Aug 26, 2013

Uninspiring Blogger Jargon and Overused Phrases that You Should Avoid

August 26, 2013

Image via Flickr

the blogger lingo,
that doesn’t match the fun of bingo,
i would rather run from a dingo,
or get pecked by a flamingo,
than use this boring lingo,
did you like my bloggy jingo?

Your language and your personal vocabulary have a major impact on how you view life. In fact language affects culture because it defines our emotions, social world and objects. Some phrases are not translatable. This results in one culture holding unique views about life that other cultures can’t comprehend. For example, Greece developed the origins for the term “democracy.” This single term, “dēmokratía” which means rule of the people, changed the course of history and spread freedom from dictatorship across the modern world.

The words that you use to describe your industry and profession also play a role in how your conduct business. If you use uninspiring, overused words and phrases to define your industry, your professional endeavors may share the same lackluster characteristics. I’ve noticed that there are several popular phrases in the blogosphere that may trap some new bloggers. However, by eliminating these terms from their vocabulary, they could save their blog.

Niche – Wikipedia defines niche as “the subset of the market on which a specific product is focusing.” This is a popular term that bloggers and affiliate marketers love to tout around. A majority of the top blogs about blogs are proclaiming from the hill tops “Find your niche!!”

However I have a different take on this. First you need identify your audience. Then you need to contemplate your mission, be honest about your passion, develop the personality of your blog and create engaging topics. Many well-known blogger experts direct you to find your golden niche. However niches can be too suffocating. What you want do to instead is create the golden brand. I say, be innovative! Come up with your own niche. Google didn’t go around chasing niches; their mission was to organize the internet. Steve Jobs wasn’t sitting around thinking…”hummm which niche should I chase??” instead he followed his passion and became competition for IBM.

Content – Content is actually a pretty handy word. It’s great for referring to all forms of media. However whenever I am writing, I don’t think…"time update my blog with more content.” I believe it’s more effective to view your media in the same way that your audience does. When an audience is finished reading a prolific novel or watching an enchanting movie, they don’t say “whoa, that was great content!” Instead there are specific elements of the novel or movie that the audience has fallen in love with. Maybe it was the characters, the actors, or the songs or perhaps the story line. What can you make your audience fall in love with?

Also, the word, “content” is bland and seems to remove all differentiation between media. You don’t want your blog to be bland. You are a blogger, therefore you are writing blog posts not just content. You should be asking, what type of blog post am I writing? Will it be more journalistic, it is personable, it is satire or it is an interview?

If you are doing a video, once again it’s not just content. It’s about whether you posting this video on YouTube, Viddy, Vimeo or offline. It’s about the differences between those audiences. It’s about your personality shining on this platform and your audiences getting to know you. I would rather you refer to your writing and the media you produce as art, than content. Yes, it’s a bit lofty, but art reminds you to display culture, provide meaning and have powerful expression.

Call to Action – Have you seen those horribly design pages, with bright colors and a huge button that says “BUY NOW!!” or “CLICK NOW TO DOWNLOAD EBOOK!!”? I have and it’s never a pretty or inspiring sight. When you have a genuine connection with your readers and viewers, they automatically want to extend the connection. If you have a great blog, people will want to purchase your book for more exclusive thoughts from you. Of course, you may have an extra step that you want your audience to take. However, you aren’t entitled to anyone’s action. But you can inspire other to take the next step by offering value. You also can have a strategically designed page or blog that helps your audience take the next step.

Monetize- Overall I think that the word monetize is extremely lazy. The word monetize causes me to imagine bloggers attempting to "passively" earn money from poorly done articles. If you can’t think of a creative way to earn money from your articles perhaps you shouldn’t be freelancing. You really should be thinking “how can I expand the brand? How can I create an adventure?” For example, Disney was able to develop an entire empire from his studios. He wanted to provide a family experience for his audience. He wasn’t sitting around confused about monetization.

Modern bloggers forget the term starving artist and expect to earn too much too soon. When I think of a starving artist, I think of a person that has sacrificed so much and now they are desperate to earn a living. I don’t think of them casually asking, “I’ve sacrificed my life for my art…I wonder how I will monetize this.” Instead there was this huge conflict between maintaining their sense of self, pursuing their passion and having enough money to eat the next day. There is a depth in Edgar Allan Poe’s literature that captures the hearts of people worldwide yet he struggled financially. Do you really deserve to “monetize” your work? Then get creative.

