, and not her.” I have my doubts. The first thing a PR person would advise her would be to stick to the issues, don’t get personal and don’t burn bridges. She did apologize later in the week, which sounds to me like she finally did get some PR advice.

If was her PR advisor, I would have tweeted back to the skeptics that they are missing the key point, and I would make that point. I would contact the blogger off-Twitter and request permission to provide a guest post – not to rebut his argument, but to explain why the card is indeed a good deal and why it is a step forward and look at all the good that can come out of it. He worst that can happen is a “No”…which would be far better than the huge loss of esteem she suffered last week. And the best would have been another platform to get her message out and at least to some degree neutralize the criticism that had been made.

By way of a wrap up, I came away with the impression that Suze Orman really does want to do something big with credit scores (which might be good), but could not resist the chance to make some nice cash from her followers. The combination of feeling righteous because she believes she is doing something positive and defensiveness due to guilt of having stepped over a line would explain her reactions.

But you and I will never know the truth behind all of this. We will only know what impression we are left with. Which is why online reputation management is so critical.


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Why You Should Be Blog Carnival-Crazy

Jan 16, 2012 - filed under blogging, carnival, linking, networking, traffic 8 Comments
 

If you have never heard of a blog carnival or a blog round-up, this is not to be missed. As a blogger, you should seriously consider hosting a blog carnival – and you should absolutely be participating in blog carnivals every week.

First, the terminology.

  • Blog round-up. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).
  • Blog carnival. A summary of interesting blog posts from the previous week (or however long the blogger decides).

Ah…yeah. So what is the difference? Originally a “carnival” traveled, hosted by a different blog each week. A few still do, but most are simply round-ups with a festive name.

Why your blog should host a carnival:

Traffic. When you post a dozen links to other people’s posts, guess what happens… they tweet about the post and sometimes link to it and generally send people your way.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. List a dozen blog posts and you get brownie points from a dozen happy bloggers.

Why you should submit your blog to a carnival:

Traffic. When someone posts a link to your post on their carnival, chances are people will follow the link and discover your blog.

Links. As I said above…

Networking. The blogger will appreciate that you contributed to his blog.

Blog Carnival tools:

There are a few ways that you can find posts to include in your carnival. There are two broker websites, which I will review below, and there are a few simple tactics to find posts on your own.

1. Tweet a request for contributions.
2. Ask your mastermind group on FaceBook or Skype or wherever (I have seen this done effectively several times).
3. Post a notice on niche forums.
4. Track the blogs you like via RSS and choose the posts you like most (several people do this).
5. Do a blog comments carnival. I take the more substantial comments that I leave on other people’s blogs, and I blog them into a carnival.
6. Post a notice on your own blog – that might be enough to get a flood of submissions.

BlogCarnival.com: This website has been around for a while, and lists hundreds or blog carnivals.

What I like about the site…

It is nicely automated. When you put in the URL of a blog post, much of the submission form is auto-filled.

Plenty of blogs in all sorts of niches, and since your posts will mostly be relevant to one niche all the time, and to most niches on occasion, this works well.

What I don’t like about the site….

Most of the carnivals listed no longer exist. At least there is a notice that the carnival does not exist, but still it does clog things up. I always sort the available blogs by “most recent” carnival, and don’t bother with ones that have not been kept up to date.

Several blogger I know who have used the site have complained that they don’t get the submissions people send. I know some go through, because I have had success, but I have no idea what submission success rate is.

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

BlogCarnivalHQ.com. In response to the submission problems at log Carnival, this site was set up by Tom Drake, a leading financial blogger (he also runs Fwisp, a growing social bookmarking site for finance bloggers).

What I like about the site…

Quick clicks to each blog, uncluttered by hundreds of no-longer active carnivals.

Great for finance articles.

Solid programming and a personal commitment by Tom Drake to keep it functioning properly.

What I don’t like about the site…

The site is still new, so other categories are pretty sparsely populated. (This is your chance to get your blog in on the ground floor.)

Each carnival opens in the same window, so to submit to several, I need to manually open up several windows at a time.

If you don’t want to run your own carnival, but you do want a post included in a carnival, there are three ways to find carnivals to submit to. One way is to search Google or Bing for carnivals or round-ups related to your niche. The other two ways are to search the two blog carnival websites I reviewed above.


