What has the Title tag ever done for me?

All this talk of using social media or social media optimisation made me rethink the basics.

You can’t get more basic than the title tag, I blogged my thoughts on how we can use the title tag over at web-design-book.com sure it’s basic stuff. Web-design-book.com is meant for beginners, but as a long time user of seo techniques we sometimes get dazzled by the new new thing and forget the fundementals.

Take time crafting your title tags, giving them the love they deserve and they will give you love you back. Although there is debate raging about how important on page optimisation is for seo. Danny Sullivan of Search Engine Land pretty much nailed the debate shut with this post. I mean, what can you add after that.

Using social bookmarking sites such as Digg, Reddit, Netscape, has made me more aware of my title tags . Making me reach for my copywriting books a bit more often.

As John Carlton says it’s all about the “incongruent juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated ideas, facts or events.”

In fact, another thing Carlton teaches is that if you want to know how to write headlines go read the National Enquirer.

Think how enticing the headline, “Boy Eats Own Head” is. Also, womens magazines are great for how to write a cool headline. Next time you are at the magazine stand looking for Linux magazines check out the front covers of Allure, Cosmopliatan, Vogue. They all have snappy, enticing, irrisistable – to the target market – sub headlines that say the maximum amount in the minimum amount of words.

Michael Fortin also blogs Carltons quote

Techcrunch suffers Mybloglog spam

As I said in an earlier post, Mybloglog spam is too easy and too worthwhile.

SEO solo has an article about how he set up a spam experiment.

Simply buy opening a new acount, seeting his Opera browser to refreash every minute, he opens 20 top blogs that display members avatars and lets it run. He notes that he received a lot of contacts and traffic for the website he listed on the fake account spiked whils the experiment was running.

First, good job on making this public SoloSEO and not trying to benefit from it.

Of course you can ban members pictures popping up on your blog, but who has the time to monitor these things.

It should be easy to fixe, anyone staying on a blog for over an hour refreashing the page every 60 secs is easy to spot. But what if someone makes a script that varies the refreash rate and randomises the top 100 blogs.

Techcrunch talks about it from their point of view from the victim of spam.

You can vote for all three stories at Iseekstuff.com a social bookmarking site about social media

Why Mybloglog.com is the worst social network in the world

Ok maybe not the worst, that award would have to go to Myspace, unless of course you’re a 15 year old girl.

First let me say, I love Mybloglog.com, it’s my kind of social network.

But the problem I have is not that it’s been bought by Yahoo, which will hardly effect me and yes I know everyone is getting excited and sweaty about it, but from my point of view I can’t see the big deal.

No, the problem is is that it is too good, it’s too easy to add contacts, I joined a few days ago and had a couple of hours free so added a few hundred contacts. All within my sector of web development. I notice that I had more contacts than Shoemoney so was feeling pretty good about myself and thought I would brag about this in the webmaster.fm chat room.

I was then informed that when I can get over 7,000 contacts in 24 hours, then I can brag, actually they were a lot nicer but it’s more interesting if I spice it up.

It was then explained to me that bots are now being built to game Mybloglog.com

It would be quite easy to track the pages that have Mybloglog code on them and record who visits, this is useful data as you can then set up an account to target people who visit one type of website.

Your account then links to a nice Splog you have just set up.

Most people you contact visit your website to see what you’re about. So, add 7,000 people, get 7,000 people visiting your site and make a few dollars.

When people place the Mybloglog code on their website as I have done here, the picture of Mybloglog members who were the last to visit is displayed. So to get your face, or picture to display is visit the blog.

So what’s to stop someone to set up a script that will visit the site every 15 mins – or higher for more trafficked sites – and get their picture in front of as many eyeballs as possible. Yes there is a function where you can ban people being displayed, but how do you know if it’s real or not?

On a members page is a list of all the communities they belong to, again this data can be gathered and members targeted. The pages on these communities have lists of all the members, so again another place where data on communities can be gathered.

Messages can be posted on a members account page, so once you have a targeted list of people and a nice splog set up, a bot could send mass messages to members based on their interests. Not of the “check out my free ringtone” variety that you get on Myspace, but a more cleverly crafted message that appeals to the vanity of the member. I am sure I have already had some spam as the messages praise me for things I have not yet done.

You could set up a bot which monitors a community and when a new member is added an automatic “add contact” goes out.

So yeah, brilliant idea for a social network, but how are they going to stop the spammer and bot action?

