April 21, 2014

Why Should I Give You a DoFollow Link?

Why Should I Give You a DoFollow Link?

This is the odd case when I’ll write twice (!) in a row about the same topic. Last week I posted about the good old DoFollow vs NoFollow diatribe, and I gotta say the discussion that rose around it was kinda awesome. I waited a full week before taking a decision, missing my tuesday post to give more people the chance to comment. It paid off, I had some pretty outstanding feedback and I want to start off by thanking all of you.

I think I finally reached a decision, and it’s one that involves you, readers.

Point 1: I don’t think I am willing to vouch every link back to your blog or whatnot no matter what it’s about. I think it’s kind of unfair for me to greenlit ANYTHING that passes through the comments section just for the simple fact you leave a comment, mainly because:

  • it’s unfair for the readers
  • it’s potentially dangerous because I don’t know what you might link to your name at all
  • it gives people the wrong motivation to comment in first place

However… point 2, I think it’s fair to give legit commenters with legit content to show to the world a link back, not much as a thank you for the comment but more as a way to provide additional valuable content to my readers.

This Translates To…

First of all, I’m removing DoFollow from this blog right now.

But no worries, because the second part of my decision is: I will install another kind of DoFollow plugin, called SMu Manual DoFollow. What’s so special about it? Well it has some very cool functions like the ability to grant a DoFollow (based on the email of the commenter) after x comments – to reward frequent commenters – but most importantly the ability to personally pick commenters to grant DoFollow to.

Practically, if I find a good reason to DoFollow you, I will, so, here comes the juicy part of this post…

Give Me a Good Reason!

Yes, give me a reason to DoFollow you. Go on, I am waiting, post a comment here and tell me why I should DoFollow you if you feel like it. Don’t mention the fact I owe it to you, or you’re a good guy, or you’re not spamming.

What some people didn’t get from my last post is: I am not doing this to prevent spam! It’s hardly a problem for me at this time, it never was about it.

I think this is the most fair solution and it will reward people who has the right to be rewarded in first place, but if you don’t agree… well, give me a good reason to believe you!

DoFollow vs NoFollow Is Keeping Me Awake at Night

DoFollow vs NoFollow Is Keeping Me Awake at Night

UPDATE: Since I am really liking the conversation started around this topic, I decided not to publish a new post today and instead keep it going ’til next tuesday. Thanks for everyone who commented and keep on giving me your views on the matter, much appreciated.

I remember when I switched this blog to DoFollow, it was October of last year, and it seemed to me like an excellent choice in order to attract more visitors and give something back to the people who chose to invest some of their spare time in commenting one of my posts. I always thought it was a very good choice, until recently.

Well, nothing bad happened really. I read a lot from people claiming switching their blog to DoFollow attracted an unbearable amount of spam, and this overwhelmed them totally, even using anti-spam plugins. Honestly, everything’s pretty fine for me from that point of view. So what made me doubt my choice?

I recently stumbled upon a couple of very interesting posts by Suresh Khanal, about DoFollows vs NoFollow (here and here) and I was really hit by a couple of points he made.

The one which stuck the most in my mind is about ethics.

To sum it up, by making all my commenters’ link DoFollow I cast a sort of “vote of trust” on that link, stating that it’s relevant to my blog’s info and one should definitely check it out. Truth is, the amount of really relevant information from those links is close to zero. Most of the times the links send you to blogs/websites in a completely different niche than the one I am, and if someone ideally trusted my “DoFollow” vote, they’d be stuck with something they’re most likely not interested about.

Of course, the DoFollow is more for search engines, it’s a valid backlink search engines consider in their rankings, and that’s probably the reason most people comment here anyway.

So, I did start to wonder: what’s the point? I mean, sure, I got posts with many comments, but if most of the people do comment to get a DoFollow link back, is that really worth the trouble? Isn’t it better to actually CHOOSE which link to award a DoFollow rather than blindly giving it to anyone?

It’s about content curation as well. If I decide what content to recommend to others (search engines included) it matters a lot more when I do that, rather than recommending EVERYTHING, no matter what.

That’s why I am in a big, big dilemma right now, and that’s also why I am writing this post, to ask people’s opinion.

What Is Going To Happen?

Well, if I decide to witch back to NoFollow, it’s almost sure I’ll see a drastic drop in comments, but is it so bad? The blog will look less lively, but the few comments that will be there will be given from people who really care, despite the lack of google-friendly backlink.

Mind you, I am not going to remove CommentLuv, just the DoFollow plugin, if I decide to take this step, that is.

