David Leonhardt’s SEO and Social Media Marketing

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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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Business Blog Commenting Carnival #1

Nov 28, 2011 - filed under blogging, email, Internet, social media 4 Comments
 

Welcome to our first ever “Business Blog Commenting Carnival.” I spend a fair amount of time visiting blogs to learn, discuss, support and network.  With all the comments I leave, surely there are some that I should be sharing with my own readers.  And I thought also that you might be interested in some of the same blog posts that inspired me to elucidate, extrapolate or simply irritate.  And that is the idea between what I hope will become a regular feature on this blog.

 

 

Over at Do You Shine? Consider A Business Model Shift , I just had to agree that change is a mind trap…

This is so sadly true, not just with whole business models but even with small adjustments. How many times have I known that I should make a change…but change is disruptive. It takes time to even just set up a new process for doing something. There is a HUGE psychological barrier to making changes.

And at at 5 Ways to Make Your Site Fly, one of the 5 tips to make your blog faster was about resizing images. I added this…

I have also found an easy way to resize images is just to view them on my desktop, then reduce the size of the picture viewing window, then I just use the snipping tool to save the image in a new size.

I had to jump in at Want to start a business – How to come up with a new Business idea

I think a more basic question is why you want to start a business in the first place. Normally the reason to start a business IS because you have a passion about something. Or you see a problem that needs fixing. Or you are frustrated in your job because the boss just doesn’t get it.

If you have to search for an idea, there is a good chance your business will fail. The core motivation is missing.

On Social Media and Email – a Winning Combination

Indeed, there is no guarantee that your list will respond as you wish. First, the content must be really good, not something cobbled together on the cheap or a sales pitch with no curiosity of “Wow!” factor. And then, as you say, you have to be oh-so clear about what you want them to do, because people can be stupid – yes, even really smart people can also be stupid – and busy and distracted.

And while we are on the topic of the power of social media (I know this is not so much business related), I commented at 7 Links, 5 Writers

“One of the most amazing things about the Internet, and one I am most thankful for, is the way it brings together people of different ages, nationalities, backgrounds, and experiences, and enables them to become friends before it ever occurs to them that, under other circumstances, their paths likely never would have crossed. ”

I have often thought about this. It is one of the reasons I am so happy to associate with people on the Internet, even though I am a bit of a hermit. Many people I am best buddies with on the Internet, I might not even get along with in real life – who knows?  This virtual world is amazing.


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Social Media Coups and Bombs

Nov 21, 2011 - filed under bookmarking, Digg, reputation, social media 8 Comments
 

I participated on a panel in a blog post by Geoff Cudd on 8 Sneaky Social Media Tricks: Are They Worth Your Time? The views intrigued me, so I decided to do a follow-up and ask the same people (and a few more) the following two questions:

1. What is the most amazing social media coup you ever did, or have ever seen done?
2. What is the dumbest social media fail you have ever done, or have ever seen done?

Some of them responded, but not everybody has had either a major disaster or a smash success with social media. Like so many other things, social media is a great communications tool that yields results over time based on hundreds and thousands of interactions, one at a time and incrementally over time. But there were a few coups to report and there were a few lessons to be learned, so here are what they shared with us.

 

 

FROM Geoff Cudd of Don’t Do It Yourself

COUP: I’ve never been a big Twitter fan and had always seen it as the equivalent of walking around a park with a megaphone telling random strangers about how wonderful you are. But a year ago, I changed my opinion when I stumbled upon a new business partner by exchanging tweets. In under 140 characters we managed to identify that we had complimentary services and setup a time to discuss partnering. We hit it off and developed a very beneficial partnership.

Lesson: Don’t ignore innocuous tweets. They could result in long term partners!

BOMB: In one of my ventures I actually had a product development team working for an entire year creating a toolbar application that would allow you to share web-based sticky notes through social media (similar to Evernote). The concept was great, but we spent all our energy focusing on the product and not the social media relationships that would be required to give it that initial boost of traffic to spread adoption. Before you know it, we had very few users and we ran out of time and capital. We had to give up and turn our efforts towards other guaranteed-revenue related activities.