What people have to say about myblog from around the web.
Shoemoneys’ predictions correct
Why Yahoo Needs MyBlogLog, and Vice Versa
The MyBlogLog Blog
Bloggers unite! Yahoo! joins forces with MyBlogLog
MyBlogLog has finally been acquired by Yahoo!
Yahoo Buys Networking Site For Blog Junkies
What does Yahoo want with MyBlogLog?
Om Malik on the sale to Yahoo
Mashable talks about the Yahoo sale

Is Videosift the hangout for hot new video?

Brian Houston, founder of Videosift has agreed to a grilling about one of the hottest video aggregators on the web.

Videosift is one of the new Digg clones which are popping up all over the place. The community is a bit more mature than the one at Digg with less smart ass comments and more conversation.

I conducted the interview via Email.

What inspired you to come up with the idea of Videosift.com?

I used to work as a Product Manager for the biggest Sat. TV provider here in Australia. In 2005, one of my big projects was to investigate making an “online play” to distribute video over the Internet. I did a lot of research, and became a very passionate evangelist for online video. Unfortunately, my former employers weren’t biting. “Who would want to watch TV on their computer?” So, I quit. I sold the family home here in Australia, and took a 5 month trip around the world with my family. I guess that’s where VideoSift was born- the idea at least.

During the trip, I spent a lot of time hanging out on the community site MetaFilter. I really liked the way the community hung together, and I wanted to create something similar around video.

Is Videosift.com built from the ground up or do you use a ready to use system like pligg.com?

VideoSift started from a basic Pligg installation in February 2006. Here’s what it used to look like:

Over time, some very dedicated developers and designers have risen out of the community to make modifications. Our development manager is based in Orange County. We have a very talented Flash and layout designer in Krakow, Poland and a graphic designer here with me in Australia. So VideoSift is a highly modified Pligg CMS created by about about six people, all from within the ranks of the Sift community. ( http://www.videosift.com/people.php)

What do you think of all these Digg clones popping up everywhere?

I think that where a lot of them are getting it wrong is on focusing on the voting mechanism. I think they need to work more on building a real community that happens to use voting to sort their posts, rather than making the voting the reason to visit the site. Also, the ads- god my eyes water from all of the Google ads and animated smiley banners.

What is your favourite video on Videosift.com?

That’s a tough one. My current favourite is this one. I bet you can’t watch this without laughing:

This is what I list as my favourite on my profile; I guess I’m a bit of a sadist:

Are you a heavy Digg user?

No. I read Digg through PopURLs but I find it too big and chaotic to visit directly much. I feel like I’m lost in a big city.

What experience do you have with building websites?

I’ve been working in Web development since 1996. It’s only recently though, that I’ve figured out I’m not very good at it. Having the opportunity to work now with some really talented coders on VideoSift ? I’ve realized I’m better at writing documentation.

What is a day in the life of Brian Houston like?

In my day job, I work for Telstra’s ISP. Telstra is the national telecom provider for Australia. I’m a Business Analyst. Please don’t ask me to explain more, I don’t think I could do it. During the night I spend 5-6 hours working on VideoSift: responding to emails, tweaking code, emailing my partners about future releases and bug fixes.

What is your background?

I was born in Anchorage Alaska. I lived there with my family until I was18. I went to university for 2 years in Honolulu, HI ? then spent a year in Spain at the University of Salamanca. I finished up in San Diego, CA with a degree in International Relations. After graduating I went to Japan for 3 years. That’s where I met my Aussie wife. I got my first IT job managing an Internet caf? in Osaka back in 1996. I learned HTML when I wasn’t busy pointing Salary Men to all of the good porn sites. After Japan, we moved to my wife’s hometown – Brisbane, Quensland. And that’s where I live with my 9 year old girl and 6-year old boy.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to set up a Digg clone?

Voting is a great way to organize content, but focus on building the community first. At this point, general/tech news Digg clones are fairly saturated out there. I would recommend a niche. The paradox then becomes, if it’s a small niche, how does one build a critical-mass community around it? I don’t know.

I presume a big problem with a site such as this is gaining the critical mass to make it useful. How did Videosift.com attain its present traffic?

VideoSift launched in February 2006, right as YouTube was beginning to make its amazing rise. I’m sure that helped us a lot. We also got a big push from MetaFilter. Our (then future) operations manager James Roe posted VideoSift to Metafilter. That’s how we met. We’ve also received a lot of traffic from the gaming site Blue’s News and the content aggregator PopURLs.

I see you have an 11k ranking at Alexa which means you are getting good traffic. What does this translate into with regards to eyeballs?

