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Affiliate Programs – Transparency and Disclaimers

I’d like to see some discussion around the topic of transparency in using affiliate programs.

When you link to one do you indicate that you are benefiting from the link in some way?

I’ll kick us off here and say that I do – and I don’t.

I probably need to come up with a better policy on this – but in general this is how I approach it.

If I’m recommending a product that I’m linking to with an affiliate program then I generally indicate that it is an affiliate link in some way. For example – regular readers will know that I’ve been talking up Chitika’s eMiniMalls recently. I’m obviously very happy with the product and am recommending that bloggers give it a go. In doing so I link to Chitika with an affiliate link. I am part of a group testing an affiliate program that will be launched publicly to all of their publishers shortly.

At the end of each post that I link to Chitika with I place a disclaimer that reads:
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Favicons on Blogs

Today I had a nice surprise waiting for me in my inbox – an email from Tiago who had kindly taken it upon himself to design me a favicon for my blog in thanks for the advice I’d given him and others through this blog.

For those not familiar with favicons – they are the little tiny 16×16 pixel pictures that appear to the left of a site’s URL. They also appear in the tabs of firefox and in bookmarks on some browsers. – in my case Tiago had taken the ‘p’ from my logo and constructed one as follows.

Picture 2

He then pointed me to this favicon instruction site which told me how to add it to my blog – it took about 2 minutes.

I’ve been meaning to add a favicon here to ProBlogger for some time as it adds another element of branding to the site, increases useability for tabbed browser users and those who use bookmarks regularly to surf – but unfortunately it’s always slipped to the bottom of my ‘to do list’ – so a big thank you to Tiago.

Google Blog Search – First Look Review

Google-Blog-SearchMy initial reflections on Google’s Blog Search:

  • the basic bones of the technology seem to be there.
  • basically it seems to be using similar (or the same) technology as Google News.
  • they seem to be indexing new posts very quickly which is great.
  • the pool of blogs that they are indexing seems smaller than I’d have expected. Of course they’ll be adding new feeds to track over time
  • they will have a big challenge of filtering spam – I’ve already seen quite a few spam posts in it both in the ‘related blogs’ and the actual posts that they are indexing
  • I’m disappointed with the ‘related blogs’ results – I’ve seen spam blogs, blogs that havn’t been updated for 6 months and know it’s omitting major blogs in certain niches. It seems from testing that the blogs served here are very related to the title of the blog concerned rather than the content in my initial tests.
  • The ability to subscribe via RSS to search terms is fantastic – top marks Google.
  • Being able to see results both ‘by date’ and ‘by relevance’ is a good thing.
  • The Advanced search functionality seems to offer more options than most other blog search tools that I’ve seen.

Overall – the technology is promising. It is in beta so we can’t expect too much I guess but I hope they make some improvements on some of the above areas.

I’ll also be fascinated to see how this impacts blog’s search result positioning in the main Google index. Will it lead to them being indexed faster and higher? Or is this a step towards downgrading their importance in the main index.

Update: Which indexes posts quicker – Google Blog Search or Technorati? The first one to index this post was Google in 50 minutes. The strange thing is that when I entered the index I entered it way down the page and not as the most recent post. Technorati is yet to index this post – however it has indexed considerably more in the mean time than Google.

Update II: Other reviews and first looks of Google Blog search can be found at:
- Anil’s first look at ProNet
- Paul’s Predictions
- Duncan’s Review
- Chris Pirillo has a massive list of posts from around the web on Google Blog Search

Intereseted to hear your reviews of Google Blog Search in comments below.

Melbourne Geek Dinner

Geek? Melbournian? If you’re both you need to get to the Melbourne Geek Dinner on Friday 26th August. RSVP to Tejas. I’m going to try to get there.

London Explosion

I’m covering some of the news on the London Explosion here as we have family who use the tube in the areas affected and are waiting for word. Phones are down and we’re a touch worried so I thought I’d do something productive.

Update – as I’ve updated on my other blog we’ve had good news from London from family. Despite being close to the explosions they are fine.

I’ve continued to update the page.

Ads: You can show them to guests only!

Posting a follow up to Nicole Simon’s Ads: You can post them later! I thought I would mention a common practice used by membership sites or other types of sites that require registration, such as message boards. You can easily show ads just to those who are not logged in, leaving those who are regular members without any ads at all.

