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Cancer NewsWatch

Cary just emailed me to let me know about a new blog he’s set up. We were chatting the other day and he told me the sad news of his wife’s battle with cancer. I suggested he and/or she start a blog to cover the journey and to give them a space to talk out what they learn. I suggested it might also be a good way to connect with others on the journey.

Out of this conversation Cary started the Cancer NewsWatch Blog. He’s written some very nice words about me and his decision to start it here.

Cancer NewsWatch is a commercial blog with Adsense ads. I hope that it not only pays for itself but more importantly provides a place of wholeness and healing for the many people around the world suffering with Cancer. All the best with it Cary.

Using Images with Adsense Ads

Another interesting trend I’ve noticed in Adsense design recently on a number of discussion forums is to place images above your ads to draw the attention of your readers to them.

Check out this thread at digital point and check out the innovative ad placement below with pictures placed above a banner ad (source). This is just one of numerous examples of this emerging strategy that many are swearing by (in this example the publisher boasts a 400% increase in CTR).

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I can’t see anything in the Adsense guidelines to stop you using this strategy – however I’d be a little cautious about it and look through their rules for yourself before embarking upon it.

Google Sitemaps

Yesterday Google launched Google Sitemaps which they describe as follows:

‘Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to help improve your coverage in the Google index. It’s a collaborative crawling system that enables you to communicate directly with Google to keep us informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages.

With Google Sitemaps you get:

  • Better crawl coverage to help people find more of your web pages
  • Fresher search results
  • A smarter crawl because you can provide specific information about all your web pages, such as when a page was last modified or how frequently a page changes’

You can read a little more about it at the Google Blog.

Looks interesting. Once again I’m running out of time to check it out but would be interested in the opinions and experiences of others. Are you going to give it a go?

Adsense – Blended Ads

Ryan posts on choosing colors for your Adsense Ads and writes:

‘Everyone wants their advertisements to go noticed, but sometimes the best method of getting them noticed is letting them go unnoticed. Somewhat making them transparent. So they do not even look like advertisements, but more like part of the site.’

This ‘transparent’ coloring of ads is a well known ‘secret’ of Adsense. Whilst some argue that bright ads draw the attention of readers, the majority of Adsense publishers these days go for a blended approach to ads.

Toy Time

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I bought a new toy today in preparation for our trip and with the hope of experimenting with a bit of vlogging at some stage in the future.

This could be fun.

A lot of fun.

ProBlogger Dream Team – Guest Bloggers Introduced

I’ve been talking about this for the past few weeks but the time has come to reveal the guest blogging team that will see you through into early July here at ProBlogger.net. I approached some of my favorite bloggers who I thought would have something of interest to add to the conversation we’ve got going here and the following bloggers agreed to come on board and do some posts.

Some of them will probably post every day or two – others will contribute just a handful of posts (it could be a posting frenzy some days if all 24 decide to post at once). One or two have already submitted some posts and I’ve advanced posted them under my own name with links back to their sites. Please forgive them if they double up on a few stories – it’s bound to happen and I’m not to worried about that.

All of these people are bloggers that I respect and would recommend you check out. Add them to your RSS feeds and bookmarks because their collective knowledge is quite amazing. They come from around the globe (although I notice there are quite a few Canadians for some reason) and each have their own expertise.

Most of them will be familiar names to regular ProBlogger.net readers because I am constantly linking to them.

There are a few notable absences from the list – unfortunately a few other obvious choices for guest bloggers either didn’t respond to my invitation or responded with apologies due to other commitments. I totally understand this and am very satisfied with the list that you’ll find below (which may have one or two additions made to it in the next two days as I await two more invited bloggers to register).

So whilst I’m away I encourage you to keep logging in and following the rich discussion that I’m sure this group will generate. I’m here for another day or two – and will post a good-bye hand over post before they all take over.