600K uniques, 1.6 million page views per month.

Digg is reported to have a hard core of a few hundred people who make it
what it is. Do you find that Videosift also has a hard core of video
submitters?

Absolutely, it’s the classic Long Tail phenom. We probably have about 50-60 members that are really dedicated, and the rest of our visitors get to reap the fruits of their labour.

How do you persuade people to submit videos?

VideoSift has a couple of unique features that encourage submissions. There is a member rank for every member on the site. This is based on the sum of all votes you have received for videos that have been published to the front page. We keep track of the top submitters via a “Top 15 Members” panel on the front page. This makes VideoSift a rolling competition. I used to be number 1, but I’ve fallen off the top 15 completely.

We also award moderator privileges based on the number of videos submitted. After a member has had 15 videos published on the front page, they receive a bronze star, and are able to “down vote” videos. After 50 videos, a member receives a gold star and pretty much runs the site. At the moment we have 50 Gold Stars, with a new moderator being born about once a week.

Have you ever had to ban users for spam?

Our Gold Stars ban about 1 user per day. Usually for violating our No self-link videos. In the past month we’ve banned viral marketers from NBC, CBS, Sprite and lots more. We almost banned a Googler from the Googleplex for posting a Google related video, but decided to discard the video and keep the member, as he posted in good faith.

What does the future hold for Videosift.com

PC World named us the best Video Aggregator is their most recent issue, That’s what we would like to continue to be. The Best Video Aggregator on the Web.

Our traffic continues to grow on a month-to-month basis. The challenge for us now is to grow without spinning out of control the way the community at Digg has. So we’re hoping for “sustained growth” with lots of quality members coming on board and becoming moderators to help us control the site.

What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is looking to develop their own website?

Don’t try and be a jack-of-all trades ? get help and let talented specialists share in your success.

Thanks Brian, you can visit Videosift and start voting on videos right now.

Who the hell does Graywolf think he is?

I have been reading Michael Gray at www.wolf-howl.com for it must be over a year, maybe more. I remember when the SEO Rockstars critiqued his Disney ebook, which I thought was kinda cool.

He certainly knows his stuff and is the man to go to if you want to get on the front page of Digg.

Greg Niland had him on his show Good Karma, which can be downloaded at webmasterradio.fm

These are my notes from the show. Michael talks fast so try to bear that in mind when reading. I havn’t the time to go through it and clean it up so you will have to deal with the spelling, typos and grammer. For the lawyers all errors and ommisions exist and as it’s my notes everything is alleged. If you want to find out what was said verbatim go download the show.

Here are the notes

Good ROI aka Greg Niland presents a podcast with

Michael Gray aka Graywolf who lives at http://www.wolf-howl.com

A must read for anyone in the industry.

It’s a busy time for Graywolf.

This time of year is good to be in the weight loss, insurance sector.

Brand management is a hot topic. Big corporations are making mistakes online. How can we learn from their mistakes.

What should we do with press releases.

MG
Matt Cutts says that press releases do not pass link value. But you can boost the press release by linking to the press release with a keyword.

GN
Keyword stuffing and link stuffing is long gone, but a press release is a good way to be discovered.
Good for starting the buzz.

MG
Tie the press release into news events. Take advantage of the natural press.

GN
If something is current, rush out a PR and take advantage of the news cycle.

GN
Look at a press release for buzz and branding, from that you hopefully will get the links.

MG
Always monitor what the blogs are saying about you. Use an rss feed alert based on a keyword.
Check out Technorati.

GN
Microsoft recently had an issue with Vista, they sent bloggers free laptops for talking about them, it’s like borderline bribery.

MG
It was a bad example of what you should do. Promotion wise.

GN
Microsoft said it was just for testing purposes.
They recognise that bloggers are influencers, but it wasn’t handled right.

So if you feel like promoting through bloggers make sure you know what you are doing.

MG
If you have someone complaining about a product, fix it. It’s business 101. IF it doesn’t work, get your message out. If someone says something bad about you threadjack it.

Threadjacking is where you take control over the conversation. For example on threadwatch, a thread on another website would be discussed and because Threadwatch has more people, the conversation is continued there rather than the original location.

GN
It’s a useful tactic if someone is being negative about you. If you create an open enviroment where people can post good things about you, you will be suprised with the testimonials about you. A good way to put someone in their place.
If you leave it on a forum that is negative it’s not good.

MG
Never stifle someones opinion, but have a technical problem with your comments and bye bye after a period of time.

GN
Link bait, now it’s picture bait.