Traffic- The word “traffic” gives me the image of numbers without feelings, emotions or a personal story checking out your blog. However people are not just numbers, they are complex beings that are scrutinizing your work. They are people looking for entertainment, inspiration, information and an experience to share with their loved ones.

The word can also be intimidating for new bloggers. They think “wait I need how much traffic to make money??!!!?” Instead, new bloggers should be thinking about how many individuals they can make fall in love with their blog posts. It’s all about how you are making individuals feel. It’s not just about getting “traffic.” If you can make hundreds, thousands and even millions of individuals happy then you’ve achieved your goal.

Now.. Are you ready to change to the course of your history?

Mar 1, 2013

Will new gTLDs Affect your Business or E-commerce site?

March 02, 2013

Imagine the internet without the .com where domain names containing new gTLDs (generic top level domains) such as or becomes the norm … or even the standard. The online world will get a glimpse of the brand or idea without the .com sooner than they think. ICANN plans to reveal the first set of approved applications in April 2013. The corporations and businesses that are approved may be so eager to demonstrate their technological prowess that they could start unveiling their sites as early as the summer.

Most small and midsized businesses are completed oblivious to the idea that there could be a major paradigm shift online. Just as the panda updates spun across the web with lightning speed leaving unsuspecting webmaster devastated and sites demolished, new gTLDs could flash across the web paralyzing .com businesses. You may ask “how will new gTLDs affect the internet?” Then you may wonder “how will this impact on the internet influence my business and e-commerce site?” and “Should I invest in a new gTLD?” I wish that I could provide definite answers however it’s too early to get a clear perception with the fog of the ICANN, the flurry of applications and the pressure of speculation. How I do want to offer a myriad of perspectives so that small and midsized businesses can be adequately prepared for any changes.

There’s a possibility that the internet will not be affected by new gTLDs

The corporations applying for new gTLDs could simply be engaging in defensive brand protection. For example, General Motors pulled their applications for .chevrolet; .gmc; and .cadillac after the deadline closed for new applications. They probably wanted to prevent any trademark violations. Other brands may behave a bit more aggressively and strategically. They may use new gTLDs for a leaner advertising campaign and then redirect the new gTLDs to their main site. For example, it’s easier to advertise a succinct web address such as beauty.covergirl and then redirect that domain name to

Customers may reject the new gTLDs and corporate resistance could suppress widespread use of websites with new gTLDs. Corporations have invested billions into developing .com websites. There are corporations that have purchased generic domain names, such as, and, for millions. These corporations will not passively allow new gTLDs to dominate the website. They will fervently compete. Corporations already feel overwhelmed trying to develop a solid mobile strategy. Do corporations really have the stamina to pursue new gTLDs and build engaging websites or will they consider them a risky distraction? (Note: My focus is on the corporate behavior because ICANN priced the applications outside the budget of small and midsized businesses. The action that corporations take, the only possible actors in this ICANN frenzy, will determine how the general public perceives new gTLDs.)

Most importantly customers may reject websites with new gTLDs or treat them unfavorably compared to .com domains. Customers have a tendency to be slow adapters to innovations that they can’t quite understand. They may adapt to new gTLDs so slow that the impact on the web could be marginal. If customers refuse to adopt new gTLDs then corporations who have wasted their funds will have a negative reaction to them. This will create a hostile environment for new gTLDs and ultimately cause their demise. I also believe that registrars overestimate the amount of internet users that want domain names. Registrars such as Uniregistry and are investing millions into new gTLD applications. However if they can’t recoup their losses, due to the popularity of social media platforms that have reduced the need small business and personal websites, then the lack of registrations could cause the collapse of the entire industry. 

We also have the possibility that new gTLDs are accepted but .com domains are still widely used by powerful corporations and a significant portion of the business world. Dot com domains may never become a vestigial part of the internet, but instead a permanent and active member. Even though Facebook and email has usurped a majority of communication delivery for Americans, snail mail is still a relevant means of communication. Many people still prefer to pay bills through USPS.  If distinct new gTLDs web applications can quickly be imitated by .com websites then they will not be perceived as extraordinarily innovative. If registrars are able to offer keyword new gTLDs, such as .art & .app, to all users then the allure for corporations could be lost. That's probably why Google is attempting to purchase keyword almost 80 keyword new gTLDs such as .cloud; .mail & .search. Corporations are not interested in the .com on repeat; where spammers and scammers can enter the space without credibility.

