An SEO Christmas Present – Giveaway

Update: Contest is open to all. This contest is not US only. Yay!

A few months ago I decided that I wanted to do something special this Christmas for my readers and for some kids. While I’ve still been pondering what to do, I got a cool email from a friend over at one of my fav magazines and an idea was born. Boris over at Search Marketing Standard has graciously offered to give away a 3 year subscription to his magazine for the winner of my little contest (more on that in a second).

In the spirit of Christmas giving though, he’s also offered to sweeten the pot with a discounted rate for my readers and a charity match to one of my favorite charities. You’ll get a 67% discount off the price of a year’s subscription. It’s usually $15 per year and for the next 15 days you can get it for $4.95 US ($6.60 Intl) by using coupon code HOLIDAY67. (subscribe here)

Bonus: He’ll match each subscription that comes through with this coupon code with a dollar to Toys For Tots.

The Contest

So, how do you win? Well, it’s actually fairly easy. I want to know what you are doing this Christmas to change the world. No, not the whole world, just your little part of it. Just post it on your blog and ping back here to enter (trackback). At the end of next week I’ll go through the trackbacks or comments and compile a list of all the entries and make one big list. I’ll post the full list here and will choose the winner. Of course, if you have one that you think really shines, I’ll take that under advisement. I don’t really want to try voting on this one, but if there’s one that just really amazes you please let me know.

So, if you are doing anything special, from soup kitchens to Operation Xmas Child, please let me know. I want to be inspired. How are you changing your corner of the world?

Kindle Looks Cool, No Really I Mean It

OK, first thoughts on Kindle.

1. How long before this gets ‘upgraded’ and you piss off the early adopters? (a little Zune frustration is coming out here)
2. $400 is high. How come this doesn’t come with a few public domain books on there for fun?
3. Battery life looks awesome, as does weight. Think this is too late to ask for this for XMas?
4. Did they really just advertise blogs on there? That is cool (no, not being silly, really I do think that is cool).
5. Any audio? Will it read to me? Can I podcast newspaper subscriptions (ie Audible) on this device?
6. How long before this gets hacked like the jukebox? I mean the fact that it’s not wifi but mobile (ie like a cellphone/modem or aircard), makes this really cool for a hacked web tablet. Then again, the N770 is less than the $400 that this costs though it’s only Wifi capable out-of-the-box, but the potential is so darn fun…

Amazon Kindle

… and, PS to Amazon. Tsk Tsk, the only ‘share’ option is via email. Not very WOMM friendly. Also, when you ‘work three years’ on a product, make sure it’s ready to sell via your Associates store on launch day. Argh!

UPDATE: OK, another thought… Could this solve the sagging backpacks problem in school? I mean, I know you’re thinking, ‘she acts like she’s never seen an e-reader’, but I can’t help but think this is an almost must have for a traveling reader (erm, like me).

Google Makes More Enemies

I can never understand what it is that makes a large company think that they are indestructible, but apparently Google continues to believe that because they are the god of search that this will always remain the case. (Disclosure, I work for a search company that was once doing really, really well in search, ahem)

Most recently they decided to penalize bloggers who were selling text links, including this blog. Page rank, which now is apparently completely devalued, went from 5 to 3. I’m in good company here however, some of the best blogs on the net also lost 2-4 points of page rank. The points lost were not relative, but arbitrary, from what I can tell, with some blogs who sold text links only losing one point and others that did the same losing three. Again, they were secretive about the why, with the blogosphere having to determine that it was text link sales and interlinked blogs from blog networks. They have more secrets than the CIA…

Today it seems they have attempted to force morality, or their definition of it, by completely wiping out the page rank of PayPerPost blogs. Now, you know I am not a fan of PPP, having had more than one comment argument about it. However, who am I to say what someone can or can’t do on their own blog. I mean, it would be different if they were using Blogger blogs and only Blogger blogs were penalized, at least then they’d have an alternative to go about writing their blog the way they see fit (ie move to Vox or something like that). But, as you can see, the company that owns search has decided to single-handedly remove page rank from these blogs.

What alternative do these blogs have? Google has around 65% of the search market firmly in hand.