Lesson: For a social media product, you’ve got to plan out your marketing strategy early in the product lifecycle and get user input as soon as possible. I won’t share any numbers, but I’m willing to guess that I have the title for one of the more expensive mistakes on this panel!

FROM Andy Boyd of Money Release

COUP: One of the best I’ve done so far was an infographic for an ink cartridges company. As you can imagine, ink cartridges is a bland product that very few people, if anyone is actively interested in. This meant that I had to do something out of the ordinary in order to have a hope of getting some traction. So I came up with the idea of printing out the internet, and how much ink and paper it would take to do so. I am an avid documentary geek, with a particular interest in programs like Discovery’s Extreme Engineering where they often use animated graphics to visualise the scale of a project, e.g. this building is equivalent to the height of 10 Statue of Liberty’s, or there’s enough cable in this aircraft to wrap around the world twice. In the end we came up with a really cool looking infographic packed full of factoids about printing the internet.

Shortly after it launched, it went viral. Really viral. Thousands of people tweeted it. It was picked up by lots of the top blogs and hundreds of smaller publishers. Hundreds of thousands of people viewed that infographic. And to the best of my knowledge, it’s still getting links today.

BOMB: I haven’t had a campaign backfire, but like any social marketer I’ve had my fair share of flops. That’s the thing with marketing content – you never really know if it will work. Back at the time when getting promoted on Digg actually mattered, I used to spend a lot of time on there promoting my work. When Digg was at it’s prime, it was probably one of the most exciting times to be a social marketer. You could launch a linkbait, watch it hit the front page, hope your servers will stay up and just wait for the links to roll in. The problem was that you could push something for 24 hours, only for it to be buried at the very last minute just when you thought it was going to be promoted. When that happened, and it happens a lot when you’re promoting content on a commercial website, it s probably the single most demoralising thing about being a social marketer.

FROM Emory Rowland of Clickfire

COUP: What comes to my mind is an accidental coup that my friend, the owner of a conservative political blog and myself, the webmaster discovered back in 2008 that helped me truly grasp the nature and power of social media. Someone had discovered an interesting blog post that my friend had made (more about this later) and submitted it to StumbleUpon. Of course, I wouldn’t have noticed it but for the sudden influx of visitors the site began receiving in the tens of thousands that continued for about 2 months. Here are some specifics:

  • StumbleUpon sent around 42,000 visits and listing 46 user reviews.
  • For the year, StumbleUpon ended up sending three times the traffic that Google sent (the site ranked for the head term, “liberals”).
  • My friend received offers to appear on a Sirius XM Radio show and a Pajamas Media TV show.

From that day forward, I took StumbleUpon seriously to say the least. But, the funny part is that this social media marketing victory pretty much violated every SEO rule in the book.

  • The post was not submitted or promoted by anyone affiliated with the site. It spread naturally.
  • There was no onsite or offsite SEO strategy or measures taken other than the default SEO-friendliness of WordPress.
  • The post title contained a blatant misspelled word.
  • The post was only 180 words in length.
  • The post constituted duplicate content. It turned out to be a meme appearing on many other sites.

BOMB: Let me make it clear that I did not actually do this, but seriously thought about dressing up as Matt Cutts for Halloween.

FROM Hesham Zebida of Famous Bloggers

COUP: My best Social Media coup started with organizing blog contests, entries in the contests usually receive high tweet rates as participants compete with each others to collect more points during the promotion period to win the blog contest, which means a huge exposure for my blog.

BOMB: My big fail and the most silly idea I ever had was when I decided to start an underground twitter exchange network, it’s the worst idea ever.

FROM Tom Drake of Canadian Finance Blog

COUP: My biggest social media coup was working my way up to top domain on Tip’d. I had been blogging for about a year before I really got into using Tip’d. So I had quite a few old posts that I would submit on the weekend and hustle on twitter to get votes, often just needing 4-5 votes to get published to the front page. Being the top domain might be more than just bragging rights, since many users now give me votes without as much begging involved.