I realize that by asking people’s opinion in a blog post I will most likely get a reply from people interested in keeping DoFollow in place, but it’s a risk I am willing to take, I think I can learn something from all this anyway, and others’ opinion matter to me even if they are biased.

I am going to implement a poll as well just for the sake of it.

Please, read the two posts I linked before casting a vote or commenting here, so that you will know everything there is to know about a choice like this. I didn’t cite it on here so that you will be able to read the original, it’s only fair towards Suresh.

Let’s see where this will lead this blog.

DoFollow vs. NoFollow: what's your take?

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5 Types of Users You Will Write For

5 Types of Users You Will Write For

After several months from the launch of this blog (or at least, from the start of my contribution to it), I can start asking myself who am I writing for – I know the answer to that actually, but I am asking it to make a point.

Widening the question, I ask myself: who is everyone running a blog writing for?

I am relatively new to social media, but after reading thousands of posts in the last year alone I can at least try to give a decent answer. I believe it’s very important to do it, each of us, because if we don’t keep track of who we are really writing for, I am afraid this all translates into a huge waste of time. You can shoot as much as you want but if you don’t actually aim, you’ll never hit bull’s-eye.

One of the conclusions I reached thinking about this topic was that every blog, in the end, is a business blog, unless you just run it for fun or because your analyst told you it’s good to keep a diary of your thoughts, that’s great too but I am divagating.

Wether you are an individual looking to enhance your own personal brand, or a full-fledged business looking for a way to be “more social” (it’s the latest trend anyway), a blog is an extension of your business, any kind of business.

Individuals and businesses can blog for the most various reasons.

Credibility & Authority, by interacting with other peers, showing off your knowledge, discussing with your visitors about your niche’s topics, participating, engaging and encouraging participation and engagement yourself. If you are a business this will show the “human side” of it and it’s kind of evident people prefer to interact with people rather than fancy corporate names.

Tech and R&D, using your blog as a portfolio for what you do, what you’ve done, what you WILL do, attracting interest around a certain technology or achievement and showing people your actual skills, with obvious benefits.

You might blog for direct income, be it from advertising, eBooks and various services, consulting or conference speaking.

You can even blog to get a job, like my friend Antonia Harler did. In her case it worked very well in the end, but she has powers and all, I know.

Or you might blog just for the sake of it of course, where all of the above doesn’t apply, you just write and enjoy people reading and commenting it. Bless you.

You really can blog for the most various reasons, but I believe there are only 5 main type of readers you’ll eventually blog for.

1. Clients

You blog to get new clients, simple as that. Or well, it’s simple to say, but not to achieve.

If you’re a tech company, you’ll blog about industry news or about the uses people can have for your products/platform/services. You have to be careful to do it in a meaningful way, to avoid the classic mistake of just spamming your products and promotions and making your blog become just another extension of your corporate website.

People – even potential clients – are looking for something more than another advertise, so give them just that. Don’t just mention how awesome is your product, but actually help them being awesome using it (MailChimp’s blog does an excellent job, for example).

My 2 Cents: consider that this is also a very good exercise for your company. If you can’t think of ways to gain advantages using your products or services, then you’re probably selling crap anyway.

2. Peer & Friends

Most people involved in social media write for peers and fellow bloggers, think about all those posts to improve the quality of your posts, find new ideas for them, simplifying various processes through the use of WordPress plugins and so on. Theres’ nothing bad in that unless you write only for this kind of user. In this case, you’ll have to start asking yourself where’s the money in all this. It’s the kind of question no one ever likes to ask but it’s fair to, once in a while.

The advantage of writing for peers and friends is that you’ll build up a healthy network of people to trust and who will hopefully trust you, it’ll help your credibility and authority, but only if you have something good to say, otherwise you’ll just tag along in the social media boat like many people do nowadays.

Being respected by others for what you do bears always good consequences and responsibilities as well.

My 2 Cents: in the end, social media is about being social, so there’s nothing wrong in writing for this kind of visitor. As I mentioned, it’s bad if you write ONLY for them, a mistake which is more common than not especially when you’re just starting your blog. But it’s ok, nothing bad in adjusting your aim while running.

3. Machines

One thing is optimizing your blog for SEO purposes and search engines, another thing is writing for them uniquely. This often leads to what I call “the explosive headline trap”, where the headline is forged in a way to blow people’s mind off but the content of the post itself is totally mediocre even though totally “SEOtastic”. This kind of behavior will attract visitors in an explosion of page hits, but will also drive them off your blog faster than you can say “ouch” when it appears clear you’re just talking bull.

