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Blog Blazers – Stephane Grenier

Blog Blazers is a new book by Stephane Grenier, although he wrote few of the actual words.

Instead, he went out and interviewed 40 top bloggers and assembled their interviews into a book.

If you are looking for the one secret that will take your blog to the next level, it might be in there, but it will not be crystal clear.

I find this book fascinating because of the diversity of the answers.  One blogger will say adwords does not work, another says he makes $20,000 per month from Google Adwords.  Some say the headline of a blog is important, while others stress the content.

Sure, there are some things they all seem to agree on – good writing is fairly obvious.  But it is in the areas that these bloggers differ that I find more interesting.  And it shows how diverse the topic is.

If you are thinking about blogging, you are blogging but no one is reading it or if you want to rethink your blogging strategy, you should pick this book up.  No, it does not give you a clear blue print, but it is a feast of information to think about and find the pieces that apply to you.

Here is a list of the successful bloggers interviewed in Blog Blazers

  1. Aaron Wall – SEO Book
  2. Abdylas Tynyshov – AdesBlog.com
  3. Al Carlton – Coolest-Gadgets.com
  4. Alex Papadimoulis – The Daily WTF
  5. Andy Brice – Successful Software
  6. Anita Campbell – Small Business Trends
  7. Asha Dornfesh – Parent Hacks
  8. Ben Casnocha – My Startup Life
  9. Benjamin Yoskovitz – Instigator Blog
  10. Bob Walsh – 47 Hats
  11. Dan Lyons – The Secret Diaries of Steve Jobs
  12. Dane Carlson – Business Opportunities Weblog
  13. David Armano – Logic + Emotion
  14. David Seah – David Seah
  15. Derek Semmler – Derek Semmler
  16. Dharmesh Shaw – On Startups: A Community for Entrepreneurs
  17. Eric Sink – Erik.Weblog()
  18. Ian Landsman – UserScape
  19. James & Alex – Google SightSeeing
  20. J.D. Roth – Get Rich Slowly
  21. Jeff Atwood – Coding Horror
  22. Jeff Clavier – Jeff Clavier’s Software Only
  23. Jennette Fulda – Half of Me
  24. Jennifer Perry – 101 Reasons I Hate Being Fat
  25. Jessamyn West – Librarian.net
  26. Joel Cheesman – Cheezhead
  27. Jonathan Snook – Snook.ca
  28. Manolo Blahnik – Manolo’s Shoe Blog
  29. Neil Patel – Quick Sprout
  30. Pamela Slim – Escape from Cubicle Nation
  31. Patrick McKenzie – MicroISV on a Showstring
  32. Penelope Trunk – Brazen Careerist
  33. Ramit Sethi – I Will Teach You To Be Rich
  34. Rob Walling – Software By Rob
  35. Rohin Bhargava – Influential marketing Blog
  36. Seth Godin – Seth Godin
  37. Stephane Grenier – Follow Steph
  38. Steve Rubel – Micro Persuasion
  39. Trent Hamm – The Simple Dollar
  40. Yaro Starak – Entrepreneur’s Journey

You may want to bookmark this page and come back after you by the book, Blog Blazers, to check out each blog quickly after reading the interviews.  Combining the interview and the blog visit is very insightful.

Adwords Article

Just a quick post.  Terry Dean has a good article about Google Adwords, along with links to other good articles.  As easy as it is to put up Google Adwords, it takes a serious effort to do it profitably.

Go check out his info.

Google PR 7

This weekend two very nice things happended.

#1 We went from Google Page Rank 5 to Google Page Rank 7

#2 I moved the wordpress blog to a new server with upgrades of all the software.

You are probably looking at it and thinking nothing has changed, but from my end a lot has.

The 5 Best Ways to Encourage Employee Marketing

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Where are the majority of your new hires coming from? They should be coming from your employees. If not then this is one of your first signs that your employees aren’t happy. They aren’t spreading the word to their friends and family about how great it is to work for your company.