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Business Blog Commenting Carnival #2

Jan 09, 2012 - filed under blog commenting, carnival, linking, marketing 1 Comment
 

Welcome to our second “Business Blog Commenting Carnival”, an irregular feature where I share with you some of the comments I left on great posts from other blogs.

I answered the question Who’s the Real Boss in Your Business?

I say it is the customers. “The Customer is Always Right.” If the customer needs something quickly, I work overtime. If customers change their taste or preferences, my business better change to meet their demands.

When you are an employee, you have only one customer. You call him “the boss” or “the employer”, but the fact is that you are selling him some combination of your time, your effort and your expertise.

When you own the business, you have many bosses or employers. You call them “the customers” or “the clients”.

At 5 Techniques You Can Use to Take Your Internet Marketing Business to the Next Level in 2012 Danielle McGraw suggests to “Take it offline”. My thoughts on this?…

Indeed, most online folks really don’t think about taking things offline. But imagine the power of leaving sticky notes all over in public places: “Free download – make money online”. Or imagine handing strangers in the mall a business card that says: “A penny for your thoughts” with a penny taped to it, and a subheading: “Comment on my blog at http…”

Roberta Budvietas wrote that Civility Is important to Business Success. I agreed…

Civility is just another word for respect, or at least for demonstrating respect. If you don’t demonstrate respect, why would anybody do business with you?

At The Mystery of SEO, I found myself speaking in quite a counter intuitive fashion…

Anthony, on the whole I agree with your approach. However, I will take issue with the web designer who rejects any client not interested in an SEO analysis. The vast majority of websites will never rank well for any search phrase worth speaking of. There are simply too many more websites than their are available search phrases, and too many websites that are already very strong in most of those search markets. And as much as it might seem contrarian for an SEO specialist to be saying this, there are so many moire awesome ways to find a website than through search engine rankings. Radio ads. Print ads. Sponsoring YouTube or offline video, pay-per-click ads , guest blogging…and so many more. Many B2B websites have a very small niche clientele that can be best reached through trade shows and trade publications. Thinking the world revolves around SEO is the myopic miscalculation fostered usually by SEO specialists; how unfortunate that a web designer has also been infected.

Ming Jong Tey wrote about a link wheel strategy that works. I suggested an upgrade to that strategy…

Yes, the typical link wheel has fallen out of favour with Google. But the newer version is a lot of work. Creating several unique articles just to get a single link (Yes, you can pay $5 or $10 to have some regurgitated baby food pounded into something that looks like words, but do you really think Google is stupider than the folks who write that crap?) So here is an alternative:

Create a good article on a Web 2.0 site. Submit it to a couple appropriate social bookmarking sites for the niche. Comment on a couple good blog posts in the niche, using the article URL as your “website”.

There you go. You have created great content, engaged with bloggers and given real link juice to your hub.

This is not a blog, but rather a forum thread that asked: “I just started working for a local law firm and Im new to SEO. Im helping out with the link building campaign. I wanted to get some advice on a good strategy for building white hat back links for a local law firm?”

I disagree that anything you do to build links violates Google’s TOS. Links represent to Google “votes” for your content. In other words, if you have content worth linking to, you should get links, because links are the natural extension of everything you do, online and offline.

1. Ask clients if they can place a little acknowledgement on their website, linking back to your website. “Thanks to LAW FIRM NAME for helping us get our paperwork in order and setting up our business. (Links are not just about Google – they are first and foremost about referral business).

2. You want you site to have great, informative content, not just sales pages (I know I don’t buy from people tryin g to push a sale down my throat). It could be tips on how to avoid whiplash or how to determine what is false advertising or anything else that relates to the areas of law you practice. Then tell the world. Should it out on Twitter and FaceBook, on StumbleUpon and Chime.in, on Tumblr and Squidoo. The more people who discover your great content, the more people will share it and in some cases those shares will bring you links and in others “social signals” that the search engines value. But best of all, again, they will bring you referral traffic.


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2011 Social Media Fail of the Year

Dec 08, 2011 - filed under blogging, bookmarking, social media 21 Comments
 

Most posts that bestow a title like this focus on the biggest company that made the most visible boo-boo, like FaceBook or Twitter or Digg or StumbleUpon. But this post focuses instead on the social media site that put the biggest stick of dynamite under its own mission and went…

Because this is a long post, let me tell you what you will read here. You will read a rant, and you will read some advice that you can use in your social media strategy – what you can learn from the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year. And if you don’t heed the advice, the rant might just become your own in 2012.

