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Win 5,000 Visitors by Reviewing Retireat21.com

That’s right: by participating in our community consultation and leaving the most helpful comment reviewing Retireat21.com, you could win a 5,000 visitor StumbleUpon campaign for your blog.

How it works: You give us 1 URL, we send 5,000 stumblers to that URL. If any of them vote up your content, you get even more traffic. If your blog has never been on the front page of Digg, this prize will give you a taste of what it’s like.

What we’re looking for: a thorough review of the blog answering all the questions below and containing some non-intuitive advice. That’s all you’ve got to do to be in the running. There will be only one winner.

Darren and I are very pleased to bring you a prize with the potential to launch your blog into the stratosphere. Good luck!

The blog’s owner, Michael, describes the blog like this:

Retireat21.com is a resource for young entrepreneurs to achieve their dreams. The site is quickly becoming the authority for young entrepreneurs, and contains valuable information and exclusive features such as: interviews with successful young entrepreneurs, the young rich list, ask an entrepreneur, ebooks and courses, recommended resources, and a whole lot more… in fact, it contains everything a young entrepreneur will need in the journey to success. Quite simply, Retireat21.com is young entrepreneurs making money online.”

Retire@21.

The questions your review should answer are as follows:

  • The site features a good number of Young Entrepreneur interviews (accessible via the main page) – do you have any suggestions for better interviews, better questions etc?
  • What can Michael do to improve the interviews?
  • Design — usability, visual appeal, readability, navigation.
  • Content — got an idea for a great viral post the blogger could write?
  • Promotion — how would you suggest the blogger promote the blog?
  • SEO — can you see areas for improvement?
  • Monetization — could this be done more effectively? Do you see any missed opportunities?

We’d love for comments to be as constructive, helpful and practical as possible. May the best comment win :-)

The 1-Step Way to Becoming A Comment Leader

Guest Post: Muhammad Saleem is a social media consultant and a top-ranked community member on multiple social news sites.

comment-leader.png

Image by Charles and Clint

Before we discuss your role as a commenter, you should know that there are many ways in which you can actually hurt your ‘brand’ by commenting on other sites. Please keep in mind the following three basic principles of commenting before we move on:

1. Be yourself, Not Your Brand

When you leave a comment, make sure that your identity comes across. Don’t be your blog, be the author. People want to interact with other people that genuinely share their interests, and by being yourself you instantly become more accessible. Inject your comments with your own unique voice and leverage your own unique set of experiences to make your point.

2. Create Value, Not A Pitch

A comment is useless unless it creates value for the audience. You can choose to provide more examples or counterexamples and further the conversation but don’t write one or two word comments simply agreeing or disagreeing with people. Creating value also means contributing selflessly (i.e. don’t advertise your blog and don’t use excessive signage).

3. Engage, Don’t Attack

Remember, nobody likes a troll or a flamer. When leaving a comment, don’t just engage the author, but engage the entire audience. This doesn’t mean that you can’t disagree with what is being said, it just means that you should be civil and disagree with what is being said, not who is saying it. Don’t forget to provide evidence for your side of the argument.

Note: Quality is a a prerequisite you can’t compromise on.

So how do you become a comment leader?

Fact of the matter is that a majority of the content that is created on blogs such as this one is based on people’s own experiences and is not set in stone. As such, the information being discussed is subjective and therefore there can be multiple solutions or ways of approaching the same problem (and most of the time there are relatively few wrong answers). When this is the case, and when most of the audience is trying to determine what the right answer is, they do two things:

1. People go to high-authority blogs to see what the author has to say.

2. When people are uncertain, they look towards others in the audience for help.

This help can come in the way of an affirmation of what the high-authority author is saying, or a rejection of the idea in favor of a different position. By speaking first, you can establish your influence and have a visible effect on the course the rest of the conversation takes. This is important because there is strong evidence suggesting that the order in which people speak is incredibly important in determining the impact that their opinion has.

This doesn’t mean that you start going to other blogs and commenting just so you can be first. What this means is that if you think that you’re voice is getting lost in the crowd, or that you have a strong opinion that needs to be heard, it’s time that you stepped up to the plate and spoke out first. The point of your comments doesn’t have to be to prove you right, but to make your side of the argument heard before the community decides what is right or wrong.

