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Is Your Blog Fast Enough For Google?

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For a long time all of us have been worried about our page rank and how we fair in the eyes of Google.  Yes, I have always said it, “We Live In A Google World.”  Google holds all the search cards, or at least about 60% of it last time I checked, and they make most of the rules we all follow in order to get on page 1. Apparently, as Michael Gray reports, Google wants your site to be fast to get better rank in their eyes.

I always try to see what the latest news is and what the latest tricks are to make sure we don’t cross the line and get in trouble with the almighty Google.  I am trying to put a hint of sarcasm in there, but don’t tell Google they might penalize my site, but I digress. Michael Gray’s blog, something I try to read often and wrote about “How To Speed Up WordPress.” Since we use WordPress as our application of choice here, for the time being, I decided I better check it out.

I try to listen to experts like Michael and follow what he has as advice.  In this particular instance I might not be able to and keep the site with all the bells and whistles we have become accustomed to here.  Things like Tweetmeme and other social metworking buttons and such are things Michael advises we get rid of to help the load speed.

I don’t want to hear about the site problems we already have we are actively trying to remedy that as we speak.  Our load time is really long since are site never truly stops loading.  I guess you could say we are in perpetual load.  Thanks for the post Michael.

How does your site do after testing? Is it fast? Is it Google fast? I am not sure any of us will ever know that secret.

Photo Via Whole Wheat Toast

Listening To Yourself

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I called 2009 the year of listening. Many reputation monitoring products made their hay in 2009 including Radian6, TechRigy, Flitrbox, and others.  They all have listening in common.  Being able to hear what is being said about you and your brand online is an important part of your listening campaign.  Not only should you be listening to your customers, your potential customers, and even your competition, you need to listen to yourself.

Before you begin to think I am being a little schizophrenic in that statement, I am referring to larger organizations that a party of one.  If you are a single or soloprenuer, you obviously have a good handle on what you say about your own brand.  If you are a large organization are you listening to what is being said about your own community or employees?

Many employees are in the world of social media now and they are all part of the larger social networks. Facebook and Twitter, and blogs are being used by many of the people out there and this is all accessible by their friends, family and online acquaintances.  Those groups are are potential customers of your company and therefore you need to also monitor that reputation and be a part of those conversations.  I am not talking about stalking your employees. I am speaking about listening to how they talk about you and your brand online.  They need to be corrected when they make mistakes and they also need to be noticed when they are evangelizing your brand so you can thank them accordingly.  What better way to make them more of an evangelist than to thank them for helping you build a good reputation online?  I have often said that every employee must be a brand evangelist of the company they work for.  We are all social media managers of the company we work for.

I was inspired to write this post after reading a post by Melissa Galt. Melissa talks about 3 rules of social media and how knowing these can help you win the social media game.  Her point that caught my attention was:

#2 Monitor the conversation and correct misstatements.

You have a responsibility to maintain awareness of what is being said particularly by those who work for you and correct any misstatements that they make.

This is a great point that she made and different from what others are preaching about listening. I hear the social media pundits all talk about monitoring your brand from the outside but Melissa makes a great point about listening to yourself.

Photo Via AdamSelwood

Should You Give it All Up to Blog for Someone Else?

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As a professional blogger, I enjoy the best of both worlds. I do some blogging and social media work for a few outside clients, but the bulk of my income comes from owning my own blog network.

When I first began building my blog, it was a frustrating upward climb. The traffic came slowly and there was no revenue. Almost five years later and I’m so proud of what it’s become. The thing is, I couldn’t have done it if I didn’t cut down on the blogging for other people. Granted, that’s not a solution for everyone. As noted above, I still have some clients. However, after several years of blogging I realized I wasn’t going to make a name for myself if I was spending all of my time blogging for someone else.

