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Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Saturday, January 31, 2004

 

Google and the Blog Directories: Get Listed

Google is the most important and most used search engine.

Other search engines, including AOL Search, Yahoo, and others, use Google's listings as well.

Is your blog indexed in Google's listings?

The first thing to do is find out.

Go to http://www.google.com and enter the short form of your blog URL into the search box:

yourblogname.com

If your blog is indexed by Google, your blog's title will appear in the search results.

The results will also include a link to check how many other web sites (already indexed blogs) are linked to your blog. Another link lists all of the web pages that mention your blog. If either or both of those categories include your blog, then Google has found you too.

After your search, you may discover to your dismay, that Google has not listed your blog. Your thoughts and ideas are not found in the largest search engine.

Don't dispair. All is not lost.

Here are a few ways to get yourself listed.

You can submit your site directly to Google at their Submit Your Site page. You only need to submit your blog's home page. Google will send its web crawling computer program (its "spider") called the Googlebot out to find your blog. It will then add the blog to Google's index.

Of course, this is not a fast method of getting indexed. It may take a couple of months.

There has to be a faster method.

Yes there is.

Faster. And better.

One way to get faster indexing is to find a link trading partner who is already listed in Google. When I started this blog, I simply linked to it from my other roller derby blog. Google listed me almost the very next day. You should be able to find someone willing to trade links with your blog. Bloggers are willing link swappers!

Find a friend who's already listed in Google and trade links. You'll find the fasted entry into Google's index that way!

Be sure to submit your blog to the many blog directories. They are frequently crawled by Google's spider. When your blog is accepted into the various blog directories, your acceptance into Google is sure to follow.

Simply fo to the various directory sites, find the Add URL page, find your appropriate category, and fill in the blanks. Most blog directories will include your blog in their listings within a week or two. Some are even faster than that!

Here is a list of some major blog directories. Get into all of them if you can. It's a couple of hours well spent on your part!

Blog Search Engine
Blogwise
Eatonweb Portal
Blog Universe
Popdex
Blogarama
Blogdex
Globe of Blogs
Blizg
Online Marketing Links
Weblogs Compendium
Octopus Files
Kmax
Open Weblog Directory

Another way, to get into Google's pages, is to post on various internet forums. There are a few forums that specifically discuss blogs and blogging.

Two such forums are:

Blogger Talk
Blogger Forum

Both forums require membership (free) to post. They also provide a special area for you to list and describe your blog, for others to read. Along with some welcome new visitors, you'll receive a visit from the Googlebot.

Many blogs offer comments and trackback features. By posting a comment, the search engine spider can follow the trail back to your blog. Once your blog is found, your blog will be indexed. When making blog comments, it's very important that you remain on topic, or your post may not get you indexed. It may get you deleted by the blog owner instead!

Getting indexed by Google is one of the most important ways to get traffic to your blog.

Get listed today!



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Friday, January 30, 2004

 

Copyright on the Internet

Business bloggers are often concerned about the legal status of their posts.

Are blogs in general, and business blogs and writing blogs in particular, protected by copyright?

What is, and what is not, legally protected in your blog?

Here are the 10 Big Myths about copyright explained by Brad Templeton.

Brad spells out the myths and the facts, about internet copyrights, in plain language.

Some of his statements, about the legal status of your writing, may surprise you.

Thanks to Trudy Schuett for the link.





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Thursday, January 29, 2004

 

MyDoom Virus Removal Technique

The MyDoom computer virus is one of the nastiest ones to arrive in unnguarded e-mail boxes yet.

I hope you have your virus protection up to date.

Practice safe surfing!

David Clain at Swagu expresses doubt that computer users will ever be able to do more against viruses that just get a "stalemate".

Google Blogscoped offers a technique for removing the dreadful MyDoom virus.

It can be found here:

Remove the MyDoom Virus

In the meantime, don't open attachments to e-mails.

Even if they are from friends.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2004

 

Blog Revenue: Donations

Donations.

Will they work as income for your blog?

The answer is likely a maybe, with a lot of caveats.

In order to receive any worthwhile amount of money, through reader donations, a blog would likely have to fulfil a number of requirements.

There would have to be large readership. Ten visitors per day is unlikely to provide much of an income.

The readers would have to be loyal to the blog. They would have to appreciate the value, offered by the blogger, in the form of information and/or entertainment.

The blogger would have to provide top quality blog content, that would not be readily available elsewhere. If the blog posts could be replaced by someone else for free, then no donations would be forthcoming. Why would there be?

Are there any examples of a blog that meets these criteria?

Other than a few celebrity bloggers?

The answer is yes.

Check out baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman.

While I have no idea about the amount of money collected, Aaron made a request to his readers for donations to his PayPal account.

Because of the high quality of his baseball analysis, almost unrivalled anywhere on the internet, he has a large and loyal readership. I am one of them.

Aaron meets all of the requirements, of a blog that can gain revenue, by getting donations.

His donation campaign was quite successful and Aaron thanked his readers for their support.

The quality of posts Aaron provides to baseball fans, are considered worth paying for, in the manner of a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) pledge drive. His readership appears to have taken that position.

While asking for donations is never easy for bloggers, there are some of you who may be quite successful with fundraising efforts.

The key is to develop a fairly strong readership base, that is loyal to reading your blog entries.

The way to achieve that goal, is to provide useful and interesting content, on a daily basis. You must maintain a high level of quality, like Aaron Gleeman, in his baseball posts.

With your loyal readership base in place, your blog can then be in line to receive some donations.

Think great content, first

That is always the first step to a great blog.

And to donations!

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Google PageRank: Don't Split It Up

Don't split up your Google Page Rank.

Okay, you say.

What's Google PageRank? And what is splitting it up?

PageRank is Google's system for measuring the relative importance of a web page.

Note carefully that PageRank is for each individual web page, not the entire web site as a whole. Every page in the Google data base has its own PageRank. In other words, sites don’t have "rank." Rather, every separate page on your web site has its own PageRank.

Incoming links for web pages are, in the opinion of Google, votes in favor of that page. On the other hand, Google considers some votes to be more important than others. The simple number of incoming links to a page is calculated by Google, but the relative importance of the "voting page" is given even more weight in the mathematical formula.

The pages that are considered to be more important votes, in turn increase the importance of the page they link. More important pages pass along more voting power. This is measured numerically as PageRank.

The PageRank numbers range from 0 to 10. These numbers are usually expressed as PR0 (for PageRank 0) to PR10 (for PageRank 10).

The higher the number, the more more important Google considers a web page.

Be sure to always keep in mind that PageRank is not the same thing as your site’s ranking on the search engine results pages (SERPs). They are entirely separate items. PR is the relative importance of a page on the web, expressed as a number. The SERPs are where your site appears on a search for your keywords.

To read you PageRank, you need to download the Google Toolbar found at http://toolbar.google.com/. It is easily installed and provides a readout guage of every PageRank, of every web page you visit in your surfing.

You can also check the incoming links, for every internet web page, as recognized by Google. Note that Google only lists pages with a PageRank of 4 (PR4) or higher in its readout.

As you check your own blog's PageRank, you will see a number as you mouse over the gauge.

Note that the PageRank is for the page's URL.

When you make link exchanges with other blogs or static websites, be sure they use a consistent URL.

For example:

http://yourblog.com

is NOT the same URL as:

http://www.yourblog.com

in the Google calculation of PageRank.

When you check the backlinks of each version of your blog's URL, you will get a different total. You will also see some different URLs. Many of which are using the alternate form of your blog's internet address.

For this business blog, for example, I get entirely different totals and readouts for both URLs.

http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com

http://blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com

They are splitting the Google PageRank.

I always prefer the use of this URL, as the primary one:

http://www.blogbusinessworld.blogspot.com

Many of you will have a personal preference as well.

Some of you like the www included in your URL. Many of you prefer to list your blog without it.

The point is to remain consistent.

That way, your blog's PageRank will not be split between two separate URLs.

Your Google PageRank will rise much faster as a result.








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Monday, January 26, 2004

 

DMOZ Directory: Getting your blog included

Everyone talks about getting their site listed in the Open Directory Project, better known as DMOZ, but not everyone knows what to do about it.

Here's some help.

