25.9.07

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?)

20.9.07

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

19.9.07

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.


#1
- 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

Smorty
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

17.9.07

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

11.9.07

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?

5.9.07

When A Cheapo Binocular Is Not Good Enough

Being away from blogging for a while can be refreshing especially when you hit the dirt road to the countryside. I had a digital camera to snap some interesting shots of country life. I also used an old beat-up cheapo binocular for long-range observations of birds and other country activities but it wasn't good enough.

As we all know, a good pair of binoculars can be such a useful optical tool. How I wish I had known about the OpticsPlanet.net website before I went off. Could have got myself a tough, good pair of steiner binoculars for nature observation.

They have such a wide range of binoculars and the site provides a wealth of useful information about their products that you'll be pampered for choice. Whether it's zoom binoculars, compact or waterproof, they've got them, and more.

If you're not too sure about a certain model, you can read their reviews of binocular products at OpticsPlanet.com. That, I'm sure, will help to make up your mind.



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