web 2.0


This site is so infrequently updated, I just have to wonder who (if anyone) still subscribes to it via RSS. I was looking back and there is some decent content on here though a fair bit of it is outdated as well. It might be about time to pick up and start over on a real non-WordPress hosted domain with solid tips, news and commentary related to social media, blogging and other related tech topics, but perhaps not just yet.

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I’ve heard a lot of people complain that social media is corrupt and that social media success is based on knowing the system or having friends with clout. Well, how is that different from regular media? In normal journals, newspapers and magazines not just anyone gets published, right? It is about your credibility and who you know. So why do people complain so much about corruption in social media? Did you really expect it would be fundamentally new and different?

The difference, as I see it, isn’t related to democracy or egalitarianism. Rather, the difference is participation. More and more mainstream media publications are adding blogs and comments, following the lead of social media sites. However, the basic paradigms and earned hierarchy and contact-based success haven’t changed. Is that so wrong? Do you really want to sift through the thousands upon thousands of stories submitted to Digg on a daily basis?

The reality is: any media source needs a way to sort information ahead of time prior to publication. In the case of newspapers, editors and the position held by reporters control what the public ultimately sees. In the case of social media sites, users vote for stories but they also vote for submitters. Either way, there is an element of content as well as an element of author (or submitter) trust.

So what can we take from all of this? Social media isn’t, perhaps, as different from regular media as we might have assumed, expected or hoped. However, it might be a step in a new direction. So instead of complaining about the details, we should, perhaps, all take a step back and think more broadly: are we at least moving in the right direction? Even if this kind of media isn’t fundamentally new, is it at least an improvement?

When people think of submitting links, usually social news, networking and bookmarking websites come to mind. The most popular of these, such as Digg and Reddit, can be hard to succeed on as there is a great deal of competition. However, there are some sites out there that are less well-known but can send a great deal of traffic – thousands of hits or more per accepted submission. I have recently seen thousands of visitors from sites I have manually contacted and that require manual approval for link publishing – very different than typical social media site. For two reasons, however, I am not going to list out the ones I have used in the past to do this:

1) Some of these sites are surprisingly unknown by the blogging and webmaster communities. They would potentially be flooded with semi-relevant spam were word to get out. In many cases, niche communities frequent these sites looking for links related to their interests, and these sites often have just one or two moderators.

2) Your niches probably aren’t my niches. What works for content I create will likely not work for your own. There are thousands of link-oriented sites on the web that can be found via simple Google searches. Also watch for an unsolicited source of incoming traffic – who knows, if you ping them with a similar future post they may be more than happy to link to you again.

One site I write for targets bizarre oddities, though it is often linked to from a site that mostly (strangely enough) links to porn. Why does it work? The demographics clearly overlap. So be sure to look past the overt purpose of the site and see what they are linking too. Whenever you come across a new site that posts frequent or daily link, look at what they link to and see if you have something that fits, either from your site or someone else’s.

I recommend making a list of such sites over time and keeping them in mind whenever you create new content. There are obvious and popular ones like Fark and Thoof to be sure, but there are many smaller ones that still send a ton of traffic to articles that they deem worthy of being linked to. When you find one, be patient and don’t spam – test out a link or two you think might be relevant in order to learn what they like to link to!

That all being said, if you leave a comment and (without linking – just use the site title please) let me know what your website is I would be more than happy to suggest possible sites to ping with links for traffic. I simply don’t want to announce them all here for fear of overloading sites I respect and enjoy with irrelevant links.

Recently a number of people have asked me how to get lots of visitors via StumbleUpon. To answer that question, I first need to make it very clear that I don’t see it as ‘getting’ Stumblers to ones sites per say. Instead, I share what I enjoy both what I find on other sites and (much more infrequently) what I write or create myself with others on StumbleUpon. I also send stuff to those I think will appreciate the material. StumbleUpon is a diverse site with millions of interesting, educational and entertaining pages and Stumblers of all ages and interests. Here are some steps for becoming an active Stumbler, contributing valuable pages to StumbleUpon and making sure that the people who see them are those who will appreciate them most.

(1) Familiarize yourself with StumbleUpon categories and tags. When you submit a new page to StumbleUpon (as shown below) some default popular categories appear right in front of you, though you can also look under the ‘Other’ menu to find more. The popular categories, if selected as the primary category, may lead the page to be seen by more people if it fits the category. However, if the page doesn’t fit into one of those categories and you submit under it anyway, you might find that no one appreciates it and votes it up – the submission is wasted. Your best bet is to submit to the most fitting category, then choose applicable tags. For example, I might submit a work of Graffiti by Banksy under ‘CounterCulture,’ but add the tags ‘Banksy’ and ‘graffiti’ (highly targetted) as well as ‘arts’ and ‘activism’ (more popular but also applicable).