The Open Directory Project is probably the single most important internet directory. Its listings are used by Google, and by many other search engines and directories, all over the internet.

http://www.dmoz.org

DMOZ is an entirely volunteer edited directory, where every site is examined by an editor for suitability. To get a listing in DMOZ, is to have several legs up, in the race to the top of the search results.

The first step to a listing, is to check the various directory categories, and find the appropriate one for your site. Be very thorough here, as submitting your site to the wrong category can result in very long waits, and possibly even rejection.

When you have narrowed your target to the most appropriate category, go to it, and click on "add URL". Be absolutely certain to read the instructions very carefully. They are not merely a suggestion. They are an absolute requirement. Be sure to submit just your home page to only one category. Multiple page or category submissions will likely be treated as spam, and your site rejected.

You will be asked to write a brief description of your website. This is not the place to be flowery and biased. Be as objective as possible. If the editors think your description is too promotional, they will certainly change it on you. Your site may even be rejected entirely.

Your site has finally been submitted. Now what?

Since the website submissions are accepted on a first come, first served basis, you wait. The waiting period can last anywhere from one week to six long agonizing months. Whatever you do, don't decide to resubmit your site. At best, your submission will be moved to the back of the line again. At worst, your site may be rejected.

In the meantime, you won't hear from DMOZ one way or the other. Keep checking their site each week for results. Keep updating and adding content to your website. The editors will like your site a lot better, and your chances of approval go way up.

Be sure you have no pages "under construction", as the editors will reject any sites that aren't ready for prime time.

If you have an "affiliate sales" site, be absolutely certain your site contains several pages of useful articles for your visitors. A site simply consisting of links and banners will almost always be rejected. Good relevant content is a must.

If you can't stand the wait, you can contact the category editor about your site's status, directly through their Feedback link. A better route, however, is to ask a polite question on the DMOZ public forum.

http://www.resource-zone.com

You don't have to be registered to read the forum, but you must register (free) to post a question. As always, be sure to read and follow the posting guidelines.

Happy submitting.

It's well worth the effort!

***Note this is a reposted article, that I wrote a few months ago. I have received numerous requests for information about the DMOZ Directory. Here is some information on getting your blog listed in DMOZ***

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Carnival of the Capitalists

This week's edition of Carnival of the Capitalists is up and running at the esteemed political blog Winds of Change.

For those of you unfamiliar with Winds of Change, it's a politically oriented blog that places a heavy emphasis on international news and global issues.

My column entitled Google Goes to the Dance appears in this week's edition.

Google Goes to the Dance can be found immediately below this post.

That was handy for you!

Along with my column, there are other great posts included the Carnival of the Capitalists selections.

As always, I learned a lot by reading the top notch posts that appear on Carnival of the Capitalists every week.

Head on over to Winds of Change, and read away!



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Sunday, January 25, 2004

 

Google Goes to the Dance

Google is the dominant internet search engine.

That is common knowledge. Powering the informational searches for Yahoo!, AOL, and many others, gives Google a pre-eminant position among internet searchers.

There is unrest, in the ranks of the search engine optimization (SEO) community, however.

There are many reasons for this unrest.

Google is planning an initial offering of its shares, referred to as an IPO. Google had been a privately owned company, with its shares concentrated into a few owners' hands. Those shares are to be offered to the general public very soon.

Yahoo!, which once held the Number One search engine seat, has been using Google's results in its own search returns.

Yahoo! recently announced dropping Google's results. In the near future, Yahoo! will create its own independent search results. Owning the search engine Inktomi, considered and up and comer by the SEO crowd, strengthens their case.

Internet colossus Microsoft has been gaining some search share, with its own MSN search option.

Enter the recent so-called Google "Florida Update". With that watershed updating of over three billion web documents, within Google's data base, came a hurricane of controversy.

Sites that were accustomed to sitting on the first page of searches for their most important search terms (words entered by surfers into the search box) found themselves deep in the results. Sometimes they disappeared from the returned pages entirely.

Rumours of conspiracy abounded.

Some observers said Google was removing websites that broke its rules. Many thought Google was deliberately filtering certain keywords, so sites dependent upon them for traffic, would purchase Google's AdWords programs. Still other pundits pointed to Google as simply looking for better, and more relevant results, in a new way.

Yahoo! property Inktomi, and Microsoft's MSN Search were picking up new users by the day. The Google fixated SEO community went into a period of soul searching, blame, and then coping with the new search situation.

Fast forward to the present day.

Google is in the midst of yet another major update.

Updates tend to occur near the end of each month. During that time, the search results will often be highly variable. Google PageRanks (the Google measure of a web page's importance) may see some change, up or down. New totals of Google tabulated incoming links will also appear.

This potentially major updating event, already nicknamed "Austin", is creating yet another stirring of the Google results pot.

The search engine optimization community is holding its breath, after the wild ride through the "Florida Update".

Bloggers should simply remain calm.

If you continually add fresh content, related to the main topics of your blog or site, you have little to worry about. In fact, bloggers may have a lot to gain.

Content is king on the search engines. Fresh content is even more royal.

As bloggers keep adding fresh posts, on a regular basis, blogs are what the search engines love. It doesn't really matter, which search engine people use, to locate the search terms related to your blog. With fresh content, your blog will always rank well.

The other feature of blogs, that gives them search engine power, is links. Bloggers are linkers. Linking to one another's blogs, and to individual posts, is a fact of blogging life. Those who have never even heard of optimization, are scoring top postions, for their blog subjects.

By continually adding links, to and from other blogs and static websites, blogs are gaining Google PageRank at a rapid pace. That PageRank, and large incoming link totals, are helping to boost blogs to the front pages of searches.

Political and business bloggers are certainly taking note of those facts.

As the search engine community ties itself into knots, over every Google update storm, bloggers cruise through them with all sails set. Any search engine update can be very helpful to bloggers. It can be Google, MSN, or any of the others search engines.

It shouldn't matter to the blogging community which search engine is the most prominent.

Blogs provide what the search engines want, with fresh content and lots of links.

Bloggers should always dance well with Google.


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Saturday, January 24, 2004

 

Blogs updated faster at Technorati

Most of you are familiar with Technorati as a quick and convenient way to check which blogs are linking to yours.

Technorati began a recent major upgrade of its system. The site has just introduced an enhanced Technorati Beta version, complete with some improved new features.

By far the most noticeable improvement is in the indexing time. The time now from posting on a blog, to Technorati indexing that change, is seven minutes. In the past, the changes could often take days to be recorded.

A query of a blog's incoming links, and of the top linked blogs, is now much faster as well. The results are also listed over several pages, for ease of viewing. This is especially important for blogs that have received a lot links.

Technorati has installed a much improved spider (the computer robot that travels the internet crawling your blogs), enabling better and more complete indexing of the blogosphere.

Because the system remains in a beta version, there are still likely to be some bugs in the program. That is to be expected.

I think the potential of bugs, is more than offset, by the more comprehensive listing of incoming and outgoing blog links.

Thanks to The Blog Herald for the story.


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Friday, January 23, 2004

 

Practical Savings Advice

If you are concerned about US Social Security, Canada Pension Plan, or any other country's retirement "plan" not existing, when it's your time to retire, here's some help.

Sugarmama maps out the basics of retirement savings. In dollars and sense.

In effect, her policy is to avoid wasteful and needless spending, and to save your money. She recommends starting as early as possible in life, so the time value of money can go to work for you.

After all, you work hard for your money. It should work hard for you.

Check out Sugarmama's financial planning ideas.

Retire with your own money, and not be dependent upon the government.

We all know how we can all count on them.

Not!

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Thursday, January 22, 2004

 

Writing Articles Increases Your Traffic

You say you want to get a lot more visitors to your blog or website?

You say you have tried everything, and while each idea has added a few extra visitors here and there, none has given you some major bang for the buck?

Try writing articles that appear elsewhere on the internet.

The articles can be published on other blogs, on traditional static websites, or in internet e-mail newsletters.

I have personally had success with all three techniques.

Article writing introduces you and your blog, to hundreds and even thousands, of brand new readers.

I was astounded (and I don't astound easily) at the heavy influx of traffic I received from my most recent contribution to an e-mail newsletter.