The saddest part is that many of the blogs in PayPerPost are not bloggers that have been doing this for very long, and they are not A-listers either. These bloggers are part of the blogosphere, but because they don’t pull in massive traffic (IMO, likely because they refuse to resort to linkbait day after day), they are evil to sell advertising space within the post. A-listers are ‘above’ selling posts, I mean unless the pay is substantial. Advertising is far different from posts that advertise, with disclosure.

Erm, you don’t see the difference? Well, there really is one, but it’s subtle. The real difference is that PayPerPost doesn’t pay very much for their posts and the ads on A-list blogs go for hundreds, and in some cases thousands of dollars, per month. See that difference now? It boils down to the have-nots getting punished and the haves all shaking their finger in an “I told you so” fashion.

I have no worries today. I am not a PPP user and I’ve already been penalized for selling links (with no traffic loss, by the way), but I can’t help but bastardize Niemoller’s poem:

They came first for the text link sellers, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a seller of text links;

And then they came for the blog networks, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t in a blog network;

And then they came for the Posties, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Postie;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up.”

Welcome To Digg School – 4 Tips To Digg Success

Download As A Podcast

Over the past few years, I’ve written a number of posts that caught the attention of Digg users. Many were surprises, but a dozen or so were written specifically for Digg, mostly for clients. These successful Dugg stories or videos, etc. are what I want to discuss with you today. Were it not for Liz Strauss, I would not have had the inspiration to write this (she’s a real expert on this topic), so thanks to Liz for spurring me on here.

Now, I’m not going to tell you how to trick Digg users into digging your crappy content. If your content is crappy you stand little chance of getting dugg, I mean unless you have some hot pics of a geek girls in various stages of undress, lying in front of an extreme network connection or other appropriately IT-geek-fantasy pics. It’s either quality content or nudy pics… There is no way to win at Digg without either.

Must Have Great Content

This goes along with the ‘don’t have crappy content’ point, but it’s even more important. Don’t market ANYTHING EVER that isn’t absolutely fabulous. First, it’s a waste of time. Second, and more important, it can ruin your name. And, I don’t just mean your brand, which is extremely important, but even worse it can ruin the chances that anyone is ever again willing to look at your site, even after your content improves. What I mean by this is that if I see a link to your site and click it, if it’s bad, I note this fact. Now, if I later see your link, no matter what others are saying about how awesome it is, I remember that I’ve already seen it and it is not worthy of my time, so I’m not going to click through. Don’t ruin your chances of world domination by marketing unworthy content.

Now, what do I mean by ‘Great Content’? Well, here are some examples.

Note with each of these examples, you have something that is must see. In the case of the articles (not the video), you have something that’s so long and so useful that it’s too much to take in at one sitting. You are compelled to bookmark it, because it’s that good (and that long). Just reading some of these is a chore, because they take so much scholarly attention, but the content is so valuable to Digg readers, that they’ll bookmark it and Digg it. In the case of the video, it’s so good you want to pass it along to others. Viral marketing at it’s finest, for 20/20 at least…
Who Are You Looking To Impress?

Note that I specifically said ‘valuable to Digg readers’. Knowing your audience is vital here. Now’s the time to do some research. Not only are you specifically studying Digg readers overall, but you need to take time to study the Top Diggers. This used to be easier when there was a leaderboard, but a quick/easy way to find theme now is to study the homepage for a few days. Click on each homepage submitter’s name and check out their percentage of successful digs that made it Home.

A Top Digg User's Profile

Take a look at this guy’s stats. He was a random click for me on the homepage. However, note how high his submit percentage is (45%). That’s sizeable. That means that roughly out of every 2 stories he submits, almost 1 makes it to the homepage.

Do your research. Make impressing these guys your aim. If these guys submit you, then you have a great chance of success. Your goal should be to get these guys to find your article, and it should be specifically to tailor it to what they are already submitting.

A Little Friendly Stalking Never Hurt Anybody

There are a few ways to go about this, but the easiest is to stalk these guys. Yes, I know that sounds horrible, but if it didn’t work, Netscape wouldn’t have offered to pay them to do what they do so well (which is, of course, the reason there is no longer a Top 100 list, but that’s another story altogether).

