November 22, 2005

Press Release Gets Blogger Media Coverage

Some stories are easy to sell and easy to print. This press release got this blogger the top Google News result for Bloggers and 3 interviews with local media stations.

Solid $30 investment. Great job Eric!

November 14, 2005

Tail of Story

In fiercely competitive categories people fight to be first with the news, but after a story ages few people rarely go back and look at the surrounding information.

Of course if you are the first person out with a good story then you are going to get a ton of links, but sometimes reviving an old story with a new spin is a good way to get noticed.

Recently a friend of mine pointed me to the other side of the WordPress HotNacho content spam story, which shows less than 20 citations in Yahoo! or MSN (and zero in Google since they banned his domain and all other domains he owned).

After how much hatred was spewed at Hot Nacho it would be hard to undue it, so it would take an impressive article to get people to look at that subject from another angle, but surely there are thousands of other similar situations out there.

Sometimes the best new news is old news, especially when information mining is oh-so-easy.

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 9, 2005

Link Citation as a Proxy for Value

People follow links. Search engines also act as users, and largely determine document quality scores based on linkage data. Based on the direct and indirect value links are a great proxy for value.

After the AOL purchase of Weblogs, Inc., Tristan Louis quickly created a chart of blog value based on the number of sources.

Based on a selling price of $25 to $40 million the value of a source linking to your site is anywhere from $564.64 to $903.42.

The average link is not worth that much. The biggest things that the study failed to account for are:

  • The value of links widely ranges. I have bought links for $3, and have also paid thousands for a link.
  • The average link quality of the Weblogs, Inc. network is higher than the average link quality of the average blog.
  • The reason their average link quality is higher is that Jason Calacanis has built significant linkage data through PR efforts with traditional media.
  • If you pulled those media links out of the equasion I bet the Weblogs, Inc. network would be lucky to get more than half their current traffic volume.
  • I do not think Technoroti tracks most traditional media websites.

Tristan then questions:

Should we now assume that traditional media companies are willing to pay between $500 and $1000 per site that links into a blog?

As mentioned above, reducing links down to average and then just looking at Technorati sources leaves much to be desired.

Jason Calacanis was quick to discount the value of the linkage data in the deal. Jason also frequently talks about how Weblogs, Inc. spends no money on marketing. If you are not spending money on marketing then your value comes from the attention you get other ways, and most of that is driven through the link popularity.

You could get a more accurate view of their link popularity by looking through Yahoo! linkage data, but it would take a while to filter through that many sites.

  • [] = 1,810,000
  • You can view through the linkage data and filter out sites, but when they have around 100 sites in their network that gets to be a good bit of effort.
  • If you wanted to filter out their cross linking the best way would be to filter out the network links on one of the smaller channels that is only a few months old. Then you know you can subtract that much link popularity from each site as being due to cross network linkage data.

Profitablility, attention, and influence are the real measure of a blog’s value, but attention & influence are hard to measure.

The real reason I mentioned this link = value measurement is that Tristen threw out something debatable that many people are absolutely going to love to link at. Wow, my blog is worth X is probably going to appear on hundreds of blogs.

Some amazingly well known bloggers have already syndicated the idea:

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.

Using Blogs to Launch a Product: Part 1

A while ago a prospective search engine optimization client wanted to sell a miniature motion video type service. We were both unsure of a market purpose for it, or how we could market it on a reasonable budget. I knew at first glance that SEO was not the answer though.

I decided the best solution would be to launch a low end free version of the product and market it at bloggers. Let them spread it by making it free. It only took me a few minutes to come up with the initial marketing plan and a name for the service, Blog Flix.

I sent the site owner to my designer, who created a kick ass design for under $2,000, integrating MovableType and vBulletin into an awesome mesh up integrated login. The service quickly started getting the right kinds of links, getting mentions on sites like Smart Mobs.

Had he had a bit more funding, time, and attention to devote to the project I think it would have created the mini flash movie on site equivalent of Flickr. After I named the site and came up with the concept the site owner never contacted me again though. 🙁

One area where we really messed up that launch was the content of the example videos. They showed scenic moutains in New Zealand. What would have made the product amazing would have been good and fun examples of what to do with it. If I were still involved with that project I would have made those videos funny. Perhaps even having me reenacting some of the dumb things I did as a kid.

Emotion is the key to viral marketing. The mountains were pretty, but the pictures were not high definition. The real amazing thing with BlogFlix is how it could have sequenced human emotions.

Sadly, the domain is already expired and owned my a pay per click pimp.

Not is all lost though. I realized that I saved the BlogFlix guy many thousands of dollars he may have spent on marketing his site some other way. I also realize that if he put a bit more work in the follow through he would have a powerful position in the web right now.

Now blogs are not some magical thing that can make up for a low quality product or lack of business model, but they are a way to get quick and honest feedback to help you create a product that people would:

  • like;
  • use; and
  • want to market for you for free