The highly regarded, and extremely popular search engine optimization consultant Jill Whalen, of Highrankings.com and the Highrankings.com Forum , invited me to write a guest column on the benefits of business blogs for her High Rankings Advisor Newsletter.

Jill Whalen is extremely selective and rightly so, about who she invites, so I was honoured to write a guest article. I agreed to write an article about business blogs for her High Rankings Advisor Newsletter.

The Newsletter can be read online here:

High Rankings Advisor Newsletter.

While you are there, be sure to sign up to receive her High Rankings Advisor Newsletter, on a regular basis. It's packed with great tips and advice on gaining high rankings in the search engines.

I subscribe, and I learn something new from every issue. You will too!

The resulting traffic from the newsletter article has been nothing short of amazing.

My visitor traffic counters have literally gone off the dial with brand new readers, arriving at my blog. I have recorded, on back to back days, the largest readership numbers ever for this business blog. As an unexpected bonus, both my roller derby blog and my comedy and creative writing blog, have received solid traffic boosts as well.

I strongly recommend that you take every opportunity to write guest articles for other websites, newsletters, and blogs. Many bloggers will offer the chance for you to be a guest columnist on their blogs.

Simply offer to write a guest column or article for a few bloggers and webmasters.

Start with a few people who you know. They are the most likely to agree to your offer. They will appreciate the added content, which will help them to gain more keyword strength, in the search engine rankings.

Everyone benefits.

Be sure to include a short biography of yourself and your blog or website. Include a live clickable link back to your site.

The extra time taken, to write a fresh blog post or feature length article, will pay off for you.

Big time.

My own visitor traffic counters are ample proof of that!




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Internet Browser Toolbars: Which One For You?

Internet browser toolbars.

Have you installed one (or more) on your internet browser?

The best known and most popular toolbars are from Google, Alexa, and Yahoo.

For a complete evaluation of the features of each internet browser toolbar, and which one is right for you, check out my latest article at the SEO Chat.

My article entitled, surprisingly enough, Internet Browser Toolbars, outlines the benefits and features of each toolbar. You are then able to select the right browser toolbar for your requirements.

SEO Chat is a very highly regarded source of information on search engine optimization. The advice offered there, will greatly enhance your blog or website's performance, in the various search engine results.

As you know, the search engine results, are what are displayed, when you enter your search terms in the little word box.

My previous article, called Google PageRank Primer is still on the SEO Chat home page. Tracking your own site or blog's Google PageRank is a feature of the Google Toolbar.

Should you be looking to add a toolbar to your browser, check out the various options, and choose the one that's right for you.








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Wednesday, January 21, 2004

 

Anchor text: Give your links extra weight

Anchor text.

No, it's not a tall sailing ship tale.

I'm talking about the anchor text in your incoming links.

Okay, you say, you'll bite. What's anchor text anyway?

I'm glad you asked that question (with a bit of prompting).

Anchor text is the wording that appears on another site, or on an internal page within your own site, on a link. It is what appears as wording on the link back to your site or blog.

That anchor text link is pointing to your blog or website, the same way your title or even just a written out URL, would also point to your site.

Here is an example.

Instead of the name of your blog, appearing on another blogs list of links, some other wording appears.

Let's say your blog is called, appropriately enough, "My Great Blog". That name doesn't tell the potential reader very much. It also doesn't tell the search engines much about the topics your blog covers either.

Instead, you choose to have your anchor text appear as "Tiddly Winks Advice". Now, your potential visitors will know your blog is about tiddly winks, and that you provide advice on the subject.

The search engines, like Google, MSN, Inktomi, AllTheWeb, AltaVista, and Yahoo can index your blog more efficiently. By that, I mean they can place your blog higher, in the search returns, for people hunting for "tiddly winks advice".

You must be careful not to overuse the selected anchor text, as Google in particular, may penalize your blog or website for doing so. Going overboard (ya gotta love that pun) with anchor text, can sink (not another pun!) your blog or website, in the search results.

Fortunately, many linkers to your blog or website, will simply use the title of your site, in the anchor text. Over use of anchor text shouldn't pose too much difficulty for you.

You can use anchor text internally in your website as well. Instead of pointing to a page, point to it by using the main keywords of that page's main topic.

If the page is about tiddly winks, place "tiddly winks" in the anchor text, for that page's link. The search engines will consider that page more relevant in searches for...you guessed it....tiddly winks.

Here is an example of how I point to this blog using anchor text:

Marketing and Public Relations - Wayne Hurlbert - Blog Business World

Note that the text points toward this blog. Along with the blog title is some more blog description and my name. The blog title is also included. I used the text to let my roller derby readers know that I had another business related blog.

The coding is taken directly from my roller derby blog.

Note the anchor text appears, in the sentence, the same way as I have written and placed it in the coding.

My other blog is called Wayne's Derby World. In that anchor text, I used the same coding, but changed the anchor text to show the blog title instead.

By using anchor text, you can help your site gain a few more readers by being more descriptive. You can do the same thing, with their approval if you prefer, for the blogs and websites to which you link.

You can help your site and theirs rise in the search engines as well. The external anchor text will make the sites appear more relevant to the search engines.

Give your incoming and internal links some weight.

And drop in some anchor text.






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Tuesday, January 20, 2004

 

Carnival of the Capitalists: Up and Running

Carnival of the Capitalists is hosted this week by Bristish based blogger Unpersons

As always there are a great assortment of tremendous entries posted. Topics include business, society, innovation, economics and investment, and politics.

I have an entry included this week too.

The host says about my entry:

"Wayne Hurlbert has much to say about innovation and his real world experience including details of how he fought to innovate in order to save a company where bad business practices were so entrenched that management was actually allowing them to seriously harm the business. It might be difficult to convince senior management types to have faith in innovation, which involves experimentation and hence risk, but it could prove to be what a failing company needs more than anything else."

The column, that appears on this week's Carnival of the Capitalists, is my discussion of the difficulties I experienced in getting fresh ideas implemented in a company, where I was previously employed.

Be sure to check out the other great columns as well.

There is a lot of great reading there.

I always learn a lot from the weekly selections.



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Sunday, January 18, 2004

 

Blog Publicity: An Idol Idea

Blog publicity requires some imaginative and innovative new ideas.

One such idea is courtesy of blog idea machine Darren Rowse, of Living Room.

In a brilliant variation on the popular television series American Idol, Darren has created Blogger Idol

By providing a theme, and in this case it's The 80s, Darren lets bloggers of all types and descriptions enter posts on the topic. Political bloggers can discuss politics, music blogs will offer music entries, personal journals will provide entries on their lives in the 1980s.

The possiblilities are endless.

The project is not designed as a competition, but as a co-operative effort. All bloggers are able to enter. No one gets voted off the island.

I entered.

My Blogger Idol entry is from my comedy and humour blog Codswallop and Flapdoodle. I wrote a brief comedic adventure of the two friends, Mr. Codswallop and Mr. Flapdoodle being "lost in the 80s".

The concept of having many blogs enter posts, on a single topic, introduces other bloggers to some very good blogs. As a publicity tool for a blog, in order to gain a wider and more diversified reader base, it's great.

More innovative ideas for gaining much needed blog exposure, like Darren Rowse's Blogger Idol, will appear over time.

This one is a great start in that direction.


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Blog topics: Finding ideas

I was taking a linking tour of blogs today.

I used my favourite system of randomly selecting a blog name from other bloggers' lists of favourites. When I reach a new blog, I emply the same method again, and again. I never know where I'll wind up after awhile.

The technique finds some very interesting and often surprisingly great blogs.

The method also provides topic ideas for your daily blog posts.

Today, as I was cruising blogs, I discovered a few bloggers were posting that they had no topics, about which to post.

Of course, it could be argued persuasively, that the lack of a formal topic is indeed a topic in and of itself. At least I believe that to be the case, but then, I'm rather lenient in that regard.

I looked over the blogs, and thought to myself that those bloggers had many great ideas, sitting right under their noses. They had hobbies, jobs, and even businesses to operate.

Some bloggers appeared to be struggling, about whether to make the switch to a full scale business blog. Such a move would leavie the current personal journal to itself. Some bloggers were examining other issues in their personal and occupational lives.

There seemed to be no shortages, of really great entry ideas, on any of the blogs I read today.

