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Lessons from a Celebrity Blogger

Celebrity-Blog-2The following blog case study was submitted by Derek – a celebrity blogger. In it he reflects upon 7 lessons he’s learned in building his blog from 50 to 1500 uniques per day since March.

Derek Hail – stealing celebrity dignity and fame was launched on March 13th of 2006. The first two weeks the Derek Hail.com staff focused on producing content. The only promotion for our blog was through our friends. We would ask our friends for feedback on our writing. After the two weeks were over we decided to start aggressively promoting our blog.

The first two weeks, Derek Hail.com received on average 50-60 unique hits per day. Now, as of April 23, 2006, the past two weeks we have received 20,000 unique visits which averages to around 1500 hits per day.

Here are lessons I have learned along the way while trying to promote blogs:

1. Blog Traffic Exchanges are worthless.

The amount of time spent surfing to earn credits is not worth it. Instead of wasting 3 hours a day surfing for credits, write content. Most people surf these blogs for credits and they do not read anything. They are only at your blog for a credit.

2. Collect a list of all the links possibly available in your niche:

This was originally mentioned on Darren Rowseâ•˙s Blog Promotion tips post which can be found here.

The list of links was the blogs I would regularly attend during the week to leave insightful and funny comments. This was successful because the less popular blogs would make the author of the blog interested in viewing my website. On the more popular blogs that received a significant amount of traffic, some of the readers from the popular blogs would then stop by my blog

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The Cost of Comment Spam

It seems that bloggers everywhere are giving up the fight against comment spam – Or it least it seems that way to me.

I’m not going to start naming names but this week as I’ve read a number of fairly high profile and active blogs I’ve noticed that there is ALOT of comment spam in many of their archives. I’m suspecting that they are not alone and that it’s symptomatic of what is happening on a larger scale.

Whether the spam is slipping though some how under the radar or whether these bloggers have just given up because it’s all become too hard I’m a little concerned to find so many examples of comments sections of posts with literally hundreds of spam comments linking to all manner of dubious sites.

While I understand why some bloggers might give up under the weight of numbers of spam comments it’s worth considering the costs of comment spam on your blog:

  • Ignore it and it will Go away? – one blogger who I spoke with this week actually told me that he was hoping that if he did nothing that it would sort itself out. I don’t know what this blogger was on but it has to be one of the craziest things I’ve heard for a long time. You see in my opinion it’s the exact opposite. If we (and I mean WE collectively) ignore comment spam and allow it to clutter our blogs it will not only not go away, it has the potential to grow further. My anecdotal evidence this week is that if you allow comment spam to sit on your post that it’s more than likely to be added to a list of posts to spam again. Many of the examples of spam in comments threads this week revealed many many comments left on single posts while other posts seemingly were ignored by spammers. This says to me that it’s a systematic attack upon unmonitored blogs. Ignoring it will only encourage spammers.
  • Search Engine Impact - the comments that your readers leave on your blog have the potential to impact what people find your blog searching for in search engines. This can work for you or against you. Most bloggers have stories of people ending up on their blogs having searched for all kinds of bizarre terms/spelling mistakes used by commenters – but one impact that comment spam can have upon your blog is that it alters the keyword density of your posts. This particularly happens when comment spammers latch onto a particular post on your blog and leave ALOT of comments. I found one post on a well known blog this week that had 200+ comments on it, mostly on the topic of porn. I didn’t investigate it too much in Search Engines but I’d hazard a guess that his page had some keywords on it that were much more densely populated on that page than what he intended. This decreases the effectiveness of his content for the purposes that it was written for and increases the effectiveness of the spammers work.
  • Linking to Bad Neighborhoods – once again on the SE front – a common warning that SEO experts give is to be careful about the sites that you link to as they can have an impact upon how search engines rank your site. Link to so called ‘bad neighborhoods’ and you can get into trouble with your own SE presence. No one really knows just how much of an impact that this has upon SEO but it’s definitely not worth the risk.
  • Dead Links – one blogger that I approached this week to tell them about their comment spam argued that most of the links that people were leaving were dead links within weeks of them leaving them and that as a result they were not linking to to gutter sites after-all. My response to him was that dead links on a site can harm it’s Search Engine Presence. It’s commonly known that dead links are not looked upon favorably by Google and to have hundreds of them on a post cannot help it’s ranking.
  • Reputation – imagine with me a first time reader stumbling upon a post on your blog after doing a search for ((insert your blog’s topic here)). They find your post which has relevant content that they find helpful and scroll down to read the comments of others or to leave a comment of their own – only to be confronted with ads for pharmaceutical companies, porn sites, finance products, poker websites and all manner of other irrelevant and gutter crawling content. As I’ve said many times – EVERYTHING on your blog has the potential to add to or take away from your reputation. This not only includes your design and the content that you write but also the comments of your readers/spammers. Some first time readers won’t understand that that the comments are left by malicious spammers and will tie you and your blog to it – whilst others who understand that what they are reading is comment spam will make a judgement upon you and how willing you are to maintain your blog (just like the people walking by my house right now looking at my un-mowed lawn are making judgments about me (note to self… mow lawn)
  • Ethics – perhaps I’m something of a prude but looking at some of the comment spams left on blogs in the last few days I have to say that it would take a pretty tolerant blogger to find all comment spam acceptable in terms of it’s nature. I’m particularly thinking of some of the sexual graphic language that is used which refers and links to pages claiming to have some pretty foul and illegal material. I won’t impose my morals on anyone else but would encourage bloggers giving in to comment spam to take a serious look at the type of topics that they have showing on their sites. Ask yourself if you’re willing to live with a child… your child… stumbling upon some of it.