StumbleUpon Tags

(2) Network effectively with like-minded Stumblers: One key to success StumbleUpon, just like any social networking, bookmarking or news site – is to find people who appreciate and will vote for your submissions. There are a few ways to do this.

(a) Start by looking at who votes for your submissions and add them as a Stumble ‘friend.’ If you feel up to it, you can even send them a message and see if they’ll add you back – though many will automatically. However, if that someone has hundreds of friends they may be over their limit and unable to add you back. At the opposite extreme, if they have just a few Stumble-friends they may be someone who never adds anyone back. If you want someone who will become a reciprical friend, look for people with around 50 to 150 friends. An extension of this: look for people with similar interests or who submitted pages you like.

StumbleUpon - People Who Liked

(b) Find Stumblers by Stumbling the keyword ‘Stumblers.’ Particularly if you’re relatively new to StumbleUpon, you may not have many Stumble-friends. A good way to start finding Stumblers (once you’ve input your own interests into the database) is to Stumble under the keyword ‘Stumblers.’ this will allow you to browse users’ pages and find people who are interested in similar subjects. You can add a lot of Stumblers with similar interests this way, and if you eventually have too many you can always remove people who don’t add you back.

StumbleUpon Stumblers by Keyword

(3) Send stuff to the right Stumblers: Use the ‘Send to’ button when you find or create something you think is suited to a particular Stumbler’s interests. Some things of general interest can be sent to many Stumble-friends, while special-interest topics might only be appropriate to certain people. Some Stumblers you will know well outside of StumbleUpon or interact with via Stumble-messages, and you’ll know what to send them as a result. Other Stumblers you might just remember what they have Stumbled or use their name to determine what to send them (e.g. FunnyFarts likes crass humor). In your ‘Send to’ message, give a brief description of the page, or write why you think they’ll like it.

StumbleUpon is a great way to both share what you like and what you create, but remember: it is a social setting like any other with etiquette. Don’t assume someone is going to like just anything you write – it has to be on-target with their interests. As a rule of thumb Stumblers like images and easy-to-read articles. After all, they are browsing the internet not reading a novel! Make your submissions to-the-point and add illustrations as appopriate, then submit them to StumbleUpon under the right tags and send them to Stumblers who will be interested in the material. StumbleUpon is a great way to find stuff and share stuff as long as you respect your fellow Stumbler and help them find things they will appreciate!

I, for one, am always happy to get great material from Stumble-friends. Join up, add me as a friend and send me your stuff – whether it’s yours or you just found it!

Here are some other bloggers to keep your eye on – a breath of fresh air from the types of things typically covered on this one. Start by checking out Disassociated and WallStreetFighter if you’re sick of reading blogs about search engines, ranking, blogging, and so on. Webomatica has content of all kinds, including posts about blogging but not an overwhelming number of these!

Also see Herebox and Hoodmonkey for all sorts of weird randomness – you really never know what to expect with them. For tips on life I’d recommend LifeLearningToday, and for interesting random stuff check out TheThinkingBlog.

You can’t miss WebUrbanist for amazing images of street art, graffiti and other such things. Also definitely have to check out the incredibly stupid blog: Allsux. If you host your own blog and want to widgetize it, be sure to get a Romlet! If I missed someone I should know about drop me a line and I’ll throw you a shout.

OK OK, so I can’t help myself … I have to send you to a few blogs about blogging too. You absolutely must read and subscribe to Alister Cameron’s blog – he is a great guy with excellent blogging tips, with a mix of post lengths much like Andy Beard (hint: check them both out!). You also have to check out Nate Whitehill – also a savvy blogger with well-organized tips, tricks and advice. Finally, though not just about blogging, check out TheArticleWriter for tips on writing and earning money at it as well. And one final meta-link: this is not a blog at all, but a way to get more exposure for your blog and well worth checking out for any blogger: Peopleized.

OK, I’ve added some pretty new bloggers (but with interesting blogs and blog concepts, so check them out!) to the blogroll here so I feel a little compelled to throw out some tips for getting started with blogging. Yes, you can find tips for blogging all over the web but most sites will try to sell you something – and if you haven’t noticed: there are exactly 0 ads on this site. So here goes:

1) Find blogs you like, subscribe to their feeds, fave them on Technorati, and leave comments on them. Make those comments relevant. Feeds and faves will help you easily keep track of new posts on these blogs you like, plus if you feed/fave a blog it helps their rank – so tell them when you’ve done it! Some blogs with ‘do-follow’ will give you a PageRank boost for your troubles, but in other cases it’s just a way to get a feel for the blogosphere and will help you get to know bloggers who you can ask questions of and get tips from.