I have been writing for the past couple of days about creativity.

All creativity is to me, is a new way of looking at things, in order to find solutions to problems. In this case, the problem is finding appropriate blogging subjects (and predicates too, for that matter).

As a cure for blogging block, I would suggest stepping back, and reading your own blog. You will be surprised at what you may uncover in the way of ideas.

Read your blog as a visitor would look at it. There are two types of readers for your blog. You have your regulars who return over and over. You also have first time visitors, who have stumbled across your little corner of the internet, in any of countless ways.

Regular readers will have certain tastes and preferences in post topics. You can always mix in a few old favourites, especially for them.

For newcomers, your topics are all fresh to them. You can recycle older ideas and posting materials in new ways. New angles on older entries is also great for your daily visitors as well.

In journalism, the editors are constantly seeking new angles and twists on older stories.

You can do that too.

Think about the impressions of your readers. Think about their needs, requirements, and desires. They are your first order of business. If you write only for yourself, it doesn't matter if anyone looks at your words of wisdom.

On the other hand, if you want to increase your readership, and gain higher totals in your visitor logs, it is imperative that you consider the interests of your readership.

The topics will just pop right into your head, as if they were already there, just waiting for you.

Think about your readers, and you will never go wrong.




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Saturday, January 17, 2004

 

Creative Thinking as a Way of Life

Creativity.

What is it?

When you think of creativity, you may be drawn to the idea it involves writers, painters, and other artists. Perhaps, you think creativity is for architects and website designers.

In fact, everyone is creative. Creativity comes in many forms, and is essential for any business.

Creativity involves the ability to find solutions to problems. The process involves changing your point of view from the regular way of looking at things.

The more innovative the solutions to your business problems, the more competitive your company will be positioned. Anyone can can find the routine and obvious solutions. Creativity will mark you off, as one of the best in the business, and in the entire industry.

Everyone is creative.

Have you ever used a tool in a different way it was intended? Did you ever simply devise a different route home, because a traffic jam had blocked your regular way? Did you ever find a new way to communicate with a difficult person, when other ways never seemed to get your point across?

If so, you were being creative. It's that simple.

And that hard.

It's always difficult to break long held habits of thinking.

Most people get comfortable in the way they currently do things. In businesses, it's usually termed "That's the way it's always been down around here."

People often avoid creative solutions, because they fear the possibility, that things might go wrong. Better the tried and true methods, they think, than take any chances.

In fact, creativity reduces risk by looking at solutions to problems. Rather than living with problems of personnel, sales, management, inventory, and so on, the creative person looks for opportunities for improvement.

The glitches, problems, and failures represent challenges, not roadblocks.

The non-creative solutions in business often result from acceptance of failure. They can include office and plant closures, layoffs, selloffs, etc. Problems are seen as not having any workable solutions, and therefore failure is accepted as the only possible outcome.

Creative people view the problem, as an opportunity to try a different path, in the evolution of the business.

As you attempt to look at problems through different lenses, you begin to see potential everywhere. You view problems as a starting line, not as a dead end.

Ideas that are viewed as problems can be turned around, flipped upside down, and turned inside out. Something new can be made from them, simply by seeing them in a different way.

Creativity takes those possible losses, and turns them into profitable opportunities for everyone in the organization.

Creativity is far less risky than run of the mill thinking.

it is far less risky than accepting certain failure.

In that sense, creative thinking is tremendous insurance for you company.

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Friday, January 16, 2004

 

Creativity Adds Profitability

Creativity is a must for any company.

If a business fails to generate new ideas, and new ways of doing things, it will stagnate.

There are some businesses, that are able to grow and prosper, by using a rigid nd never changing formula. Most companies, however, need some level of innovation to succeed.

I believe that creativity lowers a company's risk.

Risk is lessened because creativity is employed to solve an existing problem. If nothing is done to resolve the current difficulty, it will only get worse. Usually, it's better to brainstorm ideas and find solutions, than let the problem get worse through neglect.

When a good idea is found, the problem can be attacked.

That opinion is quite the opposite of what you will hear from many business executive suites. The holders of executive washroom keys, will view innovation and creativity as risky, and its supporters and preactioners a little on the flaky side.

I spent seven years in a company that had a set way of selling its advertising contracts. That specific system had been devised by the company owners well over a decade earlier. It was not to change. It's adherents would blindly praise the genius of the system.

I disagreed.

The company sales ideas were a disaster, in the Winnipeg office, when I was hired. They didn't get any better as the sales staff, of which I was a member, were required to use such absurd sales methods. Deviation was not permitted.

When the Manager was fired, I was promoted to take over the sinking ship.

I enjoyed the challenge. I also had some new ideas to put into place.

My office, when I was a Regional Sales and Marketing Manager, was the most profitable in the company. I was Corporate Manager of the Year in 1998. Out of my office rolled every useful new idea in the company. None were ever generated by the other Regional Managers. None were ever mentioned as being my creations.

They were often adopted, somewhat reluctantly, by the other offices around North America. They were accepted as innovations from the company President, who claimed them as his own. My contribution was not acknowledged.

The Manager of the Year Award was a result of my office sales numbers, that even my most vicious opponents couldn't deny. It was difficult for them to argue against the account balances. Believe me, in the internal company politics arena, my name was rarely mentioned in a positive light.

Some other managers, usually part of the Old Boys Network, even tried to get me fired. I always considered that to be a compliment.

Some of the funniest, if not the most frustrating events, would be to have my office phone ring from head office with some marvelous new idea. The idea would always be one that I had devised myself, usually a year earlier.

In fact, by the time one of my new methods worked its way through the company, I had already refined that concept several times. Sometimes I had replaced it entirely, with an even better technique.

I devised strategies to increase the marketing and sales reach of my region. We moved sales levels higher than those enjoyed by offices based in larger centres.

Based in the small city of Winnipeg, Manitoba, my region from the Great Lakes to the Rockies, was technically the smallest population. I made it into the largest ,by opening up additional new untapped sales areas, throughout North America.

I altered the performance incentives to sales staff. The changes resulted in much higher morale among the personnel, and far stronger sales results.

New marketing strategies and improved human resource management were unheard of in the company. My staff was easily the best, and the most loyal in the entire company. I had visited other offices and in Canada and the United States. I was rarely impressed with what I saw.

As with all of my innovations, I simply implemented a small pilot project first. If it was successful, I would make it a full scale operation. If it didn't work out as planned, the amount of money spent was minimal, and almost always covered by the limited sales generated.

In that case, creativity helped the company and its profits. Without my new ideas, the office sales would have returned to the moribund levels it endured, before I took it over.

I used creativity and new ideas to build the region's sales to the most profitable in the company.

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Thursday, January 15, 2004

 

Perception and reality

A person's reputation within an organization, and even outside of it, might not be backed up by the facts.

In a series at Management By Baseball, it's decided that former New York Yankees, and now Houston Astros left handed pitcher Andy Pettitte, doesn't live up to his reputation as a "big game pitcher."

The numbers presented as evidence, simply do not support that image and perception. In the words of the writer, "the reputation is not the guy".

Have you ever worked in an organization, with a so-called "legend".

I have.

The numbers certainly didn't back up his reputation either.

Within the company, he was referred to as "Kahuna". He had the most incomprehensibly ridiculous legends surrounding him. His supposed ability, to sell out advertising contracts in record time, was accepted as gospel by everyone in the organization.

Unfortunately for my opinion of his talents, I got to see the legend in action.

First hand.

I had started to work, in the early 1990s, for a company that sold advertising, in various types of publications ranging from handbooks to directories, to name a couple. (I was later Regional Sales and Marketing Manager in the same company).

The Winnipeg, Manitoba office where I was hired, was in desperate need of sales. I needed the job. Along with another sales rep named David, we sold enough advertising through cold calling, to save a major yet floundering contract. A certain loss, already accepted by the head office, turned into a profit.

The office had problems. The manager was not competent, and very negligent of her duties. She was later fired. There was terrible staff turnover, and sales totals were very low. Morale was poor. Sales reps openly poached one anothers accounts.

Enter the legend Kahuna.