I’ve read that 60% to 75% of new hires are from referrals. I believe that the actual number might be slightly higher, but it all depends on the industry.

If your employees aren’t talking well about your company then you are losing out on the opportunity to create a culture that retains the best employees. And these are the employees who will treat your customers like superstars.  You want to take advantage of employee referrals because good IT people tend to hang out with each other as well as good sales people, accountants, and every other industry. We congregate with like-minded people.

I read an awesome interview of Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh over at Stephan Spencer’s blog. He was asked to share a bit of background about Zappos. His response was what I wish to hear from every CEO:

“Our #1 priority as a company is our company culture. We believe that if we get the culture right, most of the other stuff, including great customer service, will fall into place on its own. Long term, we want the Zappos brand to be about the very best customer service and the very best customer experience.”

Your company can create a culture that makes your employees want to tell everyone how great it truly is to work there. How do you do this?

  1. Make the atmosphere so much fun that they want to tell their friends, spouses, children, grandparents, and their neighbor.

  2. Create a design friendly atmosphere. We are visual creatures and all of us like to work in a physically pleasing atmosphere. So try adding new artwork or a new piece of furniture that’s a little weird to get employees talking to each other. When employees have common ground that spurs conversation they will find reasons to help each other succeed.

  3. Give your employees leisure time. Create a room where employees can hang out, not a lunch room, but a fun room. It can be filled with board games, healthy snacks and drinks, and don’t forget the music.

  4. Put in a slide from your second floor to your first. That’s if you have a 1st and 2nd floor and 15,000 extra dollars to make it happen. Okay, you probably don’t, but how about buying a Wii so the employees can do something else besides watching TV during their breaks. By getting employees to interact together you’ll help encourage friendships.

  5. When all else fails just ask your employees how to improve the work environment, then implement the best idea for the next two months. See how it goes then try the next best ideas. You’ll have to be open and honest with all of your employees, making sure they understand what you are trying to accomplish.

It’s up to your company to figure out a way to bring more fun, engagement, pride, and productivity to your work place. Now that you have some ideas, it’s time to create some employee buzz that gets around.

This is a guest post by Karl Staib

Karl Staib writes about unlocking and kicking open the door to working happy at his own blog: Work Happy Now!  If you enjoyed this article, you may like to subscribe to his feed or read one of his most popular articles, Why Every Company Should Appoint a Work Happy Manager.

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Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time

is anyone listening? OK, this one will piss a couple of people off.

Why do so many developers keep thinking their social media network is something new.  Sure, they may have a new feature or two, but since most people want to keep it simple, maybe development is too easy and now we are all just having our time wasted by everyone trying to promote their version of the same old thing.

I am a huge fan of innovation.  I love new technology that is interesting and makes life easier.  I hate me too sites.

The same could be said for blogging.  So I do not consider myself immune on this.  When I started my company 10 years ago I was a true thought leader on education and technology.  Now I feel like a social media pimp.

On the one hand, I can really help people be successful online and in new media.  However, since most people that we help spend far less time than me doing this, they really only need basic advice.  So no pushing the envelope or looking at the broader picture of how these tools will shape the world and someday stop being a mess and start making life easier.

I am calling on the Developers and Writers of the world to Stop Wasting Everyone’s Time.

No more me too technologies.   Any website can be cloned – that is not the point.  Any slightly curious person can set up a social network – but are you making the world a better place or adding to the noise?

Welcome to the Age of Noise

Forget the Information Age.  We are now living in the Age of Noise.

Until some technologies pull together the diverse oppportunities and opinions better, we will all just continue to get more distracted, more frustrated and work more dilligently than ever to game the system  in our own little way.

I think the people at Google know this.  They have had this discussion and are building many different pieces and they will eventually be able to say, “The web is too noisy, just play in our universe and get more focused and valuable information.”