My options were:

  • To hire people to handle all aspects of blogging and running my network while I worked for someone else.  I tried that, but the numbers tanked. You can hire the best people in the business, but it’s a challenge finding bloggers who share your passion and commitment to your own blog. For most of them, it’s a job. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • To give it up and blog for someone else. I’m not sure I understand why anyone would want to totally give up her own community to grow someone else’s. I understand doing both (mine and my clients’), but I don’t know about giving up my dream in favor of another brand. Giving up my blog to prop up another blogger would have been a big mistake and I’m glad I didn’t go that route.
  • To devote more hours to building up my own stuff: Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner. I realize now that I did  the best thing I could have done – which was start my own blog all those years ago. It was hard work getting here but it allowed content to become indexed in the search engines and for my name and my blog network’s name to become a community, a brand and a chief source of income.

What’s my point?

That you absolutely can build up a profitable blog while you’re working for someone else. A year ago, my employer wanted me to give up my blog network to focus solely on his brand, and I’m so glad I didn’t. I never let what I do infringe on company time, but I didn’t give up up my dream in favor of someone else’s. Sure. I had to work a lot of late nights and early mornings but it was well worth it in the long run.

Just because your blog doesn’t hit right away, doesn’t mean it won’t at all. Give it some time. It could become the next big thing.

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

WordPress Updates With Carmen

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The latest version of WordPress has been released per the WordPress blog and Matt Mullenweg.

I am most interested in some of the features they have updated or upgraded with reference to video and other media that is added to posts. The sooner they make it easier to put up a blog post the better. I have always asked when WordPress was going to develop its own desktop blog editor like Windows Live Writer or the many other blog editors available. I thought that a blog editor that can be used on the desktop and sync with your WordPress blog would be a benefit to the entire community.

Determining the Purpose of a Blog

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With all the talk about earning money as a blogger, I think it’s important to determine the purpose of a blog. This isn’t one of those same “why do you blog” discussions, because most people will say they love sharing or writing and it turns in to a big kumbaya. Determining the purpose of your blog is to get to the real meat of the matter. It’s to look into your blog’s future and see where you envision it five years down the road.

Why do you really blog?

Is it because you want to build your personal brand?
Is it because you are being paid to build someone else’s brand?
Is it to bring traffic?
Is it to create awareness of a product, service, or charity?
Is it to share?
Is it to write about yourself?
Is it to sell something?
Is it to make money?

Until you determine the purpose, you won’t really be able to grow your blog one way or another. Knowing which direction to take your blog will give you goals. It will enable you to put a plan into place. For example, someone only interested in building a buzz around a brand will take a different approach to a personal blogger. Someone wishing to share tips is probably going to be less aggressive than someone only wishing to make money. Each type of blogging involves different tactics and strategies.

What is the purpose of your blog…and what is your plan of action for growing your blog?

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

Is There a Place in the Space for the Personal Blog?

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I’ve been thinking about personal blogs a lot lately. Sometimes I just want to write what’s on my mind, but it’s too off-topic for my freelance writing or food blogs. I tried to have a personal blog, but to be honest, no one cared.  For me, most of the enjoyment of the blogging is to share with others, that doesn’t happen when no one comes a-calling. My blogs that have a specific focus, do very well. Blogs that are just me talking about stuff…not so much.

I wonder…is there a place for the personal blog?

Can a personal blog be a success?

I tried personal blogging in the past and no one read it but my family. They laughed at all the funny spots and reminisced with me when I discussed hand-me-downs or living on powdered milk, but besides one of my siblings and a friend or two, no one was interested. Unless you’re truly funny or can get your rant on at regular intervals, it’s tough building up a community.

  • People who read blogs are confused when a blog doesn’t have a purpose. I’m finding that while personal blogs had a place several years ago, now they’re a much harder sell. Blog readers want a focus. They want a topic. They don’t want to read about my cat or the second grade recital. At least not on the same blog, it would be a better sell if I had a parenting or cat blog.
  • People want to read blogs that teach them something. They don’t want to learn about my lunch with the girls or Thanksgiving traffic on the BQE – unless I’m teaching them how to avoid Thanksgiving traffic on the BQE. Heck, I’d pay for that information.
  • Personal blogs are harder to monetize. Sure, we can put up ads, but no one is buying or clicking. Advertisers don’t want to buy space on a blog lacking focus or traffic.  It’s hard to keep something going every day when you’re not getting paid for it.
  • Personal blogs don’t rank as well on the search engines. They don’t have a niche or keywords, they’re just random musings. Google doesn’t care about random musings, it cares about keywords, even if those keywords make absolutely no sense.

