Understanding The Rules of Great Content

In your quest for creating excellent content, you may have come across the following dilemma: I would love to create something important for my blog, but how do I, as a “mere” blogger contribute to that conversation at large? If I don’t create something de novo, will it be worth posting?

To answer that question, let me tell you about the 1 / 9 / 90 rule — and, in my humble opinion, its a rule that every blogger ought to live (and subsequently), die by.

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What is Linkbait?

Over at the YPN blog Rand (a guest poster) writes a useful post on Leveraging Linkbait. Nice to see some exploration of the topic on an official Yahoo blog. For more on linkbait you might also like to read my mini-series on the topic:

Rand also links to another few relevant articles:

And a few more from Google

That should keep you busy for the weekend :-)

Interested to hear your definition of it too!

Speedlinking – 19 January 2007

AdSense Updates Policies – Some Publishers Will Need to Make Changes

JenSense has a nice compilation of the changes that AdSense has made to it’s policies today.

There are quite a few but the ones that caught my eye are:

Referrals – you could previously have four referrals products per page but could only link to each one once.

Now you can use up to two referrals links/buttons per referral product – I can see this being very useful!

Use of Images – they’ve now updated their policies to reflect what they’d previously announced – ie that you cannot use images next to ads.

Copyrighted Material – the policy now reads:

“Website publishers may not display Google ads on web pages with content protected by copyright law unless they have the necessary legal rights to display that content. Please see our DMCA policy for more information.”

Great stuff for those of us who are getting our content scraped! Now how do we enforce it?

Competitive Ads and Services – this is a significant one that I know some publishers are going to have to make some changes with. They are tightening up on publishers who have ads on their sites which have ‘same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site.’

This means you need to be very careful about running ads that resemble AdSense ads on them – anywhere on your site.

The policy now states:

“Competitive Ads and Services In order to prevent user confusion, we do not permit Google ads or search boxes to be published on websites that also contain other ads or services formatted to use the same layout and colors as the Google ads or search boxes on that site. Although you may sell ads directly on your site, it is your responsibility to ensure these ads cannot be confused with Google ads.”

This means that if you are running YPN text ads on one part of your site and AdSense on another that have the same colour palettes you are in violation of this policy (or if you’re rotating AdSense and YPN ads as I know some publishers do).

Jen writes a helpful post on this change here. As she writes – you now need to ensure that your different types of ads don’t resemble each other (ie change colors, add borders etc).

While I understand why they’re doing this (it’s a defensive move against other ad networks) it is going to cause a lot of publishers time and work – especially as it is a sitewide thing.

I know of many publishers who run AdSense on one part of a site and YPN on other parts and who rotate ads – looks like they have some significant work to do in the next day or two to comply.

I’ve already heard from a number of publishers that if given the choice between AdSense and YPN that they’ll jump to YPN because of the less stringent requirements – this change has put one too many hoops to jump through in front of some publishers.

Are Your Comments Being Filtered as Spam at ProBlogger?

A number of ProBlogger readers have been emailing me of late to say that comments that they are leaving here are not appearing and that it seems they are being marked as spam incorrectly.

I use Akismet and have noticed this happening a little more than normal lately. I’ve talked to the team at Akismet and they have told me that my blog is in the top few in terms of quantities of comment spam and that as a result there have been a few more false positives than normal. Due to the thousands of spam comments that they filter each day it was impossible for me to scan through them all looking for such mistakes.

If your comments have been filtered out in this way could you please let me know. I just noticed that Akismet have added a search function which allows me to search for email addresses, URLs, names etc. Of course I need to know what I’m looking for – so if your comments are being filtered here please contact me with the name, email address and URL that you use in comments and I’ll look for them and mark them as ‘not spam’ which hopefully will fix the issue.

Feel free to test whether you’re being marked as spam by leaving a comment below.

I’m not sure when the search functionality was added to Akismet (it could have been there for weeks as I’m not one for details) but it’s a welcome feature!

update: I should also mention that in addition to Akismet I also have some manual moderation to do – particularly for first time commenters who all go into the queue for my manual moderation. So if this is your first comment it doesn’t mean you are being filtered as spam. If in doubt – contact me.

Crediting Sources of Stories – Do You Do it?

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been having a conversation with two bloggers about when and how to link to sources of the news that you write.

The conversation emerged out of my observation that these two bloggers were posting very similar news stories to ones that I’d been posting on one of my blogs.

Now at a first look I didn’t think anything of it – after all it is natural for blogs in a similar niche to report the same news as each other – however on a closer look I began to suspect that they were using my blog as the source for many of their stories.

Their posts would appear within 24 hours of mine with the same links, same quotes, same pictures (with the same file names) and same post structure (ie points in the same order, the same opinions, the same paragraph structure etc).

The actual content had been re-written in their own words but the bones of their posts were very similar to mine and this was happening on a daily basis. In fact it was very obvious that they were using my own posts as a basis for theirs – however there were no links back or mentions of the sources of their stories.

I began getting emails from a few readers asking if I knew knew I was being ‘copied’ by these blogs and so decided to email the bloggers concerned to ask for an explanation. I did so feeling very awkward and in two minds. Ultimately it doesn’t really matter (I’ve got more important things to worry about) – however I was curious about why they did it and wanted to let them know that I (and others) had noticed.

The email conversations that resulted from my email have been interesting to this point and highlights our different approaches to sourcing stories.

The main blogger that I’ve since chatted with took my email very well and in the spirit that it was intended and confessed that while he did find some of his stories on my blog that he didn’t want to link to the blog he found the story on (mine) but instead linked to the original sites that I was linking to. In a sense he saw what he was doing as cutting out the middle man and felt it was legitimate.

He explained that he did this to ‘save his readers time’ as if he did link both to me they’d end up just reading the same basic news more than once.

On some levels I can see his point. Sometimes it can be frustrating as a reader to see the same story rewritten everywhere in much the same way. I’m sure some readers just want the news and don’t really care where it came from.

However my approach is to always attempt to link to the story itself as well as the person who tipped me off about it.

While it might ‘save the reader time’ to not to link to sources I find that most readers who are interested in a story do like to see what others have to say about it – both other bloggers and those who have commented on the story.

I also think linking to sources also is a good practice for your blog in a number of ways:

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Do you Maintain Email Newsletter Lists?

Reader question….

Do you have newsletters attached to your blogs? Why/Why Not?

If so – are they effective ways of finding traffic and building community for you?

Interview Available for Download

The interview that I did with Jeremy Schoemaker this morning is now available for download or to listen to here.

Also on the call (right at the end) Jeremy announced that I’ll be one of the presenters at the next Elite Retreat in San Francisco on 19-20 March. I enjoyed this morning and am really looking forward to meeting him, Lee Dodd, Aaron Wall in person!

Live ‘Net Income’ Interview in One Hour

Just a quick reminder – I’ll be appearing on Jeremy’s radio show (Net Income) in an hour at Webmaster Radio. I hope you can drop by and say G’day in the IRC room or even call in with a question.

For those unable to listen in live – there will be an archived version go up sometime after the show.