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The Importance of Good Headlines for RSS

Poynter Online has a great post about the importance of having a good headline in your RSS feed.

‘But what do I do with headlines like “Dramatic change” (which turned out to be about a change in the government’s attitude toward immigrants) or “An unfinished story” (this deals with the U.S. inauguration). And these are just a couple of random picks from a Norwegian feed I read last night. Both those headlines belong in a newspaper or on a website, where there is room for a picture and a blurb. They have no place in my RSS reader. Or in my mobile phone’s WAP reader. Because I can’t even make up my mind if I’m interested.

With RSS and WAP, more and more journalism relies on headlines alone. So they better be good. And they better be informative.’

This is so true. I’ve actually done some tracking of the most popular posts on this site for those reading my RSS feeds and have noticed that it is usually the simple, clear and informatively titled posts that get the most hits. Yes occasionally I’ll get a little clever, humorous and cryptic and come up with a title that tries to be intriguing, witty or mysterious – but more often than not the simple ones do much better.

Of course I show the first few sentences in my RSS feeds also (not that everyone chooses to view them) so your opening line is also vitally important to getting people to read on.

I’ve touched on this topic previously in a number of posts includeing:

- Titles are Everything

- Get to the Point

- Blogging for Change – Rejection to Attention

Google to Revamp Adsense and Adwords Program

Silicon Valley Watcher writes that Google are getting ready to announce some big changes to their Adsense/Adwords program which will be of interest to many bloggers using the system.

‘As this is being writtten, about 1800 Google marketing people from its offices around the world are at an internal sales conference at a secret location in San Francisco, being briefed on a completely revamped Google Adwords/Adsense program and other new features.

The text ads business is crucial to maintaining Google’s pace of growth and its share price, which reflects high expectations for the dominant search giant. But Google offers few tools to advertisers to let them control where their ads appear and on which web sites. Similarly, web site publishers have virtually no control over what types of ads Google sends their way. This has caused some shifting to competitors such as Kanoodle that offer such controls.

That’s why the revamped Adwords/Adsense will provide a suite of tools that provide greater control, management and monitoring data to advertisers, to better target their sales messages.’



I’ll be watching any announced changes carefully as Adsense has been a major part of my earning strategy on my blogs – hopefully the changes not only benefit the advertisers but also are worthwhile for publishers.

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How AdSense Premium Publishers Boost their CTR by 500%

Have you ever wondered what the benefits of being a premium publisher on the Google Adsense program are? Google don’t say to much about it on their website. You have to achieve ’5 million search queries or 20 million content page views a month’ to qualify, which puts most of us out of the race but we can dream can’t we? Anyway – the official line is that the benefits of being a Premium Publisher are:

  • Google sales representative and account manager
  • Flexible ad formats
  • Advanced filtering
  • Optimization assistance
  • Additional monetization options
  • Enhanced technical support



It all sounds pretty general and I’ve often wondered what the specifics are. Today I spotted a short post by Gary Stein who shed a little light on what one premium publisher (Topix) is doing to boost their earnings on their home page by 500%. The long and short of it is that they are able to track your movements across the site’s different channels and serve up ads that relate to where you’ve spent the most time. So instead of their Home Page (which is a collation page of loads of general news) showing up ‘general’ type ads it shows up ads which they have a pretty good idea that you’ll be interested in because you’ve previously searched for it.

So in a sense the ads are not contextual in the strictest sense (ie they are not relevant to that page’s content but are reliant upon your surfing history – Behavioral targeting advertising. I wonder if this is the type of feature that Google would consider making available down the track to its average user? Obviously it would be in their best interests, and those of their publishers and advertisers, to see click through rates go up by 500% across the board. However I guess they also have to balance it with the reaction of the end user who may not appreciate having their surfing tracked in this way.

Source of original information: AdSense Premium Publisher: Boost CTR

Professional Blogger Association – Some Observations

I’m really happy to see the caliber of Professional Bloggers Association’s Founding Team Members - whilst some have critiqued having such an association I’m pleased that it seems to be moving ahead. They’ve named a board and voted on office bearers which is a good first step and now have a lot of work to do to get it up and running.

This might seem like I’m having a go at them, I’m not in fact I’ve offered my full support and assistance in any way I can a couple of times now. I believe in the ideas of pro bloggers coming together – however I would give one initial observation of the group that have kicked this thing off.

Whilst Paul mentions that they are international in their scope I’m left wondering whether this is really just a north american association. Yes they have Hans on the team (and there could be another European or two in there that doesn’t say so on their bio) but the vast majority of those on the founding membership list are from the US with a few from Canada.

Ok – let me critique my own observation.

  • Of course this is only a founding membership list and it would make sense to have the initial group clustered together to help with the logistics of setting up the process.
  • Yes the majority of pro-bloggers probably do live in the US.
  • The founding membership needs to be of a high caliber/profile – again the US and Canada has a lot of pro bloggers that fit this bill
  • Yes it would make good business sense that pro bloggers in a region would want to network together…..

