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Why is “Linkbait” Such a Dirty Word?

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As bloggers, we’re supposed to be building traffic with good, useful content. Though it’s something we all strive for, we’re not supposed to publicly state how much we want to build traffic and back links. We don’t want anyone to know we want our posts to go viral. We would be scandalized if folks knew we secredtly hoped for a massive response from Digg or Stumble Upon. It’s all about the vibe, you know?

Why is this?

Seriously, why?

Hear me out…

As bloggers, we want to build up traffic, right? We want people to visit our blogs and we want to profit from them. Sure, we have good intentions too. We want to share what we know , build relationships and teach some useful skills, but if you think most bloggers aren’t in this for marketing or money making purposes, you’re in need of a reality check.

Bloggers want traffic. Lots of traffic.

So why is “linkbait” such a dirty word? Isn’t it our goal to have folks link to us? Don’t we want to write headlines that will draw in readers? If no one else will say it, I will. Yes, that is our goal. We want readers and we will do what we have to do to bring them to our blogs.

Why, then, do we talk about linkbait as if it’s something dirty as in “Oh, he’s just using obvious linkbait tactics.” Well, so what?

I’ll even go as far as to say often times linkbait posts are more interesting than the regular “evergreen”content.

Granted, linkbait traffic is shortlived, but there’s no denying people will drop by often and stick around if they know there’s a good read coming up. If the purpose of linkbait is to solicit traffic and links, isn’t everything we write a ‘bait?

What do you think? Why aren’t we supposed to admit to using linkbait?

Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.

Why Do Small Businesses Need To Be Blogging?

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This is a guest post by Tara Anderson Marketing Manager at Lijit:

With the landscape of today’s media changing at a rapid pace, if your company doesn’t have a blog, it’s sure to be left behind. I know, I know, everyone tells you that. But perhaps by answering a few of the commonly asked questions I hear when discussing small business blogging, you’ll be more prepared to jump into the blogging waters.

Why do small businesses need to be blogging?

Short answer:  Because your competitor is.

Long answer:  Blogging can help you to generate leads and keep your current customers informed. And aside from the acquisition and retention of customers, blogs can assist with getting found on Google easier. Most search engines index blogs faster and more regularly than static websites because blogs are dynamic. Since you’re updating a blog frequently, search engines get notified and therefore your “Google juice” increases. What business doesn’t want to be ranked higher when a potential customer does a search?

Additionally, as someone who does marketing for a technology company, blogging has benefitted us in two ways. First of all, our blog has shown people the human side and personality of our company. This is huge when it comes to engaging our users and giving them a sense of our company culture. And secondly, we like to hear feedback from the people using our product. With our blog, we can do just that. Having the ability to talk with your users in an informal way is priceless.

I’m a little nervous about getting started. What should I take into consideration before launching my blog?

In my opinion, the most important thing to keep in mind before starting a company blog is resources…namely–time, money and ideas.

First of all, small businesses need to take stock of the talents they have internally. If there is someone working for the business who already has an interest in social media or perhaps really enjoys writing, you should consider that person a resource to help you with blogging. Maintenance is key with a blog and if you already have someone in-house who enjoys such things, you should take advantage of that. There’s nothing sadder than an abandoned blog.

Next comes the money part. Do you want to pay for your blogging platform or go with a free offering? There are pros and cons to each, obviously, and with the majority of paid versions come many more options for customization. Think about what you want to put into your blog financially and do your research.

Finally, there’s the task of deciding what you’re going to write about. Sit down for a brainstorming session and get creative. Your blog shouldn’t just be a mouthpiece to shout your message, but a place for you to feature your customers, discuss industry specifics and establish yourself as a thought leader.

Don’t forget about the fun. Talk about what conferences you’re going to or what meetups you’ll be attending. Ask others in the company what they want to be reading about on your blog and then get them involved.  Have a few ideas and blog posts in place before fully launching your blog…it’ll make things easier in the long run.

Now that you have your person, your platform and some topic ideas, are there any essential tools that I should be using to enhance my blog?