2) Don’t overload your blog with ads and buttons too early. Put a few things up, the things you really want people to click, and add and subtract as you go. Too much stuff looks spammy and can make it so people won’t click anything. If you watch your Google or MyBlogLog analytics (both of which you should be signed up for by the way,  with an MBL widget on your site too!) you can watch what people click, where it is on your page, and adjust accordingly. Also, think about your goals: you probably aren’t going to make a ton from AdSense right away, so think longer-term and put up buttons like Technorati faves and FeedBurner buttons like you see on this site to build up the readership and popularity you’ll need to earn more in the future.

3) Carefully choose your blog tagline. This has two incredibly important functions: it both tells your readers right away what the page is about and helps Google and other search engines know as well. It is much easier to rank for things in your blog title – so choose those phrases carefully, and change them as the content of your blog changes. For more keyword/SEO tips see recent posts on this blog.

4) Link out to get links in. Linking to relevant blogs and websites will help get their attention. Most veteran bloggers have various ways to see who is linking to and talking about them, and they will perk up and pay attention if someone new comes into that mix. However, don’t expect linkbacks from big-time sites like TechCrunch, of course – look for successful bloggers who still interact with their readers.

5) Get the right bookmarking and stats tools on your site. I recommend checking out the beta test for the Romlet blog widget, which is a brag badge, bookmarking tool and stats counter all rolled into one. If you’re not getting many visitors you can opt out of the public stats portion, but the widget will help you track in real-time where your traffic is coming from. Ther’es nothing worse than getting a big hit from a social news site and finding out about it too late to vote for it or ask your friends and fellow bloggers to! The MyBlogLog Recent Visitors widget is also a must-have – it lets you see who is visiting, then trackback to them and thank them for showing up. Together these two widgets cover a lot of the basics, and are better than cluttering a blog with all sorts of stuff.

That’s it for now – feel free to ask questions or add to this list!

Recently a number of bloggers have been asking us about about Search Engine Optimization (SEO), including bloggers who are successfully using Social Media Optimization (SMO) techniques. This came as something of a surprise, but it seems clear that a lot of bloggers forget to target all audiences possible, which can reduce overall readership potential. We, for example, focus more on SEO than SMO – though a balance is ideal. Further, using SMO techniques targets a relatively limited range of people – with a somewhat limited range of interests. Alternatively, SEO can bring in search traffic from all over the world, and specifically helps bring in people who are interested in the content they searched for that is on your page!

With that in mind, I will be writing a few posts with SEO strategies for bloggers who want to target search traffic. Don’t forget: these don’t have to conflict with SMO, they can be an added bonus! This first set of steps is really easy to follow and a good introduction to SEO for blogs:

(1)  Use the free Overture Keyword Tool to find a search phrase. If your blog is, for example, about ‘race cars’ try putting the words ‘race’ and ‘cars’ in the search box. You’ll notice right away that tons of people search for race cars, of course. Now, getting your site to come up on searches for that phrase is going to be tough (just Google that same set of words to see how many sites you are competing against!).  Pick a few sets of keywords from the results that are a little less high traffic but still have significant search volume and are relevant to your site, like ‘modified race car’ or ‘street race car.’

(2) Use Google and do a search for the phrases you have selected. How relevant are the results? How many results are there? How high are the PageRanks of the top sites (if you have a Google Toolbar installed that shows you automatically? If you find that the top results are highly relevant and detailed, that there are a lot of results or that their PageRanks are all very high, you may want to target a different keyword phrase or string (by inputting your keywrod phrase into Overture and going ‘one level deeper’ to add another keyword to the phrase). If not and you have found something worth targetting, then write a post about 

(3) Your post should contain the keyword phrase or string in the headline (e.g. Cool Modified Race Cars) and should repeat key words or phrases in the body text as often as possible. Also, if possible, encourage people link to that post using the anchor/title text that matches your keywords of choice (e.g. modified race cars).

(4) Check your results for keyword density using a Keyword Density Calculator. Most people suggest shooting for a density of between three and five percent. That can be quite difficult (five percent in this case would mean that your phrase should be 1/20th of the text, which means integrating it into almost every sentence!). Try to mix things up – rearrange the order of the keywords and where they fall in the text. And above all: make sure the content isn’t comprimised while you are going for keyword density!

Once you get the hang of this system it is pretty easy to use. It is also a good way for bloggers who are having writer’s blog to figure out new topics related to their core issues of interest. Best of all, SEO brings in search traffic which can give new life to a blog that has a set readership. Finally, SEO also means that if your SMO strategies every fail you have something to fall back on!

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