BOMB: My biggest social media fail was trying to use Reddit for the first time and getting labeled as a spammer almost immediately. I thought I was submitting my posts, but I’d click on “text” thinking I was leaving a description, but apparently this took out my links and made it look like some very random statements being made by a bot.

FROM Miranda Marquit of Planting Money Seeds

BOMB: We had a custom infographic made for Moolanomy. It hit the front page on Digg, back when Digg was cool, and it exploded elsewhere. It ended up with tons of comments, and thousands of views. It was back when infographics were just becoming the big thing, and it really emphasized the importance of being a little ahead of the curve. Plus, it was a somewhat controversial topic (buying vs. renting), and the infographic left out a few things. Actually, it might have been the fact that the graphic left out some things that generated so much buzz and conversation. It was valuable insight that sometimes you can get a lot of a traffic when people see something “wrong.”

FROM Tom Shivers of Capture Commerce

COUP: Papa John’s conducted Papa’s Specialty Pizza Challenge the summer of 2010 and the findings were very interesting. Consumers were asked to create and submit recipes for interesting new pizzas.

A panel of qualified judges selected ten semi-finalists based on overall appeal, taste, creativity of the name, and interest of the story. The judges then selected three finalists from the semi-finalists. The top three pizzas were put on the regular menu and finalists had one month to hustle up sales of their pizza creations, each was given $1000 to promote their pizza. The top selling pizza won a cut of the sales up to a maximum of $10,000 plus $480 of Papa John’s pizza each year for 50 years.

Interestingly, the pizza that got the most Facebook “likes” did not win. “Papa John’s Cheesy Chicken Cordon Bleu for Gulf Coast Animals” by Barbara Hyman, started out ahead of the other two pizza contestants and never relinquished that position during the entire month, selling about 108,000 pizzas, or 45% of the contestant pizzas sold.

Papa John’s VP of digital marketing said Hyman’s pizza had two powerful hooks: the Cordon Bleu name was familiar and easy to remember, and her cause was framed as a way to help animals harmed by the BP oil spill, a timely and emotional pull.

Hyman made alliances with other businesses who helped her promote the pizza and pledged to match her charity donation if she won. She said, “People didn’t seem to care about the money I could win, but their interest peaked when I talked about helping wild life covered with oil.”

Six lessons from Papa John’s about crowdsourcing product creation:

  • Challenge customers to win a product creation contest by providing motivating incentives
  • Utilize objective criteria and judges to select the finalists
  • Give finalists marketing tools and resources to promote their product creation
  • Gauge success by product sales and not by any other kind of criteria, like voting
  • Promotions that involve donations to charity or a good cause can easily win out over promotions that focus on the contest itself
  • Contests promoted with social media creates audience engagement for the business

Read more: Crowdsourcing + R&D = Winning Product Design

BOMB: A couple years ago I decided to utilize mommy bloggers to promote a line of rocking horses. I interviewed several and decided on one because she had a big promotion coming up for Mother’s Day weekend and my rocking horse would be the grand prize of all the giveaways going on. Basically contestants could get more entries by tweeting, liking, linking to the website and sharing the contest with friends. At the end the winner of the rocking horse would be chosen by random number.

I sent one rocking horse to the mommy blogger so she could review it; another rocking horse would be sent to the winner of the contest.

Hundreds of people entered the contest and it was interesting to watch the tweets and likes fly, but at the end of the day the site didn’t get many links or as much publicity as I had hoped.

  • Although I did get some nice things out of the promotion, I also learned some lessons:
  • Mommy blogger contestants are in it for the free prizes and that’s about it.
  • Be careful if your product is a much higher value than most of the items that are being promoted on the mommy blogger’s site.
  • Contests won by random do not tend to engage contestants with the brand during or after the contest is over.
  • The mommy blogger did link to the site but it was a bit excessive, meaning it was sorta obvious I had asked for links (Google probably ignored most of them).