So here’s the Dream Team listed in no particular order:

Tris Hussey | John Campea | Jim Kukral | Nicole Simon | Arieanna Foley | Susannah Gardner | Chris Pirillo | Duncan Riley | Shai Coggins | Andy Wibbels | Jim Logan | Peter Flaschner | Jennifer Slegg | Toby Bloomberg | Greg Edwards | Trevor Cook | Chrispian Burks | Wayne Hurlbert | Stephan Spencer | Henry Copeland | Jon Gales | Bruce Allen | Adriaan Tijsseling | Rachel Cunliffe | T.L. Pakii Pierce

Thank you to each of these bloggers – you’re not only providing my readers with some great content but giving me a much needed break! I appreciate each of your efforts so much.

Dukes of Hazzard Blogger Earns $100k

We reported a couple of months back that there was $100,000 available for a blogger to blog about Dukes of Hazzard. It seems that Country Music Television has appointed their ProBlogger:

‘Yes, Christopher Nelson’s new job, which comes with a $100,000 salary and a one-year contract, will be to watch reruns of “The Dukes of Hazzard” weeknights on the Country Music Television cable channel and write blog postings for the network’s Web site….

For his application, Nelson created a fictional character, called Slick, and a Web site to support Slick’s candidacy for the position, slickforvp.org (currently unavailable).

The site featured the mustachioed Slick (the clean-shaven Nelson dressed in a black Western-style outfit with fake mustache) standing in front of private jet digitally “painted” to resemble the General Lee.

Slickforvp.org also laid out Slick’s positions on a number of social issues. Most of the planks in Slick’s “campaign platform” could be considered offensive to a significant number of people, so we’ll just share one… “Legalize prostitution as long as it’s in an RV…” and leave it at that….’

Read more at Dukes of Hazzard Institute VP named

Affiliate Program Tips for Bloggers

Shai gives some good tips on hope to Make The Most Out of Affiliate Programs:

1) Provide good reasons for readers and visitors to keep coming back to your site where you have your affiliate links. Or, if you primarily promote via email, make sure that you give readers and subscribers a lot of reasons to keep opening and reading your emails. It’s just so much easier to delete things nowadays! Just deliver great content, provide user interaction, come up with clever contests… the possibilities are endless.

2) Maximise your visibility. Working on your site’s promotions and SEO is important. If you can’t do it yourself, or if you have limited knowledge of search engine optimisation (SEO), then make sure that you get advice from people who know more than you do on this matter. Always remember that the more people who find your site, the more chances you have in showing your affiliate products….’

One tip I’d add to her great list is to keep your affiliate programs as relevant to your blog’s content as possible.

The success of Adsense contextual text links is that they ads usually match the content of the site so well. At times you’ll be reading about a particular product and then see an ad for it – the naturally thing to do is click.

Often bloggers don’t take this same principle and put it into practice with their affiliate programs. They just leave a generic button on their side bar and don’t make any effort into increasing its relevancy to their site.

The best performance I’ve ever had from an affiliate program is when I’ve managed to be blogging about something and then find an affiliate program that matches it well and have placed links to it inside or at the end of the content (with appropriate disclosure statements). Perhaps the easiest program to use with this strategy is Amazon which has so many products that can be linked via picture or text deep within your site and not just on your sidebar.

For instance on my digicam site I have links to the actual products that I write about on many of my posts on cameras. This does take some effort to set up but is well worth it.

Weblog Empire launches The Gadget Blog

Weblog Empire is the latest blog network on the block and today it’s officially going live with it’s first new blog – the Gadget Blog – a blog about – you guessed it – gadgets.

The Gadget Blog is edited by Malaysian blogger Colbert Low (also blogging at the sms guide and guest blogging on one of my blogs this month).

This blog will cover all your usual consumer electronic topics, from digital cameras to handhelds to cell phones and MP3 player. It’s currently running Adsense Ads but has plenty of space for other advertising.

Good luck to Colbert and Duncan with this blog – it’s a popular topic for blogging (I follow at least 7 of these gadget blogs in my RSS feeds (plus another 30 or so more tightly focused ones) and know that it’s a highly contested niche – however I suspect there is room for another quality one.