February 2, 2009
Um.. Ah… Building links can be all about demonstrating expertise in link bait on your site but… Um… But an interview I did yesterday for a podcast illustrates why you should be prepared when demonstrating expertise on other sites.
I am not a big fan of the traditional link request way of building links. The Web is all about links but they should occur organically… How do you get links then? You offer link bait and you engage with relevant websites. And, ideally, you do so in a way that builds your brand…
Do an interview with a journalist running a site offering podcasts about making money online? Of course.
Perfect: demonstrate my expertise to the site’s audience and build a link.
Lesson learnt: remember your tendency to “um” and “ah” when forming your thoughts; ask for questions first and get those thoughts half way formed before the interview. Listen and see what I mean.
Boring as it is to repeat the tired phrase, content is king in the link building realm too. Good content on your site will attract links. Good content you provide on other sites will drive traffic (assuming you think about it enough for it to be “brand enhancing”).
Mike Moran and commenters covered the request vs build links issues succinctly in a Search Engine Guide piece and resulting discussion
As I tell clients, building links is very similar to offline networking where you seek out relevant people and build a relationship. Online links represent that relationship. People will link with you if you offer them something of value to their business or site.
And the value should go beyond the value of a link — “Hi I wondered whether you would like to link to our site because we [insert tenuous association]? We’ll link to you too!” just doesn’t cut it. As Brian Clarke of Copyblogger suggested recently in an excellent post offering five value-based link building strategies:
“The days of flat out link begging are fading…”
Building links should be all about offering value on your site and on other people’s sites and demonstrating your expertise as you do it. But do it in a considered way and know your weaknesses… No more interviews for podcasts without some prior knowledge of questions for me!
January 21, 2009
Short and sweet: follow the advice I give clients and post here with some kind of regularity… And put the information gleaned in the time management seminar I squeezed into a busy November-December into practice.
October 1, 2008
Blogging should be about interaction not just shouting into the void from your virtual step ladder.
Which means? Which means commenting on other blogs and generally interacting with relevant parts of the blogosphere. But be careful what you say and how you say it.
Well. You might be thinking: often neglected=posting, in my case. True in many other cases too…
Get the Word Out With Comments on Other Blogs
But while I haven’t been posting much lately the never ending quest to keep on top of what works online continues and I have felt compelled to offer an opinion or two as I worked my way through my feeds.
A comment here, a bit of related experience here, a bit of unsolicited advice on a landing page in that forum… It’s all about sharing your experience with others facing the same online marketing challenges. Or sharing your take on whatever challenges you might be blogging about.
Picture a man walking briskly across London’s Hyde Park towards Speaker’s Corner*. He has a two step ladder, a resigned look on his face and a sign that reads “I know better!”
At his destination, a crowd is gathered around a man with a shiny new 6 step ladder. A buzz of heated conversation emanates from the crowd. People excitedly offer the man who stands above them opinions and words of praise.
Our hero ignores the excitement. He sets up his ladder and climbs up the two steps. He takes a deep breath and begins to talk loudly. But not loudly enough for the crowd to take notice…
Introduce Yourself to the Relevant Blogosphere Community
Checking my analytics I was pleased to see that my opinion made enough sense to prompt a few people to check out who this Hamish guy was by clicking through to my site… We might not be talking about lots of traffic but we are talking about essential engagement with a relevant online community. If you don’t venture beyond your own blog you may find blogging a lonely experience…
- People find blogs via other blogs — commenting on other blogs is a way to proactively introduce your blog to people with relevant interests.
- There is no point in demonstrating your expertise and exploring your opinions if nobody is listening — if you blog and nobody reads your blog you don’t make a noise.
- The beauty of the blogosphere is the ongoing conversation that helps build people’s understanding of the subject at hand — comment threads concentrate this learning rather than it being distributed across blogs commenting on other blogs.
- But try to contribute meaningfully rather than just giving the blogger a virtual pat on the back — the odd “well done sir/madam” comment is ok but the real value in commenting comes when you have something to add the discussion around a blog entry.
But Join the Blogosphere Conversation with a Little Care
Be sure to join the conversation at the blogs that gather crowds in your part of the blogosphere as well as referencing them in your own posts.
But exercise caution: Being a bit of a word guy, I know the difference between “there” and “their”. Well, duh… Thing is I have a habit of typing the later when I mean the former when typing at speed. So here I was rushing to share my recent experience with evaluating security logos^ and their impact on conversion on a recent Get Elastic blog and my regular typo demon strikes…
Who is going to hire a Web content specialist that doesn’t know the difference between “there” and “their”? Be careful out there!
If you are blogging, you should be spending some of your blogging time commenting on relevant blogs, joining the conversation and demonstrating your expertise. But make sure you read your comments twice before submitting them.
* Stretching for a location people will recognize and failing to find a US or more local example.