My 2 Cents: spending 20 minutes optimizing your post, researching some keywords, running the Google Adwords tool? Sure, why not. Heavily modifying all your post to attract as much keyword searches as possible and writing shocking, controversial headlines just to get people’s eyes? Good luck with that.

4. You

Don’t we all write for our personal wellness, in the end? I mean, there’s something addictive in pressing that “Publish” button, some kind of… mmmhmm, that’s done, onto next task, sorta feeling, no? Also, blogging has the objective benefit to help you organize your business and your thoughts in a far more efficient way, to learn new things and to force you to read a lot. Judging from statistics on what and how people read nowadays, this can’t be bad can it?

My 2 Cents: what if you write just for yourself? Well I suppose if you do that you also do realize there’s no $$$ in for you. If you’re ok with that, then by all means have fun. It’s important that you write also for yourself, because if that’s not the case you will run out of enthusiasm very, very soon. As long as you still have that positive feeling when you press Publish, all’s good.

5. No One

If the question “who are you writing for?” leaves you with a blank look, then you should seriously reconsider your intents. You probably don’t have a strategy nor a plan, you’re effectively achieving nothing and wasting your time. Blunt? Perhaps, but it’s really fundamental not to fall in this category, alright?

The most important thing to do before you even start considering running a blog is planning a strategy around it, to avoid ending up in a situation where you won’t even understand who you are really writing for.

Most of the various failures in social media are, in my opinion, due to the lack of a clear vision of what you want to achieve. Without a vision you don’t know where to go, and even if you are strong-willed and resolute, your efforts will be wasted in the wrong direction.
You really want to avoid this.

Social Media Isn’t The Most Important Thing of Your Life

Social Media Isn't The Most Important Thing of Your Life

I originally wanted to post something entirely different today, something that I will most likely manage to fit in next week’s schedule.

But the horrible planner I am (even though too much planning is bad, some planning wouldn’t actually hurt me at all), I don’t really write posts in advance since a long while.

So here you are, reading some random thoughts I am writing spontaneously on Evernote for no real reason other than state a simple concept, yet very important to me: social media isn’t the most important thing of your life!

Today was a busy day, for a particular personal issue I won’t bother you with, but the point is, I didn’t really have time to finish the post I was going to post instead of this, and since I don’t really like to post drafts, I thought it’d be nicer to wait some more to give it the final few polishing.

But I felt very bad. For some reason, I felt like I literally HAD TO post something today.

Of course you might argue that, in fact, I am actually writing some useless post to fill in. Maybe you are right, but the point is, I hate to HAVE TO do something at all costs.

Despite the obvious business objective of this blog, social media is, overall, supposed to be kinda fun, uh? What’s the fun in doing something just because you have to do it, at all costs, no matter what?

So, just for today, do me a very personal favor. Stop for a second, and ask yourself: am I Tweeting because I HAVE to, or because I want to? Am I writing my future blog post because I HAVE to, or because I feel fulfilled in doing it? Am I reading this weird post because I HAVE to, or because I am actually enjoying it? (Much thanks if you do).

In everyday modern, busy, often rushed life we frequently – more and more so – don’t have time to enjoy what we do. We just do it because we feel obligated to do so. It’s part of our job, of course, but a job should be interesting and engaging every now and then. My job is very much so, and I am thankful for that, but social media… I don’t know, I still think it should also be a bit of fun. That doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously – if you read this blog, you know I do, if not, well subscribe to it already and you’ll see – it just means I value entertainment for me and my readers before the commitment I have to post something every tuesday.

My personal resolution is not to read this post before pressing the Publish button. I won’t check for mistakes, or nonsense phrases, or screw ups. I will trust me instinct on this, just because I want to know your opinion.

Have you ever felt like you had to update your status, blog, Tweet at all costs without any particular reason behind it?

What Can You Learn From Your Blog’s Niche?

What Can You Learn From Your Blog's Niche?

My friend Tristan recently wrote about how broad or narrow should one’s blog’s niche be, and this forced me to think a bit about my own niche with this business blog, and how things have evolved since it was started back in June. As I wrote in my comment to that post, the topic would very well cover a whole post of my own blog, and here I am promptly. To cite myself:

“I had doubts about this all the time when I started writing.

I thought the arguments I was going to write about would be hard to come by  for the simple reason that I had to start full out, involving every team in my business to help out on the project.

Now, when you start a business blog and you need the cooperation of several teams just to start, things are bound to get ugly, especially if your business is just starting in social media (and this was our case).

You kinda have to start with a low profile, and build up from there.

So, I needed a niche that didn’t necessarily need too many staff members to write about it, limiting the “technical” topics (which are the real focus of my business, after all) to a later date, in smaller doses.