As an example of this phenomenon in play, let’s have a look at the comments from my previous contribution to ProBlogger:

Comment Leader

Thanks to Lucy for her kind comment. Out of a total of 19 commenters, that followed the first comment, half of them used Lucy’s words to describe the article.

At the same time, it is equally important for content producers to create an environment that nurtures comment leaders. Just as people with legitimate opinions can use the power of commenting first to provide a framework for the rest of the discussion, comment abusers can abuse it for the same purpose. As James Surowiecki elaborates in his book The Wisdom of Crowds, “As in an information cascade, once that framework is in place, it’s difficult for a dissenter to break it down.”

As a content producer, make sure that your audience is comfortable stating their opinion, and as the audience, take full advantage of the platform given to you to express yourselves.

How to Herd Organic Search Traffic to Your Blog

This post on growing Organic Search Traffic to a Blog is by Ciaran McKeever who is the author of Chance Favors.

herd search engine trafficImage by James @ NZ

Although I’m not very tech savvy, for reasons that are beyond the scope of this post I have a very good working knowledge of SEO (search engine optimization).

I’ve successfully applied much of what I know to my budding financial planning blog and if I can do it so can you.

In this post, I’m going to share every secret (which aren’t so secret if you know what to look for) that I use to garner organic search traffic from Google and Yahoo (not MSN for some reason).

Originally, I wondered whether I should write this post because, if the concepts are applied properly, many of you can probably outrank me on keyword phrases I target, and my rankings might slip.

But I decided that’s a poor man’s way to think, and much like the approach I take on my blog, I’d like to help some of my personal finance blogging friends take their organic herding skills to the next level. The more good content there is at the top of the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages), the better it is for our visitors and for all of us.

Some of you may already be doing some of this, some not. I think most bloggers should be able to take something from a few of the points; if not, then you’re doing a lot better than I am.

Also, please keep in mind, by no means am I an SEO pro, just someone who is self taught, enjoys figuring things out and has a passion for jumping into things head first. Without further ado…

10 SEO tips that I know can have a profound impact on your search traffic:

1. Adopt the proper mindset

You often read from SEO pros that it’s not good to try and write for the search engines. They argue that the pieces will be overly optimized, sound artificial and visitors won’t read it. Now this is true to some extent, but there’s plenty of room to find a happy medium.

I think, especially in the beginning, when your blog is less than 6 months old, it’s very important to find your voice, but why not do it with some SEO attached. If you don’t know anyone in the blogging world who can send you traffic or boost your profile, then it’s up to you to make it happen for yourself.

For this reason, I think you have to target search engine traffic, and as your site gets more and more popular, you can wien yourself off of that. What do I mean by that?

Well in my case, I write many fact based pieces, looking to target a web surfer searching for a specific keyword phrase (not necessarily as interesting as something you might find at Get Rich Slowly, but I don’t have that luxury just yet).

This way I’ll get traffic to my site and start building a solid reader base. Keep in mind this post may not appeal as much to a reader that stumbles upon my site, but is far likelier to interest the search engine targeted visitor.

Always set goals

For the first three months of the New Year my goal is 4 posts a week. Until my daily traffic is consistently over 750 unique daily visitors, I plan to write 2 creative, human interest, pieces and two posts that are more fact based and keyword driven (but still interesting I hope).

Like most things, you need balance when writing a fledgling blog. I recommend a mix of writing articles with a bend towards search engine visitors and articles that are not. I am also introducing a new series of posts called “My Two Cents” that I hope will add some life to my blog, so look out for that.

Sitemeter

Averaging 300+ visitors a day, my short term goal is 750

2. Prepare the targeted keywords in advance

This is sort of another way of saying: have a general idea of what you’re going to write about before you sit down to write.

For instance, if I decide to write a post about 2008 Roth IRA eligibility, well, I know what I’m going to write about and you can see from the phrase I know what my targeted keywords are, as well.
Sometimes I’ll just write the post and when I’m done I’ll find the necessary keyword phrases after re-reading the post.