In a weird twist of logic, it was thought one good contract could turn the office around. The mathematics certainly didn't support that at all, but numbers were rarely used by the company thinking anyway. Instead of simply letting the existing sales staff sell the new contract, Kahuna was flown in, put up at the Holiday Inn for a month, with all of his meals supplied.

Word came down from head office, that we would all see how sales was supposed to be done. Kahuna would sell the entire contract himself, they guaranteed, in less than a month. We could learn from the legend, they said.

We were told he had done it before, and the example of his brilliance was given to us, from on high. I stored that myth away in my memory. It would be helpful later.

He sold the easy accounts. Of course, they were already pre-existing in the computer, developed by the existing sales staff, including David and me. He just took them as his own. Kahuna merely sold the easy accounts, that anyone with no experience at all, could have closed in their sleep.

His month ended. The contract was less than half filled. The commissions were paid to the great legend too.

Suddenly, orders arrived from head office, to turn the contract into a profitable one. When asked why Kahuna had done so poorly, "personal problems" were cited.

In any case, the ball was dropped into our court. We were back into the status of sell the ads, or be closed down. We needed the jobs.

The manager, too lazy to do her own calculations, asked David and me to work out the numbers. We needed to know how far in the red, the contract had fallen, and how much selling was needed to salvage it.

I calculated Kahuna's commission, based on the paid sales. He was paid, by head office, an astounding 75%. David added in the hotel and meal amounts, and the cash outlay worked out to over 200% of paid sales.

Clearly, the more we looked at the numbers, the worse the legend's performance had been. And the harder our job would be, to make the contract numbers look respectable.

We scrambled, with less than a month to go before the contract deadline, to fill it. You might be interested to know, that an account messed up is a lot harder to close, than if it was left alone. David's and my people were not happy, but they liked the publication, as it was aimed at their target market.

It seemed Kahuna had simply sent them an invoice, and expected payment. No wonder no one bought, and were very upset.

They bought from us, but they certainly did not ever want anything to do with the living legend.

In the end, along with David and another sales rep, we sold the contract completely. The contract even turned a small profit. That was a victory, considering it was a drowning in a quagmire of epic proportions.

The office remained open.

Four years later, at a company Christmas party in Toronto, I had the opportunity to ask Kahuna about the contract, that had made his legend. He proudly told me how much he sold on that program. I was shocked. The number he gave me, was less than half of the amount required, to fulfil the obligations of any company contract.

Thinking that the numbers were lower, due to inflation, I asked what the advertising rates were on that contract. They were identical to the contract he messed up in our office.

His legend as a saviour was based on nothing. It was founded on what amounted to a disaster.

The only legend I could see, was how he could survive in a sales organization, as long as he did.

He sure had a talent for that!

The person certainly did not match the reputation.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2004

 

Keywords and visitor interests

Keywords are the terms, that people enter into the search box, when searching for information on the internet.

If you are looking for cookie recipes, that's what you enter into the little box on your favourite search engine.

You enter either "cookie recipes" (with quotes) or cookie recipes (without quotes) into the slot. (By the way, the two entry methods may return entirely different results.)

Sites about the topic appear on your screen, and you have your search results. You visit the various sites, and then bake your cookies.

I have discussed how the various keywords used to find you, will have your blog or website positioned differently, on the various search engines.

That is because the different search engines use a different algorithm (mathematical calculation used to decide the most relevant sites for a web query) to find their results.

Talk about a yawner!

You may be on the first page of Inktomi or MSN Search for your keywords, but on the third page for Google.

Different math gives different results.

While that is not a concern of many bloggers, most people want to see at least a few more visitors. Just your family and some arm twisted friends are fine, but it's nice to have watchers in the wider web world, once in awhile.

Check your visitor logs, for keywords that have found your blog, in all of the search engines. Your most popular terms will be the keywords that found your blog. You say you don't care much about search engine optimization, or getting high rankings in Google.

That's fine. Don't worry about it.

What should interest you are the many interests of your visitor traffic. What they enter into the search box, and use to find your blog, is what interests them.

Bloggers are often accused of being only concerned with themselves. The accusation is often termed as "navel gazing". Once in awhile though, even the most self absorbed blogger will look out at the rest of humanity; even if only for a peek.

From your readers' point of view, it's all about them. It's about what they want to read. If you don't fulfil their requirements, they will surf elsewhere.

When you check what interests your readers, you can then help them out, by writing more posts on those topics.

The concept has double value.

Your blog rises even higher in the search engine rankings. That's good for the old ego, and your visitor counter. Your readers are happy as well, because you are writing more posts of interest to them.

The search term idea generator method will also help you find topics, on those days when writers block occurs. You know the days. No matter how hard you concentrate, no blogging ideas will materialize. The blank mind syndrome can strike at any time.

Keyword search to the rescue!

As you check your logs, those search terms will often trigger fresh ideas for your blog entries.

Words gush forth from your keyboard.

Visitors flock to your blog.

They smile.

So do you.

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Tuesday, January 13, 2004

 

Jeremy Wright's Ensight Blog Goes Big Time

Readers of the prestigious American newspaper The Washington Post, were treated to the words and opinions, of fellow blogger Jeremy Wright of Ensight.

In an article about the leading search engine Google's Initial Public Offering (IPO) of its shares.

In the article, Jeremy is quoted as forecasting another internet and technology stock market bubble, where stock prices far exceed the true company value.

He warns that the Google IPO may result in a market disaster, similar to the one that was ignited following search browser Netscape's IPO in 1995.

Be sure to read the entire article about Google's Initial Public Offering (IPO).

You will find Jeremy Wright's quotes on page four of the Google IPO article.

It's great to see Jeremy get the recognition, for his well thought out ideas, that he so richly deserves.

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Monday, January 12, 2004

 

My Google PageRank article at SEO Chat

For those of you who are interested in the concept of Google PageRank, what it means, and approximately how it's calculated, I have written a Google PageRank article.

My essay called Google PageRank Primer appears on the well known search engine optimization website SEO Chat.

In the article, I describe the concept and importance of PageRank. I describe the numbers, and what they mean to you, and your blog or website.

I talk about the differences in importance of the numbers and their relative values. I discuss the way the PageRank values are calculated, including a plain English explanation of how the formula works.

No need to have any math anxiety!

I also conclude the article, with the importance of adding more incoming links, to your blog or website. As you already know, links add to your visitor traffic through referrals from other site. Links also add to your position, in the search engine placements, for your targeted keywords.

Links are good. Exchange early and often.

This is the second article, I have had appear at SEO Chat.

My first article was titled The DMOZ Directory: Get Your Site Listed.

The purpose of that article, which has received solid reviews from experts in the search engine optimization field, is to help you get your blog or website listed in the important Open Directory Project (DMOZ) directory.

While you are visiting SEO Chat, be sure to read the great article called Search Engine Myths Debunked.

That fine essay was written by the very knowledgeable David Clain of Swagu.

You won't want to miss what he has to say, about the urban legends, that have grown up around the various internet search engines; industry leader Google, in particular.

Be sure to vote (Hint: Vote 5!) for the articles' help, or lack thereof, as well.

Hey! What's wrong with a little shameless self promotion once in awhile. I know it's not at the level of certain one day marriage, or steamy video producing celebrities, but it will have to suffice.

On behalf of David, (I'm sure he doesn't mind), thanks for reading our articles.

They are written, and published at SEO Chat, to help you and your sites.

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Carnival of the Capitalists

Don't forget to drop by Jeremy Wright's first rate Ensight blog.

Jeremy is hosting this week's Carnival of the Capitalists at Ensight.

For those of you who are not familiar with the Carnival of the Capitalists, it's a rotating weekly series of bloggers, who select the best of business and other posts for the week.

A host blogger has the posts linked from his or her home blog.

The host then selects which posts will appear on the blog, from a group of post submissions.

It's a great series, and certainly always required reading.

Even if you don't agree with the posts!

You may find a few blogs you will want to read constantly as well.

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Sunday, January 11, 2004

 

Google Backlink Update

It has happened again.

And only about two weeks since the last one too.

A Google backlink update!

For those of you who don't know, or perhaps don't even care, I'll explain.

A Google backlink update is a big (and we are talking Pyramids huge here) event in the search engine optimization (SEO) community.