I can say it’s working out pretty good for me, and I can gather several insights from it (which could very well be a blog post on their own, now that I think bout it *notes down*):

  1. my technical posts have got a much wider audience than non-technical ones, more page views, more Retweets, more Stumbles, more Diggs, more FB Shares, less bounce-rate
  2. they also get the least comments

What I get out of this is that while tech dudes love to read stuff and make their friends read it as well, for the obvious linked wow-factor, they don’t like to write too much about it, they are less prone to “socializing”, so to say. I also realize we’re making pretty impressive stuff indeed, or people wouldn’t care at all.

Overall it’s kinda good to alternate topics, it gives me more chances to “dilute” my technical posts and offers more interaction over topics other kind of readers are interested in (typically blogging and social media in general).”

I learnt a lot in these months, especially because you don’t exactly start this journey reading a manual on how to start a blog.

Generally speaking, and to go more in detail, my more technical posts target a technical user-base (duh) with content that is kinda unique (I haven’t seen many posts out there about Kinect or augmented reality used with Unity3D models and environments).

Even if the niche is kinda specific, this kind of posts get more pageviews, more Diggs, more Stumbles, more Facebook shares IF the content is valid. You get more audience just if you have something to show, which makes perfectly sense.

They also get a better bounce rate, meaning people spend more time reading your content, they find it interesting because it evidently targets exactly their interest.

Lastly, they potentially touch multiple social media channels – aside from the usual Twitter, Facebook, Digg, Stumble Upon. My tech posts always provide a video which is hosted on Vimeo and Youtube, and it’s widely known that videos really hit the target when they are pertinent to your message.

The negative side of technical posts is the amount of people they require during their preparation, people necessary to shoot the video, edit it, prepare the demo to show, talk about the technical stuff (contrary to popular belief, I am not much of a technical person when it comes down to 3D. Thankfully I have a team to back me up, people who find time to produce or help produce blog posts outside the usual working schedule. I do realize not everyone has got this chance though.

Also, this kind of posts usually have less interaction, less “community value” around them, I am still trying to wrap my head around this but I guess it’s just the way it is.

The posts touching a wider niche, like social media and small-medium business talk, are generally targeted to a wider audience, but receive less page views. Why?

I thought about this for a while, but I believe the reason is that there’s a lot more content of this kind laying around, so it’s natural not to attract crazy amounts of people. The choice is just too ample, and from blogs/websites much better positioned in search engines, also (but not only) because of the relative young age of this blog.

The bounce rate is worse than my tech posts, but still physiological to the topics I talk about – for example, it’s a better bounce rate than the one most people declare about their “social media blogs”.

These posts usually involve less SM channels, unless you are into videoblogging and podcasting (which I am not, not for now at least), consequentially they also require less people to prepare. They are “soloable posts”, meaning that a single people can write them without much help needed, especially thanks to the astonishingly ease of use of WordPress and its various plugins.

Last but not least, they usually hold a lot more community value than my tech posts, for various reasons. Social media people love to write and comment on posts, and this is reason number 1, it’s just typical of this niche and one of the reasons I like this “world”, for the social value it holds and the chance to meet awesome individuals. And on top of that, building some backlinks to your own blog through a (hopefully meaningful) comment never hurts, right?

So what do I learn from all this blabbering? Or better, what did this teach me?

1. If your industry is interesting, don’t be afraid to talk about it

Even if you believe it might limit your arguments too much, it’s worth it, trust me

2. If you do so, do it in a freaking awesome way

Settle for no less than A-W-E-S-O-M-E. Make videos, edit them, add your logo to them, ask your team to help you, don’t post immediately if you feel you can do better with some more research. This kind of posts have to be of one-shot-one-kill kind, it will funnel traffic to your blog for many many days.

3. Even if you do so, don’t get monotonous

Writing always about your industry – or worse about one single aspect of it – narrows your blog down too much. Speak about something else, something possibly related, something with a wider audience, and don’t think that by doing this you’re selling away the soul of your blog, ’cause you’re doing exactly the contrary.

4. When you do so, do it seriously

Don’t just write crap for the sake of it. Be as serious with this kind of posts as you are with your main niche ones. They will build community around your blog far more than any other kind, especially if the same people are also interested in what you do in your business. My “social media” people love the 3D experiments we do around here, so it works pretty good for us.

Did you experiment as well with your blog’s topics, and have some finding to share as well? Did you notice different behaviors from your readers according to the different topics you talk about?

3 Ways to Fight Your “War of the Spam” On WordPress

3 Ways to Fight Your "War of the Spam" On WordPress

You can officially consider this post nothing more than a rant, so if you are not into rants you’re more than free not to like it.