I do not mean today.  They are still learning evaluation techniques, what people find valuable, etc.  Eventually they will be able to pull all those pieces together.  Even now, think of the number of websites that they never generate traffic to because they do not rank highly.

The Death of Advertising

Lots of people got excited when it seemed formal advertising was on the way out.  It is only less effective because it has gotten lost in the noise.   Now it just needs to be in even more places to reach the same number of people.

But You Love Social Media?

Sure you do.  Doesn’t it feel good to know you have 2 new friends you have never met every day or 5 new followers – you must be very important and interesting.  The numbers make your feel good, but wouldn’t you trade 100 virtual friends for one real friend?

Thinking Deeper

There is so much noise and distraction that people are losing the ability to think deeply.  I am talking about relaxing someplace with no cell phone or computer and really puzzling out problems or interesting issues.   I am talking about the kind of thing that can solve big problems, not just contribute to minor marketing or productivity increases.

Humans are most interesting when they think deeply.  When you wonder why people are not responding well to you, maybe it is because you are just creating more of the same old noise, and it is only special to you because you created it.

Am I a Hypocrite?

Yes and no.  I have been taking some time off to go for walks or sit in the hammock, and really think like I used to.  I am going to keep going through the motions (I have to eat) but expect changes.  My passion is to change the world for the better, not to teach people how to use facebook.  I am still pondering how it will all fit together.

NOTE:  This is an official rant.

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According to Google – We are HOT for Buzz Marketing

I have been publishing this blog for years, trying to write good content at least a few times per week.

If it was not for the speaking and newsletter sign ups, I might have given up at some point.  Sometimes it seems like you are talking and no one is listening (probably because you are actually babbling, like I am doing now.)

So I felt a great deal of satisfaction today when I saw we are now the #2 expert site for the keyword “Buzz marketing.”

Buzz Marketing Expert Site

The fact is, I optimize the site for the keyword but I do not try to go out and solicit links and things.  I hope people link to the site because of the great content, and I put my effort into that.

This blog holds a very steady 2nd page ranking for Buzz Marketing, but getting to that first page has not happened in a while.  And I do not know how long it will be before we are knocked back down, but for today, we are the #2 highest authority for Buzz Marketing.  (I am taking out that #2 site that is just a definition of buzz marketing)

The take away, if you want to go after a term that is fairly broad and competitive, is that you have to create an expert site and keep writing.  And in the future, that is going to be even more true.  It is well known that Google has started factoring in content freshness and expert status of sites.

That is why we formed the Virtual Buzz Assistant Network – you have to be passionate about writing in your industry, or outsource content creators to help you develop your expert site.  Tomorrow my ranking might slip – but my goal is not any given day, but the long term strategy of creating content that matters.

Register Your Domain Name

This is for all you Non-techies.

I cannot stress enough the importance of registering and maintaining your own domain name.  I just got a call from a client that had let a previous host register his domain name for him, and every year it has been a huge headache and far more expensive than it should be.

This year he finally is transferring it to his own oversight, but he waited until the last day and now it is stuck in limbo because he cannot access his email, which is tied to the domain (he should have used a different email that would not go down if the domain did.)

I know many people are not technical and they just want someone to take care of it for them, but this is kind of like letting someone else manage your telephone number.  It is better to just pay that bill on your own because your phone is too important.

You can register and manage your own domain name at www.outstandahosting.com – and you will get 100% control of either hosting it there or hosting it elsewhere.  So when you are no longer happy with your web site host, they cannot hold you ransom – you just log into your domain management account and change where it resolves.

Here are 5 tips to keep your domain safe.

