Author Archives: BillM

Is Google Getting Soft on Paid Links

Has Google seen the light or are they just getting soft? What I mean is that they recently pushed a pagerank update out to the toolbars and it would appear at first glance that the big G might be getting soft.

Paid Links

Google in the last year or so has taken a very firm stance against paid links. They have made it clear that paid links are not acceptable, this includes paid text links, sponsored reviews, payperpost etc. If they find out about the paid links, or even if they suspect them to be so, they will put you to a PR0 in a heartbeat.

Like it or not, Google is a powerful force and they can essentially remove you from the Internet if they choose. Certainly not altogether, but they can make sure that nobody EVER finds you via their search engine. Depending on your model, this could be a kiss of death or nothing to worry about. For most it is the former.

Google claims to do this to protect the “relevancy” of their search engine results. I fail to see how if someone is buying Cheap College Textbooks links that points to a cheap college textbook website, affects their rankings? That would seem pretty relevant to me.

They certainly don’t mind people buying links through their adwords campaign. Those links you see at the top and right of a Google search are paid links. They don’t seem to have a problem with those though, why? Well because THEY are the ones getting paid.

Hypocritical? Absolutely.

History Repeating

Google came to be the 800lb gorilla that it is today because they had a goal to provide the most relevant search engine results possible. I still think they do a good job of it however I wonder if history could repeat itself?

Google survived the search engine wars because they focused on being the best search engine around. While names like Alta Vista, Excite and Lycos worked hard to have a content packed portal site, Google ruthlessly worked to develop the biggest index of relevant sites known to man.

This, combined with some great timing and simple luck, propelled them to the top and really only Yahoo remains today as a moderately relevant player. Google was able to dominate because they weren’t focused on revenue, they were focused on providing relevant results.

That was ok then, but now they have stockholders to answer to and revenue obligations to meet. Will this need to generate revenue via sponsored search be their downfall? That remains to be seen. I don’t think anyone would argue that have alienated users in the past and seem to incite outright anger from some.

This seems to be very similar to Microsoft, another widely reviled company. Microsoft is still an 800lb gorilla but I am writing this on Firefox, not IE. Google, can you hear us now?

Stance Softening?

With this latest toolbar update, it would appear at first glance that the big G might be softening up a little bit. I have seen a number of sites that were previously banished to PR0 hell, pick up some pagerank. I know of one blog that every other article is a paid payperpost and even that site went from PR0 to PR2.

The evil John Chow even went from a PR3 to a PR4 and he’s definitely Personae non Grata around the halls of Google. At one time he didn’t even rank for his own NAME!

This may be a sign that Google is easing their stance on blogs that generate income via links and reviews or maybe bloggers are just getting wiser and hiding it better. It appears to me that the former is the case just going by some of the blogs that I have seen enjoy a PR increase.

This would be a good thing for the bloggers who are just trying to scrape a few bucks from their blogs. I hardly think they could affect the SERPS enough for Google to be so hardcore. If they can, then you would have to suspect Google’s algorithm as not being that great to begin with.

Conclusion

I applaud Google for wanting to protect the relevancy of their search results but I think they need to recognize the real enemy. It isn’t the bloggers, it’s the Spammers. I have my content regularly scraped by SPLOGS and I can do nothing about it.

Reporting it to Google falls on deaf ears but let someone report a paid link or let them suspect a sponsored review and they will hit the eject button on you pretty darn fast. Let’s hope that this recent toolbar push is a sign that Google has recognized the real enemy and will rally their efforts around eradicating SPAM from the online world.

In my humble opinion, that is a far worse enemy than some poor schmo trying to make a few dollars by writing a review of another bloggers website.

So how did you make out in the recent toolbar push? Are you a PR hero or a PR zero?

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This post was brought to you by Viagra so if you have trouble……….nah just kidding. If you liked what you read here then you can check me out at my own Make Money Blogging blog that has just enjoyed a bump from a PR2 to a PR4. Have a great weekend.

7 Tips To Overcome Writers Block

7 Tips to Overcome Writers Block

Have you ever sat down at the keyboard needing to write a post only to draw a total blank? The longer you sit there and try to force the content to flow, the harder it becomes to concentrate? It’s kind of like trying to go to the bathroom when you know someone is listening, no matter how hard you try…well, you get the idea.