Personal blogs are fun, but they’re not a way to make a living, at least that hasn’t been my experience. Lately, all the personal blogs I come across are infrequently updated with hardly any comments. If you blog for the love of this, that’s probably not a big deal for you, but if you want something more it’s probably not worth it to keep going.

I’m interesting in hearing from those of you who maintain personal, non niche-oriented blogs. Do you have a successful personal blog, one without a distinct focus? If so, I’d love to learn more about it and how you made it a success.

Deb Ng is a professional blogger and founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs network. Feel free to follow her on Twitter @debng.

5 Things Your Spouse Won’t Understand About Blogging

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Thinking of getting into blogging? I hope you have a good support group at home. It’s especially helpful if your spouse is someone who “gets” blogging and social media. If not, be prepared for lots of questions.

5 Things Your Spouse Won’t Understand About Blogging

1. Why you spend so much time blogging

It’s hard to explain why frequently updated content is important or why you need to keep your community apprised of the latest news and products in your niche. Not every spouse understands having to strike while the creative itch is happening or needing to get stuff written down while it’s fresh in your head. Try explaining to someone who doesn’t quite understand that you need to update every day even while on vacation because you don’t want to lose traffic and revenue, or cause your community to go elsewhere for their fix.

2. Blogging is more than typing some words and hitting “publish”

Spouses (spice?) don’t always understand how there’s more to blogging than just typing. We have to analyze traffic, keywords, and more. We have to research advertisers and keep on top of the latest news and trends in our niches. We have to visit other blogs and comment to share community. The truth is, blogging is a full time job even though most bloggers aren’t able to put in a full time effort.

3. Spending time on the social networks is part of blogging

Yes honey, I really AM working when I’m on FaceBook and Twitter. Though I began blogging long before Twitter, it’s been an immense help in growing my blog network. Social networks give me a chance to interact with members of my community, meet others, and find new clients and advertisers. Social networks also put me in touch with other like-minded people with whom I’m launching or discussing new projects.

4. Money doesn’t happen right away

It takes time to build up traffic and revenue. Money doesn’t happen overnight. In many cases it takes years. The truth is, many bloggers abandon their blogs because they don’t pay off after a few months.  My blog used to bring in a few hundred dollars a month after the first year. Almost five years later and I’m just about making a full time salary. With blogging slow and steady always wins the race.

5. Meetups and Tweetups aren’t unsafe

Remember how we used to warn everyone about meeting people they talk to online. Try explaining Tweetups. “But honey, I’m just going to meet the people I talk to on Twitter. ”  There’s still danger in meeting peple from online, but there’s also safety in numbers. Tweetups are always held in very public places with plenty of others invited. It’s not like meeting a stranger in a dark alley. Be sensible and you’ll be fine.

Multicultural Blogging

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Guest post written by Sensis President Jose Villa

The term “multicultural” has grown out the need for the marketing world to understand and categorize the various ethnic and lifestyle minorities that have emerged in the U.S. during the last 30 years. The term has come to represent an amalgamation of various ethnic and lifestyle groups that includes the Hispanic, African-American, Asian-American and GLBT populations, not to mention various other ethnic and immigrant groups throughout the U.S. When taken as a whole, the multicultural population of the U.S. represents more than 100 million individuals — much more than a niche with spending power that cannot be ignored by any marketer.

Historically, reaching these diverse audiences has been the sole domain of the traditional media world, particularly Spanish-language TV networks, urban radio, Asian newspapers and GLBT lifestyle magazines. However, with growth of social media, sparked by the early and sustained growth of blogs and social networks, there has emerged a set of platforms with the potential to drastically change the way these multicultural audiences are reached. Specifically, the opportunity to truly engage multicultural and GLBT audiences in a two-way conversation represents a seismic shift in multicultural marketing and communications.

