Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year

And A Happy New Year!


If You're Lazy, Here's How To Pick A Web Host

Do you have common questions about web hosting?

Well, http://www.webhostingchoice.com is a kind of learning center for those who need to know more about certain aspects of web hosting. Nagging questions like "What is web hosting?", "What is virtual hosting?" and "Do I have to change my domain if I get a new host?" will be answered for you at this site.

In fact, this site has a "learning area" where the basics of web hosting are explained: How you can get cheap web hosting, why there are two parts to a domain, and a host of other specific issues related to getting your own web hosting on the way.

I guess you can say that WebHostingChoice.com is a useful resource for web hosting information. The guys there even give you the lowdown on how to avoid web hosting scams where such companies use "tricks" to sign up with them. They also have a web hosts directory for you to hunt down the web host of your choice and a web hosting plans directory as well.
If you are a newbie with a blog on a free platform like Blogger blogspot or WordPress.com and thinking about moving to your own web hosting, you might want to check out WebHostingChoice.com.


Scratch My Widget, Please!

We have got news the ScratchBack widget is undergoing some changes this year. They will come in smaller sizes and the widget also have "personalized tipping 'buy' pages". I guess Jim Kukral is listening to suggestions from users.

The present 200 pixels wide widget may look all right on some blogs but blog designs vary. Other blogs will want a smaller size to fit into their designs.

The customized tipping "buy" pages as explained at the Scratchback site means that when someone goes to tip you, and click on your tip link, you will now be able to add a custom message to that page, as well as an image.

But is Scratchback any good at making money online? That depends on a number of factors.

How much are you calling for your tips? The minimum one buck is attractive for other bloggers to tip you and get a slot on your TopSpot. Unless you have a very popular blog, calling for a bigger tip may put off some people. As you can see I'm not doing very well here. I'm doing better at my other blog, The NextPost, and you'll see why.

How good is traffic to your blog?
I don't see Scratchback as a great vehicle to drive traffic, so don't depend on it. But if your blog already has good traffic, the possibility of getting someone to tip you is greater than at a site with low traffic.
In most cases, I've noticed sites with the Scratchback widget but still waiting for someone to give a tip. In a sense, it looks like it has not really caught fire yet.
You can have one Scratchback account and use it for any number of sites that you have. That way you will have all your tip money in one "jar" so you'll reach the payment threshold faster. Payment is made to your PayPal account.

At the end of the day, the bottomline is how people perceive your blog - quality or crap - before they decide whether to tip or not. Of course, it may not ring true for some other reasons.

Of related interest:

Scratch My Back And I'll Scratch Yours

Ouch! It Hurts But You Learn From Blogger Unleashed


Blogging Year-Ender: The Top 10 Happenings

Around this time most newspapers will be preparing their end of year reviews of the major events that took place around the world during the year. They call it the "yearender" which is usually a special pullout section recollecting those news events.

Similarly, a retrospective view of some of the "major events" that took place on the wired world of the Internet will help to jolt memories (good and bad).

The year 2007, up till now as I write, is not without its fair share of controversial issues and other shenanigans on the Net. It has been a year of corporate takeovers of Internet ventures, an awakening of blogging savvy among the newer comers, and the proliferation of bloggers with a keen eye on making money online.

That's my view of it and I'm sure other commentators will have their own takes on the happenings on the Net during the year.

When I started blogging back in mid-2006, the only controversial issue I knew then was about those bloggers who are "political activists" playing on the minds of their readers about good governance, corporate transparency, freedom of speech and so forth.

The blogging experience widens its scope as I read up on other English-language blogs from all over, and soon came the realisation that there are countless, diverse opinions about blogging and its objectives.

"To each his own" is probably the best way to describe the blogging experience.

So, here's a list of some of the events and developments that have sparked off heated debates and conversational sideshows, and also created a blogospheric impact on bloggers in one way or another:

1. The Google PageRank Slapfest

This was the blogospheric tsunami that swept away the pageranks of hundreds, if not thousands of sites that were supposed to have paid links with DoFollows and other "taboos" not favoured by the "Do No Evil" empire of Google. The Google slapfest was one of the most talked about topics.

2. The Rise of Social Networks

Photo Credit:
luc legay

Social networking sites have increased in numbers and are considered the "in" thing for bloggers. Many see it as a great way to drive traffic.
To be seen and heard within a community has become a trend that will continue into the new year.

3. The Blog Re-Design Fetish

Photo Credit: .renato querra.

New-look, new lease of life for some "fading" blogs. When A-list bloggers re-designed, the rest followed. For better or for worse, pay a visit to those sites that underwent a redesign of their blogs and see for yourself.

4. The Over-Hype of BlogRush

A syndication network widget that rushed in and created one of the biggest Internet hypes of the year and it could well end with a whimper.

5. The Proliferation of Money Blogging "Gurus"

There's a surge of blogging newbies and wannabes coming on stage, and in no time, they are preaching and teaching other bloggers how to make money online. To these "dime-a-dozen gurus", welcome to the Blogosphere! May the truth triumph in the end.

6. The Mystery of CashQuests

A blog riddle that has caught the imagination of most bloggers. Who is the actual individual behind this popular make-money-online blog that was eventually sold for $15k? And where is Kumiko now?

7. Blog Memes & Link Love Buzz

Photo Credit: Randy Son of Robert

It was a big buzz in the first half of the year when almost every "Tom, Dick and Harry" blog was jumping on this bandwagon. Linky love was the name of the game. Do you still have your linky love list on your blog? Just don't let Google see it.
8. The Guest Blogging Mania

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Photo Credit: Hyla

Somebody got this bright idea to invite guest bloggers to write on his blog. In no time, the idea took off and became a craze. It's all about getting backlinks and free publicity. Guest blogging wannabes were not in short supply. The host blogger sits back and enjoy some quality time. Please pass the bubbly!