Without further ado, the winner of the the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year award is… BlogEngage. The founder, owner and nanny of this social bookmarking website has frequently made clear that his goal for the site is to build community. Let’s see how well he has done that – and what it means to you and your blog.

My Story (and rant!)

Until two days ago, I was the #3 “top user” of BlogEngage.

Why did I leave BlogEnage so suddenly?

Because my account disappeared. At first, I thought it was a terrible programming error. I had seen this before. So I quickly sent a Skype message to Brian Belfitt, the aforementioned founder, owner and nanny.

No response.

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter.

No response.

Then I noticed something strange on Skype. Brian’s avatar was no longer showing on his profile. And his location was now reading: “This person has not shared their details with you.”

I tried direct messaging him on Twitter again.

No response.

Have you any idea how much work, how much community-building it takes to be the #3 user at a site like that over a period of a year?

  • How many submissions? Not just of my own posts, but of other blogs I had no “interest” in?
  • How many votes? Not just of my “friends” but of other intriguing stories?
  • How many comments?
  • How much reaching out and interacting to promote what I had submitted?
  • How many new members I had recruited for the website?

Do I still think it is worthwhile for you to invest all this time and effort in social bookmarking websites? Read on, as I have some solid, well-grounded advice for you on this point. But first, some background.

It was dawning on me that my account, and two others I noticed (at least one of which showed up in the “top users” widget of the site), had been purposefully deleted by Brian. Why? The most recent time we had communicated, he had told me that I was conducting myself as a model member of his community. I was totally puzzled.

The next morning, I discovered a blog post on the site: http://www.blogengage.com/blogger/take-your-time-and-make-your-votes-count/ . Yes, he had purposely removed a number of accounts in what appears to be a fit of frustration at how the community was conducting itself in a way different than his intention of how they should interact.

I waited for most of the day for some answer from Brian to messages I had sent now through three separate channels. Those who have been around social bookmarking for a while don’t expect explanations. For instance…

  • The most open secret on the Internet is how Reddit will disable your account for no reason, while making it still appear to you that your account is active. There is even a name for them: “Zombie accounts”.
  • Digg used to be famous for banning accounts for good reason and for no reason until about a year ago when Digg V4 was launched, and now the second-most open secret on the Internet is how Digg won’t even ban people anymore for setting up duplicate accounts.
  • And Newsvine says they will respond to you. They don’t.

But a small gated community (Yes, I’ll explain that later)? Where you are on a first-name basis with the sole proprietor? Who is your follower on Twitter? Who you Skype with? Who you email with? Would he really just delete his Top User #3 from his site with no warning? No explanation? In the words of Shania Twain, “You must be joking, right?”

Finally, not getting a response from Brian directly, I posted a comment on his blog. And in the five minutes between posting my comment and when it was removed, I grabbed this screenshot:

Yes, the message is slightly provocative, although I assure you it was VERY restrained. In fairness to me, imagine how I felt at having a year’s worth of work just wiped out by an erratic webmaster. And in fairness to Brian for removing my comment, if you had just done something this “special”, you would not appreciate having it pointed out to you on your own blog.

Three Reasons for Earning the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year Award

Is deleting my account, and several others, what earns BlogEngage the 2011 Social Media Fail of the Year on its own? No. It is just the fourth of four blunders that self-sabotaged the site’s social mission.

FAIL #1. The first was the famous RSS submission service (I believe this was actually in 2010, but it needs to be included as part of the pattern). I must say, this is a really cool tool and I had favourably reviewed it. Basically, subscribers have their blog posts automatically submitted to BlogEngage as they are published. They get an extra vote out of the deal, as well as removing the drudgery of submission. For people who have several daily blogs, this is very worthwhile.

Unfortunately, many people using this subscription are pure spammers, who use the service for hit and run bookmarking. They let the automated system handle the submissions and they don’t build the community.

  • They don’t come back to vote for others’ submissions.
  • They don’t comment on others’ submissions.
  • They don’t ask others for support – votes, comments, etc.

These are all three vital aspects of a “community” on a social bookmarking website.

Not all RSS subscribers are hit-and-run spammers. But most of the spammers you see today on BlogEnage appear to be RSS subscribers. They pay for the privilege to spam the site.

FAIL #2. The second was when Brian started charging for memberships. Don’t get me wrong, the site belongs to Brian and he has the right to do whenever he wants with it. And if he can find a way to make a living running it, God bless him. I also run a social bookmarking website for Canadians. I would love to make a living doing just that, so I can 100% understand his motivation.

