Tuesday, 31 July 2007 at 19:40, mcrilf wrote...

Problogger confidential

I just got word of the latest Problogger Confidential series - a call with blogging mastermind Yaro Starak. The call will cover how to make a solid income through part-time blogging.

Register here for the call at 9pm Eastern time on Wednesday

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Tuesday, 24 July 2007 at 07:41, mcrilf wrote...

Paid submission...a rip off?

I receive a whole host of search engine related emails and feeds and a common recurring theme from one of them is the old 'Get listed in 48 hours, GUARANTEED'. I've never believed in paid submission to search engines - if you optimise your site properly, you don't need to.

There are some tips & techniques that you can use to get your site into search engines quickly which I'll post on soon. One of them that I've used is to add your site's feed to your personal MSN or Yahoo! page. Effectively, you're telling these search engines about your site...and a short while after adding your feed, you'll start to show up in their results pages. That, coupled with adding a Google sitemap should have you well on the way to being indexed.

What techniques do you use to get listed quickly? Have you ever used a paid submission service? And has it been worth the cash? Leave a comment and let me know.

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Saturday, 14 July 2007 at 08:54, mcrilf wrote...

Choosing the right domain name

Selecting the right domain name for your latest online venture is a major choice you'll need to make...and one which you should spend some time mulling over.

There are a couple of schools of thought worth noting here:

Keyword-rich domains
On the one hand, your domain name could contain search keywords that you are targetting in your niche - for example, www.unique-gift-ideas-shop.com which sells...um...unique gifts. There is some debate over how much having search keywords in your domain helps. From my perspective it isn't the best choice if you're trying to build a brand. After all, flickr isn't called online-photo-sharing.com is it?!

Brand / uniqueness
Another approach is to go down the brand route - build your brand around a unique name (for which, of course, the domain name is available). The down side of this is naturally that when you start out, no one will be searching for your name. But if you structure your site properly from a content hierarchy / SEO perspective and ensure your pages are appropriately optimised (good title tags, keywords in h1 tags etc) people should start to find you. Of course, you'll probably need to work a bit harder to get your brand out there, but once word of mouth starts, you'll begin to pick up inbound links and your rankings in the search results will start to gain ground.

If you plump for the brand route, the next decision has to be a name itself. Businesses can spend (literally) millions on this but it's not necessary to do so. I found a nifty set of domain tools that might at least give you some inspiration - I like the six letter random domain names which have inspired me. The page shows different domains every time you refresh it. Many of them are unpronounceable, but if you persevere you'll find gem or two!

Remember...choosing a domain name is one of the most important things you'll do for your venture. With all that effort you'll put in to building links to it, you'd better make your choice wisely. So take some time.

Let me know how you went about your own domain name choices.

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Thursday, 12 July 2007 at 20:08, mcrilf wrote...

Creating Killer Flagship Content

All bloggers want to be noticed and admired by an active readership...why else spend countless hours writing (ok, well, there is the pleasure of purely recording something, but ultimately without a readership it's a bit fruitless).

So it was with interest that I read Chris Garret's free e-book on Killer Flagship Content. He likens flagship content to the "go-to" stores within a shopping mall...they're the things that attract the mall's footfall...and the smaller stores benefit too with passing trade. In the same way, flagship content on your blog attracts readership, and that readership will generally stick around to see what else you're writing about. It's a nice metaphor - and like most great ideas, it's very simple.

Chris' e-book goes on to suggest 10 ideas for creating flagship content - from tips, to FAQs and more. And then suggestions on how to promote your content. His writing style makes the info-packed 14 pages easy to read so you can devour it in 30 minutes. But go back and read it again to pull out the practical tips that apply to you as a blogger. There are plenty there.

Whether you're just starting out in life as a blogger...dipping your toe in the water...or even if you're an old hack that just needs a few ideas, Chris' book is well worth a read. Grab your copy here.

Right...I'm off to brainstorm some of my own killer flagship content ideas...

E-book image copyright Chris Garrett

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Twitter and Jaiku on iPhone

Although I'm a Jaiku fan more than a Twitter fan, you might want to know that you can now Tweet on your iPhone thanks to PocketTweets. Nothing to download, just point your iPhone at www.pockettweets.com and get tweeting where ever you are.

Get updates to the PocketTweets service from their own Twitter stream.

Of course, Jaiku has an iPhone interface too so you can use their superior service as well (and no, I don't work for Jaiku!)

