The Ugliness of Comment “No Follow”

Thursday, June 14th, 2012 at 9:50 AM | Category: Blogging, Meryl's Notes Blog 7 comments
comment The Ugliness of Comment No Follow

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Most blogs allow readers to add a link to their own websites. This gives the blog’s owner and other readers a way to connect with that reader. However, most content management systems (CMS)  and blog apps like WordPress add “no follow” in the code. This prevents search engines from rewarding commenters’ link back to their websites with search engine optimization juice. What happens is these apps add “no follow” in the code preventing search engines from following those links.

I used to have a plug-in that linked to readers’ latest blog entries. That went away because of problems. Because I appreciate every single person who stops by to read this blog and leave a comment, I investigated the possibility of removing the “no follow.”  In a perfect world, it’s a great way to reward people who take the time to read a post and share thoughts.

I looked at some blogs that follow reader links. What I found was ugly. Lots of nonsensical or hollow comments along the lines of “I agree” and “This is a great post!” A comment of value rarely showed up. Most of these “do follow” blogs have subpar quality.

Few — I mean very few — “do follow” blogs had posts worth sharing that could evoke great discussions. Not a single one of these better quality blogs managed reader (fake readers, really) comments that were laden with comment spam. All that comment spam ruined the experience, which hurt the quality of those blogs. Furthermore, it wasn’t clear how Google and other search engines view blogs that don’t have “no follow” on comments.

It was those few good quality blogs that compelled me to leave the “no follow” in place. Even if I control every comment that is or isn’t published, I don’t want to attract the bad element.

Obviously, there’s no benefit in removing “no follow” from comments. So how can bloggers reward the readers who care enough to join the discussion? I visit their blogs to leave a comment or I tweet their latest blog entry.

What if all apps turned off “no follow” in comments? How can bloggers reward readers who post valuable comments?

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The Secret to Writing about a Popular Topic

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012 at 10:21 AM | Category: Blogging, Meryl's Notes Blog, Social Media, Writing 1 comment
crowd The Secret to Writing about a Popular Topic

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Before reading Margie Clayman’s Avoid the temptation to write something popular, I saw articles on how to get ideas for blogging and how to write a bunch of blog posts quickly. These tired topics introduce nothing new. Same outfit, different color and style. Blog there, done that.

I’d rather not blog than rehash something that others have said many times, many ways. Like Green Eggs and Ham — these articles have been delivered so many ways possible … on a boat, with a goat, in the rain, on a train.

Is there any hope for writing about popular topics? Yes. Even about Pinterest. Already, every kind of article on Pinterest has shown up: round ups, lists, advice, and so on. Many of them good reads.

Good things about writing about a popular topic like Pinterest:

  • Add fresh content to the blog.
  • Reach newcomers. (Users join Pinterest daily, so they may have ignored past articles on the topic.)
  • Share my experience. (No one can be me.)

Blogging isn’t just for driving traffic. It’s for loading the website with fresh content to keep search engines happy. Because of this, blogging always pays off. Traffic is a bonus.

Yes, there’s a way to make a post on a prominent topic like Pinterest stand out. Although it means reaching a smaller audience, the search engines will love it. The secret: Write about Pinterest with a focus on a narrow topic.

Examples of Pinterest articles with a specific topic:

  • Ways to use Pinterest in the oil and gas industry.
  • How to make Pinterest work for your professional services business.
  • Pinterest for a forklift company? Yes!
  • How a luxury car dealership uses Pinterest.
  • 5 ways to promote your help desk department with Pinterest.

Get the idea, yes? Not many people will be looking for articles on forklifts and Pinterest, but you’re feeding the search engines by having the keywords in the headline and link, such as http://www.helpdesksoftware.com/blog/5-ways-to-promote-your-help-desk-department-with-pinterest.html (This link is fictitious. Any resemblance to real links, living or rotted, is purely coincidental.)

This link  provides more keyword power for “service desk” especially if the company’s other content already uses those keywords in the headlines. While few may look for “service desk pinterest,” “service desk” appearing in the headline and link will help the site pump its keyword muscle.

You may wonder if adding obvious keywords into an article like these has a phoniness about it. As a writer, I’m extra sensitive to keyword phoniness in web content. In this case, you treat those specifics as your example.

Be careful, though. Try to write these articles without mentioning your company, product, or service. Why? A client needed articles on how to evaluate help desk software. Go on and give it a shot. Search for “evaluate help desk software” and see what you find. Most of the time, the search engine produces few results. And when they do, the article mentions the company’s product.

Lost. Link. Opportunity. The company needing these articles doesn’t want to link to articles mentioning its competitors’ products. This also makes an argument for having a company blog under a separate URL. Even if the competitor doesn’t mention its products, the company wouldn’t want to send prospects anywhere on the competitor’s site.

