Thursday, December 17, 2009

The End of Hand Crafted Content

Old media loves nothing quite so much as writing about their own impending death. And we always enjoy adding our own two cents – the AP not knowing what YouTube is, the NYTimes guys reading TechCrunch every day, etc.

Speaking broadly, I like what Reuters, Rupert Murdoch and Eric Schmidt are saying: the industry is in crisis, and the daring innovators will prevail. Personally, I still think the best way forward for the best journalists, if not the brands they currently work for, is to leave those brands and do their own thing.

But as one of the innovators in the last go round, I think there’s a much bigger problem lurking on the horizon than a bunch of blogs and aggregators disrupting old media business models that needed disrupting anyway. The rise of fast food content is upon us, and it’s going to get ugly.

Old media frets over blogs and aggregators that summarize content and link back to the original source. They can’t make a business in that world, they say, so they run the other way and try to find a way to protect and charge for content.

These are the cavemen, or whoever, who were afraid of fire when it was discovered because it burned, or was too technologically advanced to really understand. The smart guys used it to cook their meat and keep them warm, and multiplied.

For our part, we throw a party when someone “steals” our content and links back to us. High fives all around the office. At least there’s some small nod in our direction. And the aggregators like TechMeme can figure out who broke the news. Page views are lost, but reputation is gained.

But for every link there are dozens of sites that outright steal our content with no attribution. Not just spam blogs, even the NYTimes does it. This isn’t a copyright issue – the stories are rewritten by actual people. But it’s far cheaper to simply take the news and rewrite it – if you can get away with it – than to hire people who do actual journalism. Over time, it becomes a competitive tax that is difficult to bear.

But even then, companies like ours can find a way to compete.

So what really scares me? It’s the rise of fast food content that will surely, over time, destroy the mom and pop operations that hand craft their content today. It’s the rise of cheap, disposable content on a mass scale, force fed to us by the portals and search engines.

On one end you have AOL and their Toyota Strategy of building thousand of niche content sites via the work of cast-offs from old media. That leads to a whole lot of really, really crappy content being highlighted right on the massive AOL home page. This article, for example, is just horrendous. One of AOL’s own blogs trashes the company’s spinoff, rambles for miles without any real point, and adds a huge factual error to top things off (”the company is losing money”). Hiring a bunch of people who couldn’t keep their old media jobs and don’t have the stomach to go out on their own and then slapping little or no editorial oversight onto these masses of sub-par journalists leads to an inevitable conclusion – cheap, crappy content. And that crappy content is given a massive audience on the AOL portal.

On the other end you have Demand Media and companies like it. See Wired’s “Demand Media and the Fast, Disposable, and Profitable as Hell Media Model.” The company is paying bottom dollar to create “4,000 videos and articles” a day, based only on what’s hot on search engines. They push SEO juice to this content, which is made as quickly and cheaply as possible, and pray for traffic. It works like a charm, apparently.

These models create a race to the bottom situation, where anyone who spends time and effort on their content is pushed out of business.

We’re not there yet, but I see it coming. And just as old media is complaining about us, look for us to start complaining about the new jerks.

My advice to readers is just this – get ready for it, because you’ll be reading McDonalds five times a day in the near future. My advice to content creators is more subtle. Figure out an even more disruptive way to win, or die. Or just give up on making money doing what you do. If you write for passion, not dollars, you’ll still have fun. Even if everything you write is immediately ripped off without attribution, and the search engines don’t give you the attention they used to. You may have to continue your hobby in the evening and get a real job, of course. But everyone has to face reality sometimes.

Forget fair and unfair, right and wrong. This is simply happening. The disruptors are getting disrupted, and everyone has to adapt to it or face the consequences. Hand crafted content is dead. Long live fast food content, it’s here to stay.

SOURCE (This was too good not to scrape and paste! Here's to New Media!!)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Basics

1) Title Tags or Permalinks

Two of the most determining factors in Google's ranking are your domain name and title tag. For example, a domain name such as: will generally get ranked higher than, assuming that they had identical keywords and page content.

