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October 2011

Another TechCrunch Writer Leaves, But on Good Terms

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TechCrunch writer MG Siegler announced early yesterday morning he’s leaving the tech blog as a full time writer. The timing may seem odd given the latest TechCrunch drama, but Siegler insists this latest move has been a long time in the making.

In a blog post titled “On the Next Venture”, Siegler says that yes, he is becoming a VC.

Enough with burying the lede: yes, I’m becoming a VC. I couldn’t be happier to announce that I’m joining CrunchFund as a general partner. It’s my honor to join Mike and Pat in that role. And I thank them for the opportunity.

Erick Schonfeld also announced Siegler’s leaving on the TechCrunch blog. He says that although Sielger is leaving TechCrunch as a full time writer, he will still write for them as an outside columnist, but on one very specific topic: Apple.

“While MG will only be working full time as a writer at TechCrunch for another month, I am pleased to announce that he will continue to write for us after that on a regular basis as an outside columnist. The scope of what he will write about will be very narrow: Apple. He won’t write about startups or venture capital. And just like he has always done, he will continue to follow our editorial standards, which require strict disclosures for any kind of conflict whatsoever—financial, business, or personal.”

Of course the web is covering this story with headlines such as “The Tech Blogger Bubble is Here” and “Tech blog writers hit the big time“. Some are skeptical about the announcement, while others are focusing on why hiring tech bloggers seems to be a popular thing to do right now.

What does Siegler have to say about this “tech bubble” and crazy valuations?

For all the talk of “bubbles” and crazy valuations, I think most overlook something very fundamental: technology continues to permeate all of our lives in ways we couldn’t imagine just yesterday. This will only continue to increase over time. Technology startups are at the forefront of this. What we’ve seen up until now is just a taste of what is to come.

We wish MG Siegler (read this if you are dying to know what MG stands for; not that it will answer the question for you) the best of luck in his new venture.

So tell us – what are your thoughts on all of the happenings within TechCrunch and the technology blogging realm as a whole?

Image: Twitter

Calling All Past and Present Speakers for a Special #BWEChat

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If you’ve been following all our regular channels, you’ll know that it’s Speaker Appreciation Week, where we honor all our past and present speakers for all they have so generously given to the BlogWorld community.

In that spirit, we’d like to invite all past and present BlogWorld speakers to join us for a special #BWEChat tonight.  The chat will give us a chance to give back to our speakers and allow the BlogWorld community to spend time getting to know them better.

If you’re speaking at BlogWorld, or if you’ve spoken for us in the past, I hope you’ll join us tonight at 9:00 p.m. EST.  If you’re a BlogWorld attendee, would like to be a BlogWorld attendee or just like taking part in engaging conversation, we hope you’ll join us as well.  We’re going to ask our speakers about their experiences and give them a chance to toot their own horns too.

See you tonight?

Disable Comments & Lock Posts Before Sharing on Google+

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Ebby Amirebrahimi, an engineer on the Google+ sharing team, announced yesterday a new update for Google+ users.

One of the most popular features on Google+ is the ability to disable comments and lock posts to make sure no one re-shares it, but this could only happen after you posted.

Thanks to this new update and feedback from the Google+ community, you can now lock down and disable before you share to your Stream.

The team’s goal at Google+ is to continue to add features like these, which will help their users feel more secure about sharing on the new social network. He also shared they will continue to listen to feedback, as well as roll out new features in the coming weeks.

Here’s a video with Ebby of the announcement.

Do you find this new sharing feature useful and are there any other features that make sharing more secure you would like to see added?

10 Exceptional Bloggers Answer The Question, “What Is Quality Content?”

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Session: Shane Ketterman
Speaker: Where Did My Traffic Go? How To Create Compelling Content In A Post-Panda World

Some would say nothing has really changed over the past year in terms of quality content.  But I say it certainly has.  Some would also say that quality is quality and the rules remain about the same as always.  But since Google made major changes to their coveted search algorithm throughout this past year, known affectionately as Panda, I have seen a lot of changes in the organic search results and the way Google views your content when it comes to displaying it on that coveted “first page” of the search results.

Google’s Panda update, also called the “high-quality sites” update definitely had an impact on many sites out there in terms of their organic traffic from search.  Originally, it was targeted at sites known as content farms but on April 11th, 2011, it went even further.  On that date, Google rolled out the U.S. Version of it’s Panda update and people who were not running content farms (including myself) saw a major drop in traffic.