Here are my top three recommendations for any beginning blogger…

  • Images. When a reader comes to your blog and sees all text, it can look a little boring. Don’t be afraid to liven things up by illustrating your blog post with something visual. Or think about including pictures of your employees, your customers or your office. It all goes back to the personality piece I mentioned earlier.
  • Search. [Full disclosure: I work for Lijit and we provide a custom site search for bloggers.] Make sure your readers have a way to find all of that great content you’re creating on your blog. And if your site search is any good (*cough* Lijit *cough*) then it will provide you with analytics about what your readers are searching for, how they’re getting to your blog and what searches they’re doing that return no results. This is huge for better understanding your blog audience.
  • Comments. The whole point of a blog is to be able to have a conversation with your customers. If you don’t have comments enabled, then you’re shutting down that two-way street and your blog becomes another one-way marketing message with no engagement. Feedback and discussion are only going to happen if you let it. And now, with third-party commenting systems like Disqus and Intense Debate, you can have the option to moderate comments before they go live. This gives companies a small element of control over potential spammers and trolls.

What about some challenges I may run into with my blog?

I think people get overwhelmed with the care and feeding that goes into a blog. They launch their blog and then expect to have lots of readers and commenters the next day. You have to be patient because like anything else, blogging takes time. I suggest putting together an editorial calendar to plan out your blog posts a bit. Perhaps you want to do something fun every Friday or schedule interviews with customers every other week. Having a visual aid can be a fantastic organizing tool when dealing with the maintenance of a company blog.

Also, see what other people are doing with their company blogs. There is a lot of creativity floating around out there and sometimes it just takes opening yourself up to it in order for things to click. To illustrate my point, if a fiber equipment company and a concrete company can create successful blogs, so can you.

Any final thoughts on blogging?

Blogging is, by nature, a much more informal type of writing. Take some time to develop your voice and tone on the blog. The blog should sound more like a conversation than anything else. Readers aren’t there to read a white paper or to read something that’s overly technical. They are there to find out more about your company, to engage and the easier you make it for people to read and do that, the more successful your blog will be.

Whatever you do, stick with it because very soon, if you don’t have a blog, you will be one of the few.

An Open Letter to B5media Bloggers

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As a blog network owner and former blogger for b5media, I have mixed emotions regarding the whole mass firing/restructuring thing. First things first. Firing bloggers with no notice and locking them out of their blogs was a crappy way to reward their loyalty. Some of the bloggers have been with b5 since day one and deserved much better treatment than that. I was beyond pissed when I learned how everyone had been treated.

By now you know it’s likely most, if not all, b5media bloggers are going to lose their jobs as new management spend their newly acquired funding building a content portal geared towards women in their teens and 20’s. I’m not really going to get into that now.

I want to respectfully request b5media bloggers stop and think about what they’re doing. Some are reacting in anger and making questionable choices. I don’t blame you one bit, but I’d like to offer you a few things to think about.

Find New Work

I was publicly called out for suggesting this on Twitter yesterday, but it looks like the existing b5media bloggers are going to need a new gig. Your options are to stick with b5 and hope they’re going to keep you on, which doesn’t seem likely seeing as how they began looking for replacement staff in the beginning of January, or you can take matters into your own hands and find some other work so if you do find yourself locked out of your blog with no notice it’s not such a terrible thing.

Stop Deleting Your Social Networking Accounts

Those Twitter accounts that you’ve been using to build relationships for all these years? Deleting them is like treating dandruff by decapitation. If you start your own new blog or if you find a new gig or if you want to put out feelers for new gigs, you’re going to need all those contacts, friends and followers. Delete the feeds if you don’t want b5media stuff coming through, but keep your Twitter account. You worked too hard to build those relationships.

Think Twice Before Publicly Trashing b5media and Announcing You’re Going to Send Confidential Documents

Look, I know you’re angry but lashing out at b5media isn’t going to do any good. Here’s the thing, many of you have clauses in your contracts preventing you from talking smack about b5. The more you trash them on Twitter, Facebook and  blogs, the more you’re setting yourself up for a lawsuit. You may think it might not happen to you, but we’re talking about a company who fired 50 people without warning or giving them a chance to say goodbye to the communities they worked so hard to cultivate. I’m not so sure this is something I’d put to the test.