Rarely, you can stuff a few of the keywords into the post, afterwards, if you think the text needs a little more keyword density, but I generally would advise against that. By doing so, your articles WILL start to sound artificial and then, neither search engine visitors nor direct traffic visitors, will be interested.

3. Target 3 and 4 word phrases

This is especially important in the early days of your blog. Many people make the mistake of targeting highly competitive 1 and 2 word phrases that they can’t compete on. Those type of phrases are for the more established, older, branded sites and generally don’t have the user stickiness of a longer (niche like) phrase anyway.

People searching for longer phrases are far more likely to be the kind of visitor you want. If they take the time to type in 2008 Roth IRA Rules chances are they’re more captivated then someone searching for ’2008 Roth.’ Your goal, at least in the first year or two, should be to become a big fish in a little pond.

Yahoo

My goal is to reach the first page of the SERP’s for these longer phrases. I’m shooting for 5 to 10 new visitors from each of these posts. Many times it doesn’t work, and sometimes you’ll find a gem of a phrase that can bring you 3x-4x the amount of daily traffic you anticipated.

Over the course of a month I’m looking to slowly build my organic traffic base. For me, right now, my goal is 150-200 new unique a month.

Google

I can tell you, since September, my organic traffic has slowly been climbing. And then I got a very nice boost in early January from many of my 2008 Roth posts, which I had been targeting. As you can tell from the images I included (above) you can see:

4. Know where to find the right key phrases

I’m going to give you 3 resources (I use) to do your keyword research. All three of these services are free:

  • Wordtracker- this is what I currently use. It’s very simple to use and gives you a lot of great ideas on ‘your phrase’ and other relevant phrases you may not have thought of originally. Wordtracker is very popular and highly regarded in the SEO world. It gives you the most accurate results. If anything Wordtracker has been accused of erring on the conservative side with the results they return. As a rule of thumb, at this point in my blog’s development, I look to target phrases that return between 15-200 daily searches on Wordtracker, much like the phrases highlighted in the image below.
  • Overture Keyword Suggestion Tool- I used to use this religiously many years ago. I would think it’s not used anymore by serious SEO’s because the search result numbers are inflated. It’s still useful as a way to get good ideas for future posts because it provides long lists of juicy keyword strings.
  • SEO Book Keyword Suggestion Tool - I haven’t used this tool yet but have checked it out. He imports the Wordtracker results and puts them side by side with his own traffic estimates. All of his stuff is excellent so I will assume this is a quality tool, but decide for yourself. (see video)

5. Choose the right 3 and 4 word phrases to target

This is probably the most important of the steps so far. You have to pre-screen the keyword phrases so you have a good idea what kind of traffic you can expect to receive.

You’ll figure out pretty quickly if they are relevant phrases to target, how much traffic they are already receiving, and whether or not you can realistically compete in the SERP’s (Search Engine Results Pages) on that phrase. You also need to find the phrases that are the best natural fit for the post you are going to write or have already written.

Wordtracker-Roth

In the above image, I’ve circled 4 and 5 word phrases that I have actually targeted in different posts. As you can maybe tell, it should be easier to compete on the phrase ‘roth vs traditional ira’ than the phrase ‘roth ira contribution limits’ because there are far fewer people searching for it across the internet, which usually means fewer sites are optimizing towards it.

Wordtracker gives me a very realistic estimate of how many people (across the major search engines) have searched for that phrase in any given day. For example, Wordtracker predicts that approximately 174 people a day will search for roth ira contribution limits (as seen in the image above).

6. Optimize page titles and permalinks

Everything I’ve written so far deals with things you need to do before you actually sit down to write the post. At this point lets assume I’ve written the post on ’2008 Roth IRA Rules’. Now I have to do a fair bit of on page optimization.

Optimizing page titles and permalinks is a pretty simple step, but surprisingly this is where the great majority of blogs (and most websites) drop the ball. The search engines place a tremendous amount of importance on what they see in your title tags, and to a lesser degree, the URL of your permalink page.

Think of the search engine spider just like you would anyone else coming to visit the site. You want the spider to know what your page is about, fairly quickly, so he (or she) knows how to categorize it. If you don’t tell it what the page is about, it’s not going to know where to catalog you in the SERP’s and will leave confused or indifferent.