9. Parody & Comedy: JohnCow.com

This upstart cow rides on the fame of Big Beef (aka JohnChow.com) and successfully mooed its way to celebrity status. The herd really poured on the milk. Give it to the guy with great cowsense.

10. The Mike Arrington Tirade Against Paid Posts

Photo Credit: molleyeh11

This guy from TechCrunch has got something against paid posts and PayPerPost posties. Whenever he gets the chance to shoot off his mouth, he gets a fusillade of the same in return. You know what I mean.

Note to newbies and noobs: If you're still wet behind the ears and can't tell a splog from a blog, then I would suggest you visit more sites especially the good ones and do some reading to widen your blogging experience.
Disclaimer: If I had missed out some other great blogging happenings of the year, I was probably not there to witness them and, therefore, not in a position to describe them. Maybe I'll make it a point to be at the right spot at the right time next year.

Of related interests:
Is This Herd Mentality Or Judgmental Decision?
Zen And Blogging: Are They Aligned?The "Do No Evil" Empire Strikes Back
BlogRush Making Waves On The InternetRumblings About Guest Blogging
It's The Year Of Blog Re-Design
Link Popularity: How, Why, & What To Do About It
There's A Lot Of Cow Sense At JohnCow.comMad Cow Disease - A John Cow Sequel
Social Networking: Tailing The Long Tail
How To Succeed Online? Have The Right Focus
Sayonara CashQuests! Sold For $15,000


OpenID Commenting Comes to Blogger.com

At first, people thought Blogger.com must have gone bonkers. Some even thought the "evilness" of Google PageRank slapfest has taken hold at Blogger.com.

I'm sure WordPress and other non-Blogger users would have noticed the sudden change when they wanted to leave a comment at a Blogger site.

"Hey, WTF, how come I can't leave my blog address here anymore?"

That would be the most likely reactions from readers to this new surprising experience at Blogger sites. I was initially disappointed, too, after reader BlueBeaverBeer brought it to my attention in his comment in my previous post on this blog.

It would be "doomsday for comments" at Blogger sites if that was for real. But after further investigations, it turned out that Blogger.com is using Blogger In Draft to implement this latest feature that's called OpenID Commenting. Blogger In Draft is Blogger.com's experimental version that does "test drives" of new features that are being added to the Blogger platform.

The new OpenID Commenting feature can be activated now and I've done that to this site. (See screen capture below)

According to Blogger In Draft:

BlockquoteThis feature is in Draft because we'd like to hear feedback about the implementation, and to test it further before moving it to Blogger's main site. We're also working on functionality to let Blogger's URLs (both Blog*Spot and custom domains) be used for commenting elsewhere on the web."

With OpenID services enabled, users such as those from WordPress and LiveJournal can now comment on Blogger blogs using their own accounts rather than having to register with Blogger/Google accounts.

To sign in, you use
the dropdown-menu
to select

your blog platform

Of course, if you are a Blogger user, you have to activate the OpenID Commenting feature first. And for users of other platforms, they have to acquire their OpenIDs.

What does OpenID do for you? With it, you only have to authenticate yourself once and be able to post comments not only on Blogger sites but also on other platforms without having to show your credential all over again.

The powerful aspects of OpenID is that you can do away with multiple usernames across different websi
tes. Your online experience is simplified. The technology is not proprietary and it's free.

To know more about OpenID, you can head over to OpenID.net for a more comprehensive explanation of this new technology that may well be an industry standard in the near future.


Is This Herd Mentality Or Judgmental Decision?

There's a lot to be said about herd mentality. In the Blogosphere, the bane of herd mentality will never go away so long as there's a continuous flow of newbies coming into blogging. If they have no one to guide them such as a mentor, then they will fall in with the crowd and move along with it. That's a general view of what's going on in the Blogosphere.

I guess we have to live with this kind of mindset for as long as we are blogging.
There's no running away from it.

An old adage that comes to mind is "if you can't beat them, join them". But would you join the crowd if it's something that goes against the grain? This is when you have to make your own judgmental decision on whether to jump on the bandwagon or go your separate way.

Being able to think through a situation is not as easy as it seems. We are all human beings and we have tendency to be idiosyncratic or indecisive at times. Some of us undergo vacillation until the cows come home. Others simply take the plunge without giving it much thought and live to regret it later.

However, as pointed out by one seasoned blogger, sometimes you have to take risk because it's better than sitting on the fence and missing the boat. After all, you can always pull back if you sense something is not right. In this case, you can say you're just making a
judgmental decision and NOT getting caught in the herd mentality mindset.

The Rush That's Just A Trickle

An example in this case would be
BlogRush. This widget received one of the most talked about hypes when it was first launched and many bloggers signed up. After the initial euphoria, reality set in and many users started to drop it when they saw there wasn't much traffic to speak of using the widget although others reported an increase in traffic.

I had the widget on my sidebar earlier on but it's now cast aside.
Sure, I was beginning to have doubts about the usefulness of BlogRush.

The Bucks Stop Here!

is another case where it seemed to be the "next Adsense" with many users taking the plunge to sign up. Users were reporting positive results as they saw the dollar signs adding up in their accounts. Then one fine day, the cunning folks at WidgetBucks dropped a bombshell, stating that they were cutting off bloggers from outside the U. S. of A and Canada.

Many accounts were unceremoniously suspended. There were reports of the amount in the account being reduced mysteriously or simply disappeared. Whether those actions were taken because of invalid clicks or not remain as mere conjecture. But the public relation image of WidgetBucks can be said to be severely damaged. Later, they started to do some damage control to get back on the international scene.