I’ve been on Digg for a relatively long time in web years (since early 2005) so I have built up relationships with some people that are helpful in this way. Please note that this is an example of how organic community involvement is vital to your success online, and by doing it the way I have done it (ie by actually taking part in the community) you gain validity. Doing it this way is better, as you will garner more success and still be able to sleep at night.

Off my soapbox and back to stalking school… For the stalking though, I’m not talking about creepy ‘I’m a crazy person’ stalking, but really just attempting to form a relationship with them.

First, it’s research time. Take a look at their last 20 Diggs. What are they submitting? Who are they normally reading? Do you see any patterns you can exploit?

Now, for the next action: Take part in those communities (blogs, forums, etc.) and identify who they are and make an honest attempt to gain credibility in that community. Later, take a second to reach out to them asking for nothing. That relationship just may turn into their becoming a reader of your site.

Shoot for making relationships with at least 10 or so top Diggers. I don’t consider this gaming the system, because you are just trying to get them to notice you, you aren’t at all spamming them or annoying them.

Again, you get one shot here, so don’t overstep and NEVER ask for them to Digg you. If your stuff is good enough, they’ll notice you. If not, then go back to the content-creating drawing board.

If it didn’t work ask yourself, “Is your content relevant to Digg readers”? Remember, they tend to like extreme science breakthroughs (medical, astronomy, physics, etc.), technology related content, Digg related content and sexy stuff. If your blog is not related to those topics at all, I wouldn’t waste my time and energy with Digg. It’s not worth the effort. Try broader sites like Netscape, or niche oriented ones like Lipstick. A quick Google Yahoo! search will garner you more social bookmarking sites than you can shake a stick at.

Monetize – What have you done for me lately?

You are probably thinking, ‘this is a lot of work’. Yes, it is a lot of work, but for some things it is worth the effort. You’ll need to calculate the ROI of each marketing campaign you run, and yes, this is just another marketing campaign. Your results, whether your aim is immediate money or long-term branding, are definitely measurable. If they are branding, it’s a bit harder, but just capturing the mentions, the comments, etc. in a spreadsheet will help you understand quickly if it was worth the effort.

Monetization tracking is even easier. I’ve never depended on Adsense on my sites for monetization, my money-maker has always been through direct consulting jobs. For my clients, however, the large majority have not been about ad clicks nor sales, but branding. They’d want a particular product to gain attention, a contest to gain traction or a specific area of their site to gain memberships and authoritative backlinks. Because we were careful to define exactly what we wanted, tracking the campaign was easy via tracking traffic, WOM buzz, sign-ups, sales, etc.

I promise not to bore you further with all this marketing talk, but I wanted to point out that the most important thing to remember when determining if all this is worth the effort is in defining exactly what you want to do from the beginning. With clear cut goals (ie I want to gain 5K views, 50 subscribers and earn $25 in advertising sales and I am willing to spend 4 hours on this effort), you can easily track your efforts and determine if this should get another try next month.

The Bottom Line

  • Determine your goals
  • Write or build to your audience
  • Make it damn good
  • Schmooze with the best

Odds are, you will not make hundreds of dollars on a Digg story, unless you know some hoodoo-voodoo that I don’t know (and some of you probably do). PPC monetization is rarely effective on Dugg stories. Digg is much more effective at making sure your content, product, video, etc. get attention, at Digg and around the blogosphere.

Good luck, and as always, I’m Duzins on Digg. Let’s be friends 🙂

Download As A Podcast

Neat SEO Trick

While doing my morning reading, I devoured a list from Guy’s blog that led me to this neat seo trick.

Search Engine Optimization Analysis Tool: Use the SEO Analysis tool to see how a search engine spider sees any website. This is a great way to discover your competitor’s SEO weaknesses and consider how you can improve on your own.

I think this is hella-helpful for those of you going at it against the big-dogs. Find their achilles heel and exploit it by ranking well for it.  Take care to carefully read #11-14 as well, as they are also very helpful for similar reasons.