Other corporations and internet users may consider new gTLDs too limiting and defining. For example, .art in theory is a descriptive, meaningful and representative domain for an artist. But does an artist really want to be defined so blatantly and generically? Does a corporation really want to invest $185,000 for a branded new gTLD for each brand that they want to develop? Also, ICANN reveals the applicants and the new gTLDs that they are applying. This is undesirable for corporations that unveil new brands after working in stealth mode. Many corporations don’t want customers to associate new brands with their other brands. Therefore a website such as would not be an attractive option. For example, the .google has the potential to overshadow Android’s blossoming brand and stunt its separate identity. Businesses do not want their brands to be revealed before its time or to be restricted. 

So now you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief. But don’t relax just yet because….
There’s a high possibility that the internet will be affected by new gTLDs

Yes, new gTLDs could the next big online event just like search engines, social media platforms, blogs and startups.

Legitimacy: Right now just about anyone can violate a trademark and register a domain name with a brand. These spammers then use these domain names to masquerade as if they are affiliated with the brand in order to deceive naïve web users. This trickery tarnishes brands and causes people to distrust the internet…both are bad for business. Corporations could be relieved that they can now tout their branded new gTLDs as the only authority for their products and services. Their branded new gTLDs will be differentiated from the majority of all websites, increasing the legitimacy of their websites. As more and more corporations and institutions began using .brand instead of .com, the .com‘s image could be considered the less professional, spammy cesspool. The .com will be depleted of status just as soil depleted for nutrition from overuse and abuse. It’s nearly impossible for a seed to reach its full potential in depleted soil.  Over time customers could learn to perceive .brand as the only credible and trustworthy websites. This could have a major effect on budding e-commerce sites that depend on search engine rankings. If customers begin to click on .brand more often in the search engine results resulting in high click through rates for new gTLDs then this could propel these domains to the top of the results... rendering the .com websites invisible.

In a less dramatic fashion, .com could become archaic, therefore negatively and unfairly affecting the image of businesses that are still forced to use .com. Corporations that want to appear cutting edge will start employing new gTLDs as a status symbol, deepening the online stratification. The gap between the corporations and small businesses could become more apparent and cause online users to gravitate to the sites with more resources even if they don’t have better products or services. This could be the nail in the coffins for new startups that aren’t publicized.

Exclusive Web Applications: If corporations solely use new gTLDs the architecture of their websites could change. Web applications that can’t be replicated by .com websites could arise. If new gTLDs result in better customer experiences then, other businesses that can’t afford new gTLDs will have difficulty competing. Corporations may even have the ability to seep into your web structure and built applications from your services. Small businesses should start thinking about how they can compete with innovative web applications.

Higher Barriers to Entry: When the internet first crept into the scene, the barriers to entry were high but achievable. You simply needed an opened mind to understand the value of the internet, the resources and knowledge to build a website and the business skills to develop a competitive product or service. For a small period of time, domain names were free! This could dramatically change. If corporations are granted ownership for keyword domains such as .boat & .cafe they could block off entry into that space from competitors.  Consequently, the cost for .com domains could skyrocket. The appealing domain names on sale by domainers are already priced too high for small businesses and budding startups, if they raise any higher this could restrict online innovation. If the barriers to entry are too high online, many small businesses and midsized business may remain offline or only use social networking platforms further suppressing their growth.

Flexibility:  Corporations will now have the flexibility and resources to structure their website in any way that they need while most businesses using .com ( or .net, .org, etc.) will still be restricted by their registrars. Once again the corporations will be able to offer web users significantly more which will raise the bar for businesses that don’t have the resources to meet these new standards. These corporations will have more power and representation on the web due to their self-determination and resources.

Some e-commerce websites are worried if keyword new gTLDs will have high search engine rankings than .com. Once again, only time will tell. Think about your strategy and how you can compete if they do. I hope that I was able to provide a thorough overview. I would love to hear your comments!

Oct 11, 2012

Can MySpace Make a Comeback in Social Media?