Getting Hip With 125x125 Ads

For now the 125x125 banner ad seem to be the trend. Once started by some well-known bloggers almost every other blog started to follow suit. Mostly, they have them plastered on the top right corner of their pages. Wonder when people will get tired of looking at them and start to think of something different to be unique?

Some blogs are so plastered with favicons and 125s at the top right corner it's starting to look like your favourite dumping ground for ads that are "sold" or "unsold". When people first saw these "new looks", they all went "oohs" and "aahs" about the whole affair.

If you look carefully at most blogs going in this direction, would it be right to speculate that blogs no longer look like blogs - more like the traditional websites filled with banner ads?
Remember you used to be told by some gurus to be mindful of banner blindness? But who cares, put the banners on and let the advertising dollar roll in! Leading bloggers have made this move as "politically correct" and the floodgate is now open. Herd mentality!

To Subscribe Or Not To Subscribe?

Subscription to an RSS feed or an email is another area where much discussions have been bandied around. It has a lot to do with herd mentality, too. You might be wondering how some blogs have got RSS subscibers in the hundreds while others are just struggling below the 100 mark. Of course, the usual A-list suspects can boast of subscribers in their thousands.

It seems the herd mentality can play a big role here in influencing the number of subscribers to your blog. It has been said that once you have a huge subscription base, it will become much easier with more and more people wanting to subscribe to your site.

But if you have a pathetic subscription figure, then it's gonna be a forlorn wait to see more being added to your RSS feed.
The same can be said about comments on blogs. It's all a case of herd mentality with a great dose of popularity bias thrown into the mindset.

You may have good, readable content on your blog but that does not equate with a ton of subscribers. It all boils down to numbers. The bigger the number, the greater the attraction. Is that the law of attraction?

Like it or not, that's the make-up of the Blogosphere.
Go with the flow if you can't make judgmental decisions of your own.


Why Blogging Smarties Are Coming On Strong With Smorty

When Smorty came on the scene to provide opportunities for bloggers to get paid to blog the company was considered a "small fry" trying to gatecrash the party that its more established competitor was having with its blogging posties. Bloggers who signed up early with Smorty found that paid opportunities were few and far between because it was still early days. Smorty found few companies willing to advertise on blogs via its services.

If there were any blog advertising to be written, the payment for a 150-word post was just a miserly five bucks. Cheap skate. That was not attractive enough to win over posties who want to get paid to blog.

More opportunities in the marketplace

But in recent months, if you are a signed-up postie, you would have noticed that more and more opportunities are appearing on the Smorty marketplace.

According to Smorty, blogs with a higher score based on its unique ranking system will be paid a higher rate.
It also depends on PageRank to value a blog. Obviously, the higher PR you have the better your chances of getting more higher-priced campaigns.

New referral program

In addition, Smorty has also launched its affiliate program which will give added incentive for member posties.

It's becoming quite attractive for Smorty smarties to focus on this company. The average minimum payment for an approved post is now $6 which is at least one buck better than the market leader who is still paying that miserly five bucks for "low-ranking" opportunities.

Smorty's higher paying opportunities are catching on, too, with higher PR blogs and there's no "segmentation". As with other blog for money companies, Smorty, which is free to join, requires that your post must be unique and using correct grammar and English.


Will RealRank Turn Out To Be A White Knight?

Have no fear, RealRank is here
. If your blog has been one of the "victims" that got cut down to size by the recent Google slapfest, maybe this new metric from Izea, the parent company of PayPerPost, will bring new hope.

So what is Izea RealRank?

Izea believe they have a solution (RealRank) to gather "Real" traffic information and rank sites based on their standing within the network.

Here's their "relatively simple" formula that will provide bloggers and advertisers a measuring yardstick:

  • 70% weighted towards visitors per day

  • 20% weighted towards amount of ACTIVE inbound links per day

  • 10% weighted towards pageviews per day
It appears like RealRank is going to be a traffic-centric measuring system. Of course, we are always looking for a better mousetrap, but is there something missing from this idea to gauge the standing of a website or blog?

Traffic is an important factor - you bet, it is.

As an advertiser, you would be asking if a traffic of 5,000 daily visitors who glide in and out hardly noticing anything on a site, would it be worth placing an ad there?

Or is it better to advertise at a site with 500 unque readers per day who would notice your ad and read your content? Lars-Christian puts forth this thought regarding the traffic issue in his post RealRank -- A Stillborn Idea From Izea.

If "500 unique readers" is a better proposition, then obviously that particular site must have "quality content" to boot in order to attract these kind of visitors. They will have some kind of affinity with the site and are likely to be repeat visitors. That's where we come back to PageRank and understand that "authority" status is as much a consideration in the measurement of ranking.

Moreover, there is always the question of "traffic buying" that could turn this whole thing into a farce and puts us back to square one.

Following the Google pagerank slapfest that has antagonized a great number of webmasters, Izea RealRank may look like a white knight riding to the rescue to some people at least - but I'd rather have some reservation about it. It is expected to be released within two weeks, then we'll see how it works out. Don't bet too much on it.

Of related interests:
Are You One of 85,000 PayPerPost Bloggers?
The "Do No Evil" Empire Strikes Back


Are You One of 85,000 PayPerPost Bloggers?

What more than 85,000 bloggers love best is to get paid to blog. These are the number of Posties (that's what they are called) who have signed up with PayPerPost (PPP) and I'm sure most of them are enjoying getting paid when they write reviews about products and services in the PPP marketplace.