The way to tell Slurp (Yahoo’s spider) or Googlebot (Google’s spider) what your page is all about is by leaving them clues in your source code. And that is done mainly in the title tag and URL permalink.

The title tag:

Title-Tag

URL permalink post slug:

Page-Slug

The way you optimize the post permalink is by changing the post slug. WordPress automatically defaults to using the title of your post as the permalink, you can override that by changing the post slug to whatever you want (as seen above).

For good measure I optimize my keyword tags:

Meta-Keyword

ALT (image) Tags:

Image

and page description:

Meta-Description

Now everything is tailored towards my key phrases, so there’s no confusion about how I want Google to interpret my page. Would you rather your site resemble a wonderfully tailored suit or some unknown fabric slapped together, that hangs off your shoulder blades?

Using the right ‘SEO Editor’ plug in

When I first started writing my blog, I used the ‘All In One SEO Editor’ plugin for WordPress, but had problems optimizing the meta keyword tag to my liking. The All In One Editor automatically takes the individual post tags and uses them as your meta keywords.

This is a problem if you want to have free reign (which you need) over differentiating between the words you use as meta keywords and the blog post tags. With the ‘All In One SEO’ plugin you’re forced to have your pages’ actual tags commingled with your targeted keyword phrases. That’s no good.

I switched to the plugin ‘SEO Meta Editor Advanced’ and it works like a charm. I recommend it. The only problem is I can’t use some punctuation, like apostrophes.

(btw, I checked the source code for many a personal finance blog, in preparation for this piece, and almost everyone I came across uses the ‘All In One Editor’. I understand newer versions of ‘All In One SEO’ are available, but I believe the problem still persists).

Before and After SEO

If you view my source code for 8 things you need to know about a Roth IRA for 2008, this is what the header looks like:

Meta-Chance

As you can tell I’ve done a fair bit of optimizing (but not too much, which is key!) alerting the search engine to what this page is all about. Notice I keep the title and keywords tag very lean, focusing only on what I want the search engines to know.

The description I use is brief, enticing (I hope;) and reiterates many of my keywords. In essence, this is how I’m asking the search engine to describe my listing. And if you scroll back up to the Yahoo image I included, you will see Slurp obliged, because that’s how it now appears in the SERP’s.

Many blogs make the mistake of serving up endless lists of words, in all these fields, that confuse the robots more than anything, dilute your message, and end up hurting you in the search rankings.

A willing participant

With the permission of Ana from DebtFree Revolution, I’m going to show you a similar snippet of source code she used for a recent article titled Thrift Savings Plan for Idiots and Dummies.

Debt-Meta

Ana’s source code is devoid of a meta description and keywords. Her title tag is showing strange characters and unnecessarily listing the name of the blog, which only serves to dilute the power of the other words in the title tag.

ZigZagging

You may say to me, ‘hold on one cotton picking second… I want my blog’s name in there for branding purposes!’ I say it’s a waste of time at this point in your growth cycle. What would you prefer:

  • more search engine visitors reading good content? or
  • less search engine visitors seeing your brand name?

When your readership swells to the size of Get Rich Slowly, or dare I say the magisterial A Simple Dollar, then you can begin to worry about your brand.

OK went off on a bit of a zigzag there, back to our example…

So Ana at DebtFree Revolution needs some help revamping the way she approaches SEO for her post pages. Here’s what I would do to the targeted page, if I was her:

  • Switch plugins: to ‘SEO Meta Editor Advanced’ if having problems optimizing the tags properly
  • Change the title tag to read: Federal Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) – Military thrift savings plan
  • Add the following meta keywords tag: federal thrift savings plan, military thrift savings plan, thrift savings plan contributions
  • Add the following Meta Description: What you need to know about the Federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) for military personnel…
  • Post Title: actually like it a lot, might add the word ‘Federal’ at the beginning
  • Change the post slug to read: Military Thrift Savings Plan Contributions
  • and finally, I would recommend (in this case) looking to add the targeted keyword phrases 2 or 3 times throughout the copy. There are plenty of natural opportunities for that on this page.

Now that’s just to give you an idea. I spent about 10 minutes at her page and that’s what I came up with. Obviously, she knows her blog a lot better than I do and can change things more to her liking (i.e. flip flop the title tag phrases).