Also, potential clients might want to give you a Google. If they see you trashing your past and current client they may have second thoughts about hiring you. I’m not a huge fan of burning bridges. In the blogosphere everyone knows everyone and stuff can always come back to haunt you. Please, think about what you’re doing.

Finally, I’d think twice about publicly telling bloggers you’re going to send them confidential documents. If you signed a non-disclose this could be grounds for a lawsuit. I’m not saying you shouldn’t pass along information if that’s what you feel is right, but I’d ix-nay on public disclosures.

b5media Owns the Blogs and Domains…but Check on Your Content

I know this is going to upset this people and I’m sorry because many of you are my friends. However…

b5media owns the blogs and the domains and can do what they like with them. I know you’re all emotionally invested in your blogs. No one knows this more than me. I didn’t leave b5media on bad terms at all, but one of the reasons I stuck with them as long as I did was that I was so emotionally invested in my blog I couldn’t bare to see it go to someone else.  It took a while, but I got over it.

b5media isn’t obligated to sell bloggers their blogs or domains. It’s not shady for them to use the content any way they see fit. It’s business. As a business person and blog network owner, I can’t fault them for trying to work the content to the best of their advantage. (My beef is with the slimy way they went about things).

With that said, you might want to ask for your content so you can start your own blogs. Check the date on your agreement because there many be a clause in place saying your can’t post your content elsewhere. However, if you worked with b5Media prior to this, you may be able to take your content with you. Make sure you can though, read your contract thoroughly before requesting content.

Even if you don’t get your content back, start your own blogs anyway. People came to visit you every day so there’s a 99.9% chance they’ll continue to follow you even apart from b5media. You can put up ads and keep all the revenue yourself. Design it however you see fit, post as much or as little as you want and tell everyone you’re in business. If you build it, they will come. It won’t happen over night, but if you put in a good effort, it’ll happen in time.

No Freelance Writing Job is Ever a Sure Thing

b5media is a freelance writing client and they come and go. No freelance gig is ever a sure thing. It sucks and it hurts and I don’t want to minimize that.

Instead of panicking and reacting in anger, take the time to plan a calm, logical strategy. Don’t risk your reputation on a company that showed no regard for the people that built them into what they are today. Take a deep breath, regroup and come back with a vengeance. Get together with some other bloggers and start a network, find new work or start your own blog.

In 2010 the possibilities are endless. You have valuable experience, take it and use it to your advantage.

Deb Ng is founder of the Freelance Writing Jobs blog network.

Is Foursquare The New Twitter?

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I have recently been using Foursquare on my Blackberry Storm smartphone.  I believe it is only in the beta version at this point for Blackberry users but anyone and nearly everyone with an iPhone are using it in our world, The application is still working a little clunky and not the best of user experience but I like the idea behind it. What is foursquare?  This gives you a brief look:

People use foursquare to “check-in”, which is a way of telling us your whereabouts. When you check-in someplace, we’ll tell your friends where they can find you and recommend places to go & things to do nearby. People check-in at all kind of places – cafes, bars, restaurants, parks, homes, offices. You’ll find that as your friends use foursquare to check-in, you’ll start learning more about the places they frequent. Not only is it a great way to meet up with nearby friends, but you’ll also start to learn about their favorite spots and the new places they discover.

I unlocked my badge for my first check in spot yesterday. I was not a monumental moment but it did go out on my Twitter stream to all my followers and friends.  Speaking of Twitter, I was just thinking of what it was like the first time I tried it.  I remember hearing of the Twitter application in early 2007 from Robert Scoble  just before I went down to SXSW in Austin, Texas. It was there that Twitter went ballistic and is where it is today.  My first experience with Twitter came with it the thought of “meh”, and frankly my experience of Foursquare was the same.  It is in the overall experience that we will someday perhaps call Foursquare the new Twitter.

When I signed up for Foursquare I was able to click a few of my friends and invite them as friends as well.  Most of those were from Twitter and Facebook.  Since that time I have been getting email after email asking for me to join communities of others and it is becoming much like Twitter.  I wonder if we will get the Foursquare suggested user list and the best mayors across the country, and the top 100 Foursquare players and so on until it becomes the popular rising star Twitter became.  I think Foursquare and its sister service Gowalla may need to be watched in 2010.  These services may become the next thing Oprah has to use.  I’ll be your friend on Foursquare but the only thing I think I am the Mayor of at this point is my couch.

