Posts Tagged ‘ Blogging

How Brands Can Leverage Authorship Markup

Google Authorship Markup for Brands

Today on the Great Finds blog my colleague Matt Gagen and I discuss Google’s Authorship Markup tag, and how and why brands should implement this markup tag when it becomes available. On my personal blogs I’ve already implemented the Authorship Markup, although sadly Google still hasn’t recognized it yet even four weeks after implementation. My guess is that Authorship Markup is still in a “beta” phase but I expect it to make a big impact to the SERP in the near future, especially when Google+ becomes available to brands. Check out a brief preview of the post below, then click below to read the post in its entirety on iCrossing.com.

In June, Google announced support forAuthorship Markup. This exciting development, overlooked by many, could create huge opportunities for brands and individuals to claim their content, see improvements in click-through rates, integrate their owned media more effectively with social, and possibly improve their search rankings.

Members of Google’s web spam team are excited about the potential of this markup to help improve search results. But the initial support of this new markup has one big drawback: Google is not supporting brands that embrace Authorship Markup. Nevertheless, brands need to embrace Authorship Markup especially at a time when brands must think like publishers of useful content to succeed.

Read the full post here: Why Brands Must Claim Their Own Content with Google Authorship Markup

***Update: My Authorship Markup is now being recognized for my car blog (although not for this blog or my travel blog). This indicates to me that Google is definitely giving preference to higher traffic blogs and trigger this markup on a case-by-case basis, and not to just anyone who marks up their site hoping for a pretty snippet in the SERP. Anyway, check it out!

Authorship markup Nick Roshon

 

 

Why I got Banned from AdSense & An Open Letter To Google On How They Should Fix It

The short answer is – I still don’t know why my Google AdSense account was disabled.

All I got was a series of automated emails explaining why they can’t tell me why my account was disabled.

I started using AdSense in June of 2009, and at the time of being disabled, I had AdSense ads appearing on four sites, and in a good month would make maybe $50 in revenue.

A simple review of the AdSense policies makes it clear beyond a reasonable doubt that my websites fall well within Google’s guidelines. Each site had 100% unique & family friendly content, and I was by no means tricking or encouraging anyone to click my ads, I never clicked on my own ads, and as far as I can tell, I was 100% compliant with their tips & guidelines.

After a month or two of thought, here are my best guesses as to what might have happened:

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Jalopnik’s Cruel April Fools Joke

Autoblognik

Today is a April Fools – and the joke played by Jalopnik “Say Hello to Autoblognik and Goodbye to Me” struck a chord with me. It’s actually a decent premise for an April Fools joke – they claim they were acquired by Aol. (who has been on an acquisition binge of mainstream blogs) and that Aol. was going to re-do the site. The problem with this joke is that many formerly loyal readers of Jalopnik like myself would LOVE for this to happen.

Jalopnik used to be my favorite blog on the internet. I’d visit it 4-5 times a day, chat with my car buddies about it (“did you see that post on Jalopnik today? OMG it was awesome…”), and I was generally what you could call a Jalopnik fan-boy.

When the redesign of all Gawker Media sites launched a few months ago, Ray Wert pleaded to readers to be patient and try to get used to it – I did my best, visiting each day and trying to force myself to like it, or at least try to understand why they did it.

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Email Template for Requesting Permission to Link to a Site From Your Blog

An (unnamed) friend recently asked me if I had an email template he could use to proactively contact any blogs or websites he wanted to link to, and ask their permission first before placing the link in their post.

Here is the template I sent him:

Dear Webmaster,
Is it okay if we link to your website from our PageRank 6 domain that ranks in the top 5,000 most highly trafficked sites on Alexa? If you say no, I’ll assume you’re unfit to make decisions on behalf of your company and just place the link anyway, as you’d have to be certifiably insane to say no. Thank you for your time.

Sincerely,
Your Name

Blogs are meant to be creative, interpersonal, casual, and collaborative.

Blogs are social media.

Do you ask permission before retweeting someone? Or liking someone else’s Facebook post?

Why ask permission before linking to someone? Is there a difference?