By: Dianne Heath
October 11, 2012

Unfortunately, I think that the social media pie is sliced a bit too thin for MySpace to get full.  Although social media is saturated, MySpace could thrive as a mixed media site by offering social media while still producing traditional media. MySpace currently offers videos and articles however they don’t really have a dynamic content strategy and they lack consistently compelling media because they still view themselves dominantly as a social media site.  

It’s time for MySpace to strategically expand their brand as a stage for budding musicians, a social site for those passionate about music to connect, a venue for fans to enjoy music and an online destination for music updates. Despite MySpace’s lack of active & dedicated members - compared to other social media sites - they still have a well-known brand as a site dedicated to music. There’s always hope for a comeback when you have a well-known brand. 

Turning DeadSpace into Music Heaven

1.       Figure out how to give emerging bands a platform for attracting a fans and getting discovered.

Social media has explosive growth because people like fans, they being a part of a social group and they love becoming “internet famous.” Social media is now being used by many ambitious individuals as a stepping stone to more opportunities. MySpace needs to ponder how they can make the rise to fame easier musicians and bands. MySpace profiles should be designed so that the musicians can be viewed in the best possible light. MySpace also has radio stations with 42 million tracks that they are underutilizing. They should publicize their radio stations more often. They also should have distinct stations for music lovers to discover new bands and musicians. 

An amazing benefit to helping emerging musicians and bands is that when they become mainstream your site also grows exponentially in popularity. They attract fans that want to get closer to them through the sites that they are active on and have built their brands on. Once again, MySpace should investigate and see what areas musicians and bands struggle, such as securing exposure, and then they will be able to offer a platform that alleviates these hardships. MySpace needs to ask, “Why would bands, musicians and fans invest time in this site?”

Also, MySpace shouldn’t forget how important the mobile sector has become. Unfortunately they haven't upgraded their mobile app since July 2011.  Even if their image is tarnished online, they have a clean mobile slate. Instagram has shown the tech and business community, just how powerful mobile is. Their mobile strategy has to be innovative and exciting. What music applications can they develop that will be valuable to musical mobile users?

2.       Participate in traditional media more consistently and dynamically so that MySpace can appear in the search engine results.

MySpace has basically disappeared from the search engine results for many specific queries. When MySpace does appear in the search engine results, their content pales in comparison to the rest of the results. To the average person, that means that they are dead. Since MySpace isn’t able to sit back and let the users initiate the conversation and drive social interaction like on Facebook, MySpace will need to be proactive in starting the conversation. Once people start seeing MySpace dominating the music sector online, they will be viewed as an authority site instead of a fledging social media or social networking site. They shouldn’t view this as a social media failure; they should view this as a great chance to differentiate themselves from traditional and social media by combining the best of both elements. Being a mixed media site will also be more sustainable in the long run. MySpace should be the social Vevo or the combination of MTV & Facebook.

Methods for appearing in the search engine results

1.       MySpace Video/YouTube

MySpace’s YouTube presence is desolate and weak.  I do understand that they may not want to upload videos on a competitor site however their own section for videos is cluttered, unappealing and difficult to navigate. They seem resistant to uploading material that people want to see and are already searching for. MySpace needs to take some cues from ClevverTV (on YouTube) on how to attract views. They need to talk about what the fans and the musically inclined care about. MySpace could produce interviews with new music brands from around the country - even internationally; give us the inside scoop or background information on music videos from emerging bands & musicians; produce a YouTube reality show or contest to keep the fans coming back for more.

On MySpace’s own site, they should have more live coverage of musical performances. New Year’s Eve live coverage showcasing musical performances would be amazing. Interesting videos are guaranteed to attract a following. Let smaller bands upload music videos and curate the top videos to showcase on the site. Once you help bands become popular, more quality bands will be encouraged to follow.

2.        Entertaining Articles

MySpace is in the prime position to have an amazing music blog or music news network. Instead of faceless authors, MySpace needs to have more personable music news and blog posts. MySpace could create another personality that would effectively communicate with the music audience, connect to the fans and become an endearing figure in music. The personality should have a story, a mission and a music background.  Perhaps an active member of MySpace could be vetted to blog about music to mimic the Tila Tequila effect.

Currently MySpace has news however the articles are sparsely shared because it's not as entertaining, personable or informative as other sites. However once they learn the formula for what people want to read and MySpace articles start showing up in the search engine results for interesting queries; then people visit MySpace directly to read music news. The fact that MySpace is also a social media site will help them rise above just having articles by enabling a community to form instead of visitors that just comment and bounce back.

