Monday, August 31, 2009

Variety helps content creation

There's a constant mantra that SEO is all about unique content. So you are constantly trying to generate it. You keep worrying that you should be posting more of it as often as possible. Before long you start to run out of ideas, or at least you feel like you are. And you can simply become exhausted.

Needless to say, it's important to have a break every now and then. Of course it's worthwhile to stop blogging completely for a while. But it can also help a lot just to stop blogging and reading about one particular subject.

I've found that when I dump something I've been working too hard on and investigate something else instead I get a burst of energy. I also come up with a whole lot of ideas for blogs and websites related to it. Even though I don't begin building straight away, it's enjoyable just mulling over the possibilities. Then, after having had a bit of break from running projects, I do find it easier to return to them and generate new content.

Then if I start to burn out again, I can go back to those other, new project ideas occasionally. One or more of them will slowly start to gather momentum, and eventually become a reality.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Age of domains an SEO factor

People will be familiar with the exhortation to "begin it now". That's good general advice of course. But I think it's also particularly pertinent to any project on the internet. The reason is that the age of a domain is a factor in SEO. You accrue a small amount of benefit simply for hanging around in cyberspace for a while.

That's why if you have an idea for a website, you should choose a good domain name ASAP. Put some related content up there, even if it's far from perfect and it doesn't look too flash. Then get at least one link back to it so that it gets indexed by Google.

You will have started the ball rolling then, in more ways than one.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Anonymous blogger outed, sues Google

Rosemary Port, a blogger who posted abusive rants about model Liskula Cohen, was sued by the model. Now she's biting back, lodging her own lawsuit for being outed by Google, who she believed should have protected her privacy.

I can see why some bloggers in oppressive regimes want to remain anonymous. If they get sprung, they get shot! But this whole furore seems so silly and petty. I don't understand this need for anonymity. If you are going to say something critical, why not put your name to it? Or at least not make outraged demands that your identity remain secret.

That said, the model's reaction to Port's abusive blog was incredibly precious. Why not just shrug it off?

It reveals how ego-driven and bitchy some people are in the fashion world. That's hardly surprising of course! It also shows that despite blogging becoming a substantial force in itself, it's still dwarfed by the power of mainstream media. As the aggrieved blogger Rosemary Port says, hardly anyone even knew about her blog until Liskula Cohen gave it massive media oxygen by filing her lawsuit.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Why longer blog posts are better than short ones

The more I blog, the more I think about the length of blog posts. I often wonder whether it's better to write lots of short blog posts, or fewer longer ones. (And this question is not related to SEO. I'm thinking more about the effect of blog post length on bloggers' writing style and skill.)

I suppose the blogging medium itself lends itself to short posts. You can make a strong point, then quickly move on. And if you want to communicate a more comprehensive argument or series of points you can do that simply by linking to other blog posts or articles in the one post. Again your post will be short.

While using this technique is useful, I don't think you should overdo it. If you do, you can start to lose the facility to communicate your own thoughts thoroughly and completely. If a blogger tries to write a book, for instance, he won't have the luxury of linking out all the time. He has to include all the information actually within the text he's writing.

That's why making a point of occasionally writing longer posts, without linking out at all, is a good idea. You should also write articles of at least 500 words and submit them to directories. That's a good way to increase your focus and follow through. It's also great for SEO, of course.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The internet's effect on attention spans

There are many arguments about how destructive and corrosive the internet can be. Many people complain about the porn, cyber-bullying, the scams, the viruses and spyware among other things. But to blame the net itself for these things is wrong, I think; a case of shooting the messenger. Sure, the internet makes their transmission so much easier and quicker. But they are separate phenomena.

There is one big negative that I think we can attribute to the workings of the net, however. That's the shortening of attention spans.

I can only speak for myself, but I don't think I'm alone. In the days before the web I could concentrate for a lot longer. I read books and articles one at a time. Now, on the net, I read something for a couple of minutes, then search for something else. I click on a link but quickly get bored with that and do some more searching. If I don't find what I'm looking for, I go back to what I started reading.

It's crazy! Everything is broken up. And it has affected my behavior offline as well. When I read the paper, for instance, I read half an article, then start another, then another. Then I go back to finish the first, second and third! Reading them all the way through one at a time doesn't feel quite right.

I also find it when I'm shopping. I tend to buy stuff in little bursts, rather than getting everything I need in one trip. Maybe this is just a result of my advancing age (I'm 45). But I don't think so. I believe it's got a lot to do with the web.

Has anyone else had this experience?

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Make money blogging about things you love

Just a thought on this "make money from blogging" phenomenon: I think a lot of people have the whole thing inverted. They read about how some bloggers are pulling in big bucks writing - somewhat ironically - about how to make money from blogging! They then emulate them. So there are a squillion sites out there with much the same information. They are all spruiking ebooks and courses and work at home business opportunities.

Sure, a lot of people are still doing pretty well out of this. But I suspect most of them make little or no money and then give up sooner or later. The reason for this is that they are not writing about what they have a genuine interest in.