Some of the top earners are making from $10k to $18k since they started writing for PPP. The PPP marketplace represents over 11,000 advertisers, making them one of the biggest draws for paid post sponsors.

The company has always being at the forefront of marketing innovation since it launched last year. PPP have not looked back since and they are still continuing to expand their operation. The latest was the news that they had formed a parent company by the name of Izea.

Despite detractors who frown on PPP, the company has managed to sail through rough waters. The PPP people have shown that they have the chutzpah and publicity flair to deliver smart ideas under the leadership of Ted Murphy.

Although I did sign up with PPP, I have been very selective of post opportunities. I only picked opportunities that I feel could be made relevant to this blog.

In the beginning, the opportunities for this blog were few and far between because this site was a PR0 then. Since attaining PR3 I had more opportunities but still I've to restrain myself from grabbing every opp that's available.

For a short period recently during the Google PageRank hoo-ha I noticed PPP ranked my blog as a PR5. That gave me the opportunity to accept higher paying opps.

Well, it was only for a short while, and now I'm back at PR3.

Oh well, let's wait and see....


Of Zen And Blogging

I'm not one for pretentious mission statement like this..."I blog, therefore, I am". When I see this I cringe. When you travel far and wide in the blogosphere, you're bound to come across all sorts of idiosyncrasies coming from bloggers. Tricks and treats are everywhere.

Let's face it, there's always the good, the bad and the ugly side of blogging, being the "free-wheeling" kind of space that the blogosphere is today. But let's look at the brighter side of blogging where the dissemination of information is freely given.

Bloggers who don't hold back in sharing their knowledge are the ones that really make the whole blogging experience something to be appreciated and worth the time spent doing it.

It's a positive attribute -- and spreading the goodwill can only be good and beneficial to the blogging community.

The best part of blogging, especially for those seeking to enhance their blogging experience, is to be able to build a community and network with people who have similar interests.

If you have achieved the status of celebrity bloggers you can establish your credibility as an expert or thought-leader in your field. What else can they be but to be leaders of the pack.

When these bloggers write a post, the flood of comments that pour in says a lot about their popularity and status. They get tons of RSS and email subscribers. They are usually on top of major blogging issues.
Some of the qualities you find in these bloggers are that they know how to use personality, opinions, expressions as a way of drawing readers to read their content.

In blogging you got to know the art of writing for blog readers. These so-called thought leaders do have some tricks up their sleeves, and they know how to use them and keep us coming back for more.

Recently, Maki of Dosh Dosh wrote one of the most profound articles on blogging -- "The Secret to Building a Popular Blog" -- which is so comprehensive in its presentation it caught the attention of many bloggers. The lengthy article -- a brilliant piece of work, if I may say so -- created a huge buzz.

What Maki's detailed article boils down to is that you can overcome the barriers by spreading your wings to build a popular blog. It's all about following the right process, using strong tools, and applying smart networking to reach your objective.

The kind of blogger you are...
Author and blogger Seth Godin may prefer to switch off "comment" on his blog. Kumiko's blog at CashQuests did the same for a spell but decided to switch "comment" back on again. They have their reasons for doing what they did.

For Godin, he took a lot of flak for his surprising view that he no longer wanted to see comments on his blog. One irate blogger put it down as "a movement among the self-impressed in the blogosphere to toss up walls around themselves to avoid having to interact with the unwashed masses."

Some bloggers are so choosy about commentators that they put up "comment roadblocks" so that they can filter those people who come over to their blogs by requiring them to register first. No matter what excuses these bloggers give, they are just a big turn-off for most visitors who will most likely not come back again.

The very fact that we blog is to build bridges with other bloggers. If you're a blogger and keeps a "closed door policy" a better place to be would be a mountain cave. As they say, blogs without links are not blogs, they are the creations of arrogance and vanity.

Then there are other bloggers who behave like snobs. You can try to be friendly with them by leaving comments on their site but they never reciprocate in kind. For whatever reasons, you might think they feel you're not good enough to mix with them. Or basically, they prefer to stay within their own clique or kind.

Linkbaiting is another form of blogging trickery that some bloggers venture into to attract traffic. It can be effective but usually it is looked upon as something
associated with "underhand tactics".

Can We Be Zen-wise In Our Blogging?
Bodhidharma. Woodcut print by Yoshitoshi, 1887

From a holistic point of view, would it be right to link that meditative word "Zen" with "blogging"? Copyblogger took that holistic approach when he wrote about "Zen And The Art Of Remarkable Blogging".

Brian Clark succinctly expounded in that post that "blogging and Zen are closely aligned".

Of course, he was not trying to teach you Zen Buddhism as pointed out by him. He was writing that post to "provide some insight into effective blogging, or, at a minimum, gets you to think differently about your current notions regarding content and the attention you seek with it."

He went on to discuss "The Four Noble Truths Of Blogging" -- (1) Get over your "self"; (2) Free your mind; (3) Detach from results; and (4) It's up to you.

Zen comes from the Sanskrit word Dhyana. It means a meditative state in the Buddhist tradition. Zen practice is a state of mind.
It is about self-development, about experiental practice which helps us to see life directly and to act with wisdom and compassion.

BlockquoteZen encourages practitioners to learn from teachers and other students to better understand how to attain truth through direct experience. The blogging community offers a similar environment," writes Brian Clark.
Would you follow the Zen path to successful blogging? Is there such a path in the first place?


The 'Do No Evil' Empire Strikes Back

The Adland Digest keeps coming to me via email because I subscribe to it as a member of Adlandpro.com. Now and then I'll come across some hard-hitting articles written by special guest writers in their newsletters. They provide a good read and most times are thought-provoking.