As long as MySpace is willing to branch out, the possibilities are limitless. MySpace's demise began when people started using the site as an all-purpose site which deviated from their original mission- to promote music and bands.  Once Facebook was created people flocked to that site due to its personable nature, clean design, lack of controversy and closed environment, which left MySpace barren. However if MySpace focus on their roots and get creative they can become a premier social media and traditional media site for music. 

Follow Analyst District on: Twitter / Facebook / Tumblr

Sep 24, 2012

The Significance of Klout for Advertisers: Why Online Influence Means Attention

By: Dianne Heath
September 24, 2012

Image via Wired

Why Advertisers and Businesses Love Klout: The True Meaning of Online Social Influence

Social media and online advertising is unpredictable. Klout offers stability through categorization.
In the past, only traditional media platforms such as television, radio and newspapers sustained premium attention from a wide and diversified audience. Television and radio introduced the dialogue, maintained the conversation and dictated what was relevant while the populace passively interacted with media. Social media has caused a paradigm shift by allowing media to be in the hands of the people. You no longer have to wait for a television program; you can just watch YouTube. You don’t need be entertained by a magazine; you can simply scroll down your Facebook feed. You're not desperate for another celebrity interview; you can just read their tweets. The people are getting educated, informed, entertained and amused by their each other and well-known figures can directly share their narratives to the public.

With media being the hands of the people social media, like life, is unpredictable. Marketers and businesses don’t have the script beforehand. Social media occurs in real time. Social media isn’t as conducive to strategically planned product placements as movies and televisions are. It’s more difficult to sync up marketing with social media than traditional media. Now people can make up crazy hashtags on a whim. By the time old school advertisers jump on board, another trend has passed and now a meme about Angelina’s leg is popping up. Even dictators are having a hard time keeping up and retaining dominant influence over their populace. Advertisers are desperate for more content organization & categorization of data that is being produced out of their control.

Social media is like a crowded marketplace.
The streams of attention are so dispersed that it’s almost impossible to know how to make an ad online that reaches millions of your target demographics on the consistent and daily basis. In the past, if advertisers needed to market cosmetics, they could contact a studio that produced shows that are geared to women and then millions of women would have their eyes on your advertisement at the times advertisers dictated. Now, millions of conversations are going at once and it’s nearly impossible get anyone’s attention unless they are already interested in what you have to say. The statistics about the amount of content being produced and in addition to the number of unpredictable celebrity rants are enough to make a person dizzy. However in the midst of chaos, Klout strides into the marketplace confidently and says “I can organize this catastrophe… I mean data and content for you. I can tell you want they are saying, who they are telling, the trends they are starting or following and what they want. I can get you into that conversation and give your power back.” Klout gives advertisers the power to know what social media participants consistently tweet or post about.

Since so much attention has transferred online, the marketers and businesses are following. Marketers loved the idea of viral marketing because it was the most similar and nostalgic to the traditional forms of advertising, reaching millions are once. Adsense was revolutionary because it was like a visual or text commercial in between content and you could reach millions. Marketers also like the idea of Facebook advertising because it replicates word of mouth. It has the ability to target millions within a specific demographic just like a television ad and just like Adsense the users provided the media while the advertisers tried to capture a fraction of the attention through ads. Now marketers are starting to get comfortable with the idea of reaching small niches just like SEO marketers are openly embracing the long tail. Also, what’s so amazing about online ads is that it’s significantly easier for customers to make an impulse purchase. As opposed to seeing a commercial on television and having to transfer that effort from the couch to the computer or even wait longer to go to a retail store, consumer can just click on an ad or make a quick purchase at Amazon.

Online Social Influence is Code Word for “the amount of attention you receive online”
If you speak and people are purposefully listening, then you have online influence. Just like when ladies are watching a commercial and one makes a positive or negative comment about the product that is being advertised, the lady that is speaking has the attention from her friend at that moment. Klout is attempting to give marketers and advertisers the opportunity to replicate that experience. Friends pay more attention to each other’s recommendations and that attention is a form of influence. Similarly smaller communities online are probably more trusting of each other. Instead of defining Klout as a measure of influence, it’s more accurate to refer to Klout scores as the measure of attention or measure of premium attention. In the age of information overload, social media and individuals staring at multiple screens at the same time; premium attention is a scarce resource. Klout could also mean a measure peer pressure. Klout attempts to answer the question, does this individual have enough clout in these areas to peer pressure individuals to purchase specific products. Television shows have ratings and now those that participate in social media will have the equivalent through Klout scores.

