Category Archives for Rockstar Blogging

Social Blogging at it’s Finest

It’s that time of year again, the #blogsofaugust Google+ challenge!

If you ever wanted to break out of your current blogging rut, try your hand at social blogging on Google+. For a month, make Google+ your primary blogging platform and see what happens. Here’s why I’m taking up the challenge:

  • WebEnso is a blog dedicated to WordPress, SEO and other online marketing topics, I write long form articles that try to fully explore the topic, I often write more than a thousand words per post. With Google+ I can write about anything I want and explore short form blogging. Since I recently digitized my photos, I’m planning to post several this month.
  • You get to meet cool new people.
  • Google+ is better for engagement than any other form of publishing. So if you ever wanted to try your hand at writing and get feedback on whether it resonates, Google+ is a great place to try. I get more engagement on Google+ than I do on Facebook, Twitter and on my blogs.

I’m still planning a few things for WebEnso, a tools resource page and some design adjustments (check out the Google+ badge to the right!). But for this month, most of my writing will be on Google+

If you are interested in joining the fun but aren’t sure where to start read this eweek article from Mike Elgan. On page 2 he says: “Blog about three things: What you experience, what you think and what you make.” That is precisely what I intend to do.

Web Content Syndication Platform – repost.us

Syndicated Articles

Syndicate Your Content for More Traffic

A few days ago I caught a talk by John Pettitt, CEO of repost.us at a Meetup organized by Murray Newlands. The meetup description promised a cool way to do content syndication.

As an SEO when I hear the words content syndication, I think “PROBLEM”. With my recent Penguin link audit reviews I see so much scraped content (see my article marketing case study) that I was less enthusiastic about checking out another way to republish content on the web, further diluting the good unique content out there that gets written. However I came away impressed with the repost.us approach and vision.

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Throw out your keywords and go creative with your blog titles

For choosing your blog titles, here’s the advice I’m sure you’ve heard:

  • Build a keyword list of your blog’s main topic.
  • Choose some criteria to pick the most promising keywords (search volume, evidence of long tail, competition or CPC)
  • Write a post that has the keyword term in the page title, post title and at least a couple of times in the post body.
Spike in Traffic shown by Google Analytics

Google Analytics doesn't lie - Sex Sells

While I’m not saying the above doesn’t work, some of my most popular posts did not use the above methodology at all. Case in point: Recently I noticed people “frictionless sharing” an article from the Washington Post titled “4 Things You Do To Kill Her Sex Drive” on Facebook which I’m sure many were unaware that the Facebook social reader app was posting on their behalf. So I wrote an article on Facebook Social Reader Apps and recommended people review their app list in Facebook and take action to not broadcast to Facebook their browsing habits.

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World Media Awards and Event on October 26th

World Media Awards Event Just got an email from Murray Newlands, who runs a monthly San Francisco Blogging meetup that I go to, announcing the World Media Awards and Event for October 26th. The purpose? To celebrate the best in blogging and media creation as well as to exchange publishing best practices. The event is for bloggers, authors, media creators and PR folks.

It’s not clear exactly where it is yet (mentions both an address in San Jose and San Francisco) but either way I’m planning on going. There will be series of workshops hosted by some of the world’s leading publishing experts.

Murray says that “We are pleased to have eBay as lead sponsors of the event. eBay is keen to support the publishing community.” Other sponsors include Growmap, VigLink and Trancos.

World Media Award judges include Steve Hall, Sarah Austin, Chang Kim, Pierre Zarokian, Cheryl Contee, Krystyl Baldwin, Adrian Harris, Jeremy Wright, Rob Bloggeries, Dave Duarte, Tanya Alvarez and Dana Oshiro

Media partners include Adrants, The Affiliate Marketing Awards, Read Write Web, mediavisioninteractive.com and Bloggeries.

Tickets to attend the event go on sale today for $50 and entries to the Media Awards are $45. The first 100 bloggers to blog about the event will receive a free ticket and/or entry to the awards for posting about the event. Space is limited to 500 attendees. Contact event organizer Murray Newlands for full information or see www.themediaawards.com.