Keywords in the domain may not be possible for some that have already registered a domain, so it’s too late to change.
An alternative -- and also a useful tactic -- is to add your keywords into the names of your pages, such as:

2) H1 Tags

The Google ranking algorithm dictates that if you're using an h1 tag, then the text in between this tag must be more important than the content on the rest of the page.

Here's a quick example:

By enclosing the text between h1 brackets, Google sees this text as more important than text enclosed in "p" brackets.

By default, H1 tags aren't the prettiest in terms of formatting, so using a CSS style to override the default look is usually a good idea: H1 { color: blue; font-family: Verdana; font-size: 16px }

3) Top Site Submission

Submitting your site to, Yahoo! and other directories is also an important step to increase the number of sites linking back to yours.

Submit to Google
Submit to Yahoo (registration required)
Submit to MSN

Submit to

4) Sub-Directory Submission

Directories are a wonderful way to get links to your site, and as a bonus, you will often receive very targeted traffic. While some are free listings, other are paid listings, so be sure to read the rules for each site before submitting your site.

You also should choose your categories wisely, especially when there are multiple categories that are suitable at one site. There are many different techniques for selecting one category over another. They include:

a) Choosing the category that is closer to the root directory (the index page of the site). For example, a link on would be much more desirable than a link on:

b) Selecting the category with the fewer links. With fewer links, and thus less competition, you increase your odds of a visitor clicking through to your site. Also be wary of categories with more than 100 listings per page.

c) Select the category that has the higher PageRand or WebRank. Since links with higher PR are more beneficial, this is another important way of selecting which category to list in.

d) You will also find directories in many different market areas. Do a search in Google or Yahoo for directory with keywords that compliment your site, and you will likely find more to submit to.

e) You also want to ensure that you are submitting to directories where the link will benefit your site. Some directories are set up so that you will get zero value for that link in the search engines, and the only benefit will be from the traffic on that directory that happens to click through to your own site.

5) Sitemap

Google Sitemap is a file which contains URLs and some supplementary information for all the public pages or documents of your website. There is no proof that a Google Sitemap will directly affect your ranking in anyway; however, it can help Google to crawl your site better which may result in a more complete index of your page. It is important to frequently update the sitemap and resubmit it to Google when new pages are added.

6) Keywords

When making new posts or pages, make sure that you are targeting your search keywords properly. Try to include those keywords in the titles for which you want to be searched and indexed. If your content is unique and you have chosen the right keywords, search engines will quickly pick up your articles and index them. Use variations for your keywords and include them in different phrases.

Search engines rank your pages by keywords in the following order:

  • Prominence and accuracy of the keywords
  • Frequency of the keywords
  • Concentration of the keywords
  • Closeness within the keywords
  • Placement of the keywords in the content

So, be sure that you have a balanced article before publishing it to your audience and please do no spam your keywords because everyone hates it, including the search engines.

Sprinkling keywords throughout your page content can also improve your sites keyword density. Keyword density simply means the ratio of optimized keywords to the rest of the content on your page. It is usually expressed as a percentage, and should be between 7% and 10% for each page on your site.

Don't overdo the keyword density, however, but don't overlook it either. A good example would be:
Company name provides web design and site management services to our clients.

After: Company name provides web development services to the Sydney region in Australia

7) Links Should Have Meaning

Update your anchor text (the text acting as a link) to have better keyword value. Both internal and external links should have meaning, and stay away from using “here,” “click here,” “this,” etc. as links.

Incorrect: If you’re looking for Twitter badges for your site, click here.

Correct: Here are some Twitter badges for your site.

8) Internal Linking

The more internal links we have, using our key words to link from page to page, the more the search engines will recognize our site as important for those terms and give us a higher page rank.

9) Content is King

I can’t emphasize this enough. The quality and richness of your content make more of an impact on page rank than any of the tips to follow. Strive to have unique and frequently updated content on your website and blog, and it will drive up your ranking.