We all need money and it can be a strong motivating factor. Hell, it motivates us to get up every morning to go to work, and stay there until knock-off time! But unless the art of making money itself is a real passion and you are forever learning new techniques, then you'll eventually run out of motivation to write about it. I mean, you can't just keep writing exactly the same stuff over and over. You'll go completely batty.

So the key is to find something you really love doing. Then you'll keep learning new and fascinating things about it which you can share with your readers. You'll build up mountains of content on this particular subject. The search engines will reward you with more and more targeted traffic. You can monetize that with Adsense or affiliate programs, and that's where you'll get an income.

So it's vital to pursue your real interests first and not worry about the money. That's easier said than done. Money is such a big part of all our lives that sometimes it's hard to find things that aren't influenced by the need for it either directly or indirectly! But they are there, of course. And it's those that you should blog about.

It's a real paradox. But I think it's true that the best way to make money from a blog is to start out with no intention to do so. Or put another way: follow your heart and the money will come. (And even if it doesn't, so what? You had a good time on the journey.)

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Informative blogs make the most money

A general, but crucial point: When people type those keywords into the search engine, they are most often looking for information.

That's pretty obvious. But it took me a long while to realize it. When I started blogging I just wanted to express myself, so I started a couple of rant blogs about anything and everything. Opinion, comment and humor blogs do have an audience, and I built up decent traffic to them. But it's very difficult to sell anything off them because the readers who keep returning are usually looking for nothing more than an amusing or diverting point of view.

But if you offer good, useful information in the form of tips, guides and links to other good sources of information, and you keep it specific to a niche, then you can monetize your blog more effectively in the long term.

Firstly, you'll have a higher click rate on the contextual ads that you are showing, since they'll be more relevant. You'll also develop credibility as an expert in your niche, so you'll have greater success with the affiliate products you sell off your blog. People will think that the product must be worthwhile, since you are endorsing it. (That's why it's also important to find quality products to promote!)

So, a good question for money making bloggers to ask before every new post is: Is this informative and useful to people? I think that asking it consistently will help them build a leaner, more readable blog that is ultimately more profitable.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Another way to find new forums

For those who want to find new forums to participate in, here's another way to find them: Look for online discussion boards dedicated to forum administration. Most of the members will actually have their own forums, which they list in their signatures.

Some of these boards have sections for the members to show off their sites or submit them for review, too. Here are two examples.

I think this is a good way to find new forums that haven't yet accumulated enough content to rank highly in the search engines, but are nonetheless well managed, and likely to be around for a while.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The power of blogging

We've all read about how lone but persistent bloggers have managed to gather millions of readers by simply tapping away in their bedrooms, and how some of them have managed to upset the mainstream media with their assiduous fact-checking.

Some individuals even wield an amazing amount of political power. Take, for instance, the blogger known as "Cyxymu". Blogging out of Georgia, which was recently in a war with Russia, his posts were deemed so threatening to some immense power that it launched a massive cyber-attack to try and stop him getting his message out across the web. The assault so huge it shut down Twitter for several hours.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Addicted to blog statistics

I've been blogging for several years now, but in the beginning I wasn't that interested in the actual craft of it - aside from the writing, of course. I would just post stuff and then forget about it. I used to get traffic, but I really wasn't bothered about how much I was getting, or where my visitors had come from.

But in the last year or so I've become more and more interested in all those aspects. So I've been checking my statistics regularly. But now that habit seems to have become a full blown addiction. I just can't stop myself logging in at least once a day - sometimes more - to check my blog stats!

This seems to be quite a common affliction. One day it might even become a bona fide medical condition, with specific drugs and therapies devoted to curing it!

Does anyone else have this problem?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Forum posts really do add up

I just logged in to one of the forums I've been participating in. I hadn't posted there for ages, and was curious to see how much I'd written. It turned out I had racked up 18 posts on various subjects. I copied all my posts to a file, which showed the word count: 1500 words.

So, that's quite a bit of material, on a range of subjects. And that's just from one forum.

It just goes to show that if you join these communities it's pretty easy to develop a lot of content. As long as you rewrite it substantially to make it unique in the eyes of the search engines you can use it again for articles and blog posts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Finding new forums with member usernames

If you are looking for new forums to post on, then of course you'll find heaps with a bit of creative Googling. But here's a little trick that uncovers them in a different way:

If you've joined some forums already, you'll notice that there are some members who post a helluva lot. You also start to see their usernames in some other forums you've joined.

Chances are that they've joined still more forums that you don't know about. So if you just Google their username (including the word "forum" if you wish), the search will reveal a whole host of online discussion boards. Chances are they'll be good, active forums, too. Experienced and avid forum users wouldn't be wasting their time on tiny inactive forums, after all.

Here's an example. There's a marketer called "work2bfree" who is a very active forum user. Here's what a search for her username reveals.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Impersonated on Twitter

I was just checking my stats and saw that someone had come via a Twitter page. I checked it out and saw that the member was using my nickname and the page included the blog description above, as well as a link back here.

Odd that someone would do this. Maybe he's using a content scraping tool and creating heaps of false accounts so he can build up followers and traffic. Not really sure, but it's bloody annoying ...

Has anyone else had this done to them?