Don’t fret, you are definitely not alone if you occasionally struggle to generate unique content. It is not difficult to find examples of daily as posts get recycled into new content and bloggers try to make something out of used up older posts.

Recognizing the problem is the easy part, what to do about it is the what most bloggers struggle to figure out. If your creative juice has slowed to a trickle then keep on reading because we’ve got the fix to get your content flowing again.

Here’s 7 different suggestions for posts that you can resort to when your creativity needs a recharge.

Caution: Use Only In Emergency

  • In case of emergency break glassProduct Review – Granted these sometimes are not the most exciting posts to write or read but if you give an in depth review of something you feel strongly about then you are sure to add value to the content. It could be something from your favorite plugin to the last book you read but whatever you do, make it entertaining to read.
  • List Posts – List posts are some of the most popular and widely read posts that you can find on the Internet. People absolutely LOVE them. I would challenge you that if you are going to resort to a list post that you make sure you put a spin on it that will entertain and be unique.
  • Round Up – Round Up posts are typically a summary of some of the favorite posts you’ve read this week either from your own blog, other blogs or a combination of the two. I recently wrote a White Trash Round Up post about some recent controversy in the MMO niche. It’s not your typical roundup post but, duh, that’s what makes it unique.
  • Rant Post – Everyone loves some good drama. They might pretend they are above it but no question, a rant or a slam post will create traffic. Reality TV is popular because people love the drama it provides. If you check out some of the posts I linked to in the White Trash Round Up post then you can tell by the comments that people LOVE these. Crank on someone today.
  • Post a Poll – Ask for input. Problogger constantly posts polls on his site and asks his readers for input. He then is able to generate a number of posts based off the results of the poll. This can be a built in content generating machine. Genius.
  • Link Love – Bloggers LOVE being linked to, so make someone’s day and link out to some of your favorite bloggers. You can introduce your readers to some great content make someone’s day all at the same time. If you believe in paying it forward, then this is an easy way to do it.
  • Don’t Post a Damn Thing Post – Yep, sometimes you are just better off not to post anything than to try and force it. A favorite saying of mine comes to mind….“It is better to be thought of a fool, than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.”

If you can’t find something to write about after reading this list then don’t fret, it won’t hurt to take a day or two off from posting and recharge your batteries. You will be better off for it as long as you don’t let the day or two slide into a week or more.

The lure of taking a day or two off can be attractive so as long as you don’t let it become a habit then your traffic and subscribers shouldn’t suffer too much. Whatever you do, don’t be like John Cow, and take a vacation only to come back and decide to sell your blog.

I came up with 7 ideas…..who can come up with another one?

125tbe-test.gifIf you enjoyed this post then will find me back here every Friday until the boss kicks me out. In the meantime you can check me out on my own blog at The Blog Entrepreneur if you just can’t wait until then. You can read my latest post “Buying a Blog is Like Buying a Mail Order Bride.”

Enjoy.

Is The Make Money Blogging Bubble About to Burst?

The perfect storm is brewing in the Make Money Online blogging world. These blogs tend to elicit strong reactions for various reasons. It seems that most people tend to either love or hate them with very few being indifferent to them.

Whether you are an advocate or not, it is clear that as more of these blogs are sold, a very familiar trend is forming.

Raging Bull

My first taste of irrational exuberance was the raging stock market of the 90s. Ahh… those were the good old days, stock market mania was everywhere.

Maria Bartiromo was one of the most recognized faces in America, Alan Greenspan was a household name and Jim Cramer was a rockstar.

Obscure companies like Cisco, Lucent and Applied Materials rocketed to the tops of the stock market charts and made people millions of dollars.

Tech stocks were the gold standard and these things were selling for ridiculous multiples. It mattered not that they had no revenue, no receivables, no profit, no inventory, nothing.

People bought them because they kept going up, not because it made any sense. They were buying a dream.

Any idiot could make money picking stocks. This was GREAT!

Of course all good things come to an end and when common sense burst the the bubble, the paper millionaires came crashing back to reality.

Flip This House

The drug of choice in the 90s was the stock market. After “the crash” people wanted a safer drug, one that wasn’t so volatile and that they understood more about.

Low interest rates and ridiculous lending practices began to skyrocket the housing market and people looking for the next big thing had just found it.

Those who didn’t even know what Applied Materials made, felt much better about investing in something they know, housing.