Looking at the growth of the multicultural and GLBT blogosphere during the last few years provides a unique glimpse into how social media is changing multicultural marketing. In many ways, the growth and establishment of multicultural and GLBT blogospheres represents the emergence of a powerful new group of influencers — individuals going online and sharing their opinions with their friends, family and broader community – that are at their heart of their respective ethnic, lifestyle and immigrant communities.

I, Sensis agency president and multicultural marketing blogger, am moderating an insightful panel of prominent multicultural and GLBT bloggers on Saturday at the Blog World Expo to discuss this powerful marketing medium and how to use it to engage the Hispanic, African American, Asian American and GLBT communities. Panelists include:

  • Matt Skallerud of Pink Banana Media, a prominent GLBT blogger and social media expert.
  • Ana Roca-Castro of Premier Social Media and LATISM, a top Hispanic blogger and social media marketer.
  • Wayne Sutton, a prominent African American blogger and entrepreneur.
  • Sumaya Kazi, executive director of The Cultural Connect and senior social media manager at Sun Microsystems, who will be speaking on the Asian blogosphere.
  • The panel will involve a lively discussion of issues such as:

  • Are multicultural and GLBT bloggers just a part of the broader fabric of a diverse blogosphere or do they represent unique voices that represent their respective communities?
  • What makes multicultural and GLBT bloggers different?
  • Session attendees will walk away knowing:

  • Statistics and trends of the growing multicultural blogosphere.
  • Key / influential blogs in these communities.
  • How to effectively use social media to influence this population and gain brand ambassadors for your organization.
  • The importance of authenticity when interacting with these users via social networking.
  • An Analysis of the Blogosphere: Its Present and Future Impact

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    I am very excited to tell you that “An Analysis of the Blogosphere: Its Present and Future Impact,” a BlogCatalog commissioned study of the blogosphere by Spectrum Brand Strategy, LLC, was recently completed. I am even more excited to have the report in time for BlogWorld Expo 09 and to be able to share the findings with all of the conference attendees and exhibitors.

    The report, which examines timely topics like “the impact of blogs on traditional news and commerce” and “can bloggers be trusted” should resonate with bloggers and social media junkies who earlier this week witnessed the collapse of the 69-year-old traditional media juggernaut Gourmet magazine and the release of FTC guidelines that will require bloggers to disclose any freebies or payments they receive from companies as compensation for product reviews. The report also shares bloggers’ insight on their current environment, involvement with microblogging and opinions on future media trends.

    Having experienced BlogWorld for the first time last year, I know that it takes a special kind of person to absorb and apply the vast amounts of knowledge shared at the conference. “An Analysis of the Blogosphere: Its Present and Future Impact” is a tangible and valuable resource that will complement many of the subjects covered in the conference sessions. I hope that you will stop by the BlogCatalog booth to say hi, pick up a copy of the report and give us a chance to get to know you. See you at BlogWorld!

    by Jason Teitelman
    Community Engagement Director
    BlogCatalog.com

    Are There Any Original Ideas in Blogging Anymore?

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    Last week I had the pleasure of attending the Demand Studios Creators Conference in Santa Monica. While there, I was speaking with another writer who was sharing an idea she had for a blog. It was an amazing idea. I won’t give it away here, but in retrospect, the reason this idea tickled me so much was because of its originality. I have never seen or heard of her idea anywhere. I think she’ll do well.

    When I started my blog four and a half years ago, I was the only freelance writer listing gigs from around the web. Now these types of blogs are a dime a dozen. Every day more blogs about blogging, social media, writing, parenting, green living, working at home, saving money, making money online,  and so many other popular topics crop up, but not many of them are showing me anything new.

    It got me wondering if there are any new ideas. Maybe you can help…

    When was the last great original idea you saw for a blog? Can you think of any topics that haven’t yet been discovered?

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