I have a lower Klout score because I have fewer eyes on me. I generally get attention through engagement. I don't have hoards of fans and/or followers staring at my stream wondering what I'll say next.  However those with higher Klout scores have social media profiles that gets visited regularly because either online or offline they have achieved a significant amount of popularity that has earned them sustained attention.

Some people argue that there are influential people with comparable low Klout scores. However marketers aren’t necessarily targeting them. If these individuals have considerable influence offline and/or online, they are already being vetted by marketers. Marketers are more focused on targeting people that are under the radar such as bloggers with 2,000 followers or the popular student in school with 1000 Facebook friends. People who are getting attention online who advertisers may not had learned about before Klout. For example, not every single person who watches television is extremely influential however most have attention from their family and friends.  Marketers who use Klout are hoping that these individuals attract enough attention online to be able to indirectly peer pressure or “influence their colleagues.” Klout is purely an advertising medium and we are the media.

Marketers probably aren’t too disappointed by Klout’s inadequacy at integrating online influence with offline influence (even though they did update their algorithm in an attempt to rectify this issue). Television, radio, newspapers, other traditional media outlets and even celebrities are filling this gap. Instead they are pursuing the online niches that being overlooked. They are trying to reach the individuals that are the center of a loyal yet small to midsized online communities. They want to know about the mysterious influencers behind the computer screens. So when people argued about why Justin Beiber used to have a higher Klout score than Justin Beiber, they were too focused on offline influence. For now, Justin Beiber is being searched online more, online he has more YouTube videos, online he probably gets more retweets, online he has more facebook likes and twitter followers. Online, Justin Beiber exerts more peer pressure and has more attention. Plus marketers already know that Barack Obama is influential, they don’t need Klout for that and I’m sure Barack Obama isn’t feverishly searching for Klout Perks. With Barack Obama’s campaign and Justin Beiber’s career on a slow decline, Justin Beiber is now has a lower Klout score.

My Attempt at Deciphering Klout Scores

These people have lower scores because either 1. They don't have any online influence and their offline influence isn't powerful enough to get them attention online.  2. They don't have enough influence online or offline to not participate. For many people, if they don't participate then they simply don't get attention.

They are people with scores because they engage with their audience. These people may or may not have both offline and online influence. For example, I believe more people in this group either have online influence but lack in offline influence or their have offline influence and lack in online influence. These people are able to engage if they want to. So for example, an executive will be able to get a response from the average Twitter user however since he doesn't have a blog; he isn't known well-known online nor does he have  an online community centered around him.

1. Well-known figures with who don't need to engage their audience on Twitter or Facebook because they are already in the public eye. Their brand speak for themselves, i.e. Seth Godin. Whether or not he's replying to people, there will be people looking at his stream. He also has a large online community based around his blog and books. Marketers are satisfied.
2. Highly influential figures who don’t need to engage with their audience but choose too. Many entertainers fall in this category.Generally those with high Klout scores have online influence because of their popularity offline.

Some companies will automatically have the edge on Klout because of the nature of their audience. For example, tech companies will probably have higher Klout scores on average than restaurants.

Concluding thoughts about Klout:
They need more organic people to be aware about Klout. People who just appreciate the free stuff. People who participate in social media for fun like when YouTube first started and people made the videos for free and not the money. Or how people authentically used Facebook to connect with loved ones. Klout is too focused on advertising their service to thought leaders and social media mavens. Of course this was important because they have high profile social media accounts and they caused conversations about Klout to spread rapidly but now it's time to get the "normal people in". Update 10/6/ 2012 * I saw an advertising of Klout in a popular magazine.

Use technology to see the ratio of fake followers. I don't like having spammer as followers so I remove them (according to Statuspeople I have zero fake followers). Many people don't do this; in fact many people even purposefully purchase them. There's no point in giving spammers high Klout scores. 

They need to get their keywords right. One tweet giving a mini tutorial about fixing gadgets on Blogger shouldn't warrant me to be listed as influential in gadget. I'm not going to remove it though. Heck I want a free gadget lol! The chances are low but you never know....On second thought ...I'll pay someone a dollar to consistently retweet or reply to anything that I tweet about cars. I'm serious.