Houses began to appreciate 10, 20, 50 even 100 percent a year in many cases. Homeowners were cashing out and indulging in a lifestyle that they never dreamed possible.

Maria Bartiromo was replaced with Ty Pennington and Page Davis. Flip this House and Trading Spaces became two of the most popular shows on network TV.

Viewers eagerly tuned in to watch the latest moron buy a fixer upper, screw everything up beyond belief, yet still sell for a 6 figure profit. If that boob could make all of those mistakes and still profit, then so could I?

Any idiot can make money flipping houses. This is GREAT!

Just as the stock market of the 90s did before it, the Real Estate market has come crashing to earth. The guy who stumbled and bumbled his way to a 100k dollar profit before, was now stuck with the house and soon to be bankrupt.

Irrational Exuberance

Roughly a year ago a similar trend started in the world of blogging. It seems that MMO blogs are the latest “next big thing.”

John Chow and his outrageous income reports fuel the fire every month as bloggers see how easy it is to make money blogging.

Every time John Chow posts an income report it reminds me of those people who were able to make thousands on a flip without even knowing how to use a hammer.

Any idiot can Make Money Blogging. This is Great!

Uh oh.

Flip My Blog

This latest flip my blog craze is still unfolding even as I write this post. It seemed to start last year when when Blogging Fingers was sold. The floodgates were open and a number of blogs have been sold since that event.

Names like Cashquests, Onemansgoal, Blogtrepreneur, OneMansGoal again, Blogging Experiment, One Mans Goal yet again, SEONoobs, Shylock Blogging and the list goes on.

The previous two bubbles that I mentioned all had signs of “irrational exuberance” that foretold the end of the craze and this one is no different.

OneMansGoal has sold 3 times in the last 6 months with the latest being to a rank newbie who knows little to nothing about WordPress and is an admittedly poor writer. The selling price over 10k dollars!

Simply learning to blog is hard enough but learning to make money blogging at the same time is harder still. It appears he spent 10k dollars hoping to accelerate his learning curve but reality is that he bought the car before learning how to drive.

SEONoobs might be an even better example. This blog sold for $4500 dollars despite being only a few weeks old. You could duplicate that blog for almost no money and a couple of weeks worth of writing.

Conclusion

Nobody can accurately predict where the MMO blog craze is heading or how much money will change hands before we see that bubble burst, but I don’t think anyone will argue that a bit of irrational exuberance might be in play already.

I listed the two examples above but the bar for ridiculous might reach a new high any minute. John Cow has his parody blog on Sitepoint with a Buy It Now price of 50k dollars!

Cow reports an income of about 3500 dollars per month, so in the unlikely event that the buyer is able to maintain that revenue, it will be more than a year before they even break even.

Much like the “flipper” who ended up being stuck with a house that wasn’t worth what he paid for it, will this end up being the case for some or all of these blogs.

Time will tell and maybe they will prove my theory wrong, but all of the signs of a bubble are there. Much like the past, dreamers will blindly plunge into a field they know nothing about hoping they can be the next big thing.

The bottom line is it’s their money, if they want to plunge their life savings into a dream then so be it, but I expect that they will quickly learn that Hoping makes for a very poor business plan.

If you enjoyed this post you can find many more on my own blog at The Blog Entrepreneur. You will find me here every Friday as long as David doesn’t sell after reading this article.

My Top 12 Biggest Blogging Mistakes

Top 12 Blogging Mistakes

As I get older and “allegedly” wiser I often find myself looking backwards in order to find my way forward. I like to reflect on the things that I have done that have been both successful and not so successful. There are valuable lessons to be learned if you are self aware enough to find them.

I find these periods of reflection to have a lot of value to me as they remind me to stay on plan. I try really hard not to be a naked blogger but it’s easy to wander off track. A side benefit is that reflection can often produce some very good posting material.

If you’ve been blogging for more than 90 days consistently then I would challenge you to do the same. I am listing the Top 12 mistakes I made when I started out. I hope that you didn’t make the same mistakes but I’d like to hear from you in the comments if you did.

My Top 12 Blogging Mistakes

Appearance

Theme – When I first started out I couldn’t find a theme that I liked. I knew nothing about html or CSS sheets so I needed a template that looked good right out of the box. I searched endlessly and probably had about 20 different themes in my first 30 days. When I did find a theme I liked, I became engrossed in tweaking it to the point that wasn’t writing any content.

