There are a lot of options when it comes choosing a comment system for your self-hosted WordPress blog. So when people ask me what I suggest, I always say that I go for the basic WordPress comment system that comes with your blog upon installation. Here are some questions I always ask people to consider before choosing a third-party comment system.
1. How will your site speed be affected?
Pingdom did a great study on the WordPress comment system’s load time vs. four popular third-party systems: Livefyre, IntenseDebate, Disqus, and Facebook. Here are their results.
Is the time difference significant? In most cases, not really. But what you have to consider is that if you want a speedy site, you need to optimize everything possible. 1,000 milliseconds here and there can add up to a lot when you consider all of your other plugins, banners, widgets, and images.
2. Who will own your comment author’s data?
When you comment on the basic WordPress comment system, you enter your name, email address, and a comment. That information goes into the WordPress database which the blog owner can backup and export at will. Most third-party comment systems will put the same comment data into your WordPress database. Before you install a third-party comment system, you should be sure that you will still be able to get this information into your database so you can retain ownership of your comments if you decide to remove the comment system at a later date. Speaking of which…
3. What will happen to your comments if you switch systems?
For most people, migrating from a third-party comment system back to WordPress is pretty simple. For others, I have seen some “interesting” things happen. Things like the comments from one post somehow duplicated themselves onto other posts and had to be manually deleted. Also, I saw a customized WordPress theme that was built around the third-party comment system. When the blog owner removed it, they lost the formatting and threading of all of their comments. So along with the question of who owns your comment data, you have find out what will happen to your blog if you choose a third-party comment system and change your mind.
4. How easy will it be for your visitors to comment?
As a tech savvy person, you might forget about how people who are new to the blogosphere will feel about comment systems that require logins. Anyone can understand name, email, website (optional), and comment. Some might get lost in the signup process for a third-party comment system and never get around to actually leaving a comment on your blog.
5. Is it spam you are worried about?
Third-party comment systems boast about spam control and advanced community management features. Registration supposedly cuts down on spammers, right? Not necessarily. Comment spammers can figure their way around any system. Allowing them to register for a comment system means that they get the green light on blogs that allow registered users’ comments to post automatically.
Need more reasons?
If these aren’t good enough arguments to keep you on the base WordPress comment system, then there are two more things to consider.
- CommentLuv Plugin – A great way to encourage comments and get to know comment authors by seeing their latest blog posts. You can even encourage social sharing with CommentLuv premium!
- Aweber Plugin – If you use Aweber as your mailing list program, you can install this plugin which will add a simple checkbox to your comment form. This makes it easy for comment authors to also subscribe to your mailing list.
If you own a self-hosted WordPress blog, what comment system do you use and why? How do you feel about the others?
As you are probably well aware of, Google released their latest Panda / webspam algorithm update this week in order to reward high quality sites. What they specifically targeted was “black hat webspam” including keyword stuffing and link schemes. By devaluing sites that participated in these black hat techniques or anything against Google’s Webmaster Quality Guidelines, they are hoping to provide better user experience for searchers on the web.
Was Your Site Affected
According to Search Engine Land’s Winners & Losers post about sites affected by the latest Panda update, losing sites could be summarized as those which use databases to aggregate information, press portals & aggregators, and heavily templated sites. The top sites that lost the highest percentage of SEO visibility included familiar names like:
So how can you tell if your site was affected? Start watching your Google Analytics, particularly your Organic search traffic.
If you start to see the graph significantly dip after April 24th, then there is a good chance your site was affected.
You might also want to check your Google Webmaster Tools if you have set it up for your websites. Google has been sending notifications to webmasters in the last month about unnatural link activity.
Don’t freak out right away if you have new messages – Webmaster Tools also notifies you if you need a WordPress update!
What to Do If Your Site Was Affected?