7. Optimize the internal links within your site

In most every article I post I look for opportunities to add hyperlinks that point back to previous articles that I’ve written.

Sometimes those links will be made up of regular words that flow in the sentence, but often when I see known keywords in a sentence (i.e Roth conversion) I use them to create a hyperlink, much like I’ve been doing throughout this post:) These links have the keywords that match up with keywords in the title tag of the page its pointing to.

The reason to do this is to create balance between the many pages of your site. To use an analogy, it’s kind of like pumping blood to every part of your body to ensure everything is working right.

The better your circulation, the better your body performs. It’s important to have strong internal linking because search engines notice and appreciate it. The more balanced your internal linking is, the healthier your site is in the eyes of the search engines.

TIP: When linking to popular sites that don’t need your links (e.g. Google, MySpace) or internal pages that you don’t want to rank high (e.g. Disclaimer page) add rel=”nofollow” to the links. That way you save your link juice.

8. Add No Index meta tags

Now this is moving toward the outer fringe of my technical capabilities but I understand the concept here.

One of the biggest ‘NoNo’s’ with search engines is having duplicate content on your site. There is a lot of debate surrounding the degree to which you can be penalized, but it’s universally accepted that having the same content on different pages is bad.

In my case, I had many copies of the same page on my site. So, to avoid the possibility of duplicate content penalties, I use No Index tags for the category, archive and tag pages. Here’s the piece of text you need to insert in the head section of your header.php file:

Noindex

To learn more about this go to Ryan Caldwell’s blog.

9. Remove unnecessary links

Each one of my permalink posts has a title (obviously). In my case, each permalink post title had a hyperlink in it. That’s unnecessary, since you’re already on the page; I’ve read that it can affect your rankings negatively. So I removed it by going to Presentation > Theme Editor > Single Post and editing the following line of code:

Permalink2

10. Building up a ridiculously sized tag cloud can be a good thing

As far as I’m concerned you need to use everything in your arsenal to get noticed. In addition to everything else I do, for each individual post I create tags to feed my ever growing tag cloud, which I take pride in.

(Remember I have ‘No Index’ code setup for the Tag cloud pages so the search engines don’t index them, but visitors are invited to play around in my cloud as much as they like).

My tag cloud is just another way for readers to get to their final destination. I actually have quite a few readers clicking thru on tags and going to other pages. I focus on building certain areas of my tag cloud, (which stand out) so visitors are more likely to click thru those areas.

Eventually (6 months from now), by glancing at my tag cloud you will have a very good idea what my blog is all about;) And at the same time, its just another signal you’re sending to the search spiders, letting them know what pages are most important to you.

Wrapping up

Most of the personal finance blogs I come across are severely lacking good SEO (as opposed to bad, black hat SEO) and with a few simple adjustments would be competing for far more eyeballs.

It only takes about an extra 15 minutes per post once you learn the routine, and after a while it becomes like old hat. I hardly think about it anymore.

Unofficial Disclaimer

To be fair, if you examine my site you will see that there are some violations of my own rules. A few of these points I was unaware of myself early on. Just recently I started to optimize the post slug to focus more on my targeted keywords and as I come across old posts I often take a moment to mend the fences.

Final piece of advice

Please take everything I’ve written with a grain of salt, and understand, I don’t advocate writing ONLY for rankings. You should always write what comes naturally to you, but at the same time, be very cognizant of how to remain in the good graces of the Google and Yahoo gods.

Trust me, they want you to properly optimize your pages as much as you do. That way they can categorize them properly, resulting in higher quality, relevant search results for their visitors. A search engine purist might muse… the Holy Grail.

Final final piece of advice

Continue to write from the heart and know that not every post is optimizable, nor should it be optimized. Like many things in life, moderation is the key; apply your own judgment and tastes to your blog.

In the end, these are just arrows in your quiver, whether you decide to use them and to what extent is up to you.

I’ll see ya on the front page of the SERP’s hopefully not too far ahead of me:)

About the Author:

Ciaran McKeever is the author of Chance Favors a blog that hopes to educate, encourage and empower those in their 30′s and 40′s to achieve financial independence.

What are Your blog Expenses?