At an update, Google displays the incoming links to your blog or website, that have PageRank 4 or higher. PageRank is Google's calculation, of the relative importance of your site, based on the quantity and quality of your incoming links.

If you have the Google Toolbar as discussed here and here, you will already know your Google PageRank.

In this most recent backlink update, I saw an increase in my incoming link count, on this business blog and on my other roller derby blog. The increases were about 100 incoming links per blog.

They are by no means all of them either.

Google is always behind the times on reporting both backlinks and PageRank.

Many other blogs did very well during this backlink and PageRank update as well. Most blogs are showing PR4, PR5, and PR6. The odd blog is even sporting a PR7.

Those of you who have been actively swapping links, will be pleased to know that Google is showing a lot of those reciprocal links in the update. They are paying off for both sides of the trade.

A word of advice, however.

Google has been actively stomping out "links" farms, and even "links" pages. That term is to be avoided on your blog or website.

On your blog, if your column says "links", I would suggest changing it to some other word of description.

A few alternative names I've seen around the internet include: directory, friends, portal, resources, menu, orbit, buddies, good guys, places to visit, etc. Your imagination should be able to outperform that group of terms.

The important thing is to change the way your outgoing links are named.

As I have been saying all along, blogs do well in Google.

Blogs score very highly in the PageRank department.

If you don't care about PageRank, perhaps you prefer that blogs have very strong results in the search enginesh for your keyword search terms. That means more people see your blog, when they search.

That means more readers for your words of wisdom.

Incoming links add to the power of your blog to rank higher in the search engine results.

Be sure to let me know, if you had an increase or decrease, in your Google PageRank and backlink counts.


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Blogging for dollars

Making money from your blog is a popular discussion theme.

There are as many complaints about an inability to monetize blogs, as there are...well...bloggers.

The idea of making a few blogging bucks is discussed on a number of well known, and less well known blogs.

Here are two examples. One is from both a heavy traffic blog. The other is from a relatively new blog.

Darren Rowse at Living Room often openly discusses ways to create income from your blog. And who can blame him. He has heavy traffic flow, regular and loyal readers; yet not a lot of income from his blog.

Darren has discussed donations to his blogging cause. He openly discloses (to his credit too) that he is an Amazon.com affiliate, earning a commission from sales through his blog. Many other bloggers, and indeed, static websites fail such an open admission.

I always have respect for those who play their cards face up, like Darren does, in regard to his revenue sources.

Another possible blog revenue producer, from on the blog advertising, went by the wayside recently.

Javaman at A Random Act of Blogging announced the failure of blog advertiser Skoobie.

Skoobie's business model was to pay bloggers for ads placed on their blogs. Skoobie would receive its revenue from the paying advertisers. Things obviously didn't go as planned.

Javaman didn't consider his loss, estimated at a vault breaking $1.25 USD, to be irreplacable as income.

Despite the failure of Skoobie, and other blog advertisers, the quest continues for blog income sources.

My income (disclosure time) from Blog Business World is from freelance writing, and from search engine optimization for other sites.

I would like to develop other revenue streams as well.

Like other bloggers, the problem of monetizing a blog continues.

Over time, we will find some good reliable ways to generate some cash from out blogs.

As the idea of blogging becomes more mainstream, the money is sure to follow.

I hope. :)


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Saturday, January 10, 2004

 

Google algorithms: SEO made fun and easy

Search engine optimization techniques, are one of the major requests I receive daily, in my e-mail.

Along with linking, content creation ideas, and promoting and marketing your blog, getting search engine high rankiings, is a very popular request.

Enquiring bloggers want to know.

Search engine optimization (or SEO for short) is potentially a very boring topic. My friend David St. Lawrence, in his wonderful and thoughful Ripples blog, said it made his head hurt.

I can sympathize with David, and with others who feel the same way. SEO is usually presented (and I am guilty too) as a mystery to be guarded. After all, I SEO sites for a living for those who require it too.

For those who simply want the basics, here is a...I hope...not too boring a voyage, aboard the SS SEO.

Internet seekers of websites and information, turn to search engines for help, in supplying the right sources. For simplicity and to avoid confusion, I'll use Google as the stand in for all search engines. Google powers the vast majority of internet searches, so it will do to serve our needs quite nicely.

The web searcher enters words, called keywords in the SEO trade, into the search box. Press enter, and voila, results appear. Why those results, and not others?

Google uses a complicated (and very secret and often changing) mathematical formula, called the Google algorithm. Its purpose is to calculate the most relevant results for a web query.

Algorithm is such a boring word. Who dreamed it up anyway?

For interests sake, I've decided to call it the "Google Beagle"; sniffing out the best results. I hope no one minds.

What does the Beagle look for exactly?

The Beagle looks for keywords on the page, that match or closely match, the ones you entered into the search box. It examines how recently the page was updated. It considers the number and quality of incoming links to the blog or website. Along with about 98 other calculation variables, our trusty Beagle produces the results.

Here is where blogs have a major advantage over static websites.

Blogs are updated regularly. Check.

Blogs have lots of keywords, as bloggers discuss their main topics. Check.

Blogs have tons of incoming links, from related blogs. Check.

It is only natural, that blogs are going to return high placements, in the search engine results. No matter how the Google algorithm.....I mean the Google Beagle....is changed, those three variables will almost always remain important.

They are what a search is all about.

Blogs are ideally suited, to what the search engines, are looking for in a relevant site.

To take advantage of that relevance, you can write more posts about the topics, where people are searching and finding you.

That is not manipulating the search results. In fact, its good marketing for your blog. You are responding to the reader's asking for more information on the topic.

As a bonus, you get to write even more about your favourite subjects. And you thought I was going to make this hard, didn't you!

By writing more posts on the subject, that just happen to have the keywords and their stemmed variations, you are better serving your readers, present and future.

As David St. Lawrence recommends, "just write from the heart", and your keywords will appear on your blog. After all, you are writing what pleases you and your readers.

The Beagle finds your keywords tasty morsels in his dish too.

The keywords will later appear in searches, as they are what the Google Beagle is calculating. (He is a mathematical doggie, after all).

While that approach may not get you to the top of the first page, for all keywords, it will certainly get you ranked a lot higher.

Going for top of the first page seach engine rankings require more complex ideas and techniques, it's true. However, these simple ideas will get you some very high rankings all by themselves.

Painlessly.

Just by doing and writing what you love.

SEO as a fun idea. That's a rarity, isn't it!

I hope that was a nice voyage, with a friendly puppy at your side, over the oceans of search engine optimization.

I hope no one got seasick!










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Friday, January 09, 2004

 

Stemming and keywords in blogs

My columns on stemming and on keywords in blog posts, as part of the Google algorithm, has caused some confusion.

My friend Tristam Bielecki of New Meeja and Blogopoly has alerted me to a possible contradiction in my posts.

My thanks to Tristam for keeping me alert to any misunderstanding my posts might create.

In one of my posts, I pointed out that Google is possibly employing "stemming", in their calculation of which websites are most relevant to a search for entered words.

Stemming means other forms of a word.

In my post, I used the example of "blog". Stemmed searching would include "blogs", "blogging", "blogger", "blogged", and so on. Speculation in search engine optimization (SEO) circles, is that stemming is also extended to include synonyms (words with the same meaning), of your main keywords as well.

Take note of the following, and remember it well.

If anyone tells you they have all the answers for getting high rankings in search engines, let's just say they are.....well....exaggerating. What we are quite sure does work, is fresh keyword (and perhaps stemmed) content, and adding lots of good quality incoming links to your blog or website.

Everything suggested by everyone, including me, about how to score high search engine placements, is an educated guess. What is recommended by SEO experts are their best ideas, about what works in the search engines (mainly Google), and what might not get as great results.

No one knows everything about search engine optimization.

The search engines prefer to keep it that way too!

Digression over, and back to business.

In my following post, I recommended using keywords related to your blog content, to score high rankings in the various search engines.

The idea of sprinkling a lot of keywords around your blog posts, and the concept of stemming, are not mutually exclusive.

In fact, they work together very well.

Since you write about your main topic, let's say it's blogging, you can include many forms of the word "blog" in your post. Without stemming, the word had to match the search, as "blog". Now, you can enrich your writing, and add many more potent keywords in stemmed form.