So what do you need to do if your site was affected? You’ll need to be on the lookout for two things: over-optimization with your on-site SEO and unnatural, spammy links. Over-optimization usually boils down to keyword stuffing – too many keywords on a page in the title tag, meta description, and within the content. Unnatural, spammy links usually boils down to too much exact match anchor text and links in unnatural places. SEO.com has a great post on red flags to look for in your link portfolio.
If possible, you will want to remove any over-optimization on your website and try to have any spammy links taken down, then contact Google and ask for reconsideration back into their good graces.
How to Prevent Your Site from Getting Penalized
If your site wasn’t affected by the latest update, and you want to keep it from getting penalized in the future, be sure to do some preventative work like making sure your on-site SEO isn’t overly-optimized. Translation: have more quality content than keywords.
Also, don’t participate in unnatural link building tactics including, but not limited to:
- Over-used anchor text: Yes, it’s ok to use anchor text, but don’t build every single link to best SEO agency. Mix it up with different keyword phrases, your business / website / brand name, and other variations. Remember that the point is to look natural, and Google knows that 500 sites won’t link to the same exact keyword phrase every single time.
- Spamming: This includes crappy comments, crappy forum posts, and crappy article directories using crappy spun content. Again, all unnatural looking elements.
- Link exchanges: While it’s OK to link to someone with a similar website and have them link back to you, it’s not OK to link to just anyone’s homepage and have them link back to you on their link exchange, resources, or other sites of interests pages. Especially if those pages on other sites are linking to a ton of different websites that has nothing to do with yours.
- Paying for links: If you are following a competitor’s backlink trail and buying blogroll links on the same sites they are, then you will start creating a noticeable “pattern” that Google might detect one day. Think about it – if they bust Site A for buying links, and they see that Site B and Site C have links on the same exact sites that Site A has links on, they’ll make the connection.
Was your site (or a favorite of yours) hit by the latest algorithm update? What are you doing to prevent your site from being penalized?
As the club leader of the Social Media Examiner Blogging Club, I see the occasional post or comment about whether people should skip having a blog and post their content to Facebook, Google+, or Twitter instead. Or I see photographers saying they don’t need a website, they’ll just use Flickr instead. While you should be active on these networks, it doesn’t mean you should depend on them 100%. Let’s look at the reasons…
You Are Subject to the Network’s Rules
This goes for any social network and hosted blog platform including WordPress.com, Blogger, Posterous, Tumblr, and so forth. When you post your content on one of these networks, you are subject to their terms of service. If you violate any of their rules, you could have a ton of content and comments one day, and nothing the next.
This means that you actually do need to read these networks’ terms of service carefully to make sure things like your content’s topic, affiliate links, and other things you are interested in posting are not going to be in violation of the network. Otherwise, you can say goodbye to your content.
Hosting companies, on the other hand, are usually pretty lenient on content so long as you aren’t doing posting anything illegal, adult in nature, violent, or otherwise against basic moral code. Topics like SEO and affiliate marketing won’t get you banned, and they probably won’t have any problem with you uploading a large image advertisement for your own website.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Changes
Does it frustrate you when Facebook or Google+ revamps their design, and your only choice is whether you will spend the time (and possibly dollars) to get your profiles and pages fixed? When you own your own website or blog, you don’t have to worry about someone else forcing you to change your design. You can pretty much abandon it for a year, come back, and see that it is still intact. Redesigns happen only with your consent.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Backup System
One of my chief concerns about anything I have online is what would happen if a server should crash. When it comes to my own WordPress sites, I have the ability to go in, backup my database & files, store them on a hard drive, and protect them in a bank vault if I so choose. Networks like WordPress.com probably have a pretty tight backup system in place, but you can’t guarantee that every network will. And if your profile or blog is removed due to terms of service violations, then they don’t have to give you a backup so you can move your content elsewhere.
You Are Subject to the Network’s Ownership of Your Content
Pinterest isn’t the first or last network to claim some ownership of content once it is uploaded to their network. What if you decide that you want to take a piece of content down? Are you sure that it won’t be archived somewhere on that network’s database, with their right to use it already covered in the TOS you agreed to when you signed up?