FROM David Leonhardt (that’s me) of SEO writer

I know you are curious to know what my biggest coups and bombs were. The reality is that my coups have mostly been in the realm of sustained success, one small step at a time, getting my content and client content to “pop” on social bookmarking websites week after week after week after week. Likewise, my bombs have been incremental, getting banned at Reddit (presumably for submitting some posts that were self-promotional), at the former Propeller (for who knows why?), at the former Shoutwire (for who knows why?), at the Newsvine (possibly for trying to join too many groups at once?) and at Digg (for who knows why?).

But if I was to name one coup and one bomb, it would be the same: creating Zoomit Canada. It was a coup because running one’s own social bookmarking website brings so many social media advantages, making you a bit of a leader and opening plenty of networking doors. It was a bomb because I never did manage to attract anywhere near the kind of attention to make it what it was meant to be (but there is still time for that, hopefully).

I hope you have learned some valuable tips from the coups and bombs we have shared here today. Please feel free to share your own in the comments section below.


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Blogging Fail – how to tell a spam blog

Nov 17, 2011 - filed under content 5 Comments
 

If you have old material, sure, go ahead and recycle it. But it looks like somebody was so eager to spread around their old material, that they didn’t bother recycling – they went straight to reusing it.

(Good thing this is not toilet paper!)


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Delegate Social Media Tasks? Ouch!

Oct 31, 2011 - filed under marketing, social media 8 Comments
 

File this one under “Do as the Pharisees say, not as they do”.

There is a certain marketing guru – yes, he is well-enough known and well-enough respected that the word “guru” applies – who recently sent me an email newsletter. Out of respect, all names have been changed in this blog post.

Before I tell you what was in that email, I should make very clear that this is someone whose opinions I respect. He always gives good advice and his newsletters are always worth reading. For the purpose of this post, it is worth noting that I frequently come across his articles posted at “one of my favourite social bookmarking websites” (OOMFSBW), and of course I vote them up.

The newsletter I mentioned earlier landed in my inbox. The gist of it was that one must be careful about outsourcing or delegating social media tasks – that one must be particular about choosing whom to ask to do such things for you.

The newsletter offered the suggestion that asking your little sister to handle your social media would be a great idea if she had taken courses in marketing communication. But it would be a bad idea if she was a high school student who likes to share cool music and daily tidbits on FaceBook.

It just so happened at the very moment that the newsletter arrived I had a story submitted to OOMFSBW mentioned above, and I was in need of a few votes. So I thought I would fire back a quick response asking him for a vote. In the context of his email newsletter, it seemed highly appropriate.

And in the context of his email newsletter, the response I got back could not have been more surprising – nor more ironic.

“This is Guru’s Director of Marketing, Jack. Guru is travelling at the moment, so I wanted to respond to your request. I didn’t understand what you were asking. I submitted the article to OOMFSBW and I friended Amabaie. If you could clarify what you are asking, that would help me to be able to help you.”

At first, I sat there stunned. Could a newsletter about carefully choosing someone who knows social media be followed up with a live example so poignantly demonstrating why it is crucial to do so?

So I explained.

“OOMFSBW is not just about submitting. You need votes. I vote for most of Guru’s stuff (pretty much any that I see). I would love Guru’s votes for the two I subbed today… (and I included my submissions URL again)”

Two days later, I received a note back.

“I understand now. I just voted for 7 articles for Amabaie.”

So I explained again.

“So also to understand, there is a limited window when the votes actually count. In the case of OOMFSBW , it is xx hours. In other cases, it is typically xx hours or xx days or a month. Just so you are aware in the future.”

As you can probably guess by now, this was total news to him. I think our friendly neighborhood marketing guru very amply demonstrated how crucial it is to delegate social media tasks to someone who knows social media.


Interestingly, I was reading the very next day on WeBlogBetter about whether one should delegate social media tasks to an intern. So, just for fun and because it is so on-topic with this post, let me share the comment I left at the end of the post.