What do you think? Should bloggers and writers stop writing about the popular topics? Do the niche thing? Something else?

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Links: 300+ Books Lighter 2010 Edition

Friday, July 9th, 2010 at 11:03 AM | Category: Blogging, Books, Business, Life Tips, Links, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech, Writing 4 comments

office books Links: 300+ Books Lighter 2010 EditionY’all know I love my books. They’re cheaper than gadgets (I love them, too) and reveal all kinds of wonderful stuff. My seven-year-old’s book shelves overflowed that I couldn’t straighten it anymore. His shelves were the culmination of Mom’s pre-children collection, big sister’s outgrown collection and big brother’s dumped collection.

He let go of many picture books (Aw, I’m proud since it means he wants to challenge himself with harder reading material) and then I reviewed his 250+ books to see what I wanted to keep. This task scared me as I feared I would hold on to too many. Well, I managed to select no more than 20. Proud of myself. Repeat with older son’s books. Survived again.

Plus it’s summer time. You know what that means? It means I start watching Style, Food Network, Bravo type stuff with shows like Clean House and Hoarders. These also motivated me to dump a lot of stuff. I’m even trying to find a home for my precious Theatre World Annual collectible books. These I won’t just give away.

The local Friends of the Public Library is having its annual book sale this month. Debating whether to go. Do I really need to haul in more books? Of course, it won’t be 100 books — I don’t think I’ve ever bought more than 10 (used much restraint!).

Another openin’, another set of links…

Brain food…

  • How to Simplify When You Love Your Stuff: When I came across this the day after the great Snave (read it backwards) book clean of 2010, I knew what to write about in this post.
  • No!” Is a Complete Sentence: Fabulous post from Anne Wayman. Y’all know how it is to say, “No.” But Do you continue on with an explanation or do you stop there? Lori Widmer refers to Anne’s post and adds another important factor — the client’s reaction. Put these two together and you’re golden the next time you need that n-o.
  • Winners of Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest: “A whimsical literary competition that challenges entrants to compose the opening sentence to the worst of all possible novels.”
  • 5 Reasons to Title Your Art: While focused on artwork, it can apply to many things. When I see “Untitled,” I move on and don’t waste my time with it.  [Link: Marcia Yudkin]
  • Ultimate iPhone Apps for Writers: 30+ Productivity and Creativity Boosts: I still use a BlackBerry, but own an iPod Touch. I don’t know that I’d ever want to make the switch to an iPhone because (1) I type faster on hard keyboard than on screen keyboard, and (2) iPhone / iPod Touch has addicting time-wasting apps that having it with me all the time could be harmful to my time management efforts. (I don’t have iPod Touch with me very often.)

And for fun because we’re allowed…

How do you manage your book collection?

 Links: 300+ Books Lighter 2010 Edition
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Blogging Features: Too many choices

Thursday, April 10th, 2008 at 3:01 PM | Category: Blogging, Meryl's Notes Blog 2 comments

Comments. Trackback. Blogroll. E-mail updates. Digg This. Social Media links like Digg, Facebook, Reddit. Subscribe to this using one of many services. Top commenters. Most popular entries.

It can get messy and crowded. I was relieved to find the Share This, which compiles many social media sites along with an e-mail this feature into one nice box. The box only appears when you click on it, so it keeps the blog neat.

When reading blogs, I like these features:

  • Comment: Leave it off and it sends a message that your readers’ opinions don’t matter.
  • Subscribe: Both RSS link and by e-mail.
  • Permalink: So I can directly link to the post instead of making people look for it. I’d rather not reference it than have people search for the post.
  • About: Sometimes I want to know more about the site, blog, and person(s) behind it.
  • Categories: Great for research and finding more content covering a specific topic without digging through all the posts.
  • Archives: I do look at older posts when conducting research or trying to find something, but not specific enough to enter a keyword into a search box.

Just my opinion after almost eight years a blogging. Others may love the social media linking, tagging, digging, and top posts. I’ve been trying to research what feature are must haves for a blog and the opinions vary.

Not all blogs stand alone. This blog makes up a part of my business site. That’s why random testimonials appear on the side along with a subscription box for my monthly newsletter.

Some say the blog should be the home page for sites that contain content not related to blogging. I choose not to do this because not all prospective clients care about blogs. As a compromise, the latest blog entries appear on the home page. Of my current clients, only two have blogs and they’re not big on blogging.

People find a business site in many ways and landing on the home page with a blog might confuse the visitor. Although many have heard of blogging, they don’t all want to read blogs and get involved in the blogosphere.

What blog features do you like? Don’t like?