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Tuesday, 10 July 2007 at 21:01, mcrilf wrote...

Build links with Jaiku

I just joined Jaiku which, I have to say, beats Twitter with its eyes closed.

Apart from it having a very sweet AJAX interface, it has some nice features which help us SEO-ers. The principle one of which is the ability to add multiple feeds to your Jaiku presence.

Any feeds that you add (which could be feeds from your blog, a Google blogsearch or whatever) show up as entries in your presence with links to the original page...with the title as the link text...all without 'rel=nofollow'. Thanks Jaiku guys, you rock!

So you can build posts with keyword rich titles, pull them into a Jaiku feed and you've got automatic inbound links to your site. Then all you need to do is put your Jaiku presence on your site and once again you've got a nice 3-way link relationship.

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Monday, 9 July 2007 at 08:45, mcrilf wrote...

It's good to link to LZZR.com

I've just been reading the lzzr.com seo blog with interest. His thoughts on backlinking are worth a read and turn classic site-promotion thinking on its head a bit. Rather than (hmmm...perhaps as well as it better) promoting your own site to gain search equity, promote sites that already link to you. Build their importance and thereby your own by the fact that (more important) sites are already linking to you. Give them some link love and the love will be rewarded.

Of course, you can see both your own visibility in search using the site: operator (like this) and how many sites link to you using the link: operator (like this). By using the latter, you're effectively creating the perfect 3-way link structure which is known to be better than utilising link farms (which of course suck).

But search engines don't generally index their own SERPs (although Netscape results do get into Google SERPs), so LZZR suggests building an intermediate feed of results pages (such as that from Google Blogsearch) that will then itself get included in results.

So in short: add links to feeds of searches that return sites that link to you where ever you can...and watch the love flow in. LZZR suggests places like Squidoo which allows you to publish feeds directly on your lens.

I'll be watching the love with interest and will report back here on this blog.

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Saturday, 7 July 2007 at 00:51, mcrilf wrote...

Cool wormhole camera trick

Wormhole Camera Trick! - For more of the funniest videos, click here

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Friday, 6 July 2007 at 20:12, mcrilf wrote...

Website grader - how 'good' is your site?

There seem to be website 'graders' popping up all over the place at the moment. I blogged about BlogJuice the other day and have come across another tool that analyses any site you point it at and gives SEO tips about how to improve it.

It's called websitegrader.com and apart from having a nice AJAX interface and a very wacky 'I'm busy doing stuff' animated icon its results are well laid out. You give it your URL, keywords and competitor sites and it'll give you a score out of 100.

For this site, they gave me 49. Plus some useful pointers that I hadn't noticed already (a couple'a META keyword issues). Interestingly, they also flagged up in a big red box "Website running on blogspot.com" and pointed me to this article about why that's a Bad Thing. Some of the points they make there (like the 301 redirect thing) are valid. But the blogger platform is fine with me right now.

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Thursday, 5 July 2007 at 16:54, mcrilf wrote...

More tags means more pages

I discovered something interesting today. I wanted to see how much visility this blog has in Google so I did a quick search. The results showed something which I hadn't really ever considered...but when you think about it becomes obvious.

There were results in the Google SERPS for pages with titles that I didn't remember writing posts for. Such as 'bloglines' in the snapshot below...

Of course, these pages originate from the tags that I've added to each post. Which (of course) got me thinking...each tag represents an optimisation opportunity since it gives my one post numerous different URLs and titles with appropriately rich keywords. Nice.

Is this something you're using on your own blogs from an SEO perspective?

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Wednesday, 4 July 2007 at 20:41, mcrilf wrote...

No more landing pages

I came across an interesting blog the other day extolling the virtues of no more landing pages and it got me thinking. The argument goes (from their blog):

"No more landing pages does not mean no more landing experiences. To the contrary, our point is that the landing page has itself become indiscriminate, boiled down to a one-size-fits-all, single page format. It may be better than nothing — although with many crappy landing pages out there that’s questionable — but we can do much better as marketers."

I guess there is some truth to this. But let's extend this thought a bit further by asking why we online marketers build landing pages in the first place? Of course to increase conversion. But increase it over what? The page that a visitor would find themselves on if the landing page didn't exist of course.