The First Three WordPress Plugins You Should Install

WordPress Admin Panel

I’ve recently started yet another WordPress blog (just like the default tagline says), bringing my total count up to four active blogs that I control. Now that I’m starting to get the hang of this, here are the first plugins I recommend installing right away on your new WordPress blog to kick things off on the right foot:

  1. Akismet – this blocks comment spam. If you don’t have this plugin, or one like it, you probably spend all day moderating your comments, or your blog is so new even spammers haven’t found it yet – but trust me, they will. Install Akismet and 99.9% of your spam problems will go away.
  2. WP Security Scan – after getting hacked last year, I realized WordPress has some pretty significant security flaws – since its open source, anyone can read the back end code and figure out how it all works – and everyone shares the same basic platform, which means that once you learn to hack one WordPress blog, chances are you can hack just about any of them. WP Security Scan both scans and fixes your WordPress blog for most common vulnerabilities, which will make it much harder for hackers to gain unauthorized access to your blog compared to the average WordPress install. This plugin takes seconds to install, but will save you hours of headache if a hacker every targeted you.
  3. WP Minify – a fast loading blog is a healthy blog. WP Minify compresses Javascript and CSS files to improve page load time. It’s well known within the SEO community that Google uses page load speed as part of their ranking algorithm, so every second you can shave off that loading speed can only help.

Of course, this list would be incomplete without mentioning two other things you should do as soon as you start a new blog:

  1. Sign up and verify your site in Google Webmaster Tools – this will alert you of any issues Google has crawling your site, as well as a wealth of other data like inbound links, relevant keywords, and much more. It will also get your site crawled by Google sooner rather than later, so you’ll start showing up in the search results.
  2. Sign up and implement Google Analytics, either using a plugin like Google Analytics for WordPress or manually inserting your tracking code into the footer. This will help you monitor site performance over time, and find referring networks that you can interact & engage with to grow a loyal base of readers to your blog. And since Google Analytics is completely free, there is no sense not collecting this data, even if you don’t plan on using it right away – in a few months, you’ll probably be interested and wish you had been tracking your site since the beginning.

I hope this was helpful – let me know if I left off any good suggestions in the comments section below!

10 Things I Learned at OMS Phoenix Yesterday

Online Marketing Summit Phoenix

I attended the Online Marketing Summit in Phoenix yesterday, and wanted to share a few insights & tips I learned. It was a great conference and it was nice to see a lot of familiar faces and learn some new things. Thanks to everyone that made it possible! We covered a wide range of topics including SEO, Social Media, Conversion Optimization, Content Strategy, and everything in between. In no particular order, here were my favorite takeaways:

#10: Create a Search & Social Media Center for Excellence: Create a central repository for best practices, keywords, social media engagement guidelines, etc, for all employees. This will benefit everyone involved by:

  • Leveraging synergies across all of your digital channels – search, social, PR, web development, email marketing, and display.
  • Getting PR & Social Media people the proper URLs and anchor text for Press Releases & Social Media messaging, as well as tips for optimal distribution
  • Allowing more people to get involved with responding to complaints or questions via twitter & message boards by posting engagement guidelines. Phone support people can respond to complaints on twitter during downtime if they have training & knowledge base.

#9: A Cheaper Press Release – WebWire.com

  • I submit a ton of online press releases for clients through PRNewswire, Marketwire, and PRWeb – but they cost several hundred bucks a pop. It doesn’t look like the distribution network is as robust for Webwire, but for $20, that’s a cheap backlink at the very least…thanks @fionnd of Elixir for this tip!
Adwords Suggestions for the brand iCrossing

Adwords Tool Keyword Suggestions for the query iCrossing

#8: Search your brand & competitors & Adwords Tool – See what suggestions Google has for your brand name, and your competitors brand names in the Google Keyword Tool and Google Search Suggest.

  • This can be helpful to: find interesting keyword ideas for brand pages, find new content ideas & content gaps, and discover reputation management issues. Check out the image to the right for suggestions google had for the word “icrossing” – very on target!