How I doubled traffic to my blog

Webenso TrafficThis year I got serious about increasing the traffic to my blog. The result? Over three months I saw traffic double. For the month of June I got 1200 visitors, 1000 of that was organic traffic. Here’s the five things that I did:

  • Blogged twice a week. Used to be I would sporadically and inconsistently blog. Knowing that search engines love frequent and unique content. I started blogging twice a week. There have been weeks when it’s been once a week, like recently; but on the whole I’ve kept the discipline. Additionally for most posts I researched the best keywords to use in my page title and URL using the these Google Keyword Tool tips. I found that if I could blog on something relatively new, like my Pagemodo review and avoid “me too” content, those posts did well in traffic.
  • Be social To engage in the online community, most posts I tweeted. I also wrote a guest post on Panda that brought in some traffic and even some email signups and of course created a new backlink. Occasionally I would also comment on other blogs. I’m getting more comments and questions on my posts and I would respond to those. It’s great when the interaction gives you ideas for new posts. Special mention should go to Ann Evanston’s Blogger Monday, although that was more of a factor in traffic for me last year than this year. Who says no follow links from guest blog commenting don’t matter?
  • More linkbuilding. I submitted my blog to several Blog Directories.
  • Addressed duplicate content Google had more than 100 of my tag pages indexed, which was diffusing my good unique content with duplicate low value pages. So I noindexed my tag pages.
  • Improved bounce rate User engagement with your website is now a signal the search engines pay attention to. My blog had a high bounce rate (84% for the first three months of the year). So I installed two plugins: Yet Another Related Posts and Random Posts which suggest other posts a visitor might want to read. I also added a few nav bar items. My bounce rate is still high, but has come down to 73% for the last 30 days.

There is definitely more work to be done. I need to guest post more and get more of a Facebook strategy. I have additional blog configuration items to tackle and I need to focus more on linkbuilding overall. But it’s nice to get the feedback that I am on the right path.

What Makes Up a Professional Writer’s Day?

PenI recently went to a Blogger Meetup that featured Scott James as a speaker. Scott has successfully transitioned from an outdoor guide to a professional writer. He did it by first cultivating a discipline of blogging every morning to build a portfolio and second by building relationships with key clients that he nurtured by keeping in close touch with. These are great tips for anyone wanting to be a writer and just starting out.

I went to this meetup to explore whether becoming a professional writer was an avenue I wanted to pursue. Scott gave a great presentation that gave me a glimpse of what a writer’s life is like. A bonus was the interaction with the audience, including a lively discussion of rates and the impact of overseas outsourcing on them.

Scott opened his talk with the comment that he was surprised to discover that the actual act of writing only takes up a small percentage (20%) of his day. But it’s not like he’s slacking off when he is not writing. The other activities support the writing, so when he does write he is drawing from ideas already formed and knowledge already researched.

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A New Life for WordPress Old Posts

31 days to a better blog

I have a guilty confession to make, when I first created this blog several years back, I was just interested in creating a site that got some traffic that was monetized with affiliate links. As most blog owners know, you need to have a steady stream of fresh content, so I signed up for a auto-blogging service with keywords such as internet marketing. These services then auto publish to your blog, the content usually has links placed by the author to their service or are affiliate links.

It was an eye-opener on what passes for decent writing. Fortunately I had moderated it so I had final publishing approval. Which was a smart decision, because most of it was awful. At best they were that general sort of forgettable writing that imparts no real value or knowledge. Many had obvious misspellings and were just thinly veiled attempts to get people to click on the links. I rejected many and there are not many that actually got published. After reviewing these posts for a while, I thought to myself, “I can do a better job writing than this”, and that is how my blogging career was born.

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16 Blog Directories – The Good, Bad and the Ugly

I’ve seen several “top blog directories to submit your blog to” articles, however these lists are often light on details or out of date. Here are 16 blog directories that I went to take a look at. Like regular web directories, some blog directories will only list you for a fee, and yet still more request a reciprocal link before they will list you. Some are rather sneaky about it, you don’t figure out you have to reciprocate or pay until you are a step or two into the submission process.