Thanks for reading, if you have a different perspective on the meaning of Klout and online influence I would love to hear it!

May 22, 2012

Surveying the Carnage after Google's Penguin Updates

May 22, 2012

My Background with the Panda and Penguin Updates
Pandas and Penguins are both black and white animals which subtly symbolizes Google separating websites that engage in black hat websites from the white hat websites. Many Penguins live in the arctic and as we’ve witnessed, search engines are becoming an icier environment for SEO.

Much of the talk about the Penguin updates has ceased. Just as the Panda updates there’s initial outrage, press coverage offering intricate recovery advice, think thank webmaster threads outlining trends & possible solutions and then acceptance of defeat or decrees of victory. At least the petition asking Google to retract the Penguin update was thrown in the mix to add some spice to the usual sequence of events.

Despite the growing silence on the Penguin updates, I’m still concerned about the quality bloggers, honest affiliates and innocent small businesses that lost a sizable amount of revenue and page views. I’m waiting to see if Google will dramatically and publicly refine the webspam algorithm but I believe that they are determined to prove a point and show whose boss. I’m not really sure the extent to how much I was affected by the Penguin updates since I was largely affected by the freshness update, an algorithm that favors full time bloggers, news sites and sites with large budgets.

Even though I’m new blogger I felt that I had a full understanding of Panda due to my previous experiences writing for/attempting to write for several online platforms. I tried to write for Bright Hub however the editor commented that I didn’t stuff enough keywords. She didn’t comment on the content or the grammar just the fact that I didn’t use certain types and a certain number of keywords within a 600 word article. So I took the article and it ranked quite well on Google without extraneous keywords. Suite 101 paid pennies to encourage thousands of junk articles. Suite 101 was even bold enough to have tutorials giving specific instructions on how to manipulate search engines (as if a Google employee would never see it, lol) under the guise of SEO and helping their writers increase their earning potential. Demand Studios somewhat became the McDonalds of online articles with their logo on every article (even the articles outside of eHow) almost like the famous McDonalds arch, eHow articles with identical structures to maintain consistency, shallow low quality articles that are easily digestible, cheap writers and parasitic growth as they chased down millions of lucrative titles. I could clearly identify why they were hit by Panda.

Penguin is a bit more ambiguous. Therefore I’m not speaking as an authority just as a keen observer. I also used to be a search engine evaluator for Google so I have some insight into what they are looking for. Most search engine/SEO websites have already given great advice about the Penguin updates so that’s not my primary goal. I’m honestly intrigued by the updates and hopefully my thoughts can help people that looking for something new.

After Thoughts and Precautionary Advice

High CPC keywords are a trap for small/midsized sites. Targeting high CPC keywords as a small blogger, affiliate and business means whenever Google makes another algorithm update your site will be in the midst of those changes, you’re the ideal target for negative SEO, your site might have higher bounce rates than branded websites because visitors don’t know what to expect from you and you have less opportunities to attract credible backlinks since well-known brands have the monopoly on frequent media attention. Sites that are building their brand while trying to profit from high CPC keywords need to have at least 3 times the amount of quality than larger brands. There’s a popular mentality among successful businesses that consumers will only switch brands if the new brand is significantly better. Well you need to take on this mentality with consumers and Google. Consumers need a compelling reason to risk wasting energy, time and/or money to try a new brand.  If you are selling cupcakes and competing with larger brands then you need to figure out how to upstage them. For example, you can offer more personalization, rare flavors or natural ingredients.

You can focus on a niche or as the common advice given by SEOs - target long tail keywords. Instead of cupcakes try chocolate cupcakes, double chocolate cupcakes, mocha cupcakes, etc. Or you can go local. Google prefer smaller sites to be niche to give them the chance to build trust. After you excel in your niche and become a solid brand then you’ll be able to expand your product base with fewer objections from Google. For example Amazon, Apple and Google started off in books, computers and an innovative search engine before they moved to electronics, phones and email. Once you expand then you can market directly to your customers instead of starting off with a bunch of mediocre services & products and wrestling with Google. If you use this method make sure that the name of your site is scalable for example the names Amazon, Apple and Google aren’t restrictive.