Branding – Starting out I didn’t realize how many blogs existed on the internet and nor did I realize how many of them looked almost exactly alike. If you are using a popular theme then you don’t stand a chance of building a recognizable brand without heavy modification. Your brand needs to be recognizable, if you want a good example then John Cow’s blog is a great one. If you’ve been there once, you remember it.

Pictures – Images are an incredibly powerful addition to your blog posts. They can turn mediocre content into a much more powerful piece. It’s amazing what the simple addition of a few well placed pictures can do for the readability of your posts. Pay attention to the blogs you read regularly, compare posts with and without pictures, tell me which read better.

Content

Writing Style – My early posts were very “wordy” and written more like a dissertation. Writing for a blog is much different than writing say, a college paper. You need to be careful not to write a dissertation but rather write like you talk. It’s called conversational blogging, without it you might bore your readers to death. Pretty sure that’s a bad thing.

Recycled Posts – New bloggers often struggle to find their own voice. It is pretty easy to get post ideas from other blogs and make them your own, everyone does it, but if you’re going to do it then “own” them. Put your own spin or point of view into the post so that yours adds value to any others out there that might be on the same topic.

Posting Frequency – When I first started blogging I was under the impression that I had to post every day. I would feverishly produce some very mediocre content all in the name of posting frequency. If you take one thing from my mistakes then take this, you are far better off to produce 3 quality posts a week as opposed to 7 mediocre ones.

SEO

Permalinks – What’s a permalink? I had no idea when I first started. WordPress was a mystery to me but fortunately I learned quickly. If you need a permalink primer or want to see an example of one of my early posts on SEO then check out “WordPress SEO for Complete Idiots Like Me” on my blog. Needless to say you want to get your permalink structure right EARLY, before you have 200 pages of content on your blog.

SEO PlugIn – Make sure you install a quality SEO plugin right from the start and USE it. It will help you rank in the SERPS and bring traffic to your site. Ranking well may not seem that important to you in the beginning but I assure you that it is. Search engine traffic brings quality, targeted visitors and you definitely want as much of it as you can.

Title Tags – Title tags can easily be changed via your SEO plugin but few new bloggers realize how important this is. If you allow every page to have the same title tag then you are missing out on a variety of relevant keyword possibilities. Use a unique title for every page and make sure your keywords are in it.

General Mistakes

Time Commitment – I underestimated the amount of time it would take to write and maintain a blog. I honestly thought it would be easy and that I could generate a quality blog post in less than an hour. Holy Mackerel was that the mother of all miscalculations. I hope I am not alone but it takes me far longer than an hour to write most of my posts.

Networking – In the beginning I was so swamped with information that one thing I neglected was networking. On the surface networking might not seem important in the blogging world but in reality it is critical and can dramatically ramp up your progress.

The simplest form of networking is to simply visit other blogs and comment on their content. This will start the foundation of a relationship that can pay off for both of you down the road. Networking always needs to be an equal relationship where you both give and take from the relationship. I know I would do anything to help my regular readers, simply because I want them to keep coming back.

Social Media – I was fortunate to discover Social Media early but I must admit it was by accident. One of my very early posts was a WordPress Plugin Resource list. This was the 4th post I had ever written and it was stumbled. Wow….2k visitors in 2 hours and I was hooked. My personal favorite is StumbleUpon, simply because it is so easy to use and can bring hordes of visitors in minutes.

Conclusion

There you have it, my most embarassing mistakes that I made when I started out blogging and occasionally still do today. I love these reflection posts as they remind me to focus on the basics and stick to my plan.

A successful blog is made up of hundreds of small components, cogs in the machine if you will. The time I spend checking up on myself keeps all of the cogs in the machine turning in the right direction, which keeps me moving forward.

It works for me, how about you? Do you revisit or run from your mistakes? What was the single biggest mistake you made during your first 90 days? Cheer me up and let me know I am not alone.

If you enjoyed reading this post then make sure to check out my blog at The Blog Entrepreneur. I will be posting here every Friday so impress the boss and check out my posts.

Are You Blogging Naked?

Naked Blogging
Are You Blogging Naked?Did you ask yourself “how did he know?” Relax, I am not trying to peek inside your private life or get in your business. I am just using using a metaphor to both grab your attention and to make a point.