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Move Visitors Past the Home Page without Leaving

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007 at 9:57 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech No comments

How often does this scenario happen to you? When you land on a Web site, it doesn’t instantly answer the most important question:

What is the Web site about?

The second question depends on the site.

  • For business sites: “What does the business do?”
  • For blogs: “What is the topic of the blog?”

My blog is guilty for not making its topic clear. First of all, “meryl’s notes” tells you nothing — not even the fact it’s a blog. However, after seven-plus years of blogging, I’m glad I chose that name as my blog evolved.

So I added a tagline to help clarify the blog’s topic, “Things wordy, geeky, and webby.” It’s still broad, but so is the blog. Successful blogs focus on a specific topic, but I haven’t been able to commit to that.

This site is also my business site. So the home page at www.meryl.net tries to tell visitors what I do and how I do it. Although the how could use more support.

Sites that quickly describe their purpose have one or more of the following:

  • Brief statement explaining purpose. It’s easy to find and above the fold – no scrolling required to find it).
  • Slogan / tagline that says it all (i.e. Digital Web Magazine is The web designer’s online magazine of choice. getAbstract is Compressed knowledge.
  • About that’s easy to find such as in top menu, left menu, or bottom menu (but better to have it above the fold).

Including the slogan or description in the <TITLE> tag helps if it’s brief. Long ones turn into a long and bothersome bookmark. Not everyone edits their bookmarks/favorites.

If you have a popular or well-ranked site and everyone knows who you are, there are still plenty who don’t know who you are. It’s amazing how often a popular or well-ranked sites doesn’t make it obvious why they’re successful, what they’re about, or where to do within the site.

Be careful on how many choices or calls to action appears in the main content. Too many choices or links can scare a visitor away instead of keeping the visitor. The content on the right side of this page is too much. Haven’t found a happy medium.

Related articles

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Business Community Statistics

Friday, August 10th, 2007 at 11:35 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog, Tech No comments

The Internet and business magazines contain plenty of anecdeotes on business that have succeeded with implementing community-based tools. Such tools connect businesses to people, clients, suspects, and prospects. These start conversations and build relationships.

Businesses, especially executives, love numbers that prove the success rate of a product, service or tool. So,I wanted to find statistics on businesses using community tools. Talk about impossible task! Well, not impossible, but too time consuming to get results without whiling away my day.

Sure, there’s a wiki listing Fortune 500 that have blogs, but its last update was October 2006 and it only focuses on the biggies. Plenty of sites show proof that businesses have accepted and incorporated blogging:

I’ve looked in blogging books and podcasting books. Nada. I’d love to create a poll that would help us all — but I fear that’s too ambitious for my schedule. Anyone know of any resources with numbers pertaining to businesses?

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Spread the Marketing Wealth for Best Results

Monday, July 10th, 2006 at 11:09 AM | Category: Blogging, Business, Marketing, Meryl's Notes Blog 3 comments

Stock investors always say, “Diversify!” Imagine if you had all of your stock in one company and it went bankrupt. This scenario is what happened after the dot com crash.

Putting all your eggs into one basket labeled “email newsletters” can also spell disaster. The eggs might meet the same fate as Humpty Dumpty. But if we split up the eggs into a few baskets and one falls, we still have two to fall back on. Other kinds of baskets such as your Web site, blog, snail mailings and feeds can support your newsletter and help you build better relationships with prospects and clients.

Other online tools

We have a diversity of options available for building relationships through Web sites beyond the static sites that rarely change or get updated. Not all businesses advertise or market on TV, radio, newspapers or billboards. Why not? Because those vehicles may not be the best way to reach their target market.

While we might think, “Online is online. Once you get there, you can do everything.” That’s true, but as with kinds of egg dishes, people have preferences, likes and dislikes. Here are the tools we can use to connect with prospects and clients:

* Blogs
* Feeds
* Bulletin boards/discussion forums
* Wikis

When companies use tools like these to interact with the community, it makes them more accessible, puts a face behind the company. These also help keep the site regularly updated with fresh content, which is always a good thing, especially with search engines.

Blogs invade businesses

Weblogs aren’t just for telling our sob or life stories anymore. Blogs, as Weblogs are better known, can be online articles, essays, entries, diaries and journals. A typical blog contains entries displayed in order from most recent entry on forward to older entries.

When a blogger posts an entry, users can read and comment on them when that feature is available. Most blogging applications come with comments, but the blogger might choose not to use them, monitor them or leave it open for anyone to comment. They can delete comments, especially when they’re offensive or comment spam — comments from spammers who post repeated comments with links to sites to increase their search engine results.

CEOs, CIOs, vice presidents and many others have joined the blogging revolution to give a voice to their companies. Topics range from commentary on the industry, insight into strategies and advice on general business practices, to name a few.