You Are Subject to the Network’s Success or Failure
Last, but not least, if you don’t own your own domain, then you are subject to whatever might happen to your network. Facebook is not likely to be bought out any time soon, but what about Instagram? You thought your photos there were safe in their small, fuzzy network, and now they will be owned by Facebook. Or worse, think about when a network is bought out by a larger company and then closed. Unless you forget to renew your domain or pay your hosting fees, you won’t have to worry about any of those things when you own your own website.
Those are just a few reasons to really look at keeping your content on your own blog or website, and not just on another hosted blog network or social network. What other reasons can you think of?
When was the last time you updated your social media profiles? I don’t just mean the big ones like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+. I mean all of them. I bet the first thing you think when you think about all of your social profiles is that you have no idea where they are, let alone how long it has been since you updated them.
When Do You Need to Update Your Social Media Profiles
There are many changes that may happen in your professional lives that might warrant an update of your social media profiles. These include the following.
- When you change job titles, places of employment, or careers.
- When your name changes (for better or for worse).
- When your website changes.
- When one project becomes more important than another.
- When you come up with a new elevator pitch about yourself or your business.
- When you get a new, updated headshot.
There are many more times that could warrant a change of profile, but these are the top ones that come to mind. Whenever these things happen, you don’t want to leave your old information hanging around.
Which Social Media Profiles You Need to Update
When I saw all of your social media profiles, that may sound daunting. So let’s just start with these profiles. Note that it may not just be social media profiles, but also forum profiles, job site profiles, author bios, or any other page about you.
- Any social media profile that you have linked to your website or blog.
- Any social media profile listed on your business card.
- Any social media profile that comes up on the first five pages of search results for your name, blog name, or business name. Be sure to use Google personalized & non-personalized searched results, Yahoo, and Bing.
- Any social media profile that you have linked from your other social media profiles.
This could be just a few or quite a lot, depending on how many social profiles you have created. The reason you have to hit all of them is because you never know which profile someone might encounter first. It would be a shame if, for example, you recently started your own consulting business but your social profiles still refer people back to your previous employer.
How to Keep Social Media Profiles Organized
What I like to do is keep a simple spreadsheet compiling all of my social media profiles. This spreadsheet includes the site, my profile URL, date it was last updated, username, and password hint.
Using this, I can sort the spreadsheet by when a profile was last updated, think about if I have had any changes that might warrant revising any outdated profile information, and go from there. This also helps me keep track of all of those different variations of usernames / passwords I have created over the years. Note that I use password hints and not actual passwords – just in case something should compromise the file.
By doing this, you can make sure that you don’t have any old information out on the web. That way, people will always get the right first impression when they find you online – no matter where they find you!
Have you checked out your Facebook page yet? That’s right – today is the day that Facebook changes pages over to the new Timeline design. There’s no reason to panic – here’s the basics of what you need to do right now to make sure your page looks great for your visitors!
Add a Cover Photo
Your page’s cover photo will make the biggest impression on your Facebook page’s new design, so make it count. Unfortunately, you can’t turn it into an advertisement or include any information (like your website) that should be in your profile’s About section (see other rules about the cover photo for your page here). But you can make it a great representation of your brand or blog! Get some inspiration with these online marketing brands’ cover photos.
Update Your Page’s About Information
The information that was displayed under your page’s profile in the old design will be displayed right below your cover photo. See the difference between the old design…
and the new design.
Be sure it sums up your page well and includes a link back to your website for more clicks!
Customize Your Tabs
Your new Facebook page design has room for 12 tabs. Two of them will be set to your page’s number of likes and photos as default, and the photos cannot be moved from the first spot. When you click the down arrow, you will see all of your current apps and custom tabs.
To rearrange them, hover over one and click the pencil icon. Then you can swap its position with another tab.
You can also click on the Edit Settings option to change the tab’s image and text beneath it. The suggested size for a tab image is 111×74, but if you go bigger, it will ensure that the image is scaled down and fits across the entire area.