“Hello. I would like to introduce everybody to our new company spokesperson, Rob-the-intern, and he will be managing our company’s entire reputation. Our credibility. Our image. The very factors upon which all our jobs depend. Please help me welcome Rob-the-Intern. I said, “Please help me welcome Rob-the-Intern.” Um…somebody? Anybody? “


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Occupy Google (radio satire)

Oct 24, 2011 - filed under Google, marketing, rankings 5 Comments
 

Google Doodles, beware! Today I will share with you an exclusive radio interview with Rankless Jones*, live at the scene of the “Occupy Google” protests.  After all, why occupy just a street, when you can occupy an entire website?

 


 

If Plan “B” is initiated, here are some of the unfortunate Google Doodles that we believe might be at risk, and are advised to take security precautions.

Vivaldi's birthday

 

Beijing Olympics

 

Google's 13th birthday

 

Art Clokey's 90th Birthday

 

The official first Google Doodle ever

 

The unofficial first Google Doodle ever

 

You can decide for yourself which Google Doodles are most likely to fall victim to the Occupy Google protests if the demands are not met, by visiting the Google Doodle Archive.

*Rankless Jones played by Chantalyne Leonhardt in her first international voice acting role.


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SocialFloat – social sharing widget

Oct 17, 2011 - filed under FaceBook, Google, marketing, social media, StumbleUpon, Twitter 3 Comments
 

Not every website is a WordPress blog.  That’s a pity, because WordPress has so many handy plugins.  SocialFloat is NOT a WordPress plugin – and that is good news if your website is not a WordPress blog, because this is for the rest of us.

You will surely have noticed on so many WordPress blogs a column of social voting buttons on the right or left of the page (see the right hand side of this page, for example).  These “float”, because even as you scroll down the page, they stay in the same place on your screen.  This makes it easy to share your content on Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.

 

 

That’s what Social Float does.  It encourages your visitors to share your content by keeping the share buttons constantly on their screens.  Why is this important?

  • You can generate a lot of traffic through Twitter and Facebook.
  • The search engines are paying attention to what pages and what websites get more shares and tweets, so it is important for SEO.
  • Your visitors don’t want to have to search for a share button all over your pages.
  • Your competitors on WordPress are using tools like this; you need to keep up.

I am making this social sharing widget available absolutely free.  You can download SocialFloat here.  You will get the exact code with clear and precise beta-tested instructions that even a relative newbie can add to their website.


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Can You Survive the Blog?

Aug 29, 2011 - filed under blogging 6 Comments
 

No, this is not a horror movie (you might be thinking of The Blob). This is a blogging contest. I love a good blogging contest, and it seems that there have been precious few of them of late. But along comes…

…and it’s time to have some fun.

Blogging contests are a always great way to gain recognition as a blog writer and make new connections. They give new links for both people and search engines to follow (good for SEO) and they create a sense of importance for your blog. Plus, you could win prizes (but , really, that is probably the smallest benefit).

This contest is even better.

It’s like a reality TV show – only, it’s a reality blog show. Have you ever watched Survivor? Me neither. But if, you have, this is a lot like that show. Two teams will be selected and each will have to build a blog together. Along the way, folks get voted off until only one person gets to keep the blog and the fabulous cash prizes. This is a pretty original contest, so it is worth entering.

Here are the rules…

The Rules

Starting September 5, 2011, they will begin accepting entries for potential contestants. The deadline for entries will be September 23rd, 11:59 p.m. EST. Selections will be announced on October 3rd, and the official Surviving The Blog contest will begin on Monday, October 10th.

To be considered for one of the 2 teams, here are the guidelines:

  1. Write a “Why WeBlogBetter Should Choose Me” blog post for your blog that announces this contest, your intent to enter, and reasons why they should choose you over everybody else. Be sure to include ALL sponsors banners and links. (See code on the official post ). This sponsor list will continue to grow and it’s your responsibility to make sure you have the latest updates. You do not need to own a blog, however, to enter, you’ll still need to write the required blog post – you can do that by guest blogging on another blog or by starting a free one at WordPress.com, Blogger, Google Sites, or even on Squidoo.
  2. Tweet this post on Twitter at least 7 times. (Once per day for a week) Be sure to mention @WeBlogBetter so that they can verify that you’ve done this.
  3. Share this post on various social networking sites.
  4. Subscribe to the WBB Email List, if you haven’t already
  5. Follow these WBB Team Member blogs: PositiveSpin, LiveYourLove, Hajrakvetches!, SoloMomPreneur, FindAllAnswers.com
  6. Send an Email to: [email protected] with the subject: “Intent to Enter” that includes the following required pieces:
  • Link to your “Why WeBlogBetter should Choose Me” blog post
  • The Twitter ID that you used to tweet this post
  • Evidence that you’ve shared this post on other social networks (screenshots, links, your profile, etc.)
  • The email you used to subscribe to the WBB Email List.
  • A Short bio of yourself that includes details that will make you stand out from the crowd.
  • A 250×250 or bigger photo of yourself (Must be appropriate and Safe For Work).

Sponsor rules

And if you wish to sponsor, you can do so at the following levels:

  • $50 Basic Level – Get a link with the anchor text of your choice included – Lowest Placement
  • $100 – Silver Level – Get a 125×125 banner w/Link – Bottom Placement
  • $150 – Gold Level – Get a large 300×250 banner w/Link – Middle placement
  • $200+ – Platinum Level – Get a large 300×250 Banner w/Link – Top Placement (Top dollar gets top placement). Plus get your ad displayed in the rotating banner for 6 months (right sidebar of WeblogBetter and the 2 Competing Blogs)

Let the blogging begin!


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More on links from statistics websites

Aug 15, 2011 - filed under linking, rankings, stats 5 Comments
 

A couple couple weeks ago, I wrote about links from statistics and valuation websites, and posed the question whether it is worthwhile paying five dollars to have one’s domain submitted to 5000 of them. You might want to read the post before continuing.

There was an interesting comment by Graeme, that said:

“Did you check how my of these sites already had a link to yours? If I search for any of my domain names I get lots of these that I have never asked to list me.”

This is a good question, but it is hardly the full question. Some of these sites have static pages, and might already be linking back to you. But many of these sites create the pages on request. You punch in a domain name, and they grab the information from authority stats sites like Alexa or Compete, or from search engines like Google or Baidu.

So in most cases, the answer is “no” – most of these sites were not already linking to the site I submitted.

But as I said, that is not really the full question.

Think about it for a moment.

Keep thinking…

Aha! That’s it. If the linking page exists only because I requested it, what happens when I leave? Does the page still exist? Or more to the point, is the page stored somewhere for the search engines to find it? Yeah, 280 links or so, but on pages that really exist? A few, perhaps, but not most.

So you probably think I am about to change my mind and poo-poo the $5.00 I spent on this? Not quite. You see, $5 for 100 or 300 or more links (we are not sure exactly how many, remember?) is actually a pretty good deal. Any professional SEO consultant knows how much time it can take and how many fails one has to go through building just a couple links. What if we could take the pages we created on the fly and freeze them in time? Or in space? Or in cyber space?

Here’s what you do:

  1. Check which of the pages actually have a live link to your domain.
  2. Save the list of those pages.
  3. Build links directly to those pages

How? Here are four ways, depending on your comfort level.

  • Create a page on your website just for “Hey, look who thinks they know what our website is worth”.
  • Use these URLs when making blog comments.
  • Include these URLs in article marketing and blog posting (The Free Traffic System is ideally set up for this.)
  • Try some social bookmarking; there are many minor social bookmarking sites that are not as particular as Digg and Reddit are.

When the links you create are spidered, the pages evaluating your domain “exist” for the search engines. Plus, they actually have some small amount of link juice, which probably places them in the top 1% of pages on the each site for link popularity. Remember that most of these pages link only to your website, not to 30 or 40 or 50 other websites on some link exchange page. The more link juice these pages get, the better for your website.

So, the big question I am sure you all want to know is whether there were actually any improvement in rankings as a result of this little experiment. Well, here are the results at Google, keeping in mind that no links have been built in to these pages.