These are free articles that can be used so long you acknowledge and credit the authors with a resource box at the end of each article. The Adland Digest has been one of the most effective newsletters on the Web since 1998. They provide useful information about Internet business and other related subjects.

The recent Google PageRank slapfest of big and small blogs had set the blogosphere alight with plenty of rants and some raves. But this article by Dean Philips might will be "a wake-up call" for many of us. It makes for interesting reading. I'll take a break and let Dean gives you the lowdown. Enjoy...

Google Zombies Need To Wake Up

By Dean Philips

Over the last couple of weeks, I've received more e-mails in response to my article, "Google's Trap, DMOZ's Nap, And Yahoo!'s Crap," than any other article I've ever written. And that's saying a lot because, I've written close to forty articles.

Most of the e-mails are very supportive and appreciate of the fact that I'm going after Google and the other large search engines, by telling it like it is.

Now even though I appreciate your e-mails and support, I need to make one thing perfectly clear. For the record, I AM NOT GOING AFTER GOOGLE!

Is Google a greedy, self-serving entity? Yes! Yes, they are. But lots of entities are greedy and self-serving. For that matter, so are a lot of people. The fact of the matter is, I happen to like certain things about Google. I think they're a fine search engine, and they perform a very valuable and much needed service.

No, my articles are not directed at Google per se. My articles are directed at the tens of thousands of Google zombies who blindly follow and applaud Google's every move and whim, like rats following the Pied Piper of Hamelin.

This also includes a good portion of the media, which also seems to be caught up in the bright lights of Google--not unlike a deer frozen by the headlights of an oncoming car.

Zombies, wake up! Google is a search engine--period! Nothing more, nothing less. And I will not exaggerate their existence or importance!

They are not a god or some sort of deity. They are a search engine--that's all.

And even though I've already said it in several different articles, I'm going to say it again. All of that money you're spending on search engine optimization, so that you can play in Google's sandbox is going to be all for naught.

Because other websites that haven't done any search engine optimization whatsoever are already starting to rank ahead of you in Google's results pages.

Yet, you keep spending your money, and beating your brains out trying to figure out Google's algorithms. And just when you think you've got it figured out, Google decides to take its ball and go home. Zombies, wake up! You're playing a game you can't win!

Didn't November 16, 2003 teach you anything? It's never wise to put all of your eggs into one search engine basket. I mean, forget about the "Florida Update." What if by some strange chance, Google goes offline for a day--for a week?

Think it can't happen? Think again. Nobody thought last summers crippling east coast blackout could ever happen either, but it did happen, and it turned out to be the biggest blackout in recent U.S. history.

Nothing and no one is infallible. So, zombies, wake up and do yourself a favor. Do the smart thing, and develop other ways to promote your website.

About The Author: Dean Phillips is an Internet marketing expert, writer, publisher and entrepreneur. Questions? Comments? Dean can be reached at mailto: dean@lets-make-money.net. Visit his website at: http://www.lets-make-money.net

Of related interests:

Wow! It's one Google PR rollercoaster ride

PageRank: 'Massacre' of the blogs

*The views and opinions expressed or implied, and the information presented in CommonSense With Markk are those of the authors. They do not necessarily represent the views of CommonSense With Markk and/or its associates.*


Have A Cosy Room To Do Your Blogging

While I was browsing a brochure showing some nice ideas to improve the home, the pictures of conservatories started to play on my imagination.

Yes, just imagine having an elegant
conservatory which is basically an extra room and turn it into your study or soho. Not to mention a cosy place for you to spend time blogging and surfing the Net.

When it comes down to home improvements, a conservatory is an added asset because it will enhance your house's value.

If you're living in a terrace house, you can create this extra living space either at the back of your house or at the front just like having an extension to your living room.

Better still if you own a corner lot, then you'll have enough space on the side to add the conservatory. But it all depends on the design of your house and the space available. Sorry, if you're living in an apartment.


Holiday In Paradise - That's Hawaii

The holiday season is drawing near and so is winter time. Some of us will be getting the travelling bug to get away and enjoy the sunshine on some tropical island.

Hawaii always has that special attraction thanks to its beautiful scenery, year-round warm weather -- and it's a melting pot of culture. The islands of Hawaii have always been a favourite among many holidaymakers.

If you're searching for
Maui vacation homes the website HawaiianBeachRentals.com is a good place to start looking. The site specializes in Hawaii Travel Information. You should be able to locate an ideal vacation accomodation whether it's a condo or an hotel. If you're planning a Hawaiian holiday for the first time, here are some info to get you going.

With a bit of Hawaiian experience behind, I would say a good starting point is the island of Oahu, famous for its alluring scenery and, of course, Waikiki Beach. Honolulu, the capital, has enough attractions by itself whether it's shopping or sightseeing.

Over at the beach you can learn to surf, ride the wave on outrigger canoe, or just relax and enjoy the buzz. Oahu is a small island and you can have an enjoyable drive around it in a a day. No problem renting a vehicle.

What better place to have that special holiday than sweet Hawaii. Aloha!


Make Money: The Sound And The Fury

It's like an uplifting sermon when blogging newbies and make-money-online wannabes get to read about some great ideas and schemes to...well, make money online.

You're told by these self-appointed money-making mavens about how cool and easy it is to get in on the action.
You're made to feel that if you don't want to miss out, better be quick and jump on the bandwagon before it leaves the station. If you're not familiar with the current state of the blogging scenario you'll be wondering WTF it's all about.

You get to hear great shoutouts about how to make money online. You'll probably follow through on all the "feel good" writeups by some of the high-profile bloggers around because you're also interested in...well, making money online.

Way to go, man!

If you have been around a bit, you would have come across the hype about the Million Euro Wiki. 