What have you paid for when it comes to your blogging?

One of the things that I hear a lot of people talk about when speaking about the virtues of blogging is that it has such low overheads and barriers to entry in terms of cost.

In many ways I agree with this – I look at my own experience of blogging and I started out with free blog platforms and hosting and apart from my internet access costs (which I was paying anyway) there were no other expenses for some time.

However the more serious you get with your blogging the more temptations there are to upgrade aspects of your blog and to pay for the privilege of doing so.

For me this has included paying for blog design, hosting, training/learning (books and courses), advertising (not much but I’ve experimented), blogging tools, new computer equipment etc.

My accountant still can’t believe how little I spend and all but begs me to create some more expenses to create some tax deductions.

It’s got me wondering what others pay for when it comes to their blogs? What sort of things have you spent money on to improve your blog? You don’t need to put figures on it (although you’re welcome to if you’d like) but it’d be interesting to know just how many bloggers do still do it on the smell of an oily rag.

MLB Trade Rumors: Community Consulting Summary

After receiving more than twenty reviews and view-points on Tim’s blog, MLBTradeRumors.com, it’s time to summarize the lessons learned from this week’s exercise.

If you missed the blog’s introduction, you can read it here and view the review comments directly. If you’re new to community consulting, here’s how you can get involved (and give yourself a decent shot at winning an iPod shuffle).

Thanks to everyone who participated. Here’s what the ProBlogger community thought about MLBTradeRumors.com:

It’s not so black and white

The most contentious element of the blog was the choice of gray text on a black background. While some commenters didn’t mind it, a larger group strongly disagreed with the choice. To further complicate things, a poll held on the blog indicated that around 70% of people who voted didn’t mind the theme. I’m not sure the poll is an accurate reflection of reality because if someone is bothered enough by a lack of readability they’re unlikely to become a loyal reader and vote in a poll ;-).

Those who like gray on black vs. those who don’t will always be an impossible number to tabulate, because you can’t quantify how many readers you lose because of readability issues.

My personal thoughts are: some people may choose not to visit your blog because they find it too hard to read, but existing readers are unlikely to jump ship just because you change to dark text on a light background. Dark on light is now a web standard and even those who preferred the darker scheme will not abandon your blog because of the change. However, there are some people with an instinctive negative reaction to white on black who will never read a blog with that kind of combination.

Attracting advertisers

Any blog hoping to be approached by advertisers needs an ‘Advertise Here’ page, or equivalent. Many readers pointed this out and I couldn’t agree more. Some boxes your advertising page should tick:

  • Explains the benefits of advertising.
  • Includes stats that make your blog look good.
  • Explains what kind of advertising you’re selling.
  • Explains what is needed to advertise.
  • Explains how advertisers should contact you.

Tim also wanted to know how MLBTradeRumors.com could be made to seem more professional. A theme with dark text on a light background is often perceived as more professional, so making the change suggested above could also have a benefit in this area.

Getting more subscribers

Baseball is obviously not a very high-tech interest and I would expect most subscribers to sign up for email updates rather than track the blog through a feed reader. I agree with commenters who suggested moving subscribe links high up in the sidebar. It’d also be a good idea to add a small form where visitors can type their email address to get updates. I’d also suggest adding a short message at the bottom of each post asking readers if they’d like to subscribe.

The timeliness of news

Several readers astutely pointed out that posts are not dated on the main page. Dates are absolutely necessary for this kind of blog because rumors and news depend on timeliness. Being able to show new visitors that you updated just yesterday or today shows them that your blog is fresh and current (and so are your posts).

Selling yourself

The blog’s tag-line (“Today’s hottest baseball trade rumors. If it’s whispered, we hear it.”) does two essential things: it describes what the blog is while making it sound good. My only critique is something that one commenter mentioned: it could be a little more visible. I also like that there is ‘About’ information on the blog as well as its author.

Injecting simplicity into the sidebar

Pruning under-performing ads and moving links to seperate static pages are all things you can do to add greater emphasis to the most important aspects of your sidebar. I should point out that as I write this the ads in the sidebar are throwing up an error and preventing the rest of the page from loading. This error wasn’t occurring at the time of the launch post so I presume it’s the result of some tinkering with the sidebar that might need to be reversed.