#7: Some Cool Stats & Quotes

  • #1 position on SERP gets 43% of the clicks – Arnie K of Vertical Measures, a link building company
  • “Rankings are something you can influence, not something you can control” – Arnie K – good perspective
  • If you have a website, you are a publisher – Mike Corak
  • .The BEST time to post a blog is Tuesday morning, while the WORST is Friday afternoon. – Dan Tyre  of hubspot
  • “Brands must behave and enage like people do…” ~Brian Haven of iCrossing
  • Blogs are the unsung heroes of SEO
  • Do not neglect your blog child
  • If you talk to people the way advertising talked to people they’d punch you in the face – Steve Groves

#6: Check out your backlink diversity – diversity of backlinks has increased in importance in the past year or so – those with unnatural backlink profiles do not get the same benefits they used to. Don’t overdo one method of link building (e.g. directory submissions) if you’re not going to do others.

#5: Use Social Media Profile Pages for Quick & Free Backlinks – it’s easy to get links on many social networking sites, and even if they’re nofollowed, it’s still a great tool for reputation management and probably still pass along some SEO value as well. Examples: Naymz, 123People, BusinessWeek.com, Google Profiles, LinkedIn…

#4: The Real SEO Value of a No Follow Link? There was some discussion that a rel=nofollow link has been shown to influence rankings and has SEO value. Something to consider – don’t dismiss a link just because it’s nofollowed! In my personal experience I’ve seen evidence that there is some SEO value here as well, although I haven’t seen any conclusive case studies to prove it.

The last three tips were from Jeff Eisenberg, a famous conversion optimization expert who wrote “A Call to Action” along with his brother Bryan. This was the best presentation of the whole summit in my opinion, the whole presentation was captivating and inspiring – check him and his brother out at: http://www.bryaneisenberg.com/

#3: Analyze Every Word & Image on your Money Pages

  • When Dell changed “Learn More” to “Help Me Choose” on the computer configuration page, they saw an increase of MILLIONS of dollars. Why? When customers are ready to check out, they don’t want education (Learn More), but they do want help making sure they picked the right accessories & upgrades (Help Me Choose).
  • Another Example: Overstock.com had horrible conversions on their DVD page, something that should sell well. Turns out an image talking about Childrens Movies turned off users, thinking they were on the wrong page. They changed the image to something generic, and generated a $25m sales jump
  • The takeway? Understand the mindset of the customer, and talk in their language.

#2: Make your forms & check-out pages warm & fuzzy

  • Filing in Credit Card info is the scariest moment for the consumer, and where abandonment most commonly occurs.
  • Post your return policy, quality guarantees, etc, on this page and make the customer feel warm and fuzzy
  • Examples – adding customer testimonials on check-out page, always display savings (if applicable), show quality/product guarantees
  • Warren Buffet’s shoe company added a “Return-O-Meter” to their check out page showing how often a shoe is returned, and why (e.g. too wide, too small, etc). The result? Lower abandonment rate (higher confidence in purchase) plus fewer returns.

#1: Leverage Your Reviews!

  • The Eisenberg Brothers have been very successful using reviews to increase conversions.
  • With internal search on a website, allow users to search by Best Reviews/Most Reviews. When Customers Sort this way, there is a huge increase in conversions
  • Run promotions like Top Reviewed under $50. These types of categories convert much higher.
  • Another example: Vitacost – after a customer purchases something, Vitacost thanks them for the order and asks them to review – the result? Customers would go to Vitacost.com, review the product, and actually buy more products during that session!
  • Reviews have the ability to turn worthless customer (who buys very little, very infrequently, usually on sale, but leaves a review) into a very valuable customer, as their review may sway the big buyers.

PS If I mentioned something you said and didn’t properly attribute it back to you, please leave a comment and let me know and I’ll be happy to include a link back to your website or twitter profile! I was scribbling furiously on a notepad and some of the details got lost or mixed up…

Easy Tips to Speed Up Your WordPress Blog

Speed Up WordPress with Common SenseConcerned with Google’s indication that Page Load Speed May Become A  Ranking Factor, I began to look at my own WordPress blogs to see if I can speed up my page load time. In particular, my Modified Car Blog loaded very slowly, to the point where it was actually annoying to users as well.