Landing page conversion optimisation is about matching user experience to user expectation. If someone is coming from a search result, make sure the page gives them what they're after. But if the content and (critically) usability design of our main content is good enough then there should be no need for specific landing pages. (Of course SEO is key here...to ensure visitors find the content that is appropriate to their search.) We should look at each page on our sites and ask "what would I do if this was the first page I see?" Does the page lead me down a path (to 'conversion' in whatever sense that may mean for the site).

So I agree with the principles behind the no more landing pages thought. By building great content and focusing on usability and user goals, every page on a site should create a great 'landing experience'.

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Blogging success

I've been watching the rise and rise of the blogosphere since it first started and have always wanted to be a successful blogger.

But how do you define success?

  • I guess readership numbers is a great indicator (I'm watching the rise on this one)
  • Number of feed subscribers
  • Influence has got to be another (are you the first to break a story which spreads through word of mouth)
  • Plus revenue generated by your blog
For me, the first 2 are about having great content that people want to read. Like that great movie Field of Dreams there's somewhat of a 'build (write) it and they will come' philosophy here. Of course, an element of sowing the seed to get a critical mass of readership helps and I'm starting to do that now.

The 3rd is about having a great story once you have critical mass.

Monetizing your blog has to come last in that list. I'm testing a number of ways as I said in my first post. Some of the links on my blog (not all!) are affiliate links. I've also signed up to payperpost.com to see if I can generate revenue by writing about stuff on my blo for various organisations. Effectively, we're talking ads on blogs but for me the content I write (the ads) will have to be relevant for this blog and interesting for people to read otherwise I'll never fulfill the first 3 of my 'success' goals.

It'll be an interesting exeriment anyhow and I'll keep you posted on how it goes. Once I have a level of critical mass, I'll release some readership numbers. And I'll let you know how much revenue has been generated too. So keep reading!

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Monday, 2 July 2007 at 20:07, mcrilf wrote...

Apple's iPhone, first-hand

Personally, I'm looking forward to getting my hands on a iPhone despite demand here in the UK being soft. Jim Dalrymple has had one for the weekend and reports on its shiny gorgeousness over at MacWorld. Despite a few tiny niggles, it comes out with a big thumbs up.

Thumbs being the operative word according to Apple when it comes to using the iPhone!

For those of you stateside who have managed to get hold of one, let me know just how wonderful it is.

For those of us in the UK, we'll just have to wait until the end of the year when it's available over here.

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Sunday, 1 July 2007 at 20:57, mcrilf wrote...

10 Blog Traffic Tips

In every bloggers life comes a special day - the day they first launch a new blog. Now unless you went out and purchased someone else's blog chances are your blog launched with only one very loyal reader - you. Maybe a few days later you received a few hits when you told your sister, father, girlfriend and best friend about your new blog but that's about as far you went when it comes to finding readers.

Here are the top 10 techniques new bloggers can use to find readers. These are tips specifically for new bloggers, those people who have next-to-no audience at the moment and want to get the ball rolling.

It helps if you work on this list from top to bottom as each technique builds on the previous step to help you create momentum. Eventually once you establish enough momentum you gain what is called "traction", which is a large enough audience base (about 500 readers a day is good) that you no longer have to work too hard on finding new readers. Instead your current loyal readers do the work for you through word of mouth.

Top 10 Tips

10. Write at least five major "pillar" articles. A pillar article is a tutorial style article aimed to teach your audience something. Generally they are longer than 500 words and have lots of very practical tips or advice. This article you are currently reading could be considered a pillar article since it is very practical and a good "how-to" lesson. This style of article has long term appeal, stays current (it isn’t news or time dependent) and offers real value and insight. The more pillars you have on your blog the better.

9. Write one new blog post per day minimum. Not every post has to be a pillar, but you should work on getting those five pillars done at the same time as you keep your blog fresh with a daily news or short article style post. The important thing here is to demonstrate to first time visitors that your blog is updated all the time so they feel that if they come back tomorrow they will likely find something new. This causes them to bookmark your site or subscribe to your blog feed.

You don't have to produce one post per day all the time but it is important you do when your blog is brand new. Once you get traction you still need to keep the fresh content coming but your loyal audience will be more forgiving if you slow down to a few per week instead. The first few months are critical so the more content you can produce at this time the better.

8. Use a proper domain name. If you are serious about blogging be serious about what you call your blog. In order for people to easily spread the word about your blog you need a easily rememberable domain name. People often talk about blogs they like when they are speaking to friends in the real world (that's the offline world, you remember that place right?) so you need to make it easy for them to spread the word and pass on your URL. Try and get a .com if you can and focus on small easy to remember domains rather than worry about having the correct keywords (of course if you can get great keywords and easy to remember then you’ve done a good job!).