A general tip, once the problem is resolved, is something that a few commenters mentioned. Your ads will always be more effective if they are on topic. Try AdSense (which has some decent baseball ads), affiliate programs on baseball products or approach baseball related businesses, magazines and manufacturers to advertise on your site.

Extra eye candy

Baseball is a sport people watch, meaning it’s also been the subject of about a million photos. There’s plenty of potential to add color and visual interest to the site by including colorful photography of players and teams. Just make sure to establish that you have permission to use the images, first.

Let’s get Diggable

Social media has the potential to treat sport content well. I’d suggest Tim experiment with baseball-related top 10 lists, guides and resource lists to start attracting social media traffic. While the content is well-suited to its target audience I didn’t see many efforts to reach out to new audiences with the content provided.

The iPod Shuffle winner

This week’s prize-winner is Andrej (who blogs about web-design) for his comprehensive and observant review of the blog. Enjoy your iPod!

You can send an application to Darren if you’d like your blog featured and reviewed at ProBlogger for $250. Click to get more information on our community blog consulting services.

How to Choose a Domain Name – Brandable Domains vs Keyword Rich Domains

Here’s a question that I get quite a bit that I thought might make an interesting question for discussion:

When choosing domain names do you get a keyword rich or more brandable name?

What do I mean by keyword rich vs brandable names? Let me explain further with a segment from a previous post on choosing domain names for blogs.

  1. Keyword Based Domains - these domains, as the name suggests, incorporate keywords that your blog is about in them. This is good for a number of reasons. Firstly it communicates something to your readers very quickly with regards to what your blog is about. The other positive is that Search Engines take a good look at the words in your domain name when deciding what your blog is about and how to rank it. As a result if you’re after SE traffic then these types of names can be worth looking at. Examples of blogs with keyword based domains are Cellphone9, the Movie Blog, Sims Gamer and Digital Photography School.
  2. Brandable Domains - these domains might often have some relation to their topic in terms of their feel or sound but are much more about creating something memorable that can become an identity in and of itself. In terms of traffic strategy – these blogs would be suited ideally to developing a blog that is aiming to build a community of loyal readers. Of course these blogs can also do very well in search engines but this is usually for other reasons (keywords in URLs are just one of many factors). Blogs that have these types of domains include Boing Boing, Gizmodo and Dooce. In fact if you look at Technorati’s Top 100 blogs – you’ll see that most of them have brandable names and not Keyword based ones.

Like I said in the post that I’ve taken those descriptions from – these two options are not mutually exclusive. Domains like Engadget and even ProBlogger are quite brandable yet also incorporate keywords (gadget and blogger) – however it’s not always possible to get both (in fact it’s getting harder and harder) and many bloggers are faced with the choice of one or the other.

So back to our question – which do you prefer when you’re starting a blog?

What have you based your decision upon in the past and if you had to start another blog today which would you go for?

When Seth Godin isn’t Seth Godin

not-seth-godin-twitter

Last week I had a quick conversation with Seth Godin via email about Twitter and in passing I mentioned his Twitter account. I was shocked to get a response to him saying that he doesn’t use Twitter and that the account I was referring to was actually being run by someone else (who that is I’m not sure).

It seems that someone (probably a fan by the looks of how it’s being used) registered Seth’s name on Twitter and is using it to simply push out his content from his blog. The use of the account is by no means malicious at this point (in fact it’s probably doing Seth some good because the account has over 1400 followers) however it does leave me with a take home lesson.

Secure your names and brands on Social Media sites.

1420 people have become followers of this Twitter account at the point of me writing this post. I’m assuming that most are doing it because they are fans of Seth and want to interact with him. I’ve seen quite a few people use @sethgodin messages over the last month and in all cases it seems that the person thinks that they are communicating with him.

While in this case the name isn’t being used badly one could imagine how it could be used negatively to impact Seth’s good name and reputation. The person running this twitter account seems to only be pointing to Seth’s own links but imagine if they started to push in their own content and making recommendations with his name! What if they started pulling in favors from other Twitter users using direct messaging?

Again, it doesn’t seem that this is what is happening here but it is something to ponder. While Seth is probably benefiting from this Twitter user with a little extra traffic it could have been something of a disaster for him.