Yahoo! Acquires Bluelithium

It never ceases to amaze me how important metrics are to a company. Is Facebook important because people are on it, or more likely, because of the wealth of data that Facebook has collected about each and every user and because of the super-easy way you can target ads directly to that user, theoretically? Well, I suppose it’s a bit of both… You want a network to be full of hyper-interested persons, but you also want to catch them at their most vulnerable (while decompressing with friends) and you want to be able to tightly target ads to them at the same time.

With that intro, I would like to let you know that Jerry Yang, our Chief Yahoo, sent us an email this eve with the announcement that Yahoo! was buying Bluelithium. I can’t say I’m surprised, considering what they do:

With more than 100 employees, including computer scientists and researchers, BlueLithium is known for providing powerful data analytics to help customers get the most out of their campaigns as well as impressive behavioral targeting capabilities. They provide the dashboards and insights our performance customers have been asking for — capabilities that have been a bit of an Achilles heel for us.

Bluelithium is the fifth largest advertising network in the US and the second largest in the UK, according to PaidContent. The purchase price, again says PaidContent, was in the neighborhood of $300M. It appears that Bluelithium, if it is truly what it is hyped to be, can help Y! deliver much more relevant ads, and can more specifically allow advertisers to target specific segments of users to make their advertising dollars more meaningful.

I’ve said this before, if most web-savvy users do not click ads, and more and more users are being classified as ‘savvy’ then we have to turn the current model on it’s ear. We have to deliver better ads; more targeted; more useful; more succinct. Advertising shouldn’t be about removing borders and adding images to TRICK people to click ads. Ads should be so damn useful, that they are a HELP to the user and not something we have to fool them into using. When ads become user-focused, and not advertiser focused, we all see increased clicks and increased sales. Customers are happy because they found what they were looking to buy and advertisers are happy because their sales have gone through the roof. Let’s stop looking at what used to work and look at what SHOULD work.

Now, though advertising is a passion of mine, that’s definitely NOT what I am involved in at Yahoo! I’m a customer-facing, community nerd with advertising only entering my radar in knowing that it makes my paycheck possible. However, I can’t help but think, especially after the RightMedia acquisition, that Yahoo! is making a concerted effort at challenging the big G at their own game of dominating advertising online.

Of course, depending on the guys/gals at the top, that remains to be seen, but I do think that today is a good day for Y!

Facebook Meets eHarmony

This spoof is a dead-on inside look at how college students are using Facebook. Of course, if you aren’t a user, you probably aren’t going to get terms like ‘poke’, ‘write on wall’, and the different ‘status’ levels of the people involved. Either way, it’s a funny video and for marketers, it’s eye-opening.

Internal Kodak Video

A video that was produced internally to motivate employees has become so popular that it was released for the rest of us.

How To Price Advertising On Your Blog

I got an email from a friend last week who is just starting to monetize his blog, and wanted to know how to come up with a price for an advertising banner. I thought I’d share with you the formula I use to come up with a monthly banner ad price for clients.

First, I had my friend give me some details.

1. What niche?
Some niches are more profitable than others. For instance, a typical click via adsense () on this blog runs over a dollar. However, a typical click on my celeb blog tends to be less than a nickel. Of course, the CTR is much, much higher over there, but that’s another thing altogether.

2. What’s the estimated traffic?
Usually my friend sees 7-10k per day. Therefore, I’m using 8.5k x 30 as our typical monthly traffic (255k).

Using a traditional advertising formula, CPM (cost per thousand) x 255=monthly advertising rate.

How To Determine CPM
Continue reading “How To Price Advertising On Your Blog”

Text-Link-Ads Script

John Pozadzides is one of my favorite people because every time he sends me an email or shows me a post it’s something concrete and useful (and because he founded our MyBlogLog User Group). Over the past few days he’s sent me a few ideas for improving my site that are golden. Again this week he sent an email out to the Mybloglog list that was first rate.

I’m not sure if anyone else has ever struggled with this, but I needed to put text link ads on just the home page of my WordPress site, which of course is difficult considering that it is auto-generated.

He’s devised a way to do this (front-page only ads) and he’s kind enough to share the text link ads work-around with the rest of us. If you are one of those bloggers who are earning money with text link ads, you owe it to yourself to take a look at the code and see if it’s something you want to implement on your own site. Of course, if you aren’t a current text link ads publisher, I do hope you’ll sign up using my link. 😉