7. Start commenting on other blogs. Once you have your pillar articles and your daily fresh smaller articles your blog is ready to be exposed to the world. One of the best ways to find the right type of reader for your blog is to comment on other people’s blogs. You should aim to comment on blogs focused on a similar niche topic to yours since the readers there will be more likely to be interested in your blog.

Most blog commenting systems allow you to have your name/title linked to your blog when you leave a comment. This is how people find your blog. If you are a prolific commentor and always have something valuable to say then people will be interested to read more of your work and hence click through to visit your blog.

6. Trackback and link to other blogs in your blog posts. A trackback is sort of like a blog conversation. When you write a new article to your blog and it links or references another blogger's article you can do a trackback to their entry. What this does is leave a truncated summary of your blog post on their blog entry - it's sort of like your blog telling someone else’s blog that you wrote an article mentioning them. Trackbacks often appear like comments.

This is a good technique because like leaving comments a trackback leaves a link from another blog back to yours for readers to follow, but it also does something very important - it gets the attention of another blogger. The other blogger will likely come and read your post eager to see what you wrote about them. They may then become a loyal reader of yours or at least monitor you and if you are lucky some time down the road they may do a post linking to your blog bringing in more new readers.

5. Encourage comments on your own blog. One of the most powerful ways to convince someone to become a loyal reader is to show there are other loyal readers already following your work. If they see people commenting on your blog then they infer that your content must be good since you have readers so they should stick around and see what all the fuss is about. To encourage comments you can simply pose a question in a blog post. Be sure to always respond to comments as well so you can keep the conversation going.

4. Submit your latest pillar article to a blog carnival. A blog carnival is a post in a blog that summarizes a collection of articles from many different blogs on a specific topic. The idea is to collect some of the best content on a topic in a given week. Often many other blogs link back to a carnival host and as such the people that have articles featured in the carnival often enjoy a spike in new readers.

To find the right blog carnival for your blog, do a search at blogcarnival.com.

3. Submit your blog to blogtopsites.com. To be honest this tip is not going to bring in a flood of new readers but it's so easy to do and only takes five minutes so it's worth the effort. Go to Blog Top Sites, find the appropriate category for your blog and submit it. You have to copy and paste a couple of lines of code on to your blog so you can rank and then sit back and watch the traffic come in. You will probably only get 1-10 incoming readers per day with this technique but over time it can build up as you climb the rankings. It all helps!

2. Submit your articles to EzineArticles.com. This is another tip that doesn’t bring in hundreds of new visitors immediately (although it can if you keep doing it) but it's worthwhile because you simply leverage what you already have - your pillar articles. Once a week or so take one of your pillar articles and submit it to Ezine Articles. Your article then becomes available to other people who can republish your article on their website or in their newsletter.

How you benefit is through what is called your "Resource Box". You create your own resource box which is like a signature file where you include one to two sentences and link back to your website (or blog in this case). Anyone who publishes your article has to include your resource box so you get incoming links. If someone with a large newsletter publishes your article you can get a lot of new readers at once.

1. Write more pillar articles. Everything you do above will help you to find blog readers however all of the techniques I’ve listed only work when you have strong pillars in place. Without them if you do everything above you may bring in readers but they won’t stay or bother to come back. Aim for one solid pillar article per week and by the end of the year you will have a database of over 50 fantastic feature articles that will work hard for you to bring in more and more readers.

I hope you enjoyed my list of traffic tips. Everything listed above are techniques I’ve put into place myself for my blogs and have worked for me, however it's certainly not a comprehensive list. There are many more things you can do. Finding readers is all about testing to see what works best for you and your audience and I have no doubt if you put your mind to it you will find a balance that works for you.

This article was by Yaro Starak, a professional blogger and my blog mentor. He is the leader of the Blog Mastermind mentoring program designed to teach bloggers how to earn a full time income blogging part time.

To get more information about Blog Mastermind click this link:


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How juicy is your blog?

Just came across the interesting Blog Juice Calculator. It's a free tool from Text-Link-Ads which gives your blog the once-over and indicates how popular it is. It uses a combination of rankings, inbound links and subscriber numbers from bloglines, technorati, alexa and others.

I'll be monitoring the juiciness of my blog with interest ;o)

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