  1. Use One Account for all Domain Names
    You may register a domain in one place, then find another place that is $1 per year less.  Don’t do it.  Just keep all your domains in the same place so you can manage them well.  Any price $10 per year or under is fair.
  2. Never Use your Domain Email as the contact
    If you use the domain email and the domain goes down, you are stuck because you cannot approve changes that come via email.  Set up a gmail account or use different emails in the different contact areas.
  3. Register Multiple Years
    Google likes to see that you register your domain for more than one year.  It is also easier to manage if you just pay for a few years up front, and will often save you a little money.
  4. Multiple MX Records
    Your email gets forwarded to an email server by the MX Record.  You can have multiple MX Records as a failsafe for your email.  I have never seen an email host without at least two options.
  5. A Record
    Your A record is where everything gets sent that is not otherwise specified.  In many cases, you only have to set up your A Record and your MX Record, and your hosts will take care of the rest.  Then if you later chance hosts, you just change these addresses – they cannot hold your domain hostage and overcharge you for changing.

I am writing this because it really is important that you take the 1/2 hour or so to understand it and do it yourself.  Even if it is a free add-on from your service provider, go straight to a registrar like www.outstandahosting.com and do it yourself.  Then things will just stay simple and you will never experience the frustration of transferring a domain.

Want Links? Create a Useful Resource.

100 Entrepreneur Blogs is a new post on Start Up Success and we are honored to be included in the post.

It is also a great example of how to get people to link to you.  (Look, I linked)

Why does this work?

  1. A good list is a time saver for the reader.  You could not find 100 quality blogs in an hour of searching on Google, because no one has sorted them by category or quality.
  2. Links to blogs show up in the control panel of those blog authors.  They are going to see the list.
  3. People will link to the article because of ego.  They are on a list as a valuable resource.
  4. People will bookmark this as their reading list (not really a link, but traffic).

It does take a little longer to write something like this.  But the return is great.

3 Quick Places to Gain Visibility

If you only have one of the top 10 spots in Google searches for important key words – here is how to probably get some more.

Here are three places that will let you (responsibly) publish information with links to your site.  The new thing you write ranks well quickly because it is on existing sites that have great ranking.

  1. answers.yahoo.com - Strategically creating good questions and answers will get ranked well on search engines and generate traffic to your website or blog.  Use the tool and do not always promote something, or the same thing.
  2. Squidoo.com - Publish your lens with resources and outbound links.  Be sure to use the keywords you are targetting in your tags and titles.
  3. HubPages.com - Freakishly fast and high ranking in Google after publishing on this.  Build HubPages on your targeted topic and be sure to include a few links to what you are promoting.

In all three of these cases, you have to add value.  If you just post blatant promotional items, it will get far fewer results (and possibly removed.)

A technique I use is writing a top 10 (or 7) list on a topic, with links to additional information peppered throughout.  Those links may go to blog posts like this one with more detail.

Researching Blogs that want to write about you

The great thing about blogs is that active Bloggers are looking for relevant topics and content to write about regularly. They are often very open to doing an interview, linking to a good article, etc.

But how do you find the right blogs to contact?

Specialized Blog Search Engines

Your best friend will be the specialized blog search engines.

Technorati was once the leader, but Google has some great features that often make it better. With Google, you can sort by date of key word, bringing you the most recent posts to include your keyword first.

Technorati is different. It has search, but also has a social network aspect. You can find one blog you like and then look at those other blogs in their neighborhood, in the cloud tags, etc. to find others that may be writing on the same topic.

Blog Directories

Blog directories are another place to find blogs. The great thing here is that they catalog them by topic, which helps give you a focused list to review.

Blog Rolls

One of the best ways to find blogs in your topic is to find a good blog, and then use the blog roll of that blog. A blog roll is a list of related blogs that the blogger sometimes publishes in the side bar of their blog. Blogs do not always have these, but a good one could save you many hours of research.

Contest Results

Lots of places have contests to select best blogs on a topic. You could start by searching for “Best Gardening Blog” (Replace Gardening with your target) and see if people have assembled lists and winners. Also replace the word Best with Top.

It takes time to find blogs that fit, but finding good fits and writing a good email can get you great rewards.

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