Holistic advertising is preferred. Try to be creative instead of conforming to the typical advertising methods spammers use. If you are building backlinks, try to market your brand not just keywords. In fact a few SEO sites mentioned that Google didn’t mind self-generated backlinks that used the name/brand of the site. EasyLunchBoxes is making waves by offering 176 lunch box ideas. I hate using the word viral but the slideshow has grown viral within their target demographics. I’ve seen their lunch ideas shared on several forums and I’ve shared it myself. Unfortunately they don’t rank high for the term lunch box since global brands crowd out smaller competitors for those keywords. Therefore they discovered another method to generate sales. Right now I’m slowly putting up interesting slideshows on Slideshare and I’m thinking of other ways this blog can attract attention by adding value. Modcloth has done very well by sponsoring tons of small and mid-sized fashion blogs. Put yourself in the consumers’& potential clients’ shoes to figure out how to reach out to them. I explain more about holistic affiliate advertising here.

Google is suspicious of sites that get most of their traffic from search engines. One victim claimed that they received about 90% of their traffic from Google. Your traffic should be diversified to appear somewhat legitimate. It’s especially suspicious if you are making 90% of your profit from one keyword that you’ve spammed or if your conversion rate is high for a few pages out of hundreds. I believe that Google does give a bit leeway for newer domains however the older your domain/business is the more direct & referral traffic that you should be receiving. 

Keep a low profile for now. Do not mimic spammers. Don’t hang out where the spammers hang out. Don’t do what the spammers are doing. If you see spammers leaving keyword blog comments ….then don’t do that. If you see spammers buying thousands of backlinks don’t do it. If spammers love leaving links on a particular forum, do not create a profile and leave your blog url at that forum. 

I do understand that some SEOs and small businesses are aggressive. If you are aggressive try to do a variation of what they do. So if spammers are leaving keyword blog comments try leaving “snippets of genius” (a word I made up for knowledgeable comments that add value) with your brand name. If spammers are buying thousands of backlinks try writing articles or selling products that attract backlinks. If spammers are hanging out on forums, try building relationships on a less spammy forum. Small businesses owners could contact popular forum members who blog and send them free products to try out as an incentive to introduce your products & business to their forum and on their blogs.

If you employ SEO services don’t let them spam your site without your knowledge. Specifically tell them what you don’t want them to do. Keep an on eye your site’s backlink profile and speak up if your site is getting artificially high rankings. Generally Google may overly reward spam sites before they are deindexed or slammed down in the rankings.

Be a SEO psychic or SEO lazy. About 3 months before the Penguin updates I removed my old domain (which has a 301 redirect to Analyst District) from Technorati, Blog Engage and Blog Catalog. I just felt that something was on the horizon after the Panda Updates. I didn’t join them just for backlinks but mostly to connect with other bloggers. Since I didn’t achieve that goal I felt that Google would be a bit suspicious so I left (especially since spammers now love Technorati). It took literally 3 months to remove myself from Technorati. Technorati has no customer service and they are predatory towards small blogs. I had to make several contacts, constantly update the thread detailing my complaints and after 3 months they finally realized that I was serious. 

If you can’t be psychic then be SEO lazy. I was fortunate to receive this theme from a site called Premium Blogger Templates. The owner of the site, Lasantha, was SEO genius but not SEO psychic. In the footer of each template he used the anchor keywords "free blogger templates" which was quite effective for a while. After the Penguin updates, Google dropped his high rankings for those keywords. Fortunately he still ranks for "premium blogger templates" but the likeliness of novice bloggers (his target demographic) searching for those keywords is quite low. However many of his competitors were SEO lazy and probably never thought to use this tactic. Their rankings rose after the Penguin updates. The upside to this tale is that he was smart enough to distribute his best templates to sites that still are ranking for those terms. 

If your domain is old Google is expecting a certain amount of branding, growth and popularity. If you haven’t scaled well or if you haven’t made a name for yourself then Google will assume that you probably are a scammer or that your site offers little value. For example, popular sites and businesses are able to introduce new articles and products to an eager audience. If your new products or articles go unnoticed for long periods of time, this is not a positive signal to Google about the value of your site. Small businesses should attempt to gain media attention or at least become well known locally and before attempting to attract national and global consumers. If you don’t Google will take it upon themselves to restrict you locally. 

Were you affected by the Penguin updates? Tell me about it the comments maybe I can try to help J
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