It improves your writing, by introducing some variety in your choices of wording. That is always great for your readers.

You benefit in the search engines by having more keywords.

You benefit in the search engines by having more stemmed forms of your keyords.

The two concepts work together, to your benefit, and for your readers as well.

This is my best educated guess on the subject, combined with the best testing and understanding of search engines, of other experts in the field of search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO is partly an art, and partly a science. The art is in the interpretation of the search engine results, and understanding how to achieve them. The science is in testing the possible variables, and seeing which ones give better or worse search engine placements.

Over time, it has been discovered that fresh, keyword rich content has worked in a site's favour.

So has incoming links from quality blogs and static websites.

Of course, the search engines (notably Google) are given to changing their calculation algorithm all the time.

That fact makes keeping up with what works, and what fails, a major challenge for anyone involved with search engine optimization.

As bloggers, you can adapt to any changes in the search engine results calculations very quickly. After a few days of heavy posting, your blog has changed its form entirely. It can then become highly ranked (or not) depending on the algorithm employed by the search engines.

Oh yes, stemming and keywords work together.

So far as we know!

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Thursday, January 08, 2004

 

Blogs and search engine optimization

The very term search engine optimization is probably enough to make you roll your eyes twice, yawn, and drop off to a sound sleep of boredom.

Even the commonly used (at least among those who stay awake to think of such things) is SEO.

That abbreviation also sounds somewhat uninviting. It reads like a government department that demands to know everything about your life in triplicate; or something your school health nurse strongly hinted you should avoid.

For those of you still awake, it's not all that bad....really....it's not!

The goal of SEO concerns helping your blog appear high in searches on search engines (usually spelled Google). When someone enters some words or a phrase, into the search box, the results that the Google algorithm considers most relevant appear.

It's not magic. It's math.

Google uses a mathematical formula called an algorithm, to search and calculate the relevance of some three billion indexed documents, to your query.

The results don't simply appear by chance. They are arrived at through calculations of 1's and 0's.

Still awake?

Good. It gets better. Trust me on this one.

Well, maybe not. But I'll tell you anyway.

You can help your blog appear higher on the search engine results. You can use the formula (without knowing any math. Now that had to make you feel better.

What is needed to be done are just a few basic things.

Here are two ideas (there are more but two is enough for now) that will really make a major difference to your search engine rankings.

Since you do them now, it's not too much of a stretch.

One part of the calculation involves links.

Google and the other search engines love to see incoming links. The more incoming links to your blog the better. Even better than that is incoming links from blogs (and other traditional websites) that have lots of incoming links themselves.

Since most bloggers love to link out, and to exchange links, that part is fairly easy. And no, you are not "helping your competition" in the search engines. Every blog, even ones that appear the same, have a different emphasis, on slightly different topics and search terms.

Your main competition, for high search engine rankings, is not other bloggers. It's the traditional static websites that you have to work against. There are a lot more of them, than there are blogs!

Of course, since you can out link them, you have them half beaten already.

The other way to gain high search engine placements is by posting a lot of fresh content to your blog. Search engines love fresh content, and regularly updated blogs certainly provide it.

Hey, that was easy too. You do that already, right?

Well, then all we have to do is tweak it a bit. If you have a visitor counter, check the visitor traffic logs, and look for referrals from the various search engines. The search engine referrers will include Google, MSN, Yahoo, AOL Search, Inktomi, Alltheweb, and AltaVista.

Look closely at the words, used by the searcher, that found your site as a result of the query. Web counters like Extreme Tracking (free by the way) keep records of the keywords entered into the search box.

Click on the log entry of your web counter. It should take you to the search engine results page where your blog was found. What you will see is the page where your blog was found, and the position of your blog on the page.

The ultimate goal is to be in Position Number One on Page Number One. That is the Holy Grail of search engine optimization. Of course, you can add a lot of visitor traffic without obsessing over being at the very top. The first three pages of a search are your realistic initial goal.

If your counter doesn't take you there, don't remove your old counter, simply add another one to your site that does travel to the search engine pages. More than one counter is not a bad idea. I use two, as do many other SEO oriented bloggers.

Look carefully at the most used words that found your blog. Examine the next nine or ten as well.

When you post to your blog, try to use those frequently searched words in your posts. Use them fairly often (but not too much....think common sense and readibility here), and early in your posts. You won't have to make your posts "artificial" at all.

Simply use the terms that you have already been using. They are what searchers enter into their queries to find you.

By adding links and touching up your posts, you will rise in the search engine results. You will get more readers, and they get to enjoy your words of wisdom.

Win-win situation.








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Wednesday, January 07, 2004

 

Stemming: It's not just for plants anymore

In the recent Google update, known throughout the search engine optimization community, as "Florida", there was a storm of controversy about how Google located websites in web searches.

Previously high ranking sites (those sitting proudly on Page One for their chosen search terms) found themselves booted unceremoniously to the Google cellar.

Or lower.

Lost in all of the noise and uproar was a new method Google uses in searches.

It's called stemming.

Stemming is the practice of searching for other forms of a word.

In the past, if someone was searching for the term "blog", only pages containing that exact word, would appear in the search results. A problem resulted from that precision.

Website copywriting became bland and keyword laden, as the search word was targeted (some say saturated). The result spewed out was copy that was not pleasant to read.

With Google's introduction of stemming, other forms of the word "blog" are now considered, by the Google search algorithm (the formula used to determine the most relevant sites for your search).

Instead of searching only for "blog", Google now considers "blogs", blogged", "blogging", "blogger", and other forms of the word, based on sufixes. Because web searchers often type in other forms of a word, the Google returned results often missed some very good web pages. The new process changes all of that.

Stemming is great for your blogging.

You are free to use all forms of words, and not be penalized by Google for doing so. You have no need to specifically target one form of a word, to the exclusion of all others. You can now write freely, and let your prose flow......cliche time...like a river of words on an artificial screen. Ugh. Sorry.

Stemming is also thought to be occurring for synonyms of words too. Along with "blog", "online diary", and "online journal", may also be considered by the algorithm. Should that indeed be the case, you can write different words, yet express the same (or at least similar) meaning. You also get some benefit from Google for your efforts

Stemming is yet another great thing for blog writers. Once again, bloggers will leap to the forefront in the search engines; without even trying!

I do not recommend specifically writing your blog postings, with only search engines rankings in mind. Think of your readers with good quality, and well written content, first and foremost. On the other hand, you do want your blog information to be included in Google searches, so web searchers can enjoy your blog's information and content.

Embrace stemming. It will help improve your blog content. It will also help your blog in the Google search engine results.

What could be better than that!






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Tuesday, January 06, 2004

 

Blog links lists and blogrolls: Discoveries

Have you ever looked at the number of outgoing links most blogs display?

Whether placed in a long unsorted list (like mine!) or divided into related sections, most blogs have lots of outgoing links.

I often enjoy exploring other bloggers' lists of favourite places. Some delightful discoveries can be made along the way.

When you first see the list of links, it's fairly intimidating. There is the title of a completely unknown blog, and nothing more. Rarely is any information about blog link content given, outside of the main blog posts. The content behind the blog title is like a strange unexplored land.

What lies byond that mouse click?

The only way to find out, is to surf on over!

I have discovered and read some very interesting, and I suppose some not really my cup of tea blogs, in my travels. My preferred method is to check the links, on my regular reads, for blogs I have yet to find. I click over to that blog, and do the same thing randomly from that person's list.

Sometimes the "six degrees of separation" theory returns you to your starting point!

The excitement is often more in the discovery, than the reading itself. As a result of my wanderings, through these strange and exotic locales, I have found a few real gems.

More than a few, actually!

I like to think friends of other bloggers are my not yet discovered friends too.

While it would take too long to name even a few here, and your tastes may vary from mine, I'll leave the voyages of discovery up to you.

Stange blogs are no longer unknowns after you visit them; even one time.

You may want to link to them, and return again and again.

Other blog surfers can find the blog, from your blog links and blogrolls, as a result of your journey of exploration.

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Monday, January 05, 2004

 

Bloggers get married

While you may not be avid readers of their blogs, well known blogging types Deb Yoder of The Accidental Jedi and Jay Solo of Verbosity are tying the proverbial knot.