I read some great posts on technical tricks and hacks to speed up your WordPress blog. Two in particular I found useful were WolfHowl’s post How to Speed Up WordPress and WPGarage’s 38 ways to optimize and speed up your WordPress blog. Plugins recommended in these posts like WP-Minify really seemed to help speed things, but Nick’s Car Blog was still painfully slow.

A test using this website speed test tool of my home page, http://nickscarblog.com, baselined at around 10 seconds to load. After implementing many of the technical tricks in the posts referenced above, it was closer to 5-6 seconds – better, but still pretty bad. I ran a few comparable sites to my blog and they were all around 3 seconds or less.

Then it was time to go back to the basics. Here are some “common sense” things you can do that require no technical tricks, plug-ins or code. These are simple things to make everything load quicker.

  • Use the More Tag for posts that have lots of images. I had several posts that were loaded with over a dozen pictures, often technical articles with DIY Guides to install car parts. By only providing one image and a snippet of the content, there isn’t so much to load on the homepage. I think this was the most effective way I reduced my homepage’s load speed. I also think it really cleaned up the appearance and organized the content better as well.
  • Compress Images – I had several images that would load in the header and throughout the blog that were pretty large – by just a slight adjustment in resolution I could cut the file size in half without the end-user ever really noticing.
  • Remove plug-ins you’re not using anymore, or don’t find very useful – if a user probably would never use it or find it beneficial – toss it. Sometimes a little plug-in “Spring Cleaning” is in order.
  • Contact your hosting company – maybe there is something on their end they can speed up. Or maybe you just have a really crappy hosting company.
  • Remove some of those Digg/Spinn/Reddit buttons. Is anyone seriously going to Digg your About Me page? I don’t think so.
  • Consider your WordPress theme. A simplier theme will load quicker. A really fancy, widget- and animation-heavy theme will load slower. You don’t have to kill your fancy-pants theme off, just try a new one and see if it affects loading speed with a website speed test. Who knows, you might find something you like better.

The end result? My Car Blog now loads in 2.66 seconds. I didn’t lose any content or images, and by using the “More” tag I expect to see a decrease in bounce rate as there is more of an incentive to view the Post Page as opposed to just reading the whole post on the homepage. Some images are more compressed, there are fewer social sharing buttons (but the ones that appear are likely to be more useful), and the blog appears less cluttered, better organized, and oh yeah – a heck of a lot quicker too. Let me know if I missed any more “common sense” ideas in the comments below!

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Now Posting on the iCrossing Great Finds Blog

I haven’t been posting as much here – but still actively blogging… Check out my latest posts on the iCrossing Great Finds blog:

So, if you’re looking for some fun SEO related reading, I suggest you go check out http://greatfinds.icrossing.com or add the RSS feed to your preferred Reader. And as always, I’m tweeting away at @nickroshon as well :)

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New Logo & Look for NickRoshon.com

A New Year and a new look…2010 is going to be big.

Special thanks to Collin Cornwell for the logo design as well as Ben Kwan of The Sweet, The Sour for the theme inspiration!

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming…

I’ve Been HACKED!

Hackers (film)

Image via Wikipedia

I really need to get off a shared server. It’s cheap, but then you could be sharing your server with someone up to no good…

Also, time to install a boat-load of security plug-ins. My blog was hacked by accessing the wp-config.php file, and this site has a good tip on how to lock that down, as well as encrypting passwords and other stuff: 18 Plugins & Hacks to Protect Your WordPress Blog

I’ve deleted any information about the hacker since he told me how he was able to hijack my blog – luckily, he only got into the wordpress admin and not the server or any of the backend. I will be moving everything to a new server soon – stay tuned, and pardon any interruptions in the meantime.

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Blog & Tweet to #BeatCancer

I’m helping to raise funds to
#beatcancer, by blogging, tweeting
and posting Facebook status
updates.

Click here to join me!

MillerCoors & eBay/PayPal is donating 1 cent per tweet, facebook update, or blog post containing #beatcancer. Use it. More info at the official website: http://beatcancereverywhere.com/

While we’re on the topic of ways to #beatcancer, early detection is critical. This is why it’s important to maintain affordable health coverage in order to keep up on regular office visits. Low Insurance provides a way to compare insurance quotes for health insurance online.