However, I will have to agree with my friend Mitch when he talks about the spam phenomenon on blogs like ours, where one-line comments are sent on a regular basis in the hope of receiving our DoFollow link-love with a human-written comment often praising our blogging skills.

When I started this blog, several months ago, it was very easy to distinguish between a legit comment and a fake one.

Fake comments usually didn’t make any kind of sense, they were a list of meaningless links, or just words carefully crafted to promote some spammy service.

However the late trend – partially because of anti-spam weapons getting more and more advanced – has been to write real comments, often bypassing any anti-spam engine, with the final aim to promote the URL linked to it (and not in the body, mind you, that would trigger all the alarms).

It’s something so subtle you’re often led to think it’s maybe not right to block it in first place, but then you realize, visiting the URL, there’s not much room left for doubt. And in most cases it’s some coupon-related directory (coupons are the trend of 2011 it seems, must be ’cause of the ever-growing popularity of Groupon, shrug).

Single-line comments praising my blogging potential, how my blog helped their life, how I should keep on blogging and how cool is my blog to look at. Something that is supposed to make you go “awww how nice” but really just screams of “let’s try to fool this dude”, really.

I’ll suggest the 3 main methods I use to fight spam on WordPress. And yes, this will be another dissertation about plugins, sorry about that!

1. Akismet

Akismet really is your first line of defense.

This awesome WordPress plugin helps you fight automatic spam bots and not-so-subtle human ones in a more than efficient way, making it pretty much essential if you want to be serious about blogging.

What it does is to run each of your comments through a centralized server which runs several tests on it and mark it as “spam” or “ham” (= good to go).

Each “spam” message is put in your spam queue and will wait for your personal move, before being deleted after (I think) 30 days if you leave it there.

Here are some quick statistics on how Akismet affected my blogging experience:

My blog's Akismet stats

Not much to add, right?

You can start using Akismet from here, you’ll need to register an account there in order to receive an API key, and you will have the chance to choose a plan (according to the commercial or non-commercial nature of your publication).

At that point, just install the WordPress plugin (just search for “Akismet” in the Pludins admin page of your blog, it’s the first result), fill in the API key you obtained and you’ll be good to go.

2. GrowMap Anti-Spambot Plugin

G.A.S.P. is a really smart  and relatively new anti-spam plugin using the simple principle (I won’t go into technical details) to put a checkbox in your comment form, asking to confirm you are not a spammer. This checkbox is invisible to bots, therefore they won’t have a chance to post anything on your comments thread.

It works in an ingenious way, and allows you to realize that, if you still get spammy comments, the entire spam-industry is probably a lot less automated than you initially thought and consists of real people writing real comments (kinda shocking, uh?).

I use these two plugins together, they can co-exist without problems and they offer a near-perfect anti-spam experience, even if in the end, you will have to use your real, final weapon of mass spam-struction…

3. Your Brain

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, your brain is the final weapon. Thanks to Akismet and G.A.S.P. you will probably get rid of 99% of your blog’s spam, but you won’t get rid of those nasty one-line comments praising your “madskillz”, especially as your blog grows in audience and becomes more popular.

Your brain will be needed to distinguish between something you want to see on your blog and something you’d rather live without, considering its purpose is just to suck link-love out of you. After all, since your blog has such an important role in your social media strategy (or should, anyway), you really want to nurture it in the best way possible, no?

So I am wondering, did you notice a spam increase as well in the latest weeks? Are you using something different to fight it? Do you have a cool method you’d like to share? Let me know, at this point I am very very curious to hear more news.

5 Ways to Increase Business Profits with a Blog

5 Ways to Increase Business Profits with a Blog

Today’s post is a guest post by Alex Papa, serial entrepreneur and founder of many online and offline businesses. He often speaks in seminars around the world showing people how to find small business ideas and live the lifestyle they desire. In his new website you will find a business start-up audio course where you’ll learn what successful entrepreneurs teach their kids about staring a business and business schools do not.