It highlights to me the important of getting a hold of account names for your brand and name on popular social media sites. Even if you don’t use the accounts that you create it can be well worthwhile securing them to protect yourself from others doing so. This is by no means easy (there are so many of these sites to have to get registered on) but it could be a worthwhile exercise to spend a few hours one day soon to do it on some of the most popular sites.

Update – I decided to search a little more to see how many people were actually attempting to interact with Seth on Twitter and found quite a few. What was particularly interesting to me were a number of tweets from Twitter users who were frustrated by his lack of interaction with them:

After Dark, My Tweet writes – “If you use it (Twitter), I urge you to use twitterfeed with tact. Otherwise, your followers will tire of the twitterfeed spam and stop following you, thereby branding you a stinker and an insensitive spammer. This is the exact reason I stopped following Godin. But if used moderately, I think there’s a place for it. I would say: use Godin as an example of what not to do, then promote your wares accordingly. ”

Brian Writes – “He never seems to tweet about anything besides his latest blog post. Most of those blog posts are one or two paragraphs. They could have almost been tweets. If they were, he’d have saved me a click.” (Seth responded to this one with a comment clarifying that it wasn’t him Tweeting)

TylerReed Tweets – “I am no longer following @SethGodin until he decides to follow other people.. he’s a cool dude.. but I have an RSS reader to see his posts.”

turoczy Tweets numerous times about Seth’s robotic Twitter use – “Apparently, @sethgodins’s not willing to put in the “sweat” to participate in Twitter”

prblog Tweets – “Godin: 1K+ followers, follows no one. Kawasaki: 3,100 followers and follows 3,200. Interesting math.”

These are just a handful of people who’ve written about it Seth’s ‘use’ of Twitter in a negative fashion. Perhaps it’s hurting his reputation a little after all.

Last Chance to Vote in the Bloggies

<shameless plug>Today is the last day in the 2008 Bloggies. This is a shameless request to consider voting for ProBlogger in the ‘Best Topical Weblog’ category…. if you’ve found ProBlogger to be good topical blogging of course. </shameless plug>

Best of ProBlogger – January 2008

Here at ProBlogger I publish quite a few articles (95 this month) – so I thought that in 2008 I’d attempt to summarize the most popular ones at the end of each month as a service to those of you who may not have had time to read each post.

The way I’ll collate them will be slightly differently t the ‘best of ProBlogger’ area on the front page of the site but it’ll be largely based upon page views and comments:

Most Popular Post at ProBlogger – January 2008

  1. A Reality Check on Blogging for Money – a post that has struck a chord with quite a few on some of the less publicized aspects of blogging for money.
  2. 7 Types of Blog Posts Which Always Seem to Get Links and Traffic – a great post by Skellie which I know a few bloggers have used as the basis for their weekly posting cycle.
  3. 10 Remarkable (and Free) WordPress Themes – if you’re looking for a new template for your blog but don’t have the budget for a professional design then this list might be one to start with.
  4. Give Your Readers Room to Participate in Your Blog – sometimes when your blog posts are comprehensive you might actually be crowding your readers out and not giving them space to participate
  5. 14 Essential Mac OS X Applications for Bloggers – I reveal the most used applications in my own blogging workflow.
  6. Don’t Just Have a Blog – Learn to Think Like a Blogger – a lesson from my health and fitness kick that applies to bloggers too.
  7. 9 Benefits of Twitter for Bloggers and How to Use it – a popular mini series of posts looking at how I’m using Twitter to improve my blog, drive traffic and build a brand.
  8. Using StumbleUpon to Get on the Radar of Other Bloggers – the story of how one StumbleUpon user got on my radar by Stumbling one of my posts.
  9. Why My Wife Would Make a Great Internet Marketer – the title says it all. A glimpse at what I think makes a good internet marketer (and no she’s not started a blog despite my pleas).
  10. The Costs and Benefits of Running a Competition on Your blog and how to run one – how to use competitions to build traffic, community and interaction on your blog.

As I’ve said – this is only a tenth of the post son ProBlogger from January. Thanks to everyone for a great month – particularly those who’ve been guest posters.