Many publishers running AdSense on phpBB message boards use this technique, since you can use variables or different templates to give one set of users (ie. Guests) AdSense or other affiliate ads. Then you can specify that registered or logged in users (or even a specific group of registered users) do not see any ads at all. Or while guests might see 3 ad units and an Ad Link unit, registered users only see a single ad unit or an Ad Link unit.

You can also set up custom channels and track what registered users and guests are bringing in to your AdSense account. You might find guests are responsible for 85-90% of your AdSense income from that site, so it would make a great “feel good” community gesture to remove AdSense from those who are registered. And you can use an ad free environment as an incentive to encourage users to register, if you are striving for increased numbers of registrations.

Ads: You can show them later!

Many blogs have two audiences, sometimes equally divided, sometimes not: The daily readers and the visitors through links and search engines. But most of us treat those visitors the same – presenting them the same layout, and the same amount advertisement. Why?

If you analyze your earnings, you should see a difference between profit from your daily blog readers and visitors through links and search engines. It is because of their different focus in attention.

Daily readers ‘know’ your layout and will get very blind on advertisement. The other group is searching for something particular, and therefore is very open to contextual advertisement. Daily readers get annoyed by too much advertising (even when it is contextual), and the other group loves them.

But as you would like to earn money, there is no way to please the daily readers … or? There is. Think about it one second. What is the difference between both groups?

It is the amount of time since you published the article.

If your blog is listed good on search engines, it will at least take some hours to fetch your new article and often take a day to rank you. Your rank for an article slowly rises, so it is save to assume, that while your daily readers are through with your blog in a week, search engine and link traffic will start after a week.

So my suggestion is: Start showing advertisement if an article is more than some days old! This will need some programming you might not be able to do of your own, but someone can do for you.

Or: you can use such mechanism to display different ads based on the age of the post or gather more information how your website performs at the different times slots.

With this you get happy daily readers and still profits from your websites!

The Problogger guest blogging experiment: good or bad?

Perhaps my last post before Darren returns this coming week but a very easy question to the many wonderful Problogger readers out there, perhaps as means of feedback for Darren: The Guest Blogging Experiment at Problogger: Good or Bad?

From my perspective I’ve loved the freedom to write in the first person and ponder some interesting questions that I might have otherwise not raised at the Blog Herald, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the contributions for other guest bloggers as well. Certainly one of the wonderful things Darren has going here at Problogger is the extremely strong “feedback” community if you like, in terms of those willing to leave comments. Whilst I’ve had some great comment threads at the Blog Herald I certainly can’t match the consistent commenting on nearly every post here at Problogger, and from the third party view point I think that’s a major aspect that for me makes this blog a must read..indeed on occasion (even from my own posts) I can learn more from the contribution of readers comments than I did from the initial post.

On the flip side I suppose there has been a lack of consistency without Darren’s guiding hand present here at Problogger. Some days have had more posts than others, and the quality or interest has varied for me personally.

Share your thoughts. Darren will be back in Bleak City (Melbourne) this week and I’m sure he’ll be interested in your thoughts. Indeed I have little doubt that he’ll reflect on it as well, but why not get the ball rolling.

Bloggers block

Do you suffer from blogger block? Are there just some days where it’s near impossible to post because there is little or nothing happening on your particular subject or niche? Share your thoughts.

Personally I suffer it at seemingly random times, random in only that I have no control over the timing, and the more niche the topic the more likely it will occur. In the early days the Blog Herald was actually really hard to write for, mainly because 2 years ago there wasn’t a lot of blogging news. Today it’s a fair bit easier, although some days a harder than others. Now that I write for 4 blogs (or 5 if you include my guest spot here) its even more interesting. Being able to fill in here (and I believe Darren will be back here next week) has been a challenge, mainly because sharing advice or linking to others is sometimes related to mood or inspiration, some days I can be inspired with ideas, others I just ain’t. Blogs like PVRSpot which I really enjoy writting have actually proven hard to write for because the topic is such a niche that there’s not a lot of news, where as The Search Engine Herald presents the challenge of what to actually post because there is so much news about. In a different field I’ve guest blogged at The Gadget Blog when Colbert was away and although there is lots of input I’ve struggled to know how to differentiate the content, which is the blogs aim. How do you deal with a lack, or flood of source material?