10) Social Bookmarking Plugins

With the introduction of social bookmarking websites like, Stumbleupon, Redditt, Digg etc., getting targetted traffic to your website is easier than before. People will bookmark your website if it is useful to them and has good content. Every person who bookmarks your website helps you in getting an incoming link.

You can link to the bookmarking sites so that its easy for your visitors to bookmark your website. Once someone bookmarks your website, there are chances that he will return back to your website sometime later. He might even share that bookmark with his friends/family which can get you more visitors.

A social bookmarking plugin should be installed to enable visitors to bookmark and submit our website and blog posts to various bookmarking sites like Digg, Reddit, Stumpleupon, etc. The most popular plugin for social bookmarking nowadays is AddThis.

11) Back Links

The toughest part of the Google SEO process is back-links. Back links are websites that link directly to your website. The general principal is the more back links you have, the higher your pages will be ranked, as your website must be good if so many other sites are linking back to it. When considering the inbound links to your website, you just can’t get enough of them.

Setting up back links takes time and needs to grow in steady, slow, natural increments or the search engines will suspect you're using a link farm (not a good idea).
By posting in forums, on other blogs or websites, each and every day will build back-links (keeping in mind that the sites contacted should be relevant but not competitive) e.g. - If you sell chocolate, partnering with a company that sells Roses may just be a good idea. Within a couple of weeks, you should have a good 100 or so sites linking back to yours.

12) Different Types of Link Building Strategies

a) Link Exchange

The most widely used and predominant link building technique is the exchange of links with other like-minded websites. This can be done through one-way link exchange, reciprocal link exchange or a clever three-way link exchange. One way link exchanges are hard to do as it only requires the target website to link back to you. People will only link to your website if they are paid or in lieu of any other incentive.

Reciprocal link exchanges are easy because you are also putting the target website’s link on your website, therefore, the give and take rule applies here.

Finally, there is the little known three-way link exchange technique. Let me give you an example of how its done. Say, you own websites “A” & “B” and want good inbound links for website “A”. You go out and do a three-way link exchange with a webmaster who owns the website “C”. When doing the exchange, you put C’s link on your website “B” (instead of putting it on website “A”), and C puts “A” link on their website. So, you are basically gaining one way link for your website “A” without losing any Page value.

In order to initiate a link exchange, you will have to contact a website’s administrator by sending an email stating what you want to do. Make sure your e-mail is courteous and you explain what benefit the other website will get out of the link exchange. You can also try visiting different webmaster forums where you can find many people wanting to do link exchanges.

b) Link Baiting

This is the most organic way of getting unlimited back links. Link baiting basically means offering some kind of unique content (bait) to your visitors and in turn they link back to your website. For example, e-books, templates, custom scripts, custom graphics etc. I guess you get the idea. You can insert your website’s link in that content and as long as that content holds value and is available on your website, it is certain that people will use it and link back to you automatically. It will have a lasting effect for your website’s page rank.

c) Article Submissions

Depending on the niche of your website, you can write quality articles and submit them to various free article directories on the Internet. Article directories allow you to put link back to your website in the author resource box so that will give you back links and traffic too. If people like your article, they might even directly link to it.

d) Press Releases

Another effective way to spread the buzz about your website is by doing press releases. You can write press releases about your website or a particular section and submit them to press release distribution services such as clickpress, webwire, businesswire, openpress etc.

e) Blog Commenting

When you are visiting other people’s blogs, you can leave comments on their posts. Some bloggers allow you to put your website’s link along with the comments which can help you build links. Sometimes, the link that you put will have a no-follow tag attached to it which will not give any page rank value to your website, but it can still send some extra visitors.

f) Forum Posts

Try and become a member of all the popular forums that are related to your website’s topic. Most of the forums will allow a certain number of links which can be added to your signature below every post you make. You can add your website(s) link(s) there and build back links.

g) Creating Contests

Last but not the least, a viral way to make good back links is to hold a number of contests on your website. You can even offer a small amount of money for the winner of the contest. If money is short, then you could offer something else that is readily available with you as the prize. You can then ask people to link back to your contest and this will get you some quality one-way links.