November 21, 2005

Product Packaging Matters…

In Price as Signal Joel states how intermediaries want to control pricing to leverage their market positions.

now when a musician gets uppity, all the recording industry has to do is threaten to release their next single straight into the $0.99 category, which will kill it dead no matter how good it is.

Seth thinks much media is sold one price fits all because of industry tradition.

13 Tips on Asking other Bloggers for Links and Link Baiting for Fun and Profit are both link building tip posts.

Rand offers the following advice in his post:

Don’t ask for a link – bloggers hate that (even I hate it). Ask for their advice, tell them you respect their opinion and like their blog (if you don’t, find someone whose opinions you do respect) and are hoping their feedback can help you improve. 99.99% of the time, if you implement some small changes they ask for and email them back saying you’ve made them, they’ll write about it in public.

That is really the key to actually getting good links. Make people think you care about the subject and you value their opinions. Make it seem like the link is unnecessary or an afterthought. If you do that quality links flow naturally.

In the same way that price sends a signal the method or reasoning behind contacting another person helps guide how they will react to it.

October 13, 2005

Blogging a Linkbait

If I blog stuff that is just plain wrong all the time that will turn my credibility to shit. Sometimes I blog stuff that I am uncertain about, and guess about the cause in ways that are more inclined to be linkable. I don’t think that’s a crime. 😉

NickW (of Threadwatch) frequently takes a variety of interesting positions which make people feel the need to comment on his site or link to it. Whether they think he is right or wrong they add to his content or link popularity.

I am not as good at posting linkbaits as some people are, but one example I can think of was Google Hand Editing “Search Engine Optimization” for PPC?.

Sites that ranked for search engine marketing started ranking for search engine optimization because Google got better at understanding phrase relationships. I quickly figured out the cause after I posted.

Google stresses that they do not hand tweak their search results, so a claim that they may be doing that is something that would be easy to reference. The title of the post was easy to link at, and I garnered a few links prior to figuring out exactly what it wrong.

There is just as much to be said for long posts that take their time and deeply cover a space, like my post on keyword research tools, but if you are good at the snappy short posts they are far more efficient & people are far more likely to read what you write.

Some people are exceptional at the short posts and some are better at the long in depth stuff .

Don’t underestimate the value of mixing up the format, and trying to drop the occassional linkbait. If others are talking about you or your perspective they are building your brand.

October 10, 2005

Blogger: Sex Blogs Can F*@K Right Off

[Warning: adult content link] It appears many adult oriented Blogger blogs are disappearing. The solution? Create many more in a far more automated way, host them remotely, or use a different blog service.

Understandible if they are pure spamblogs, but imagine if you were a blogger who just like writing about sex related topics. You do it for a few years and then out of nowhere your linkage profile, site history, and site vanish. A good example of why it is always best to keep control of your own data.

Google Duplicate Content Problems

David Naylor posts about how to prevent Google’s newish duplicate content filter issues from hurting WordPress blogs:

first what you need to do is get rid of those Urls that look like this: and replace them with .. but Matt.. what you must do is have a robots.txt .. in that robots. txt file add this little line in ..

User-agent: *
Disallow: /?p

If you already have a bunch of links into the ?p pages then you would probably need to do other things as well, but if your blog is fairly new it is fairly straightforward and a good call to block search engines from accessing the ?p pages.

Some related threads about Google Washing:

October 9, 2005

Blogosphere: Where Passing the Turing Test is Easy…

Each day content generation and remixing is getting more advanced. In fact, on some of my other blogs I even noticed automated comments having an ongoing conversation.

When humans think another human created machine generated content, it is said that the machine passed the Turing test, as described in the Wikipedia:

The Turing test is a proposal for a test of a machine’s capability to perform human-like conversation. Described by Alan Turing in the 1950 paper “Computing machinery and intelligence”, it proceeds as follows: a human judge engages in a natural language conversation with two other parties, one a human and the other a machine; if the judge cannot reliably tell which is which, then the machine is said to pass the test. It is assumed that both the human and the machine try to appear human. In order to keep the test setting simple and universal (to explicitly test the linguistic capability of some machine), the conversation is usually limited to a text-only channel such as a teletype machine as Turing suggested or, more recently, IRC.