MG
I’ll take credit for picture bait.
It’s about doing something that hooks people in and interest them. You may have a cool title but then ruin it with bad content.
If you want to know what good bait is, go to DIgg, search in your sector by 365 days and look at what got dugg. You can see what people love and what they hate.

GN
Digg is the place for Link bait

MG
Bait that works really well on Digg may not work well on Netscape or Techmeme.

GN
Someone wrote a post that Matt Cutts eats babies, is that wrong.

MG
It’s obviously a joke, most people new. But you should be careful with people who are ill.

GN
Think if you would want people to write a post about you that may offend. It may be true but you think it’s funny.

MG
Photoshop a bowl of babies and Matt Cutts with some barbecue sauce, take it further.

GN
How to handle when someone is attacking you. What to do when someone crosses the line.

MG
Most of the people who comment on Digg are 12 years old.

GN
Not all Digg users

MG
Those that comment are not worth debating.
The positive comments that you make help you in making the home page.

GN
We are not saying use a network of friends or and automated commenting system.

MG
If things die down in the debate, go back in and comment again and get things going.

Don’t comment when you are angry. Wait, then threadjack it where you are in charge.
Link out to a thread you control.

GN
No one is proud of the things said when angry.
Threadjaking in that situation is a good idea.

MG
Picture jacking, digg will have pictures next to the story. So does techmeme, so chose a picture wisely, something that induces click.

GN
Or gives something to the masses, you don’t want to offend people but….

MG
Shoemoney is using mybloglog by having a picture of a fine woman.
Which I am sure is increasing his click throughs.

See what other people are doing and think what pictures are working.

Web 2.0 is great because everyone is into sharing everything.

GN
lets talk about Blogging tips
You have one of the bigger blogs out there, it’s a powerhouse. You outrank people for their own name.

MG
My alexa started at 40k at the start of 2006 and went to 6k at the end.

GN
The lower the figure the better, you can fake it but not by that much so well done.

MG
You have to post 2 or 3 good posts a week.
Look at where people are not blogging and blog there, post the good stuff on the weekend if noone else is.
Go to techcrunch and go indepth with a quality story.
You could get your link at the bottom of techcrunch.

Blogging is hard, John Scott says it’s the most time consuming and least paying thing I do.

GN
Blogging is a labor of love and not for the short term play.

MG
I have a place called the idea dump where I write my crazy ideas and when I can’t think of something to post I go in there and dig something out.

I publish the full RSS feed.
Which is good and bad, I am getting scraped to death. I can’t keep up with it. Google is smart enough to know I am the source.
Readers get the quality information with out the ads. The money is in the archives, I can saturate those pages with the advertising.

GN
Blogging is not about today, it’s about the future. If potential clients can see a large amount of posts they are going to be impressed.
It’s a long term play.

MG
I have been playing with a new stats programme. Most of my regular readers are not coming everyday, I get a lot of drive by traffic and this works with the advertising.
The loyal readers are in RSS
Most people use the title as the anchor text to link to you. People are looking for the dirt, not subtle read between the lines.

It’s hard to striked a balance between calling people out and someone you disagree with.
Think about you may meet people at conferences who you say things about.

GN
The industry is small so…

MG
Play nice and things are better.

Go with people who have comments. Comments are the quickest way to get noticed. Be completely selfless, offer a good point. You want people to say wow that was insightful
A great tool is for keeping track is called co.mments.com, it’s a bookmarklet that adds your comment to your list
RSS is the way to keep track of more information quickly.

Link freely and link often, people want to know what people are saying about them. Use technorati to track who is talking about you.

GN
If you had 100k to spend to promote an affiliate site for something.

MG
I would outsource all the content.
I would create a blog storm
Videos on youtube
Pictures on flkr

If I had only 100$ I would take advantage of everyone I know.

If you want people to subscribe to your rss but a big rss button in there and make it obvious that this is where to subscribe to RSS. Make it impossible to miss.
Without being silly.

Give the monkey a banana.

Make the operation as easy as possible to perform.

GN
How to listen to Google

MG
It’s hard to read the tea leaves. Difficult to know who to follow. Figure out what they say if it’s not true think about it.

Like with supplemental, it’s what they say is different to what we see.

The end result is the same, if you’re not ranking, there is a difference between a filter or penalized, but not to a small site owner. You could have multiple things going on, an engineer may not want to say a particular thing.

People complained about making off topic post, but my chicken noodle video post has made me 50,000 page views.

See Graywolfs’ post about the show