Check out my dad’s websites for more information on cancer care in North Central Ohio.

North Coast Cancer Care: Northern Ohio’s Premier Oncology & Hematology Center, now in a brand new, state-of-the-art facility and one of the only cancer centers in the US offering RapidArc  technology, speeding up treatment and improving accuracy in radiology treatments. You can also check out my dad’s bio here.

North Coast Cancer Foundation: Working to provide payment support, education, and complimentary programs for cancer patients ranging from Art Therapy to healing gardens to improve the quality of life and treatment for patients at North Coast Cancer Care. Another goal of the foundation is research, including holding a breast cancer conference every year, which happens to be this weekend at the Kalahari resort in Sandusky, OH. You can donate here: http://www.northcoastcancerfoundation.org/giving.html

My Review of Posterous in One Word: Lacking

I recently decided to launch a new car-themed blog and wanted to try a new platform. After hearing buzz about Posterous, a mini-blogging service that lets you email posts and specializes in being extremely user-friendly, I decided to give it a shot.

I get what they’re going for: Simplicity. But Posterous is simplicity to a fault.

Posterous_head_in_hands

Designed for those who want to “life-stream,” or simply micro-blog daily events, sometimes of trivial significance, it does well at providing an easy-to-publish-on-the-go platform. I posted several times from my BlackBerry Pearl without issue, and my Pearl isn’t exactly high-tech anymore (although, if you forget to change the subject line, your post might be called IMG00007.jpg, doh!). It also automatically posts to Facebook, Twitter, and other common services, which isn’t really unique but I suppose it’s a feature Posterous does have and does well at. It also has very easy Google Analytics integration, but that pretty much wraps up everything nice I can say about it.

Now the downside, or all of the features it’s missing:

  • Customization: I know Posterous is a relatively new service, founded in May, 2009, but still….it took until mid-September to roll-out very basic theming like changing your background color, much like Twitter’s theming customization.
  • AdSense: Zip, Zilch, Notta. If I build up my blog or website, I want to put Ads on it. Not possible, no widgets whatsoever for this service. They don’t even put AdSense on their own stuff to make money (apparently start-ups don’t need to generate revenue anymore, right Twitter?)PosterousBlogroll
  • Blogroll: You can make a pseudo blog-roll called “My Other Sites” which will display links to Facebook, Picasa, Twitter, etc, but it’s really limited to about 6 services. No other links or text that you can get to carry over to individual post pages, etc. I have other blogs and websites I want to link to throughout my blog, and I can’t. So if I want to generate traffic to my other websites, I’ll have to link in every single post (spammy!)
  • Editing Photo/Video Galleries: You can’t. Once they’re posted, they become cryptic pieces of code you can’t do anything about. Want to change the order of the images in the Gallery? Tough.

Posterous can (and should) implement features like those above and they wouldn’t lose any of their simplicity. Users can setup their blog to include widgets, adsense, blog rolls and custom photo/video galleries if they feel like it and are technically inclined, or they can continue to post without them for as long as they want (much like WordPress out-of-the-box).

As a professional SEO consultant, my job is to help websites gain more traffic, which leads to more impressions, conversions & revenue. If you can’t display ads, can’t do e-commerce, and can’t have a blog roll linking to websites that do, it’s pretty tough to see any benefits, other than to exercise your ego by emailing your blog about the cool things going on in your life. If I’m going to build up a site to include a lot of great (or at least interesting) information, I want to be able to do more with it than simply email it…my blog isn’t my penpal, it is my website.

i-heart-wordpress

So, you won’t be seeing much at Nick’s Car Blog for a while, as I take the time to switch it over to WordPress. It kind of suprises me WordPress doesn’t implement a “Post from Email” feature and completely squash Posterous, as it’s really the only unique feature Posterous contains. Perhaps I should have given Tumblr a shot, given its better array of features and customization, but I have a feeling I’d be left with the same impression: it’s no WordPress…

Photo Credit:  Photobucket