You can say it's being touted as a great money-making idea the like of which you have never seen before.

Here's the lowdown: Invest on a Wiki page at $100 a pop to promote your business, drive traffic, make money, and if you like, sell it at a profit farther down the road. Or you can keep it until old age. Really?

While one group is vehemently pushing the Euro Wiki another group is casting doubts on this online venture and questioning the integrity of the whole idea.

The beef (no pun intended) about this "shenanigan" is that the people pushing this Wiki idea are looked upon as reputable bloggers who know a thing or two about making money blogging, but since the Euro Wiki was launched it became one fierce sales campaign with a lot of noise. This is surprising.

According to some bloggers who don't seem to look on this favourably, the Euro Wiki to them is more like a spin-off from another so-called money-making idea called the "Million Dollar Wiki." The later kicked off with a bang but lately it seems to come under the radar. Many questions are raised.
So is the Million Euro Wiki earmarked for success - for the short term or long term? Until the whole scenario crystallized - with positive or negative results - this is "entertainment" to those who are on the sidelines.

In retrospect, there were other clones trying to follow the footsteps of the original "Million Dollar Homepage," a website conceived by a 21-year-old English student Alex Tew who needed to raise money for his university education. His idea was to sell pixels in an image on the site.

That website -- launched on August 26, 2005 -- was a celebrated success, grossing more than $1 million USD. Of course, that took care of Tew's education and more. The idea peaked and today we believe most of the pixels are gathering dust. There were clones out to make a quick buck but sad to say they quickly bit the dust.

How durable the Wiki idea can last remains to be seen while the sound and fury continue unabated. One thing is for sure. There'll be more to write about in the near future.

Update #1: CashQuests just auctioned off her Euro Wiki page stating her reason for selling out was that she needed money for another upcoming project. That must have been one of the fastest business buy-in and buy-out ventures ever to be conducted online.

After all the energy plugging the virtues of Euro Wiki, this "sell-out" should come as a great surprise to all. According to CashQuests, her Wiki "business" page is still doing well with traffic and good response. But because of her new project, she has to let go. And I wish the new owner all the best in his new venture on the Euro Wiki.

As for me, I need to bring out that bottle of whiskey and drink to that. Hopefully it'll bring back my senses.

Update #2: What a way to go! Now the latest is that the Million Euro Wiki has been sold. John Cow just announced it at his blog. We'll hear more about the goings-0n, no doubt. Now I need another bottle of whiskey or should it be a glass of milk to get back on solid ground? Dizzy stuff in one day!


Discount Coupons Just The Ticket To Buy Gifts

Discount coupon deals are just great when you're looking for good bargains and gift items especially when Yuletide is looming around the corner. October is never too early to start checking out some of the gift items that are pricking your mind.

For me, a bountiful food and wine gift basket will be an excellent choice for someone who knows how to appreciate a glass of Chardonnay or Cabernet. I'll say cheers to the good fellow with an assortment of gourmet goodies.

And who can forget Old Navy? They have some great, affordable and fashionable clothing and accessories. There's a nice Fair Isle knit tote that I saw when I visited the site. That item will go well with the Christmas spirit. Somebody's gonna get that.

And I shouldn't forget my ownself. Those New Balance men's gym shoes are looking good for a sweaty workout especially the Cool Grey pair. Size 8 will be just fine for me.

Oh yes, I have a few more items on my wishlist. Just can't get that Dell notebook offer off my mind. The Dell coupons will surely sweeten the deal. And who can forget the Amazon coupons which will come in handy when checking out the amazing daily deals and specials for the holiday season.

Come to think of it, you name it and
CouponChief.com will have just the right gift item for you. It's a one-stop online resource for almost all your shopping needs.


How NOT To Be A Blogging Snob

Here's my two-penny thought. I'd like to get it off my chest. Sometimes you might wonder what makes bloggers do what they do? You know, like blowing your own horn, paying lip service to big-time bloggers, sucking up to some famous names, professing organic chemistry in blogging (whatever that is), pumping up the numbers, confining themselves into cliques, and yada, yada.

We have a phrase in journalism for someone who seems to think that he or she is way above all the others in terms of skills and ability and so on. Such a person is dubbed as God's gift to journalism. So can we dub some bloggers as God's gifts to blogging?

These are very interesting observations but I guess without these show-stoppers, the blogosphere would be so much duller.

A few hours back I had received my latest email newsletter from Yaro Starak and he was lamenting the fact that there are also "cowboys" who blog wild with rage and have no compunction in shooting anyone down "with highly charged emotional accusations."

Well, Yaro had been on the receiving end of such negative comments in his blogging career, but he has learned how to deal with these cowboys. If your blog comes under attack he suggests you respond in a cool manner "without anger, with no negative emotion..." This will show your maturity and demonstrate your credibility.

Now, we all know the blogging experience for most of us is to practise "openness" and try to accomodate friends we encounter online and other readers who come a-visiting. Put it this way: We always like to leave the door open.

But wait a minute, have you ever come across this?

BlockquoteIf you would like to exchange links and be listed here, kindly use this contact me form and provide me your blog details."

Gosh, that's not leaving the door open for visitors. Why are some individual bloggers so snotty? They want you to fill up some silly forms plus your blog details before you can get to know them.
Hey, just let me leave a comment and you can drop by my blog and say hello, too. It's that easy and no hassle. Who knows...we can become friends and swap links!

They want links and yet they put up all kinds of barriers. In my opinion, this is a turn-off. By and large, I would think they are usually self-centered, snobbish, and they think other bloggers owe them a living.

Who needs these red-tape bloggers? Perhaps, they can go fly a kite!