While the decision on whether or not to blog and who should blog for the company is an article of its own, here are the basic requirements to meet when blogging:

* Add a new entry at least three times a week.
* Discuss topics rather than just linking to others.
* Read other blogs.
* Provide valuable information to readers rather than just about your company.

While successful blogs have broken these rules, they’re not common. Whenever you release a new issue of your email newsletter, blog it. It’s an opportunity to reach an audience that might not otherwise find out about the newsletter. You can read more about business blogging in these books:

* Blogging for Business: Everything You Need to Know and Why You Should Care by Shel Holtz and Ted Demopoulos
* The Corporate Blogging Book: Absolutely Everything You Need to Know to Get It Right by Debbie Weil (coming soon)
* Naked Conversations: How Blogs Are Changing the Way Businesses Talk with Customers by Robert Scoble and Shel Israel
* Blog Marketing by Jeremy Wright

Feeding with feeds

Rather than coming to the Web site and reading a blog, some people read the blog through a news reader, feed reader or aggregator application. Such applications can be downloaded and used on your computer, like FeedDemon, or are Web-based, like Bloglines. News readers make it possible to read all of your favorite blogs and online content in one place.

While news feeds were originally associated with blog content, they can be available for any online content. You may have seen the RSS or XML icons, text along the lines of “Syndicate this site” or a button that says you can subscribe with a specific feed reader service or application like Bloglines, MSN Alerts, MyYahoo! and more.

feeds.thumbnail Spread the Marketing Wealth for Best Results

(Note: If you’d like to know more about feeds, here’s an article on feeds.)

Next time you go to a Web site, look for the feed. Any page on a Web site can be a feed, but a feed isn’t appropriate for just any old content. The best kind of content for creating a feed is regularly updated, including newsletters, like this one that has an RSS icon in the upper right-hand corner.

Take advantage of feeds and reference other content. If you have a feed for your newsletter, in its contents, reference something new on the Web site or a new article you’ve written.

The trick to spreading your eggs out is to have all of your content point to each other, business cards included. Business cards can have URLs to the Web site, newsletter and anything else that’s appropriate and fits on the small card. A long URL won’t go over well. Instead, use a URL shortening service, as many don’t cost anything.

Opening the doors with forums

Forums — also known as bulletin boards, discussion boards, discussion groups and message boards — offer an online meeting place where users can discuss topics. They don’t have to be logged into these forums at the same time. Forums typically require registration to avoid abuse, but some let users post anonymously. To use a forum, all a user needs is usually a Web browser, a sign on ID and a password.

To keep things under control, forums might have moderators who have the ability to edit or delete messages and remove user access. Unlike a blog, a forum allows anyone to start a new discussion. Only the bloggers can start a new topic in blogs, but most blogs come with commenting features to involve the readers.

When an interesting discussion occurs on a forum, reference it from within a newsletter or a blog to get others involved. Many businesses use forums so users can help each other with product problems and questions. Experts might also be assigned to track the forums to help when no one else can.

Colleges and universities with online classes might use forums so professors and students can interact and discuss course-related materials and projects. Do a search for “forums” and see the diversity of topics covered including hobbies, business, careers, industries, games and more. Companies also use forums so teams can collaborate or build a community among employees whom might be near and far.

Wikis take collaboration a step further

Wikis, like forums, involve multiple users who can start a discussion or topic. But unlike forums, wikis allow users to edit other people’s content. A person could create a new page, and another person — who has more information — can add onto the original article and make changes.

While anyone having the ability to edit anything sounds like a recipe for disaster, it doesn’t happen often. Wikis can be protected with a password to prevent potential problems. Wikipedia is a giant wiki thanks to its 13,000+ contributors who manage over 1,800,000 articles in 100+ languages. Over 960,000 of those articles are in English.

Pages in a wiki connect to each other through links. Creating a link in a wiki depends on the software used. A link could be created with a simple [This is a link] (brackets around the item to be linked), *This is a link,* or some other way. Working with a wiki resembles using a word processor.

These, like forums, come in handy for team collaboration. A software development team could use a wiki to document features and show how to use them. A marketing team could track its projects and updates with a wiki. The options for collaborating with a wiki are many.

Deciding on which tools to use

Blogs, feeds, forums and wikis have many features that impact your decision on which to use. Also, organizations that develop forum, blog and wiki software list the application’s features on their Web sites. You can check them out to help figure out what you need.

Keep in mind that content management systems (CMS) and communications management systems come with these tools built in. Even if a CMS that best fits your needs doesn’t come with a tool you want, you can always add on with another product.

In any case, you might find one, two or none of these communications tools works for you. No matter which you chose, it’s about seamlessly putting your information into more than one basket and reaching as big an audience as possible.

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