^ Now there’s an idea for a blog…
August 25, 2008
Ooops. 16 days & counting. Time flies when you should be blogging. What is blogging best practice, when comes to posting frequency?
It’s the first issue I raise when the subject of blogging comes up with clients. [With suitably serious look on face] “If you are going to do a blog, you need to be able to sustain it. If you can’t post consistently, then you’re better not starting.”… Um. Mea culpa.
But there is more to best practice than blogging consistently and frequently because, as Hayden Sutherland asserts in his excellent presentation on Corporate Blogging Best Practice posted on www.slideshare.net, “its [sic] not just a ‘Me Too’”.
If I were assessing my blog, as I assess clients’ blogs, I would be noting that leaving a new blog unattended for two weeks wasn’t a good idea.
Failing the best practice test
As it is almost always, it’s a case of “do as I say not as I do”. My goal with this blog was to blog at least three times a week… Well. At least 10 times a month. Again: “Ooops”! It is over two weeks since I last blogged.
What happened? Life happened.
[Warning: excuses of varying legitimacy follow.] It’s been a bad winter for bugs and littlies and toddlers are notoriously toxic. Jo (wife, partner, etc.) went to the doctor with a cough that had hung around for nearly a month and came back with a diagnosis of pneumonia. We flew in Grandmothers from various parts of the country but time became a precious commodity.
Then there was all the other work stuff, the Olympics, other bits and pieces that make us all time poor, the client who offered an opportunity to go heli skiing ;-)… I could and should have posted something. But I fell into the trap of being a little too wedded to a “value not frequency” based blogging strategy.
There is more to blogging best practice than frequency, though.
Listening to a couple of radio show panelists the other day, I nodded along as they agreed there was nothing worse than a blog where posts have a “posting because I should” feel rather than a “posting because I have something to say” feel.
I have already canvassed the ebb and flow of universal insight into web marketing and content. An ebb and flow that influences how often I post because I wait until:
- a) I find something interesting to post about
- and b) have something to say about that something.
Not a bad rule of thumb IMHO unless your blog is more about following/reporting the latest news. But don’t fall into the trap I fell into and set the “something to say” bar a little high.
Useful References For Developing a Blogging Strategy
As I fretted about my neglected blog I wondered what was the latest on blogging best practice when it comes to freqency. A bit of searching and reviewing revealed little that was new apart from Mr Sutherland’s aforementioned presentation. But its a presentation that offers a very useful guide to anyone developing a blogging strategy for their business. I, for one, have bookmarked and downloaded it.
Failing the “no just ‘Me Too’”, I can’t think of anything I would add to the presentation or dispute in it. I would, however, note that SMBs probably don’t have to deal with the corporate politics that can stymy a natural voice and remove the necessary edge from a blog. If you are looking for a set of guidelines for your business blog you may have found it:
The other useful guide/reference on the relationship between blogging frequency and having something to say is an old blog from my ex-boss Stephan Spencer. Stephan’s take on “Optimal blog posting frequency” is well worth reading.
Bottom line: Aim to post frequently — once a week is probably the minimum — but aim to have something to say when you post. The trick is to find the right mix and be consistent i.e. do as I say not as I do.
August 7, 2008
Maybe I understand the appeal of diaries a bit better now. Blogging here without any readers was somehow liberating.
But wait. Somebody is listening.
Imagine my surprise to find two comments when logging in today.
- One from Paul who obviously has his reputation management sorted and is courteous enough to thank me for commenting on the service he is offering.
- A second from Sue, who is very complimentary — thank you Sue!
Thing is: the idea was to start building up content and get into a reasonable blogging routine as I got the site to version 1.0 and then start actively trying to build traffic. Cunning plan: have a reasonable amount of content before sending people here — furnish the house before you ask people in, sort of thing.
Seems all that is needed to get noticed is a few links to other blogs, etc. We’re definitely not talking traffic to write home about [Ahem. What am I doing now? :-)]. But people are reading what I am writing.
Second thing is: um, duh, isn’t being read the whole point. Yes all I am saying is there was something liberating about writing down comments that would previously have been part of some sort of internal dialogue.
I often find the act of writing helps me discover what I think about something. [Interlude to scramble round the web confirming the Oliver Goldsmith quote about knowing what you think after you've written on a subject. Discover the quotation that follows has been attributed to a few writers but Joan Didion wins the prize on the basis of most results on major search engines. Well established misconception corrected.]
“I don’t know what I think until I write it down.”
S’pose I can still discover a lot of my own thinking with an audience… [Internal editor: "Get over yourself; judging by the analytics your audience would fit in a small lift."]
And the lesson/point is: if you are struggling to create content around a product/service/idea, it’s worth just writing down what you think, to start fine tuning your thoughts. Thought can be viral and the thoughts you explore often generate others that can be revised to suit your content’s goal.