In the days that followed and even more recently, we now know that this new algorithm that Google is using has redefined not only the SEO field but had put a new face on what is considered ‘Quality Content’.  In order to determine what quality content is, Google needed to get better at making the determination and in order to do that, it starts off with human quality raters.  These are real people (not machines) who look at hundreds of websites.  As this is occurring, computers (using machine learning languages) are following along with the humans and mimicking them.

Once the computer running the Google search algorithm becomes as good as the human at rating the sites, then it is pushed out onto the Internet.  Also known affectionately as GoogleBot.  If you have Google Webmaster Tools installed (and you should) then you can see crawl rates and references to GoogleBot.  This is the algorithm.

In essence, the new way Google judges your site is from a human point of view.  If this sounds a bit like we are getting closer to singularity, then you aren’t alone. Ha!

So. What happens next is a series of judgement calls that I will be diving into during my talk on Friday, November 4th at 3:00pm , and I’m even going to dive into some very controversial findings that may surprise you. However, here are a few of the new content sins and following that are some responses from a few really well-known and respected bloggers I got when I asked the question, “What do you consider quality content?”

A Few Content Sins

1.  How much of your unique content is above the fold? If you bring up your site, take note of how much actual original content exists within your eye-level view.  This is important because it should be more content than, say, ads.  Also, if there is not a lot of original content above the fold, it can be considered duplicate content.  Here is a great free tool to check your own values.

2.  Trust and Design factor.  How trusted is your site?  Would you trade your credit card information for something on this site?  Would you tell others about the content because it is so amazingly written and unique?  Quality over quantity is at play here.  Also, how is the design of the site? Can you navigate easily? Is the design pleasing to the eyes? Derek Halpern talks a lot about this topic over on Social Triggers and this post he wrote about the headline test is an excellent example.

A few more questions that the algorithm may be seeking are whether this site’s articles are driven by genuine interest or whether it’s written for search engines; do the articles include insightful analysis; and if this were a book, would you bookmark these articles to come back read later?

3.  What is the ratio of ads on each page to the content displayed?  Having a greater ad ratio to content ratio is definitely one of the newer content sins.

4.  Does your site have a lot of affiliate links and auto generated content?  Google sees this as “machines” building your sites and not a real human.

I’ll definitely be presenting more of these at BlogWorld but suffice it to say, it’s a new world in terms of organic search traffic.  Rand Fishkin of SEOMoz says that for those sites out there that are suffering, it’s best to begin improving engagement metrics and start shifting from pure SEO to “web strategist” when thinking of search.

Ask The Bloggers

I asked 10 bloggers ( a lot of them speaking this year at BWELA) a simple question: “What do you consider quality content?” and here are some of the excellent answers:

Chris Garrett – ChrisG.com
“Quality Content is relevant to the audience, easy and interesting to understand, easy consume, and achieves the goals you had in mind for it.”

Tyler Tervooren – Advanced Riskology
“Quality content” has always been the same thing to me ever since I started reading in first grade.

#1: It’s useful and teaches me something I didn’t know before.
#2. It’s entertaining and makes me happy I read it.

Caleb Wojcik – Pocket Changed
“Quality Content is about putting in more effort than you need to when creating. Instead of stopping at the “good enough” stage, you keep at it until what you publish is pure gold.”

Chris C. Ducker – Virtual Business Lifestyle
“In my eyes, quality content is content that is simply jam-packed with MASSIVE value. Ideally, it should motivate, inspire and solve problems for the reader / viewer – and above and beyond everything else, it should change the way that people think about what you’re talking about in the content itself. I always try to make sure that when somebody is done digesting MY content, that they sit back for a minute, or two and then – take ACTION!”

Adam Baker – Man Vs. Debt
“Quality content is simple. Content that helps solve a specific need of a reader or customer in an unique method or style.”

David Risley – DavidRisley.com
“Does it help people accomplish something? I think that’s a pretty good gauge for quality content.”

Amy Parmenter – The Parm Farm
“Quality content is content that serves your audience.  So, what does your audience need?  If you can answer that question and deliver day after day – or even week after week – that’s quality content, and your readers will probably respond and engage accordingly.”

Pace Smith – The Connection Revolution
“Quality content is content that makes a difference in you — that leaves you more inspired or more informed than you were before you read it.”