Chilling Out With Sunny Spain On My Mind

Would you be thinking of a Spanish holiday and forget blogging for a while? Spain has always been among the top tourist destinations in the world with a wealth of attractions. Many of the tourist sights are steeped in history. A friend and his family just returned from their holiday in Spain and they were singing praises of the places they visited, especially in Madrid, the capital, and Barcelona.

In Madrid, they had the pleasure of visiting some famous landmarks like the Plaza Mayor, a 17th-century architectural masterpiece, the bustling Puerta del Sol and some famous art musuems. But they were simply delighted with the second largest city in Spain - Barcelona. Famous for its architecture and style, the Catalan city has a lot more to offer. They were particularly impressed by the famous street called La Rambla where you see street artists performing, brightly coloured flower kiosks and open-air restaurants and more.

Before they embarked on their trip, Dale had checked for hotel accomodation at the Cheaperthanhotels.com site having read about them in one of my earlier posts. He looked up hotels in Madrid and hotels in Barcelona for that's where they were bound and was happy with the attractive rates. It was a holiday well spent.

Come to think of it, Barcelona is a great place to visit and being a soccer fan I have always admired the city's world famous football club, Barcelona FC. I have watched many of their matches on live TV and they have a history of great players. There are two players in the present team I like to watch - French international Thierry Henry and Argentine ace Lionel Messi.

Nothing is more exhilarating than to be on the terrace of Nou Camp Stadium cheering on the Catalan team, adding your voice to the roar when a goal is scored. With the European Champions League in full swing this season, many fans will be following their teams all over the Continent.

Who knows, I might check out Hoteles en Barcelona and make a trip to watch a great football team in action. Puede recommendar un...hotel barato? (Can you recommend a...cheap hotel?)


Are We Facing A Rumble Over BlogRush?

Some stats are trickling in if you log into your BlogRush account to check what are showing on the Dashboard. Over at Problogger, Darren Rowse had indicated that he had gotten some good and bad things about his initial BR results.

But if you checked the comments coming in response to his post, the early impression is that most of those who are using the BR widgets are expressing some disappointments with their results.

Early indications are not encouraging from the majority of comments although a few have expressed some satisfaction with their results so far. I wouldn't jump the gun right now until we get a clearer picture of this so-called web traffic generator from Income.com.

In my previous post, I did mention that compelling post titles are the key to attract clicks. Up till now, I have seen widgets with post headlines that are mostly a run-of-the-mill affair. How to get people to click on them when they don't have the "Wow" factor?

However, in response to the negative vibes, the BlogRush people have shot off an email to users to explain why many members are reporting low click-through rates on the impressions for their blog post titles. Redwall_hp over at Webmaster-Source had posted some of the excerpts from the BR email.

This is a small-time blog if you want to compare it with the likes of Problogger, Shoemoney, or John Chow, but I guess, at this point in time, I can feel satisfied with the BlogRush results. And not just because of the widget. I think it also comes down to the content you write that helps to keep the interest intact.

Here's a couple of stats from my account dashboard that just came in:

Of related interest:
BR rushed and slam- dunked within one week


Squeeze More Juice Out Of BlogRush

BlogRush is being written all over the Blogosphere. From what I have observed, there are more pros than cons with this blog syndicaton network system that's supposed to get you more traffic which is what every blog needs.

Having installed the widget on this blog since last Saturday, I feel a need to write about BR again. I'm beginning to get this idea about what the free BlogRush service is really all about. You can take my word for it or leave it.

- You have to understand that it's all about web traffic generation (as obviously stated by John Reese of Income.com, the man behind the launch of BR). But you must have a strategy to drive that traffic.

#2 - Optimize your blog once you have the BR widget installed.

What does that mean? Basically, it's all about getting the attention of bloggers who are looking at the five post headlines on their widgets.

If you're looking at the widget, which headline would you click on first? Your right, it's the most compelling headline as related to your interest that gets the first click...and off you go to visit Blog X.

Assuming you're not the only person who's attracted by that headline, then there'll be more visitors to Blog X - just because of that compelling headline. So we must give credit to Blog X for being so clever with catchy headlines.

This is the advice given by BlogRush: "You can dramatically increase your click-rate (visitors sent to your blog) by learning to create more effective blog post titles."

Yes, that's your strategy. Write compelling headlines for your posts. Write headlines that sell and you'll see the "rush" to your blog. Personally, I think this is the most important aspect of BlogRush.

One more thing to remember...

Look at the headlines in the widget and you'll notice that you should not write long titles - about 7 to 8 snappy words at the most will be just right to show a complete headline in the widget. Avoid words with too many syllabus like "improvements," "conference," "implementation," etc. Most importantly, avoid the over-hyped phrase "How to make money online" or something to that effect in the post title. I guess most people are sick of it.

Also avoid label headlines because they look dull, boring and unimaginative. Do you ever see any label headlines in newspapers? Here are some examples of label headlines:

Google PageRank

Paid Reviews

My Best Friend
PPP Conference

Wonderful Day

The art of writing compelling headlines is not everyone's cup of tea. But it can be learned once you have observed how others are writing their headlines, especially the ones that make you say "Wow!"

#3 - Get categorized in the right niche. When you sign up with BlogRush you need to place your blog in a certain category or topic, i.e. automotive, business, entertainment, computer & Internet, lifestyle, writing & literature, news & media, personal diary, etc.

The trick here is to place your blog under a topic which you think could create greater exposure. It need not be quite relevant to your blog. At this stage it's not easy to tell how this will work out but, I guess, you'll have to test it out. If one topic doesn't seem to generate much exposure, you can always try another one.

This is one area where BR could have a more comprehensive list of categories because some blogs could neither fit in here nor there if you get my drift.