Since only four tabs are shown by default until someone clicks on the down arrow, organize them wisely to include the most important ones first!
Scroll Through Your Updates
Last, but not least, you will want to scroll through your page’s recent activity to make sure it looks as full as possible. If you used third party apps to update your page, you might need to break up the updates.
To do so, hover over them, click on the pencil icon, and select View Individual Stories. Then tell them to be Highlighted on Page.
Then go back to your page and click on the star to remove the highlighting feature. Now your updates will be separate but not highlighted.
If you didn’t update your page in a long time, then post some updates and change the date by hovering over them, clicking the pencil icon, and selecting Change Date. This way you can fill up your Timeline with updates so it doesn’t look so empty.
These are the absolute basics that you should do to get your Facebook page in top shape for the new design! What other things have you done to fix things up?
If you’re like me, you might be a little wary of automated solutions that allow you to grow your Twitter list exponentially, but also have the potential of getting your account shut down. So instead, I thought I would share with you my simple strategy for slowly and steadily growing your Twitter followers.
This isn’t about getting a huge number of just any Twitter followers, but a smaller concentration of Twitter followers that will be interested in your content.
Tweet Links with Author’s Twitter Handle
If you read and tweet blog posts a lot, chances are you are using the Tweet button on the post or an app like Buffer to schedule your tweets. But one thing you might be missing out on with either approach is adding the blog post author’s Twitter handle to your tweet. Let’s say you were tweeting a post off of Mashable, for example. It’s not likely that @Mashable will notice your tweet considering they have dozens of posts daily that are getting tweeted around 1,000+ tweets each.
The people who might notice your tweets, however, are the authors of those posts. Simply click on the name of the author to get to their author page.
There, you will find a link to their Twitter profile.
When you tweet the post, be sure to include the author’s Twitter handle in the tweet and also follow the author.
Does this work all of the time? Of course not. But if you’re already tweeting a blog post, you might as well take the extra moment or two to find the author’s Twitter handle and include them in on the tweet. As a bonus, if you do establish a good relationship with a regular author on a major blog, you could ask them to introduce you to their editor to get a great guest posting gig for yourself!
Follow People Who Tweet Your Posts
Do you notice the same person regularly tweeting your posts? Simply follow them and thank them for tweeting you! This personal interaction may get them to follow you back if they are not following you already.
Follow People You Converse With
Do you get the occasional Twitter question from someone who isn’t following you? If they’re talking about your niche or industry, be sure to answer and follow them. They’ll likely take notice and follow you back since you’ll be fresh on their mind!
Monitor Keyword Discussions
Not sure where to find new followers? Try this approach. Search for a particular keyword on Twitter to see who is talking about it.
You can save your searches on Twitter itself or, better yet, save this search in a Twitter management tool like HootSuite so you can continuously monitor it.
Whenever someone asks a good question, answer it and follow the person. Since you’re helping them out, they’ll likely view you as an authority and follow you back for more information!
Last, but not least, make sure you get the most exposure for your tweets by simply adding a keyword hashtag to them. You know things like #seo, #socialmedia, and #blogging are popular. But if you’re not sure about others, use Tospy Analytics to search hashtag ideas to see which ones get the most usage.
Beneath the graph, you can see the types of tweets that are shared with that hashtag and the number of influential users that use it.
By doing this, the people who follow that hashtag will see your tweet as well as the people who create Paper.li papers and other content based around the hashtag.
How Do You Grow a Steady Following on Twitter?
These are just a few ways to build a slow and steady following on Twitter that shouldn’t backfire and get your account penalized. What other methods do you use to build followers?
Do you want to keep up with the latest news for your favorite Facebook fan pages, but don’t want to miss out on them because EdgeRank is hiding them from your new feed? Or would you prefer to not have to go to Facebook at all until your favorite pages have updates?