Ben Eadie – Video Blog Basics
“This is very subjective in my eyes, a beauty is in the eye of the beholder instance. Quality content is content that informs, educates, entertains or any combination of these. Quality does not mean professional writing, does not mean perfect video it does not mean you need to spend a ton of money making the content. As long as it is one or more of the above points of informing, educating, or entertaining to your audience you have made quality content.

Lara Kulpa – LaraKulpa.com
“Quality content comes from the ability to think differently than everyone else. Just because mashable.com writes an article about how G+ users have increased 1297% since it opened up doesn’t mean you should write the same article. Now, if you wanted to write about it, you’d fare better than stating the facts if you compared it to the total number of Twitter followers that Lady Gaga got in her first month (by percentage). Or what the profit loss percentage has been of Company X over the last year. Think different, write different, stop rehashing what the big guys put out there and make it your own. That’s quality content.”

I’d like to thank all of the bloggers who participated and I’d like to ask you what you consider quality content and if that has changed within the last year as Google adjusts it’s algorithms?

Shane Ketterman shows people how to invest in their future selves by offering handcrafted work that helps them discover ways to live and work on their own terms, find their purpose, and live a better life without having to follow the typical templates. His work can be seen at http://www.rewirebusiness.com.

1 Minute of Peter Shankman: The New Revolution is Not Social Media

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Session: Opening Keynote
Speaker: Peter Shankman

At BlogWorld LA, Peter Shankman will be our opening keynote speaker, talking about the new revolution. It’s not social media … it’s customer service!

And why does he keep coming back to BlogWorld? “It’s an amazing event. You learn a lot. I even learn a lot.”

Hear what else Peter has to say:

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Learn more about BlogWorld LA and register Here!

Find Out if Anyone is Listening to Your Podcast

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“Lies, damn lies, and statistics.” To the old cliché it might be worth adding “number of internet downloads” because working out just how many people are consuming your content is the source of countless applications, rules of thumb, and the occasional touch of snake oil (yes, I still get pitched with measured “hits” in 2011).  It gets even more interesting with podcasting.

Nobody likes to produce to an empty room, so how do you know if people are engaging with you? While most podcasters are going to have a blog (even if it’s just to power the RSS feeds for your show), there are some great strategies and ideas to discover your listeners and interact with them. Here are three, and feel free to add your own.

One of the important areas you have to remember is that people listening to your podcast are not likely to be next to their computer when they do listen, and if they are out and about they might not be in the best place to use a smartphone or tablet to carry out the action. So you need to make any call to action memorable and simple.

If you want something, ask for it. That’s a rule you want to remember here, because you want to get that listener interaction. The time honoured way is to offer some sort of inducement, and that’s why competitions should be considered. It doesn’t need to be a fantastic prize (unless you’ve got a sponsor who’d like to help out with that). An Amazon digital voucher is always a good place to start.

You could always combine the competition with a survey. Asking your audience a “question of the month” is a great format, and as well as engaging with them and starting a two-way conversation, any survey should always ask the basic demographic details of those taking part. Why? Because when you start to approach advertisers, they’ll really appreciate that kind of information (so make sure you tell people why you’re asking for the demographic data, be honest).

Finally, your podcast is just a file on the internet, so tracking downloads is a valid method. There are various plug-ins for blogging platforms that will help you do this, and some of them are tailored for use with podcasts. Personally I’m a fan of Blubrry’s service that’s wrapped up in their Powerpress plug-in for WordPress, but there are others out there you can use.

The flaw in relying on a counter is that downloads don’t necessarily mean listeners – go and check your podcast queue to see how many podcasts you have unplayed and you’ll see what I mean. That’s why the call to actions in your podcast are important. They may be reinforced with links on the show notes, but fundamentally they are discovered when people listen. Keep them simple, make them easy to remember (consider using a custom bit.ly link such as bit.ly/blogworld), and make sure to keep your own records on what works and what doesn’t – it’ll be different for every podcast audience!

Image: TwiT at MacWorld 2008″ cc Macinate / Flickr

Which Sites Did the Latest Google Panda Update Hurt & Help?

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Have you noticed a change in your blog stats? If you have, it could be due to Google’s latest Panda update – which is designed to help improve the quality of search results for users.

It’s always interesting to see which sites the updates hurt and which ones they help.

The latest data from Searchmetrics shows the sites that were hurt include prnewswire.com, consumeraffairs.com, as well as technology blog The Next Web.

Who received the most help after this Panda update? YouTube and Android.com – which are owned by Google – saw a 10% increase. Zappos and the Washington Post also saw some help after the update.