#4 - Location of the widget is crucial. If the widget is "hidden" far down the page then it's not likely to get much notice from visitors. Ideally, it should be "above the fold" but some bloggers are so dead set against this idea. Like it or not, it has got to be up there.

One final thought

Following this optimization approach to get BR traffic is well and good, but if you don't post often enough the traffic may slow down until you start to post again with greater frequency. And remember, write compelling post titles and as always maintain quality content (Yeah, as if it hasn't been mentioned before!)

At this point, the BlogRush people are making efforts to deal with some early glitches in the system. I think it's fair to wait a while before jumping to conclusion.

Of related interests:
BlogRush making waves on the Internet


BlogRush Making Waves On The Internet

BlogRush is like a rush of adrenalin that gets us bloggers rushing to sign up. It's the new brainchild of Internet marketer John Reese who made his name about three years ago with a viral traffic program called Traffic Secrets which netted more than a million dollars in one day on its launch.

In the short time BlogRush was launched (that was Saturday), this so-called blog syndication network system that allows you to place a widget on your blog's sidebar to drive traffic is starting to make waves across the Internet. Usually with any new product, there's always the hype that follows. How effectively the widget generates traffic remains to be seen in the coming days.

For starter, BlogRush is a totally free service and is the first product from Income.com, a company that John set up. According to Income.com, this "amazing platform" will help bloggers receive "mass distribution" for their content. Moreover, bloggers are assured this system does not spam or abuse blogs or websites in anyway, and "it doen't try and 'game' Google either."

In the words of John, if you read his latest blog post, he wrote that in his 15+ years of online marketing experience, he has "never witnessed ANY marketing-related tool or service explode so fast in growth..."

Of course, he was referring to BlogRush. But this product is still new and we have yet to see the positive results. However, since it's free, it does no harm to get in early and give it a shot.
You can watch the video first and get a feel of it. If it ain't what it's cracked up to be at the end of the day, just take it off your blog.

More details about BlogRush can be read at Income.com.

Of related interest:
Enter a new hot widget


Google Dance: Is Your Blog Jiving Now?

Much as we would like to get a life instead of being a blogging junkie, most of us bloggers just can't get over this Google Dance thing. Some are just getting freaked out as they wait and wait...to know their fate. Website directories are feeling the heat, too.

According to a WebProNews Insider Reports, as many as 60 directories have suddenly dropped in rank. Could this be algorithmic flux or selective penalties?

It seems nobody is talking at the moment as paid link directories started going south in Google search results. Could this be a sign of an impending Google slapfest on so-called "errant sites"?

Since late July up till today, there have been a number of false sightings that this crazy Google dance was about to go on stage. But to the disappointment of those dying to see how their blogs would fare in the PageRank, it must have been a frustrating wait - a rather long one this time around.

Some bloggers have reported noticing erratic movements on the green PageRank toolbar but that must be an illusion or their imagination must be running wild. The advice: Don't get paranoid and uppity about it all.
Looks like the little green thingy is in hibernation.

Are we seeing something new on the horizon?

Perhaps, as some blogging pundits are suggesting, the PageRank updates may no longer take place. Maybe it's because Google are cooking up something else instead of looking at links to evaluate your page rank.
Before we proceed further, for the benefits of newbies, here's a brief take from Bill Platt's article "The Roller Coaster of Link Popularity" about why blogs do links...

Blockquote Links are the roadways that keep Internet users moving from one website to another. Before the search engines became the all-powerful providers of Internet traffic, the role of Internet promotion was to establish links on pages where a website's target audience is already going. The goal, of course, is to get the person reading the page to click the link to the target website. With every visitor to a website being a potential customer, it makes good sense to get as many visitors to the website as possible, and that requires getting as many links as possible pointing to a website."
Are you still making dollar and sense out of blogging?

Obviously, if you're a webmaster you need to take actions to boost your incoming links in order to move up in the SERPs especially Google PageRank.
Now is the time to reflect on what you have been doing as far as link-traffic building is concerned in the past three or four months. And also ask the following questions:

  • Are you still into meme projects to gain more links?
  • Are you still doing that Alexa redirect train scheme?
  • Are you still planning to run more linkbait contests?
  • Are you still handing out various types of blogging awards for obvious reasons?
  • Are you still buying or selling links?
  • Are you still charging people to make comments on your blog?
One cannot deny that, for most bloggers, the major drive factor is making dollar and sense out of blogging. It's the number one reason. Numero Uno. Period. That's why we have top 100 lists of money-making blogs to whet the appetite of bloggers who are just getting into the act or still struggling to do so.

The evolution of blogging

I don't see this trend changing because blogging is evolving, and with that comes more sophisticated methods and ideas to make more money and more converts to the blogging world.
Bloggers are becoming multi-platform users and, therefore, their online presence will become even more dispersed with social media playing a prominent role in this changing blogging landscape.

Back to the linking issue, Jason Lee Miller at WebProNews wrote an interesting but foreboding article about the impending death of link authority. He's saying that, according to Edelman's Steve Rubel, link authority was good while it lasted, but now "there are so many places where people can publish and connect with peers."

Jason, who has covered the Internet scene expansively, also mentioned a Social Media Index article by David Brain, president and CEO of Edelman Europe, who is working on a formula for this social index which we may see embraced by Google and other search engines in the future.

If these are any indications of the future, will we be seeing the death of link authority? I'm not qualified to give an answer, but I would like to ask another question:

Are we bound by links from here to eternity?

Of related interests:
Link popularity: How, why and what to do about it?
Social networking: Tailing the Long Tail

The hots on linkbaiting
Why this PR is doing the shadow dance

Is Google PageRank still a valid marketing tool?

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