One of the Google Chrome extensions I use, RSS Subscription Extension, puts an RSS icon in the browser’s address bar when there is an RSS feed discovered on a page. On Facebook pages that haven’t been converted to the new Timeline design, that icon comes up so you can subscribe to your favorite page’s RSS feed.
For pages with the new design enabled, however, the RSS feed has gone missing.
Fortunately, the feed is still available though. You just need a little workaround. To get any page’s RSS feed, first you will need to grab the page’s ID number. For pages that do not have a customized username (http://facebook.com/username), the ID number will be at the end of the URL. For those pages that have a customized username, the quickest way to grab the ID is through the Open Graph. Simply take the page’s username and add it to the following URL.
Highlighted in the above is my page’s ID number, 255576081168962. To create the RSS feed, take the page ID number and insert it in the following.
Take this URL and paste it into your preferred RSS reader. Mine is Google Reader, so I would paste it in to the Subscribe field.
Now, you can see your favorite page’s updates all in your RSS reader.
With Google Reader, you can even gain some insight into how many times a page posts per week on average.
I’m not sure how accurate that really is, but you might find it insightful sometimes. My page shows an average of six posts a week when lately I have only done one to two per week. Mashable’s page, on the other hand, shows an average of 120 post per week and 23 subscriber’s to their page’s RSS feed.
Do you use RSS feeds to follow Facebook pages?
I am regularly asked about the effectiveness of article marketing. It’s been a little over a year since the first Google Panda update in February 2011 when many sites took a major beating in keyword rankings.
While researching free SEO tools, I found a nice feature in SEMRush that allows you to see the number of keywords a site is ranking for over time. Using a graph that pulls information from the last four years, you can easily see if and when Panda updates hit the site. You can also tell if the site has since recovered their rankings.
The following are some of the top article directories and how they have fared in keyword rankings since the first Panda update. Note the spike around 3/2011 in the graph and everything thereafter.
Alexa Global Rank: 806
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.examiner.com/assets/handbook/index.html
Alexa Global Rank: 209
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.squidoo.com/originalitypact
Alexa Global Rank: 293
Editorial Guidelines: http://hubpages.com/faq/#what_is_allowed
Alexa Global Rank: 314
Editorial Guidelines: http://ezinearticles.com/editorial-guidelines/
Alexa Global Rank: 7,508
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.articlealley.com/guidelines.php
Alexa Global Rank: 2,660
Editorial Guidelines: http://goarticles.com/author.html
Alexa Global Rank: 1,321
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.articlesbase.com/editorial-guidelines
Alexa Global Rank: 4,834
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.articlesnatch.com/submitguidelines.php
Alexa Global Rank: 6,336
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.amazines.com/Article-Submission-Guidelines.htm
Alexa Global Rank: 3,802
Editorial Guidelines: http://community.suite101.com/support/suite101-submission-guidelines
Alexa Global Rank: 4,842
Editorial Guidelines: http://help.helium.com/helium-writing-standards
Alexa Global Rank: 1,868
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.buzzle.com/authors/become-author.asp
Alexa Global Rank: 9,756
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.articlecity.com/article_submission.php
Alexa Global Rank: 5,030
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.selfgrowth.com/submit_articles
Alexa Global Rank: 7,681
Editorial Guidelines: http://www.bukisa.com/info/bukisa-101
Do you use article marketing in your online marketing strategy? Has it been effective since Panda? What directories would you suggest?
One of the many questions looming around the new Facebook pages with timeline design is how brands that are more informational and less visual going to fare with the timeline cover photo. So today, let’s take a few minutes not thinking about all of the other massive changes to Facebook page functionality and instead take a look at some of the top well-known brands in the online marketing space using the new Facebook pages.
Search Engine Land
I decided to start off the list with Search Engine Land because their photo goes to show that anything goes with Timeline cover photos. Does this mean that SEL thinks they rock? Maybe. Whatever it is, it is cute!
HubSpot uses an artistic rendering of a city skyline plus their logo as their Timeline cover photo. It’s a simple and creative way to represent their brand.