Good customer relationships are imperative to any business, industry or market. Repeat business and word of mouth recommendations which bring new business are the wheels which keep a steady stream of income flowing. No matter how you reach your customers, keeping them engaged and interested in your business should be a top priority if you want continued success.
Fortunately, reaching out to customers is easy and painless in this internet age; your business can take advantage of online marketing and realize an accelerated rate of traffic at a relatively low cost compared to traditional marketing.
Blogging can be one of the best ways to foster customer relationship. It is low cost, easy to maintain and draws a large portion of traffic and (potentially), new customers. In this article, I list five reasons why your business would benefit from having its own blog

1. Attract New Customers With A Blog

You can use a loyalty program to reach new visitors to your website by offering incentives to your customers who attract new traffic. Entice your customers to tout your marketing messages virally; let them do all the work for you. Offer coupons to newbie’s who sign up for your newsletter. All these ideas will help to hold current customers interest, and attract new ones

2. Attract New Customers from the Blogs of Others

Aim for maximum exposure by writing comments or putting your ads on the blogs of others; this will draw traffic to your blog. Let your blog speak for you on other industry websites, thus pulling visitors to your site. Any new traffic is a potential new customer. Participate in forums and chat rooms whereby you draw attention to your website. Any venue which will allow you exposure is an opportunity to promote your own blog.

3. Build Customer Relationships With Your Blog

As I said before, building and maintaining good customer relations is essential to keeping your business viable and growing. Customer satisfaction builds a solid business foundation, and their recommendations attract new customers. So use your blog to foster customer satisfaction by customer loyalty programs, or perhaps a “raffle” for your customers to win prizes, and also to keep them advised of new products, sales prices, or limited specials.

4. Get Customer Feedback With Your Blog

Through your blog, develop a customer “chat room” that posts feedback about your business. Your customers will tell you what they want and do not want from you. If you want to introduce a new product line but are not sure if it will do well, cut your risk by offering customers a special pre-sale trial price in return for their evaluation of the products. Use your blog to get their reactions, opinions and feedback. Use their input to make your products more buyer friendly; tailor your products to fit your customer’s needs.

5. Use Your Blog to Diversify Within Your Niche

One example of this would be to promote eBooks or DVDs on cooking courses if your niche market is the restaurant business. You blog is perfect for this kind of relative diversity, and offers yet another source of revenue without making any significant changes in your niche market.

Guest Posting Sucks! No Wait, It Rocks! Well, Here’s My Policy.

Guest Posting Sucks! No Wait, It Rocks! Well, Here's My Policy.
UPDATE 2010-12-17: added an addition about links’ anchor text on point 2 in the second part of the post (thanks to Dennis Edell for pointing this out in the comments section), also added an image policy as point 7 in the first part.
To guest post or not to guest post? This dilemma is following me since a while, and I really haven’t wrapped my mind around it in a definitive way.
While some people think it’s a very awesome way to get your name out and gain more traffic and readers, some others tried it and decided it’s not as good as they say it is.
In the end, I believe it’s pretty much a matter of just trying and deciding whether it suits your needs or not.

However, the lazy bum I am, I never find will or time to try this out. I always think “wow I really must try!” but I end up writing something for my own blog, being behind on posting schedule, having to do managerial stuff for my company (which is kinda, you know, my job), planning some project’s timeline, bla bla bla, you get the point.
Sometimes it’s all legitimate, some other times I am the first one to admit I see it as a comfortable excuse to slack more.

This doesn’t prevent me from finally laying down some policy for allowing others to guest post on my own blog. Not a good reason to dedicate an entire post to it perhaps, but here we go.

My Personal Guest Posting Policy: What You Must Agree On

1. The post have to be relevant to the arguments treated in this blog

Kinda easy as I span through several of them.
Ideas can vary between: 3D oriented stuff (technology, software, innovation, virtual worlds, etc), marketing, business, entrepreneurship, advertising, social media.
I think it’s in the interests of the blogger himself to post something relevant, otherwise there’s not much use for it in first place no?

2. Content must be original, new and unique

The person submitting an article for the inclusion in this blog must be its author. Additionally, the post must not have been previously published elsewhere, in digital or printed form.

3. Content must be more than 500 words and less than 1200

Actually, the upper limit isn’t really something to get strict on. I just think long posts kinda make people lose focus while they read them, but I won’t refuse a good post ‘cause it’s 1210 words.

4. The post must not be re-published elsewhere before 30 days have passed from the publishing on this blog

Not much to say here, I just want to make sure I’ll have a good time frame for SEO ranking, while not disallowing people from publishing the post in other places as well. Always bad to be too greedy.

5. The author of the post must be active in the comments section

Hopefully people will like your post, and hopefully they will choose to leave a comment. There’s nothing more frustrating than finding out the author didn’t even bother to reply to it.
Since it’s a guest post, I think it’s kinda more fair if the author itself replies to its comments, so I’d like to have your word for it.

6. The post must not include affiliate links

As the very nature of my business (as me and my company don’t make money out of blogging) I don’t feel affiliate links really suit the mood around here. When and if we decide to include affiliate links in this blog, it’ll be our own links, not someone else’s.