That being said, just like web directories, it might be worth paying for a listing in some of these blog directories, however that analysis (choosing which one to pay for) is for another day.

For some of these you should be prepared to create an account and choose a category that your blog belongs to. Some ask for a full profile. Some have validation/ownership verification processes. It WILL take more time than you expect. Many of these will have a human review the submission before publishing it. That’s ok, in fact it is good, as google looks more favorably on directories that have editorial review.
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Preventing Image Theft & Copyright Violation

Stop Image TheftCopyright law exists to protect the creators of a original work, whether than be an article, a photo or a drawing. As soon as you create it you have copyright to it, which stays in place 70 years after the author’s death; at that point it belongs to the public domain. Unless you grant license for someone else to use your image, it is considered a copyright violation if they use without your permission.

Image theft is an important issue on the web, especially to people who make their living creating visual art.  Just this week there was a furor over the site http://lxixixl.com/ which was copying and hosting entire collections of images from people’s websites. Complaints shut it down but there are others that are doing the same thing.

Theft of content and image happens every day on the web, so what can you do?

  • Inform:   Show that it is your original work by placing a copyright notice on your website.   For example “Copyright 2011 Pablo Picasso”
  • Make it less desirable: Many artists will only put low resolution copies of their images online.   So if they are stolen they are not of full quality.
  • Make it difficult: Implement functionality that makes it harder to steal the images.   For example, disable the right click functionality with javascript.  Note this will annoy some visitors who expect the right click to work for legitimate uses.  Another approach is to place a transparent image over the real image, so when it is saved the thief gets a blank image.   WordPress users might want to check out the iProtect plugin.   Keep in mind that that neither one of these are complete solutions.   Disabling right click doesn’t help when the thief finds the image in Google Image Search and gets the image there.  Which brings me to ….
  • Hide them from Google and Bing: Keep all your images in one directory and tell Google and Bing not to index that directory by placing a directive in the robots.txt file.   Note that this action is useless if Google has already indexed your images.
  • Watermark them: Perhaps the most effective solution, this alters the image so that it is “marked” in an identifying way.   It’s the same idea as branding cattle back in the cattle rustling days.  There are also WordPress plugins that watermark the image “on the fly”.

Ultimately it is up to you how much effort you want to put into preventing image theft and violation of your copyright, but don’t just ignore the issue, decide on an approach and take action.

A Blog Elevator Pitch

Now that I’m blogging more often, I want to improve my blog to attract more traffic. So I downloaded Problogger’s Guide “31 days to build a better blog”. Darren Rowse’s Guide gives you a task a day to improve your blog. What I had in mind was some technical changes I wanted to do (I’m really ready for a new theme), however the first task Darren’s guide put in front of me to was to write an elevator pitch for my blog. Definitely more of a challenge than changing the link color, at least to me.

We can break down an elevator pitch for a blog into a few things. You need a tag line on your blog. And you need something longer (a few sentences) that you can use in conversations, especially when people ask you to explain further your tag line.

The tag line for my blog is “Making Sense of the Web”. Although I wrote that a year or so ago, it still resonates true for me. What I do well is break down complicated technical problems and processes into bite size digestible chunks. The technical world is too vast not to specialize, so I focus on web technology as that is what my passion is. I like to follow technology trends and reflect what they might mean to the larger non techie world. I hope that my writings have helped others understand and even master technology.

Any good elevator pitch describes the audience it’s targeting. For example “Typically I work with people who have challenges with their …..”. So what is still up in the air, is audience I’m writing for. Although I often write for the entrepreneur who just wants to grow their business without technology getting in the way, I frequently get into more technical topics that is better geared for a different audience. I’m not sure I want to narrow the blog’s scope … even though I know that it would be better for it. That will stay up in the air for a while.

While the tag line has been in place for this blog for a while and I’m happy with it, the “About” page could definitely use some work. So as a result of Day 1 of the “31 Days to Build a Better Blog“, my about page is getting updated with an elevator pitch as well as a pointer to additional details about me.