Raven Internet Marketing Tools
Raven Internet Marketing Tools uses a quick snap of what looks like their booth at a conference as their Timeline cover photo. It’s a great way to show a little about their product and their involvement in industry events.
Mashable adds the people element to their Timeline cover photo by using this mosaic of Mashable’s members. How awesome would it be to have your avatar featured in this collage!
BlueGlass uses their Timeline cover photo to highlight their upcoming Internet marketing conference in Los Angeles. It’s a great way to draw attention to what is happening now with your business.
Another example of putting people behind the brand, Distilled uses this awesome shot of their team as their Timeline cover photo. They certainly do fit their description of enthusiasm.
Search Marketing Expo
Although I’m not sure how I feel about the quality of the photo, Search Marketing Expo uses the perfect Timeline cover photo to show what it is like attending one of their conferences.
WebProNews uses a mixture of celebrities and Internet rockstars in their Timeline cover photo as a part of their interview collage. It certainly made me curious enough to go to their website and see if I could locate some of these interviews!
Unbounce uses their Timeline cover photo to showcase details about their main product. It’s a simple way to let people know what your brand does when a visitor comes to your Facebook page.
There’s nothing wrong with simplicity if all else fails and you can’t come up with a creative Timeline cover photo idea. AllFacebook just uses their name on the standard Facebook blue background.
What are some favorite Timeline cover photos you’ve seen so far on pages using the new Facebook page with Timeline design? What are you planning to use for yours? Please share in the comments!
Video marketing is hot right now, and chances are you may have already tried to capitalize on that with some videos on YouTube. You may think you are done once you have uploaded your video, optimized it for searched, and shared it with your audience. But if you’re only checking your number of views from this point out, then you’re missing out on some important data – your video statistics.
Public Video Statistics
When logged into your YouTube / Google Account, you can go to your video and click on the statistics button under the video.
First, you will see the public data about your video, viewable to anyone who clicks on it. This view will give you the overall traffic history, plus some details about specific “discovery events” that led to the most amount of views including search queries and sites it has been embedded on.
To make this data private, you can click on Private next to Privacy settings. Then, you can continue to the juicy data by clicking on the View more statistics link – the stuff only available to the video owner.
In-Depth Video Analytics
Within your private video analytics, you can set specific date ranges including the last seven days, last thirty days (default), this month, last month, this year, last year, lifetime, or custom range. I prefer using the lifetime option which will include data from December 2009 to the present. Then you can see the following information on the Overview screen for the data range specified.
- Number of views.
- Channel subscriber changes.
- Video engagement (likes, dislikes, comments, shares, favorites added, or favorites removed).
- Demographics (top viewer locations, male vs. female).
- Video discovery including top playback locations and traffic sources.
You can click on any of these boxes for more information. I find the most useful areas to be the following – you can access them using the menu on the left hand sidebar.
This will show you where the majority of your viewers are coming from and the gender breakdown between male and female viewers.
This will where most people watch your videos. You can also click on the link for Embedded player on other websites to see what websites have embedded your video. This information could come in handy in a variety of ways, such as asking someone who likes your video to link to your website, connect with you on a social network, or accept a guest post from you.
This is another hotbed of information about your video. Click on the links to see where on YouTube your video receives views (such as another member’s favorites or your own channel page), external websites linking to your video, YouTube search terms leading visitors to your video, Google search terms leading visitors to your video, and more. The search terms leading visitors to your video can be especially helpful when you want to create more videos but are unsure what keywords to target.
Not sure if your videos are too long or too short? Wonder what part of your video content makes people leave? Find out by looking at the Audience Retention graph which shows you what times during the video people start to exit. This can help you change the length of future videos to fit your audience’s attention span.
Engagement reports will tell you more information about people who subscribe to your channel, like or dislike your video, favorite your video, comment, or share. This can help you learn more about the audience that actually engages with your video as opposed to just watching it.
Do you use your YouTube statistics and analytics? How has this information helped you in future video marketing campaigns?