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Celebrating 34

Today I turn 34. It’ll be a pretty low key day with most of the celebrations happening on the weekend (not too big a deal this year but we’ll have a good night Saturday night).

So lets talk presents….

Ok – I’m kidding, i don’t need anything but there is something I do WANT from you my wonderful readers.

Whether you consider it a birthday present, a payment for the time and energy that I invest into ProBlogger or whether you do it out of some other motivation I’d like to invite you to being involved in my annual blogathon that I’m planning by making a donation.

I’m still a few weeks away from pulling it all together but I’ve begun planning for it and as I did last year will blog for 24 hours straight, posting every 15 minutes (I aim for 100 posts in the day) and ask readers to make a donation to a charity.

I’ve chosen this year’s charity and just need to finalize a date but I would really appreciate people getting involved. More about this in the coming week or two.

Now – lets get back to blogging.

Google bans Mango Sauce from AdSense

There’s a fascinating story over at Mango Sauce today that recounts it’s blogger’s (David) interactions with one representative at AdSense who has banned Mango Sauce from AdSense over what it says are violations of the program. The AdSense team member says that MS has content for mature audiences which violates the program. The post is long and raises all kinds of interesting ideas and possibilities for conversation. Of particular interest to me is the double standards that David points out. Personally I’m not a fan of ‘adult’ content in any form but have long wondered whether Google seem to have different standards for different parts of it’s business.

Head over and have your say.

Found via an email from Stuart

Pheedo’s RSS Ads System Launches

Speaking of RSS ads, Pheedo has been testing their ad service for the past couple of months and are launching this week according to Mark at Weblog Tools Collection. Mark writes that it’s a system for WordPress ads but I can’t see on Pheedo anywhere saying it is exclusively a WP offering.

I also can’t see any official announcement of them coming out of beta yet at Pheedo or on their blog but their registration page is up and running so it seems there is nothing to hold bloggers back from applying.

For those wanting to sign up you might also like to check out their information page for publishers where they outline two ad solutions, ‘Ads for Feeds’ and ‘Ads for Feeds+’. Also check out their Publisher FAQ and Terms of Service.

A few quick tidbits on Pheedo’s system:

  • Publishers take 65% of revenue generated
  • The signup process takes 1 to 2 days
  • Payment is via PayPal or check
  • Payments are made once your balance is over $50
  • Payments are made 60 days after the end of the month you earn from ads
  • Their TOS says it is a CPC (cost per click) system – however their PDF information pages talk of CPM (impression based) systems also
  • Both ad solutions have statistics systems to moniter performance
  • Their TOS and Registration page indicate you need a US Tax ID (but the comments on Weblogs Tool Collection indicate you can contact them to get around this if you’re not based in the US).

If you’ve been one of the beta testers of Pheedo’s Ads I’d love to hear from you. Write a review (long or short) of your experience with it and I’ll publish it on ProBlogger (with links back to your blog) if you’d like.

FeedBurner Ad Network Add Automated Advertiser Signup

FeedBurner have just announced a new automated feature for advertisers to sign up to their Ad Network. Instead of having to go through a manual process you can now do it in a much more streamlined fashion. The process is to:

  • Select a channel that matches your target
  • Create an ad
  • Set a budget
  • Create an account
  • The ad is then approved by both FeedBurner and the Publishers
  • The ad is run in the feeds of those publishers selected

This means that if you want to see your ads in ProBlogger’s feed (and what advertiser wouldn’t!) you can do so by selecting to have your ads in the ‘Computing and Technology’ channel.

The only wish-list I have with FeedBurner’s Ad Network is that they have an automatic way for advertisers to target specific blogs. Hopefully this will be in a future roll out as some of the channels are fairly broad.

BBC Continues to Explore New Media

The Guardian reports that the BBC is redeveloping their online presence to be much more new media focused:

‘The BBC today unveiled radical plans to rebuild its website around user-generated content, including blogs and home videos, with the aim of creating a public service version of MySpace.com.’

Blog Credibility and Blog Design

This post is part of a series of posts on building blog credibility

I know that there is a variety of opinions on the value of blog design within ProBlogger’s readership so this might generate some interesting discussion but in my opinion blog design does matter. It is not the only or even best way to establish credibility as a blogger but it can definitely help.

First impressions count and in a world where there are millions of people pitching themselves on virtually any topic you can think of you need to seriously consider how you’ll stand out from the crowd and present yourself in a way that will draw readers into your blog.

Experience, Expertise, Longevity (and every other principle that I’ll talk about in this series) are great at building credibility once a reader makes a decision to actually explore your blog but there are a few crucial seconds that happen before this decision is made and blog design can play a big part and communicate a lot.

Ask yourself:

  • What does my blog communicate about me?
  • Do the messages I’m trying to convey get lost in the clutter or are they just not there at all?
  • Can people tell within a second or two what my blog is about at a first glance?
  • Does my design fit with the message that I want to convey?

I am not saying that every blog needs a professional design or that we should all spend loads of money and/or time getting our blogs looking right (in fact some bloggers get terribly distracted from the core business of writing quality content by constantly ‘tweaking’ their design) – all I’m arguing is that whether you like it or not people are making judgments about you and your blog every day based on many levels simply based upon how it looks.

Rambling Blogging

Aaron Wall writes a good post titled Rambling too Much = Bad Blogging.

I agree that rambling isn’t good blogging practice, but I wouldn’t say that all long posts are. To me it comes down to weighing up the individual factors that a blogger and their blog face and finding your own ideal post length.

Aaron sums his post up with this good (and concise) statement:

“If you are going to be longwinded make sure it is so focused, topically relevant and interesting that it becomes the industry standard for that topic. Elsewise you are best off writing quick posts.”