Tag You're It! – Why Tagging Your Content Is Important

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Tag You're It

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “We live in a Google world.”  It is true, we don’t order Chinese food, find directions to the store, or stalk old girlfriends without using Google.  Being findable in this world is important if you are trying to be found.  Businesses especially must pay attention to how their customers can find them.  Keywords and key phrases are how that is accomplished through the use of meta tags or just tags.

Tags are a keyword associated with content attached to it.  If you want people to read your latest blog post on how to wash a cat, you have to determine how they would look for that content and attach that key word or phrase to it.

The same rule applies to your content as a publisher whether it be a blog, a podcast, video or even your photos.  We often put pictures into our posts that we find which we feel are relevant to our content, the title or completely off the wall for that matter.  We find those pictures at places like flickr, istockphoto, and yes, Google image search.  We enter a keyword into the search function of those sites to find a picture for the content.

In addition to being searchable or findable, it also has the effect of increasing traffic to your content and makes the content watched, seen and readable.  One of the things that I do on a regular basis is to search out and find anyone that mentions BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  You can imagine all the different variations of that and the number of tags used to describe our event.  This is also why we like people that use a common tag.  The most used tag last year was of course “BWE09” and this year we are urging everyone to use “BWE10”.  This allows us a quick reference to your blog post, your picture on your photo sharing site, your podcast and your YouTube (owned of course by Google) or other videos. A YouTube search with “blog world” returns 234,000 results.  We all know it may be difficult for me to look at that many videos.  Using a tag like BWE10 focuses the searcher into your content. A similar search with BWE09 allows me the benefit of watching less that 150 videos.

If your content is well done and is something we need to share with our community, we find and share it.  This in turn increases the readers, listeners, or viewers of your content.  We are still pouring over the content generated as a result of the 2009 event in October, I am finding new content daily and still trying to read all of it.  As we grow and get bigger and have more content generated it is going to be tougher to find your content and thereby making it even more important for you to tag appropriately.

For the upcoming show in 2010 we are asking everyone to tag your content “BWE10”  If you Tweet that hashtag, put that in your post, attach it to your videos, photos and podcasts, I’ll be there to say hello.  If it is something that needs to be shared with the thousands of people in our community, we’ll do so and increase your traffic and readership.  If I miss something because I couldn’t find it, your content may never get discovered and broadcast further.  We are listening and we are paying attention to what is being said. Tag your content!

Photo Via SD_Kirk

Tag You’re It! – Why Tagging Your Content Is Important

Author:

Tag You're It

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “We live in a Google world.”  It is true, we don’t order Chinese food, find directions to the store, or stalk old girlfriends without using Google.  Being findable in this world is important if you are trying to be found.  Businesses especially must pay attention to how their customers can find them.  Keywords and key phrases are how that is accomplished through the use of meta tags or just tags.

Tags are a keyword associated with content attached to it.  If you want people to read your latest blog post on how to wash a cat, you have to determine how they would look for that content and attach that key word or phrase to it.

The same rule applies to your content as a publisher whether it be a blog, a podcast, video or even your photos.  We often put pictures into our posts that we find which we feel are relevant to our content, the title or completely off the wall for that matter.  We find those pictures at places like flickr, istockphoto, and yes, Google image search.  We enter a keyword into the search function of those sites to find a picture for the content.

In addition to being searchable or findable, it also has the effect of increasing traffic to your content and makes the content watched, seen and readable.  One of the things that I do on a regular basis is to search out and find anyone that mentions BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  You can imagine all the different variations of that and the number of tags used to describe our event.  This is also why we like people that use a common tag.  The most used tag last year was of course “BWE09” and this year we are urging everyone to use “BWE10”.  This allows us a quick reference to your blog post, your picture on your photo sharing site, your podcast and your YouTube (owned of course by Google) or other videos. A YouTube search with “blog world” returns 234,000 results.  We all know it may be difficult for me to look at that many videos.  Using a tag like BWE10 focuses the searcher into your content. A similar search with BWE09 allows me the benefit of watching less that 150 videos.