7. Each of my blog’s posts include an image on top, so…

You can provide your own (we can edit it for you, just make sure it’s at least 570 pixels wide if it’s horizontal) but you have to make sure you have the rights to do so, or that the image is published, for example, under a suitable Creative Common license. Additionally, always provide me a link to the image source for appropriate credits on the footer notes of the post.

Enough About Policies: What You Get Out Of This

1. Copyright on the article

The article is yours. I publish it, but you retain every ownership and rights on it, rest assured.

2. Authors are allowed to include up to 2 relevant, informative links in their post to their own blog

It’s quite normal that if you blog often about a topic you will have a healthy amount of posts to back your theories up. And I’d be a fool not to let you link to them if you choose to.

Just make sure the links are using meaningful anchor text, for example “click here for more” equals to -> bad.

3. I won’t edit your post apart from typos or spelling mistakes

If some part of the post doesn’t convince me, I’ll obviously discuss it with the author rather than editing it.
The only exception: I will edit the HTML formatting if needed, like H2 headings, proper bulleted or numbered lists etc.

4. I will provide a byline short paragraph at the beginning of the post with full credit and one link to your own blog/website

Of course you will provide the paragraph, for example stating who you are, what you do, where you do it.

This Policy Isn’t Written in Stone

Consider it an “advanced draft”. I am posting it as a post itself to allow for people to comment on it and perhaps provide me with ideas for additions or changes.
I actually would be very glad to hear your opinion on this. Any idea?

Your blog is the king of your social media presence

Your blog is the king of your social media presence

They often say content is the king. I actually hate myself for having just used one of those annoying, over-abused phrases, but the point I want to make is: your blog definitely is the king of your social media presence.

Think about it.

Your blog is full of valuable posts, pieces of writing you’ve been working on, perhaps in your spare time, or maybe in your working hours in case of corporate blogs.

You will setup an RSS feed

People will subscribe to it, even by email, and read your latest articles from their Google Reader account, making their own life a lot easier.
By following your blog they will feel part of a community, engaged to what you have to say. If they choose to subscribe, it means they appreciate what you have to say, and want more of it.

You’re going to retweet this content on Twitter, Digg it, Stumble it

By doing so you’ll expose your ideas to all your followers. Perhaps they will like it and share them with their own followers, and so on.
You will receive backlinks and exposure to an audience otherwise unreachable. You do have all those fancy social plugins in your blog right?

You will read a lot, ’til your eyes bleed, and comment on other blogs too

And the visitors of said blogs will see your comments and perhaps take time to visit your own blog (because you included a link while posting the comment, no?). By commenting and retweeting others’ valuable content you will engage in interesting discussions, find new views on old problems, make new friends, connections that could prove valuable in the future. Do you really want to keep this door shut?

Sooner or later, you will end up guest posting on other blogs

And the owners of said blogs will allow you to put a backlink to your blog, maybe you will link to a relevant post of your own and people will visit it, exposing your content to the world once again. Guest blogging builds influence and helps a whole lot in establishing those relationships people are so often talking about in social media.

You will start a Facebook page

And you will hopefully remember to link it to the RSS feed of your blog. You will even post the most awesome articles on your page’s Wall for your fans to read, Like and Comment. While a Facebook page isn’t just made for your own content, it’s a shame not to use this channel as well.

You will make a LinkedIn profile

And you will post your latest articles to your profile page, or start a Group discussion about them in case they are extraordinary engaging. LinkedIn groups are fertile ground for sharing ideas and views, to potentially make fundamental business connections and have immediate feedback on your topics of choice. You will also link your RSS feed with the WordPress application and let visitors of your profile take a look at what you have to say more in-depth.

Did you notice that all these actions start right from your blog?

Today, more than ever, is fundamental to start your social media efforts with a well designed blog. The amount of actions that generate from and to it is just overwhelming.
Your blog truly is the hub of your social media efforts.

So, did you start your blog already? What are you waiting for?

Why I decided to go #dofollow and switch to CommentLuv

Our comments panel

The weakest link in my blogging crusade, the one I noticed immediately when, ages ago, I started to be curious about blogs in general, was the commenting system. Back then, most blogs still required you to complete a full-fledged registration process in order to be able to comment on one of their articles, a process so tedious one was discouraged to post his opinion in first place.

That’s why the first thing I did when I decided to put up a corporate blog for my company was to do some research on how to encourage comments, by making it simple enough to feel like second nature.
Disqus was the answer to all of my problems, and I have to say it’s a pretty freaking impressive piece of work. Considering I used to be a web developer, I feel like I can really appreciate it to its full extent.

So why did I abandon it?