These latest updates are definitely raising some eyebrows when the top site to receive a jump in help was Google owned YouTube. But should this be questioned? Does the jump point to the significance of videos or do you feel Google is showing favoritism?

Federated Media Publishing Acquires Lijit Networks

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It was announced this morning via press release, Federated Media Publishing has acquired Lijit Networks, a Boulder, Colorado based company. The announcement was also made through a blog post from Lijit CEO Todd Vernon.

Lijit provides advertising services, audience analytics, and reader engagement tools for online publishers. The company helps you build revenue and engage your readers.

“Federated Media has a clear reputation as the market leader for connecting advertisers with the best of the Independent Web,” said Todd Vernon, Founder and CEO of Lijit Networks. “The combined company provides publishers of all shapes and sizes with a huge opportunity to grow and monetize their websites through a complete set of advertising offerings that best match their audience and readership. At the same time, advertisers have an unprecedented opportunity to reach the best and most authentic content at enormous reach and scale.”

When Vernon was first approached about selling the company, he met it with mixed emotions. The business was doing really well, it wasn’t for sale and they were having fun. So why sell?

In his post titled Go Big or Stay Home, he said “But, at the same time, if there was bigger play to make – an industry changing and industry leading play to make – it was with FM. It all made complete sense from that first instant of thought.”

I look forward to seeing what these companies can do together as a team. Are you familiar with either company? I think all of us online publishers should stay tuned to what they have planned for the future.

What “Content is King” REALLY Means

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For about a year now the buzzword (or, more accurately, buzz-phrase) I’ve heard most often in the blogging community is this: Content is King. I do believe that this is a great notion, but I also think that a lot of people throw around that phrase because it makes them sound smart and trendy.

The basic idea that “Content is King” isn’t hard to understand – your content is what brings readers to your site and what will keep them coming back for more. But I’d like to suggest that this is just the start.

Good Content versus Good New Content

Every day, I’m amazed at the sheer amount of awesome content published online. Sure, there’s a lot of not-so-good content too, but I’m constantly falling behind with my blog reading and let’s not even start to talk about the number of great videos and podcasts out there that just don’t fit into my day.

So, there’s a lot of good content. But what about good new content. New ideas – original thoughts in any niche – are more rarely published online and you have to fight through the noise to find these posts, videos, and podcasts. “Good” is highly subjective, but “new” is more objective. Part of the “Content is King” argument, in my opinion, is that you need to have new, original thoughts that really make a difference in your niche, not just regurgitate news or share opinions on what other people are doing.

The king is a leader, not  a follower. If your content really is king, it needs to be something new that people can get behind, not content that “follows.” At least some of the time.

The Royal Family and Court

Behind every good king (or any leader), there’s a whole host of other people working to make the kingdom run smoothly. If you have killer content, that’s awesome…but a king alone isn’t good enough. Do you have “support staff” in place to help your king? If not, your content is just pretending to be king, but doesn’t have any more power than a three-year-old in a Burger King crown.

The specifics for your royal family and court – the support for your content – depends on  your niche and needs as a blogger, but it typically boils down to three different categories: networking, promotional efforts, and community. The idea that “if you build it, they will come” is a myth. Support your content if you want it to truly be king.

The King is on Your Money

The man who is king had better get used to being in the public eye – he’s everywhere, even on the money. That’s what I find “Content is King” to really mean above all. Your content is what will first introduce most of your readers to your blog. A blog is more than just content – it’s community and products and design and maybe even more, depending on your niche. But every post you write is potentially the first introduction a reader has to your site, the same way a king is often the representative of an entire nationality.

What is important to remember is just how important it is that your content represents your blog well. Every piece of content you create should come back to the main thesis of your blog, the entire point you’re blogging. That way, a new reader who comes to your site gets a good taste as to what they can expect from you, no matter which post is the first one they read.

1 Minute of Mike Stelzner: Catch Him Twice at BlogWorld LA

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Session: Proven Social Media Strategies to Rapidly Grow Your Business
Speaker: Mike Stelzner

At BlogWorld LA, Mike Stelzner will showcase how you can build your business without marketing – and he’ll also be a part of the keynote on Saturday morning (Building a New Media Empire) with Lisa Stone and Deanna Brown.

Hear what else he has to say:

Watch more videos and see why other speakers are attending BlogWorld LA. See all Speakers here.

Learn more about BlogWorld LA and register Here!

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