If your content is well done and is something we need to share with our community, we find and share it.  This in turn increases the readers, listeners, or viewers of your content.  We are still pouring over the content generated as a result of the 2009 event in October, I am finding new content daily and still trying to read all of it.  As we grow and get bigger and have more content generated it is going to be tougher to find your content and thereby making it even more important for you to tag appropriately.

For the upcoming show in 2010 we are asking everyone to tag your content “BWE10”  If you Tweet that hashtag, put that in your post, attach it to your videos, photos and podcasts, I’ll be there to say hello.  If it is something that needs to be shared with the thousands of people in our community, we’ll do so and increase your traffic and readership.  If I miss something because I couldn’t find it, your content may never get discovered and broadcast further.  We are listening and we are paying attention to what is being said. Tag your content!

Photo Via SD_Kirk

Size Matters To Those That Want Size

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I was hoping I could get a better title than that but I wanted to also see what kind of Google search results that will provide with giggles late at night.  The reason I wanted to talk about size is because there seems to be a differing opinion as it relates to the size of your Twitter followers.  One of the most attended and best received panels this year at BlogWorld Expo was about the gaming of Twitter and the inflation of follower numbers.  I unfortunately was not able to attend the session as I was otherwise busy with a few things, but I know it did well.

The inspiration behind the panel was why it is a bad idea to inflate or increase your follower numbers just for the sake of a big number.  I was reading Seth Godin’s blog about bullhorns.  Yeah I know he has a way of speaking in metaphors better than anyone.  You have to read the post yourself to get the idea. In the post Seth talk’s about Anil Dash’s recent and often discussed series about being on the suggested user list and why having a million followers on Twitter is actually not really as it seems.  It seems among my brethren in social media and marketing circles that they are shouting from the mountain tops that size doesn’t matter and note that many of which don’t actually have the size spoken of and are not benefiting from Twitter with the same dollars that Kim Kardashian is seeing with her $10,000 per tweet budget.  Are any other people out there with 100 followers making that kind of coin? Not hardly.  Why? Because the size of your bullhorn matters.  If Kardashian get’s 10K how much would Oprah get?  I shudder to think of that amount.

I can remember when people like Jason Calacanis and others were begging to be on the list and others were upset they were not included.  It’s about the numbers.  We all know that size doesn’t matter (it doesn’t right?).  If size doesn’t matter why do companies only want bloggers that have huge traffic numbers, and only pay attention to Twitter people that have large followings?  It is because they can put a metric on it and sell it.

Apparently, it is all about the Twilebrity?

Until we come up with a better metric or until we can stop “measuring”, size will always seem to matter.  To the people that are writing the checks and paying for Tweets or making lists of the tops in Twitter that has the most traffic it does matter.  Now, where did I put that stupid bullhorn?  Sorry Seth, apparently that is the game we are playing and until the rules change, those like you that have the largest will be the winners.

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

If You Are A Blogger I Am Watching You

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I was looking over the list of the bloggers to watch that was put together over at Darren Rowse’s blog at Problogger by Jade Craven.  The list is put together as a resource for bloggers to watch that can help others become better bloggers.  The list is great and I know of most of the bloggers there and will bookmark the remaining people that I am not familiar with for reading more in 2010.  I would love to have each of these bloggers provide a guest post here at BlogWorld & New Media Expo’s blog and I hope I get to meet them at the show this October.  After all, we are here to provide the best of the best of information about blogging.  The invitation is open to all of them to give us a post and provide our readers with their wisdom.

I read a large number of blogs.  I have more than a 1000 unread feeds that I keep track of in Google Reader, BlogLines and other places like FriendFeed, Twitter and Facebook to name only a few.  I try to keep my finger on the pulse of what is going on in the blogosphere, but posts like these are great to keep me apprised of who is blogging and what they are writing about.  I think I have been a subscriber of Darren’s blog now since Problogger was just beginning.  I knew then he was a great blogger and one to watch.  I am keeping my eye out and ear to the ground.

What bloggers do you feel were left off the list that I need to watch?  Is your name on a list? Perhaps you could let me know what your blog URL is and I can read yours too!

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