All About Content

Pretty Quiet on the Blogging Front

Posted by Melanie Phung on Thursday, November 1, 2007 at 12:54 am

It’s the end of the month and I realized I’ve barely posted at all in the last few weeks. There are at least half a dozen posts started but never finished just sitting in the queue, but a heck of a lot of good that does anyone.

So, yeah, I’ve been pretty busy. Lotsa stuff going on at work. I can’t really talk about it (shhhh) but I’ll mention that I had to lay off two of my staff, which was really hard to do. I’m also spending more time on brand management (again) and product merchandising, the latter of which generates a greater sense of urgency going into the holiday season than SEO projects do. (Xmas SEO? Puh-leeze, we took care of that back in July. J/K)

Obviously the big SEO chatter this month was about the contentious paid links debate and the related issue of several major sites (like the WashingtonPost.com, for example) losing a lot of PageRank. Bruce Clay does a nice job of rounding up relevant posts on the subject here and here. If you haven’t been following the debate, you might want to start with Rand’s roundup of the links session at SES San Jose.

Other news some of you may find interesting is that Google seems to be changing the way it displays sitelinks (at least intermittently). Here’s an example of the new 8-link layout I’m seeing a lot in Google’s sitelinks:

PBS sitelinks

I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to start blogging again more regularly soon, once the work drama subsides (assuming it does).

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Category: Google,Industry Buzz,Link Building,Navel-Gazing

Reasons to Have a Blogroll

Posted by Melanie Phung on Sunday, June 10, 2007 at 1:01 am

My analytics show that someone found this blog at some point searching on something related to why you should blogroll. There isn’t anything on the site to answer that question, and I thought it was a good one, so I thought I’d take a shot at it. So here are 5 reasons to have a blogroll on your blog:

  1. Because your readers are interested in what you’re reading, what inspires you, to put your work into more context.
  2. Because your readers want more good content; why not be the one to help them find it?
  3. Because the third “W” in WWW stands for “Web”… as in a network. That’s the whole point of the intar-web now, ain’t it?
  4. Because bloggers like showing up in blogrolls and maybe (just maybe) they’ll link back to you and send you some new readers.
  5. Because outbound links can help search engines figure out what your pages are about.

So why don’t I have a blogroll? Another good question. Where would I put it? My site isn’t really designed for more links in the template. I could get rid of my “What Am I Reading” list, but I think that serves a very similar purpose — to provide up-to-date, related content.

If you read this blog and think “this blog is fabulous, but would be so much better with a blogroll!” let me know. If you’re a reader of this blog and think “this is the worst SEO blog ever!” … well, I’ve got a 3-point rebuttal: 1) shows what you know — that honor is already claimed by this blog. 2) Why do you read it if you think it sucks? That’s not very smart. 3) Keep it to yourself. I don’t like to hear from not-smart haterz.

Update: In 2008 I added a blogroll.

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Category: Link Building,Navel-Gazing

Google Bomb Algorithm Separate From Ranking Algorithm

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, June 4, 2007 at 9:59 pm

One of the interesting tidbits from this morning’s discussion with Google’s Matt Cutts has to do with how Google diffuses a “Google bomb” (such as the ones that Stephen Colbert recently pulled off with “greatest living American” and “giant brass balls“).

The reason they crop up and then disappear suddenly (as opposed to never succeeding in the first place) does not include any editorial intervention — however suspicious it may look. That’s consistent with what they’ve always said, even when the “miserable failure” results had President Bush’s bio page at the top forever.

Apparently the algorithm that sniffs out Google bombs is not built into the regular ranking algorithm; it’s run separately and only once every couple of months.

Another (valuable?) insight from this conference: Vanessa Fox is a big Buffy the Vampire Slayer fan. (Updated June 15: Vanessa Fox is leaving Google!)

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Category: Link Building,Spam

Sponsored Post: SponsoredReviews.com

Posted by Melanie Phung on Monday, March 12, 2007 at 12:31 pm

Note: I wrote this post in 2007. The link landscape has changed since then, and am not recommending these tactics/services for link building now.

SponsoredReviews.com launched in beta today and of course I went and signed up right away. (Damn, that’s one more site I need to include in my review of paid blogging services, which I said I’d do last month and still haven’t gotten around to.)

Right off the bat, the thing I already like (from an advertiser’s perspective) is that the system more closely resembles an RFP system; that is to say, you post an opportunity (here SponsoredReviews.com uses the same language as PayPerPost) and bloggers can submit bids to do the reviews for you. You can accept a blogger’s bid, haggle over the price or reject the bid outright (if the blog is off-topic, of poor quality, too expensive, etc.) None of the other paid blogging services allow you to reject specific bloggers.

Within 30 minutes of posting an opportunity to see how well SponsoredReviews.com worked, I had 2 bloggers bid on it — which seemed decent for a service that just launched earlier that morning. After about 2 hours I had about two dozen bids.

Like ReviewMe, SponsoredReviews.com allows you to actively approach specific bloggers with your opportunities, which they can then choose to take on if they wish. The mechanism by which to search for relevant blogs to approach is similar to ReviewMe; advertisers can browse by keywords the bloggers have chosen to describe their sites.

As far as the service goes from a blogger’s point of view, I haven’t had much time to play around with it, but I like that I can pursue specific opportunities (like PayPerPost) and that the payouts tend to be higher (like ReviewMe, except the likelihood of actually getting to do a review are much higher. I have yet to be approached by an advertiser through ReviewMe since I signed up).

If you’d like me to review and link to your site, you can do so from my SponsoredReviews.com profile page. But I’d caution you to read the paid reviews I’ve done of other sites first (read: if your site sucks, I won’t hesitate to lambaste you).

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Category: Link Building,Paid Content

PayPerPost Segmentation Benefits Advertisers, Bloggers

Posted by Melanie Phung on Tuesday, February 20, 2007 at 11:33 pm

I’m still working on that (unpaid) review of the various pay per blog services, but in the meantime, PayPerPost is really trying to get the word out about the upgrades they’ve made to their blog marketing service.

The most important update allowed for segmentation — that is to say, for advertisers to narrow down which bloggers could take an ad “opportunity” according to blog topic, Alexa rankings, Google Toolbar PageRank and other criteria.

Unfortunately, the interface was really buggy the first few days after the new release, which is never a good way to launch an upgrade. Advertisers were unable to increase the number of blogs they wanted to recruit for any given ad campaign; bloggers found that their Alexa rankings and Google PR were not adequately reflected in their accounts, so they were excluded from participating in ad campaigns they should have been eligible for.

Luckily nearly all of the major bugs appear to have been ironed out now. And that distraction aside, the upgrade was a good one. Because advertisers now have more control over the quality of sites their “ads” run on, they are willing to pay more for those links. There are some campaigns paying as much as $1,000 per post … if you happen to have an on-topic blog with PR7 or higher.

These higher payouts make paid blogging more attractive to serious bloggers and is probably attracting bigger, more reputable sites that might not have considered PayPerPost as a revenue opportunity (not when they could get $200 at ReviewMe, and the usual payout for PayPerPost pre-segmentation was less than $6).

I’m pretty bullish on PayPerPost (which has nothing to do with this being a paid post – Scout’s Honor!), and if they keep innovating (and keep aggressively reminding participants that disclosure is mandatory) I think the service will continue to attract new bloggers and advertisers.

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Category: Link Building,Monetizing,Paid Content