However, Digg is free. Reddit is free. StumbleUpon is free. They are all free sites that bring huge value to users and lots of traffic to submitted pages. And because they are free, they attract more users to view the submitted pages. By creating a gated community, BlogEngage reduced the value of belonging to that community. When recently discussing Blogengage in a few of my mastermind groups, one person summarized:

This is just Hilarious! I am not a “member” of BE….never submitted or voting for anything as I really don’t see much value from BE (no traffic, low PR, no direct Home Page link) but just need to point out the hypocrisy of this “community” as most users are afraid their accounts would get banned.

FAIL #3. The third was when Brian decided to charge $200 for a special promotion package that included automatic publishing to the home page – by-passing the community entirely. No need to attract votes. No need to attract comments. No need to actually participate in the community. Pass Go, pay $200. Again, if Brian can get enough people to pony up and he can quit his day job, more power to him. It is his site. But again, this is not about building community; it is about by-passing community.

FAIL #4. Booting out some of your top users, for…for…for what? I can only surmise from the words and tone of his blog post that we were not building community in the fashion that the owner wanted us to. There was no mention of any terms-of-service violations. On most social bookmarking websites, they remove your account for submitting and promoting your own websites. On BlogEngage, I was one of the few who regularly submitted posts that I did not have an “interest” in, as well as those that I did.

By removing several quality members, BlogEngage has left the site a little poorer. As one of the others who was also deleted mentioned to me, referring to a letter he had received from BlogEngage not long ago: ”

The funny thing is that he said that our submissions were poor quality… most of our subs were way beyond the regular stuff over BE like ‘win $50 blogging contests’. Or post #465 on why CommentLuv is so great. Or win BE RSS subscription. “Affordable Web Hosting: Hostgator – Go ‘Gators!”

So once again, BlogEngage seems to be bypassing community to impose its own vision of exactly how people should interact with each other. Social media, or social engineering?

And by arbitrarily deleting accounts, BlogEnage makes it less worthwhile for members to waste time in building the community. As one person in another of my mastermind groups puts is, “True. Why should I just keep plugging away so that he can kill my account a few months down the road?” (I am still puzzled, though, with how we traveled with lightening speed from assertions that I was a model community member to deleting my account.)

Advice for Social Bookmarking Users

At this point, you might expect me to say “Don’t waste your time with social bookmarking, especially not BlogEngage.” Well, no on both counts.

I had written a very popular post on Who owns your Twitter account, the tweeter or his/her company? Spoiler alert: the answer is Twitter.

Lesson One from my rant above is that when you invest in a social bookmarking or social sharing website, you are investing in somebody else’s website. Don’t forget that.

What advice would I give current BlogEngage members?

1. Keep submitting your content. Yes, it could still get deleted at any time, but that happens all the time on the Internet. Your press release on a press release website can be refused. If the site is sold or shut down, your release is gone with it. Your comments on any blog disappear when the blogger sells the domain or shuts down. All my submissions at Mixx and Propeller disappeared when those sites shut down. These are still great ways to share content, build links, network and generally promote your website. Do it anyway. It is unlikely that Brian will delete every active user’s account.

2. Don’t invest in the community. Yes, Brian says that is what he wants you to do, but when your account can so arbitrarily be deleted, it is just not worth wasting your time. Invest in your own submissions, that’s it.

What advice would I give non BlogEngage members?

Don’t join. Digg is free. My Zoomit is free. Fwisp is free. HealthBuzzing is free. BizSugar is free. Blokube is free. NewsMeBack is free. Tipd is free. BlogInteract is free. Cloudytags is free. All of them are great social bookmarking sites. If everyone charged, it would be different, but why on earth would you pay for less value and more risk?

What general advice about social bookmarking?

Social bookmarking is still absolutely A.W.E.S.O.M.E. – a great way to spread your content around the web, to be active and visible, to build quality links directly and through other bloggers and website owners and social media lovers that see your content. If your content sucks, social bookmarking is not all that useful. But if you have great content on your website, go for it!

Call me a hopeless romantic, but I have already shaken off this minor setback. Most people are both good and stable, and most social bookmarking venues, micro-blogging sites and blogs are amazing places to interact with others on the Internet. Good for traffic. Good for SEO. Good for networking. Good for building a reputation. Good. Good. Good.

And most will never vie for the coveted Social Media Fail of the Year award.


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