I have been a reader of The Accidental Jedi for quite some time. I also look in on Jay Solo's writings as well, although I have never got around to adding his blog to my links section.

Until now.

My friend Jeremy Wright of Ensight, has already spilled the beans, so to speak. He keeps up on the latest news, on my behalf.

What does the marriage of two bloggers have to do with business blogging you ask?

Good question!

Many people consider blogging to be a community that brings people closer together. While others disagree, about the community aspect, most agree that bloggers do have a level of interaction, not experienced by static website owners.

Outside of the various internet forums, there is little visible interplay between static website owners. They know one another from their forum discussion posts.

Bloggers are different.

With their personal lives, often played out in full public view, bloggers may have reached the fringes of the modern celebrity culture. Celebrity is often defined as being well known by others, who have never met you in person. They know of you by your public activities; in this case, it's blogging.

While it's possible to become well known, at least in internet circles, by having a website, being a blogger achieves that notice much faster.

By posting your thoughts and comments on various matters, in your daily blog posts, people begin to know you as a person. The amount of your inner thoughts and personality you choose to reveal, is entirely up to you.

As your present and potential clients and customers read your business blog, they start to know you a bit better as a person. Since you are already known to them, they are much more likely to become future customers of your business.

The function of having people get to know you better was formerly the domain of the e-mail newsletter. It's main purpose is to develop a bond of familiarity between the sender and the reader. The end result would be a customer relationship built on long term trust.

The blog adds another dimension to the familiarity process. An e-mail newsletter is sent to its mailing list every two weeks to a month. A blog is posted and read, by its regular readers, almost daily. The chances of developing a strong relationship are even greater.

Sometimes the relationships develop into long term customers.

Sometimes those relationships result in marriage.

Congratulations to Jay Solo and Deb Yoder on your marriage.


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Saturday, January 03, 2004

 

Business blogs: Oklahoma Wine News

When you think of Oklahoma, the first things that spring to mind for many people are cattle, oil and football.

Wine making is not something usually associated with the Sooner State.

In a great example of using a business blog, designed to promote the state's wine industry, try a sip of Oklahoma Wine News.

The Nuyaka Creek Winery in Oklahoma is the first of many business blogs I want to examine, as we look at some real business blogs in action.

The Oklahoma Wine News blog is an offshoot of the Nuyaka Creek Winery website.

The best thing about the Nuyaka Creek Winery's business blog is its purpose. It's not simply a blatantly self promoting advertising blurb for the winery. As you are probably aware, that is an easy trap to fall into, if care is not taken with the blog.

Instead, the blog focusses on the entire Oklahoma wine making industry, and on general wine news.

The blog does a great job of maintaining that direction.

Some recent posts focus on the health benefits of wine, sales of wine products on the internet, and news about the Oklahoma wine harvest.

Another positive feature of the blog is its almost daily updating. Fresh new posts are very important in a business blog, especially a recently established one like Oklahoma Wine News.

The frequency of posting will certainly help to add and retain visitor traffic. It's a must for business blogs.

Freely using, links to other Oklahoma wineries, and other industry sources makes the blog a useful and friendly site for visitors as well.

I have often said that bloggers are very generous linkers.

Oklahoma Wine News certainly is not hesitant to link to other blogs and static websites.

As an added feature, the blog has an RSS feeder through Feedster. An RSS feed helps complete the user friendliness of the blog.

While the blog doesn't offer a comment system, the main Nuyaka Creek Winery website includes a guest book and a discussion forum instead.

Here's a toast to Oklahoma Wine News on a great business blog!
















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Business Blog Predictions 2004: Not!

Business bloggers, political blogsters, and almost every other manner of blog writer, are making predictions for 2004.

I have decided to sort of avoid hopping on the prognostication bandwagon. I made some predictions on my other roller derby blog. I figured that's enough playing a Nostradamus wannabe for anyone.

I won't bore you with my cliched predictions for the coming year. I'll let the specialists in crystal balls and tea leaves do that for you. That's what they are paid to provide. On the other hand, if you have divined the winner of the Kentucky Derby, or the World Series, let me know!

Blogging became mainstream, to a large yet still uncompleted degree, in 2003. That trend will continue in 2004. Some pundits are already counting the gains made in the blogging community. Even the word "blog" made the 2003 new words lists.

Instead of giving you a series of misinformed and half baked ideas, about what to expect in the new year ahead, I'll continue to help you create better business blogs in the here and now.

The future will be upon us soon enough, as we already notice how fast the years whiz by us. After all, it was only a short time ago that the Y2K non-event was all the rage. Predictions of massive computer failures never translated into reality. Predictions can be wrong.

In the new year, one thing I do want to see from you, is more linking. Your blogs benefit from adding incoming links from other blogs and static websites.
Don't hesitate to exchange links with sites that are related to your areas of interest.

If a site, while not exactly on topic interests you, link with them as well. Don't worry about things like PageRank, or traffic levels of your link trade partners. Think first and foremost of providing helpful and interesting links for your readers. Your visitors should always be your first concern.

Be sure to keep updating your content. Post often, and regularly, to your blogs. As you add more fresh information and articles to your blogs, you will add new visitors. You will also maintain your current traffic flows. Your readership will grow. The key to success is to provide strong content.

Always has been. Always will be.

That sounded strangely like a prediction. If you provide great content, and freely exchange links, you will add visitors to your blog.

Don't forget to market and promote your blog too. A baseball diamond, built in an Iowa cornfield, may have had them show up for Kevin Costner in the movie Field of Dreams.

You need to work a bit harder, at gaining visitor traffic, than what happens in the movies.

Post in forums, using a signature link back to your blog. Write articles and provide guest blogs for other bloggers, when invited.

Submit your blog link to all of the available blog directories. Don't forget to add your link to the other many free directories either.

If you do even a few of these things, I have one more 2004 prediction.

Your blog will have more happy readers, and be much more successful, in the coming year.

And I promised not to make any forecasts.

Well, resolutions were made to be broken!






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Friday, January 02, 2004

 

Business Blog Resolutions 2004

Everyone spends an inordinate amount of time, on New Year's Day, creating a gaggle of resolutions.

I'll do that too. Who am I to break with such a grand tradition!

After all, I usually resolve to never resolve...or is that dissolve?

In any case, without further ado, here are some business blog resolutions for 2004.

Resolve to update your business blogs on a regular basis. I like to add daily posts; but at least three times a week is fine. For those of you, who update multiple times a day, all I can say, is you certainly must have a lot to blog about.

Make a committment to add links, and to engage in link exchanges with other bloggers, and with other static websites. Trading links adds entirely new visitor traffic to your blog. If your blog is interesting and informative, the new readers will return often.

Get your blog ranked higher, in the Google (and other search engines) listings, for your most important keywords. Those are the terms people enter into search boxes, to find information on a topic. By writing posts, that contain those keyword terms, your blog will be found regularly on the search engines.

Write interesting articles for other bloggers, wesbites, and newsletters. Build your traffic, by letting people see your writing and expertise, in many differnet online and offline locations. Don't forget to link back to your blog.

Add an RSS feeder to your blog, for ease of spreading your words to others.

Post regularly on internet forums. Visit and participate often on Blogger Talk and Blogger Forum and Yahoo Groups: Blogging Community. Ask questions of other bloggers. Answer their questions openly and honestly too. You will learn a lot that way.

Send a press release to the news media, letting them know about the stories on your blog, and about your business. Keep in close contact with the media, and not just when you have a story of your own either. You may be asked to comment on news, about other businesses, in your field of endeavour.

Get your blog listed in the many great blog directories. Many of those blog directories are listed in my Resources section. Be sure to add your blog to the very important internet directories like The Open Directory Project (DMOZ). For information on getting included in that major directory, see my SEO Chat article on how to get listed in DMOZ.

Make new internet friends, with other bloggers, and webmasters. The contacts not only open up new business relationships, but are wonderful for enriching your personal life. In the end, that's much more important.

Help other new bloggers gain knowledge and experience, with writing and promoting their freshly minted blogs. Be of assistance to long time blog writers too. Share your information and know how freely, with those who request your guidance.

Be a friend to other bloggers.

All my best to you and your families in 2004.

Blog Business World

Wayne's Derby World



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