It was no easy decision at all, and I am not excluding I’ll consider it again in the future. But well, it’s actually a purpose problem. In my opinion, Disqus is designed more around people than around content.

Why? Well, to sum it up, and in case you’re not aware of how it works, Disqus is a commenting platform designed to allow one to post under the same identity in every blog that uses their plugin, so to have a centralized profile. People can view a commenter’s profile, their picture, bio, rating (every comment can be rated positive or negative, contributing to build your “social image”, so to say) and generally follow them across all the blogs (using Disqus) they comment on.

To be fair, I am perfectly fine with that. I like the underlaying idea of building one’s social media profile across the myriad of different blogs and platforms. What I am not convinced of is the ability of Disqus to promote content sharing and participation.

While it’s naturally nice to know that someone commented on my blog post and previously stopped to comment on Suzanne’s blog post as well, I don’t have an easy way to determine if he has something to say on his own, if he posted something on his blog or if he has one at all, unless I visit his Disqus profile page.

CommentLuv for WordPressThat’s where CommentLuv comes into play

I love CommentLuv’s feature to show one’s latest blog post directly below any comment he posts in CommentLuv-enabled blogs. It’s a direct, quick encouragement for content sharing, you read an interesting blog post and you are naturally inclined to go there and check it out.
That’s actually how I came to know several blogs that now fills up my Google Reader account.

Here’s a quick pro/con list so you can see more clearly what I mean:

Disqus:

  • PRO: easy to implement. There’s a WordPress plugin, you just install it and configure it, 5 minutes tops admitting you already have a Disqus account (see “con” below).
  • PRO: iPhone compatibility through WP-touch plugin. It just works, very elegant too. As far as I know, there should be a native iPhone app as well soon.
  • PRO: syncs with your comments, writing them both in Disqus database and your blog’s one, in case you wanna switch back and forth there’s no problems at all.
  • CON: you need a Disqus account to setup your commenting system. You need to register your blog, setup some options and so on. Not a long procedure but it adds up to the “ready to go” time considerably.
  • CON: it’s kinda sucky on iPads, since it uses the non-mobile version and it has some erratic behaviors on the iPad. Plus, having to login to your Disqus account to leave a comment is painful.
  • CON: not much content-friendly as I explained before, I’d love it to have a feature similar to CommentLuv to immediately see one’s content and visit it with a single click.
  • CON: first-time commenters definitely need to do more work, like selecting which type of service to login with or otherwise fill out a guest form. It’s already hard to get comments in first place, especially for new blogs, if you make it complicated it’ll be even harder.

CommentLuv

  • PRO: easy to implement. I personally use the CommentLuv official plugin and WordPress Threaded Comment to keep my comments threaded nicely (something Disqus does natively, one should notice).
  • PRO: totally content-friendly, centered about it, easy to visit your commenters’ blogs and find new food for your brain to love and share (which, after all, is the good thing behind social media).
  • CON: unlike Disqus, where a commenter is a real, distinct user with a login and all, it’s not possible through CommentLuv to keep sure track of who’s who, and know if he posted somewhere else.
  • Wow I was so wrong in this! As Ileane kindly pointed out in the comments below, CommentLuv indeed allows you to keep track of who’s who across various comments and blog posts:

At the end of registered CommentLuv user’s comment, you can hover over the profile panel (where you see the plus sign over the heart) with a complete profile including their Gravatar, recent posts, and other blogs they commented on.

  • CON: since it’s not a full-fledged commenting platform, it’s not easily customizable, unless you mess with your theme’s code manually.

I believe Disqus is a perfect choice for blogs that already reached a certain critical mass of users, while CommentLuv, paired with the DoFollow plugin (I’ll talk about this in a bit) is very indicated for newer blogs to get in the radar of as many people as possible in a very simple way.

What about DoFollow?

I won’t lie here or beat around the bush, it’s obvious DoFollow (the ability for search engines to consider your commenter’s URL links as backlinks to their own blog/website) attracts far more visitors than the standard NoFollow policy, so you know, I just decided to fire up the “Do Follow” plugin and give it a try. I understand it will also attract considerably more spam (both automatic and manual), but for now I think the load is very bearable, especially since the superawesome Akismet anti-spam does all the hard work for me.

I don’t know if I will stick to this combo forever, as far as I know it already had positive results, and I already met two interesting people through the CommentLuv community, so I am naturally inclined to say “yes it’s a definitive choice”, but only time can tell.

And to Disqus people out there (developers and users), please bear in mind I do love your plugin, it really is a piece of art, I am just trying out new ways, that’s all ;)

What kind of commenting system (if any) do you use in your blog?