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Returning to Blog Ethics

Jeff Jarvis is taking another stab at the blogging and ethics question and this time tries to take a different approach -‘Some of us have been looking at this ethics question the wrong way: The starting point is not to impose a code of ethics on a medium but instead to understand the ethic of the medium — and its community — as it exists: What are bloggers already telling us about their ethic?’

He then goes on to identify 6 ethics which I quite like:

‘: The ethic of transparency: We believe that our public deserves to know about us and our perspective to better judge what we say.

: The ethic of conversation: We do not believe in one-sided lectures. We believe conversation leads to better understanding.

: The ethic of humanity: We believe this medium lives at a human level while old media lives at an institutional level.

: The ethic of the link: We believe one of our key jobs is to link our public to other voices and to source material so they may judge themselves.

: The ethic of correction: We believe it is vital to correct errors quickly and openly.

: The ethic of immediacy: We believe that the fast spread of information is will yield better information.’

Blogathon – 24 hours of Blogging for the children of the Tsunami

Thanks for all those who stopped by the Blogathon yesterday. With your help we raised close to $1000 USD (still tallying it up). Of course its not too late to make a donation so that could go up some more.

I wrote a number of Pro Blogger related posts over there which I’ll tranfer to this blog in the next few days. Til then its back to a semi normal blogging day (although don’t expect too much deep thought – after 24 hours of straight blogging I’m feeling a little out of it today.

Pitch me Your Posts

This time tomorrow I will have been blogging for 7 hours straight in my blogathon to raise money for the Tsunami appeal, I’ll have added around 30 entries and I just know that I’ll be starting to wonder where the next 70 will come from.

So this is a call for the most interesting post (or two) that you’ve written on your blog in the past few days. Leave a link in comments below and if I find it interesting (and if I don’t get hundreds submitted – unlikely) I’ll link up to it with some comments. Might be a good way to promote your writing and get your blog noticed by a few more readers.

Journalism’s Critique of Blogging – A Great PR Tool

Interesting piece over at What Next Blog looking at the way the Wall St. Journal and New York Times are Still Dissing Bloggers.

‘It went on to create tension by saying that “Bloggers push stories and theories that make big media look slow, defensive or part of some far-fetched conspiracy.” Noting that “competition is rarely welcomed by the incumbents,”, the article admitted that “it can help make them better.”‘

I actually think that the more they critique blogging the more successful they will making it.

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BlogMine -Content, Clicks, Cash!

Interior-Logo-Bm

Another blog revenue stream has been announced – this time its BlogMine.com whose motto is ‘Content, Clicks Cash!’ Their main service is ‘GoldRush’.

‘GoldRush makes you money. It analyzes the blog’s content and provides text ads targeted to your content and your audience. No need to worry about irrelevant ads showing up in your blog and feeds.’



Once again – it is a contextual system which rules out those of us using Google’s Adsense.

This is the third such system to be announced in the last month or two. We’ve already seen two very similar services announced in Chitika and Crisp Ads. I’m yet to really see many bloggers using them and have not heard any tales of success (or failure for that matter) on them.

Google to Kill Blog Comment Spam?

Steve Rubel points to a rumored announcement of a system of blocking Google’s bots reading your comments – thereby taking the incentive for comment spammers to leave comments.

‘But since then several bloggers have reported that Winer was testing a new Google linking mechanism that might put an end to blog comment spam by omitting all links from its PageRank calculations that have a rel=”nofollow” attribute tag. This would change the economics behind why people comment spam popular blogs – to boost their Google search rank. If this is true, it would certainly be welcome. Stay tuned.’

I’m all in favor of any such system – but suspect that if it is left up to bloggers to insert the code into their own templates that it will only ever be used by a certain percentage of the blogosphere and as a result there will always be some incentive for comment spammers to continue on their merry spamming ways. Maybe if such a system were to be included in all future releases of the big blogging systems it would help combat the problem more. Bring it on though I say – I’m sick of the morning ritual of cleansing my blogs from the filth.

Of course there will be a cost of blocking Google from Comments also. A cost to legitimate bloggers who interact with other legitimate bloggers. In the same way that spammers comments will no longer promote them in Google – legitimate bloggers will lose backlinks from comments and slip in their Google rankings. Search engine ranking is very dependent upon backlinks to your blog – if many of us were to review our backlinks we’d find that a lot of them come from our own comments. I do not leave comments for this purpose – comments for me are about connecting with other bloggers and exchanging ideas – however a side benefit of doing so is the way it increases profile in Google. I leave around 10 comments per day on others blogs – over two years of blogging this is over 6000 links to my sites. If these were to disappear I wonder what impact it would have. I suspect that if this system were to be implemented on past comments that many bloggers would see a corresponding slip in their SERPs. I guess there is a cost to every gain in life.