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Speedlinking – 30 June 2006

Google Page Rank Update Rolling Out

It looks like Google is rolling out a page rank update if the discussions in forums are anything to go by.

Here are a couple of the discussion threads:

What is Page Rank and what does it mean (if anything?) Check out this post I wrote as an introduction to Google Page Rank.

Remember these updates take a day or three to roll out but there are tools around for checking future page rank like this one.

Some European Countries Considering applying VAT to Online Earnings

Jen posts some concerning news for European bloggers trying to make money online. The short of it is that some European countries are considering making publishers pay VAT (similar to sales tax) on AdSense and other online earnings and that this could see them paying up to 83% of their earnings in tax. That would cripple many online publishers. Here’s part of Jen’s post:

‘Normally, European countries only charge VAT on earnings where VAT is charged. However, some European countries are considering charging VAT to publishers on their AdSense earnings, meaning some publishers could be paying up to 83% tax on their AdSense earnings. The same would also apply to affiliate earnings as well. And from a business perspective, losing 83% of your AdSense income to tax would not make it worthwhile for many publishers to continue using the AdSense program. And especially those using PPC to promote their affiliate programs or AdSense earnings could discover that their break even point of aquiring traffic is suddenly much different than previously thought….’

There’s lots of confusion around this and it’ll be one to watch!

Read Jen’s post at Some EU countries may charge VAT on AdSense & affiliate earnings

AdSense add Referral Program Channels

AdSense publishers who use referrals heavily will be happy to know that AdSense have added the ability to track referral results with channels. This has been a long time coming and something that I’ve heard quite a few complaints about.

URL channels don’t work so you’ll have to set up custom channels instead. This means going through your blogs and changing the referral unit’s code to do this but in my opinion it’s worth it if you’re running the same referral products on multiple blogs as you’ll be much better informed about what is and isn’t working.

More information at Have a track attack with new referral channels (Inside AdSense Blog)

Blog Mistakes

Brian at Copyblogger has a nice post over at his blog titled Do You Make These Mistakes With Your Blog? in which he unpacks some common mistakes of bloggers and gives some ‘prescriptions’. His mistakes (he writes more under each):

5. Do you write for search engines instead of people?

4. Are you doing what everyone else is doing with their blog in your niche?

3. Do you agonize over writing a great post, only to slap on some hastily-concocted post title that all but guarantees hardly anyone will read?

2. Do you hope to make money with your blog, and yet rattle on excessively about your personal life, your dog, your goldfish, and your recent appendectomy?

1. Do you use user-unfriendly RSS options that you bury at the bottom of the page, and leave out an email subscription option altogether?

The post reminds me a little of mine on 10 Steps to Guarantee You’ll Never Make more than 0.14 cents per month with AdSense.

The Ethics of Profile Peddling

Profile Peddling. I don’t know that it’s really a word but I don’t really honestly know what else to call it. It is the practice of opening up accounts at supporting services such as Flickr or MySpace in order to funnel traffic to a blog or website. It’s been a common practice of search engine optimizing firms for a long time.

SEOMoz writes on this topic today and raises an interesting ethical question: Is it unethical to use this kind of “profile peddling” to enhance a bloggers own profile? The question is further complicated when you think that an unhappy competitor could completely infiltrate your web presence with negative publicity by using profile peddling to funnel negative publicity your way.

What do you think?

The Impact of AdSense Ad Positioning

Seth Godin has written a post on SquidBlog about their experiment at Squidoo with moving AdSense ads from the right hand column to a more central position. As you’d expect, and as we’ve talked about here at ProBlogger many times, the click throughs went up significantly (it tripled).

But that’s not the only benefit that Seth noticed:

‘But the surprising result of the AdSense move is this: content-based clicks went UP, not down. I think I understand why, and it goes to my third point, which is a hunch, not based on data:

Having competitive products in your AdSense ads actually helps you, not hurts you.

When people get to a website, a whole bunch of things have to happen before they take out their wallets and buy something. A lot of those things have to do with trust and meaning and understanding and confidence. The vernacular of your site, the story it tells, the way it makes me feel (insecure? safe? confident? panicked? stupid? engaged?) is probably the single most important element in turning a stranger into a friend before they have a chance of becoming a customer.

So, Google AdSense ads across the top increase confidence. They’re recognizable and safe for the surfer. They make it clear that there are alternatives. They demonstrate confidence on the part of the site builder….’

I think it’s an interesting lesson and I’d be interested to see if the changes they’ve noticed are sustained (sometimes once ad blindness kicks in things change again with AdSense).

I also think that this would vary from blog to blog and publisher to publisher. I find that ads have a significantly different impact upon a site both in terms of click-through, traffic, blog interaction (comments) on different sites. The key is to test and track results to see what impact they have.

Using Digg to Improve Your Content

I’ve seen (and written) a lot of posts about how to get posts picked up by social bookmarking sites and what to do when it happens, but one of the things that has struck me recently is that another opportunity often presents itself when a site like Digg links links to a post you’ve written.

Let me use a recent example to illustrate.

Yesterday I posted a post in anticipation of 4th of July celebrations on how to photograph fireworks which was fortunate enough to get picked up by LifeHacker and as a result was Dugg heavily (or maybe it was the other way around – update – it then got BoingBoing’d – what a day – even with a large server allowance I almost went over! It might be time to upgrade that if I have any more days like this).

The most obvious benefit of this was the traffic that followed from Digg (7000 visitors in the first hour alone) as well as the secondary linkups that came as digg users blogged about the post also. It was a nice thing to wake up to.

But as I looked over the comments on the digg thread linking to my post I was reminded of another benefit of having a post exposed to tens of thousands of people. While digg users can be pretty harsh when they don’t like a post there is also an incredibly wealth of knowledge among them.

Amidst the 10,000+ people who viewed my post today – a certain percentage of them know a thing or two about photographing fireworks and a certain percentage of those people left comments on the digg post with their own suggestions, often with points that I hadn’t included on my original post.

This happens every time I’ve had a story high on digg and what I’m doing these days is to include the suggestions and tips of digg users as an update to my original posts.

You’ll see now on my fireworks post that I’ve got an ‘update’ on it with a series of quotes from digg users and a link back to the thread so that people can see who wrote them.

In doing this I not only enjoy the traffic from digg but improve the quality of the posts that I’ve written – which after-all is the ultimate goal of my blog.

The Biggest Lie About Blogging

Anne Handley has been asking experienced bloggers a simple question – What’s the Biggest Lie About Blogging? - the response has been most interesting and well worth the read.

I love Jeremy’s list at the end – 40 lies in all. Here’s a few of his:

1. Blogging’s just a fad.
2. Always maintain a hostile relationship with your audience.
3. Don’t ever admit you did something wrong.
5. Don’t have a personality if you’re blogging for business.
9. Without open comments, it’s not a blog anyway.
12. Fast is better than right.
13. It’s impossible to make money blogging.
22. Competitors will steal your ideas.
23. You need to be able to write to blog.
32. Too many people are already blogging; you can’t cut through the noise.
33. You have to be an A-List blogger or there’s no point.
34. The best way to get attention is to attack, attack, attack!
36. Bloggers are good looking, funny, and are the life of any party.

Head over to Anne’s post and tell her what you think are the biggest lies about blogging.