Mikkel deMib Svendsen, a well known SEO, recently mentioned on Threadwatch:

The Turing test have been passed many times in real life allready. I’ve personally been involved in a few things that did so (not stuff I programmed though :))

What makes it even easier when it comes to blogging is the fact that a lot of the “real” blogs are of such a poor (writing) quality. All your program has to do is make the output just a little bit better than that.

Why be so obsessed with who and how a piece of text is written? If my computer program can produce better pages than an average human then whats the problem? What is so bad about machine generated content? Some of my favrite sites are machine generated (search engines, news portals etc).

I think this issue is going to hit a bunch of bloggers harder than they realize. As the space gets increasingly polluted with unoriginal thought and remixed content some of the things people are openly advocating today will become marginally profitable within a few years.

Some people argue that when they do a snip and quote and then post it to their blog that they are sending more traffic to the end destination, but if there is no original thought going into the posting process there is probably no value add.

I have had a few friends who do not understand this, but if all you are doing is snip and paste then you time would be better spent learning how to program an automated agent to do that for you. I do not think it is any more honest to do it manually than let a machine do it.

Make no mistake, even award winning bloggers are getting fooled by fake blogs:

Today I noticed someone actually subscribed to one of my spam marketing drivel blogs. After following his profile I noticed he’s subscribed to some other legitimate non-spam blogs in the field as well. Looking deeper at his feeds, I found out he’s a blogger as well. While he’s not an A-List blogger, he did win a best blogger in category award from a legitimate organization this year. His feed also has close to 100 bloglines subscribers. Should I be flattered or worried that a real person has subscribed to my fake blog?

When most fake blogs are able to past the Turing test how will that effect who you are willing to link at? How will that effect how & what you post?

Some of my friends have business models where replying to comments on their real blogs is viewed as a waste of resources. I am betting that philosophy changes on many of those sites within the next 6 months.

Should You Track Your Blog Feeds Using FeedBurner?

Seeing how many subscribers helps you know what type of reach you have, but a subscriber is just a number. As a person who has used a number of feed readers (Firefox Sage, Bloglines, FeedDemon, & Google Reader), and as a person who has over 100 blogs in his reader, I have come to realize that the number of subscribers does not matter much. Sometimes I read all 100 + blogs I subscribe to, but most of the time I just check out my favorite channels.

When new subscribers join that is great, but I think most people with feed readers do not cull their feeds often (based on personal experience and chatting with a few friends). Many subscribers may not be readers.

What really matters is the number of people who think your content is interesting enough to reference it. Blogs are viral, and your true reach is not your number of subscribers, but a combination of the following:

  • the reach of your best subscribers
  • how likely they are to help you spread your story
  • how easy your story is to spread / how interesting your story is

Most competitive channels are going to have a few original voices and a bunch of echoing channels. So long as your blog is good enough to be considered one of the original channels, and so long as some of the other original channels occassionally reference your blog then that is all that matters.

You do not need to compete cross industry, you only need to be well known within your industry to gain exceptional exposure.

As far as the echo chamber effect goes, some of the echoing channels will be real people, and some of them will be driven by algorithms.

I tend to shy away from using FeedBurner or other similar products because I want people directly connecting to my site. That way, if some of the people are a bit lazy and link to a feed, or if some of the bots automatically link to a feed URL I still still want those links helping boost my overall site popularity score.

Bloglines will give you a number of subscribers there. It will only be a sample of your total subscribers, but unless you are selling direct ads in your feeds the exact number of readers does not matter much, and some of the best readers will not want to subscribe to anything with ads in it. If your blog has huge exposure then feed management might save you some bandwidth, but generally I love getting just about all the link popularity I can get.