Keyword One before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword One after: #60 (a couple days ago, I saw this at #55)

Keyword Two before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Two after: #65 and #66

Keyword Three before: around #70 (I did not take an exact reading)
Keyword Three after: #59 and #60

So these readings are positive in that it appears the site climbed a bit for all three search terms, even adding an interior page to two of the searches. The movement, however, is not phenomenal and it is possible that it is explained by other factors. It will be interesting to see if there is further movement once some links are built into a few of these pages. I might just have to report back to you again…


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Links from statistics websites

Jul 27, 2011 - filed under linking 20 Comments
 

I saw a gig over on Fiverr that caught my eye.  For those of you who don’t know about Fiverr, it is where anyone can offer to do anything (almost) for five dollars.  It’s a bit like The Dollar Store of online services.  You can get some amazing deals on Fiverr – stuff you would expect to pay $25 for.  Or $50.  Or even $100.  You also get some blatant scams.

Some great deals.  Some rip-offs.  But either way, five dollars isn’t much.  Like I said, it’s like The Dollar Store.

The gig that caught my eye was:

I will submit your main domain URL to well over 5000 statistic sites. How This Works. I will submit your URL to various statistic sites. These give a value of your site/blog, and also provide a free link back to your site. My software sends your URL to over 5000 sites which gives you that many one way backlinks and Rapidly gets your site indexed by Google! I will send you a text doc to prove works done too. Order now and get indexed.

Anything that generates hundreds or thousands of links automatically can’t be particularly useful for a professional SEO campaign.  But it did occur to me that a few of these sites might be useful, and the links would most likely be either the domain (some with www, some with http, some with both, some with neither?) or the title tag, so not the usual keyword style links you see in blog comment spam and forum profile spam.  And not from the type of sites my clients would usually get links from, so perhaps it would add a nice little variety to a site’s link profile.

With low expectations and high curiosity, I laid down my five bucks.

OK, first off I must say that I did not check through the full list of 7861 entries (representing 36782 sites?  I think there was a typo), but with domain duplications taken into consideration,  it is still likely that the promised 5000+ were delivered).

The first thing I noticed were how many of the statistic sites were obviously scraping results from Google, Yahoo, Bing and most of all Baidu (If you think China wants to buy up all Western real estate, what does this say about China’s hunger for Internet property?).  To be expected, I suppose, but irrelevant to this review.

I checked through 3 dozen entries, being careful not to duplicate any sites.  I guess my first disappointment were how many came up dead (sites were for sale, 404 error pages, server would not connect, etc.) – nearly half.  But I suspect that for five bucks a gig, nobody will bother to check 5000 sites for deadwood (although, maybe the software should be set up to remove dead sites).

My second disappointment were how many of them did not link to the domain they were reviewing.  They tended mostly to link internally to other pages about the domain in an internal web of sorts.

Did the gig live up to the promise of “over 5000 sites which gives you that many one way backlinks”.  Not a chance.  One of the pages gave a NoFollow link.  Another gave a link from a secondary page (which might have been one of the 7861 entries that I did not check).  Although the sample size is too small for an accurate extrapolation 36 site, or less than one percent of the total – it implies that the site did get over 280 new backlinks, from new pages on established sites.  Even if I am off by 50%, that is still 140 links for $5, with at least a couple of the links probably reasonably good.

Five bucks for 140+ links that took me just a few minutes to order (and a couple hours to blog about, but that’s another story).  I would say that it is worth it.

But there was another residual benefit, too.  A few of the statistic sites (2, 3, 4? – I didn’t keep track)  linked to various authority profiles that link back to your domain.  For instance, a profile on Surcentro.net will not link to your website, but it will link to your profile at:

  • Alexa
  • WayBackMachine
  • Robtex

And each of these links back to your site.  So we can assume that at least another 140 links have been built to your domain’s profiles on authority statistics sites that already link to your site, and that is also a worthwhile.

Would I use this gig again? Yes. I wish more Fiverr gig sellers would cut the hyperbole and be more accurate about what they are offering.  But inaccuracy aside, I would call this gig a worthwhile addition to a comprehensive link-building campaign.


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