In my experience it seems to be a fairly common trait that bloggers often start a blog without any real sense of purpose or end result that they are trying to achieve. They want to do well, they just don’t know how well or how they are going to go about it. They change direction often and the blog seems to have no “mission.”

These kinds of blogs often achieve a moderate level of success but rarely do you see this kind of blogger make it past a few hundred subscribers. The reality is they often give up and quit blogging altogether.

Blogging Naked

Strategic PlanIf you don’t have a “strategic” plan for your blog, then you are essentially “blogging naked.” What I mean by a strategic plan is where do you want your blog to be in 6 months, a year, 3 years? How are you going to achieve these goals? What are the steps you are going to take?

These are all questions you should ask yourself both when starting your blog as well as when you progress. Every serious blogger should have a strategic plan for their blog.

My niche is the MMO niche which is clearly loaded with blogs that have no clear end goal in mind. They exist simply to try and make some money. They don’t have any idea how they are going to accomplish that or even how much they plan to make, yet they blindly blog away hoping to hit it big.

Unfortunately in this niche, it is quite common to run across what I call a “dark” blog. What I mean by dark is a blog that might have been started with the best of intentions, but after a month or two of blogging, the posts get further and further apart. Eventually they grind to a halt. The lights go out, nobody is home. It’s a dark blog.

Another naked blogger bites the dust. Keep in mind it is especially important not to blog naked if you happen to be a video blogger. Fortunately Mark is top notch.

Blog Backwards

Blogging backwards is a great idea.

Set Blogging GoalsWhen I say you want to “blog backwards” I am saying that you want to determine where you want to go first. What is your end goal? Make 2k a month? Increase 200 RSS subscribers? Hit 10k visitors a week? Whatever the case may be you need to define your actual goal and then work backwards to determine how you are going to get there.

A well thought out strategic action plan should almost always include the factors I have listed below.

  • Content Creation – What’s your mission? What do you intend to give to your readers? Why should they come back?
  • Theme Design – An attractive theme will encourage readers to give your content a chance.
  • Branding – How are you going to “brand” yourself. What will separate you from the 2 gajillion other blogs in your niche? How will people remember you?
  • Social Media – A good Social Media strategy should be a critical part of your plan. Social media sites like Digg and StumbleUpon can send you hordes of visitors and potential subscribers.
  • Networking – Who are you going to partner with? No question that a network of bloggers helping each other out would be much more effective than a lone wolf. Travel in packs.
  • Marketing – How are you going to market your product? You can’t just build a blog and expect people to start lining up to read it. Some would argue that you are better off to be a great marketer than a great writer. John Chow would be a perfect example.

I am sure you might be able to add to my list but these that I have listed should be considered the cornerstones of any good plan.

Course Corrections

compass.jpegIt will to take time to find the strengths and eliminate the weaknesses of your plan but that is to be expected from new bloggers. If you monitor your success monthly then you can adjust, adapt and make changes to ensure you stay on your plan.

It would not be uncommon to make adjustments to your plan several times as you progress. Very few of us are blessed enough to nail our goals the very first time we try. These small setbacks are normal and shouldn’t derail you from your plan.

The Wright brothers crashed an untold number of planes before finding the right combination that kept them airborne. Persistence paid off. Most of the A-Listers you see writing today started out on other blogs and cut their teeth there before hitting it big with their current blogs. Stick to it.

Summary

In my niche, you often read comments such as “nobody could become the next John Chow” or “John got in at the right time” or “he couldn’t do it again today” or “the niche is saturated.” I have no doubt the origin of these kinds of statements come from frustrated MMO’ers that are not experiencing any success.

If truth be told they are likely frustrated because of their own failures. Rather than placing the blame where it belongs, they make unfounded excuses to justify these failures. They are Victims.

The fact is that you can make it happen, you could be the next whoever, it could be done again. You could choose to hope that it happens to you or you could MAKE it happen for you. Success is a Choice and it all starts with a goal and a plan to get there.

So…confession time…..how many of you are naked right now? Come on, fess Up.

If you enjoyed this post then please make sure you check out my own blog at The Blog Entrepreneur. You can find a lot more content just like it including “Are you Destined to Be Mediocre?” Otherwise, you can find me back here each and every Friday, with new advice and thoughts on the blogosphere.