Here’s a topic I’ve wanted to tackle for quite some time and it’s something that comes up quite a bit in the blogging community. Consider the frustration expressed by real estate blogger Jay Thompson -
I grow weary of realestatemindset.info stealing my blog content.
Let’s see how long they take to steal this. Posted at 7:09Pm Friday , Sept 28.
Question: How long did it take them to scrape and steal this post?
Answer: 29 minutes….
First of all, let’s talk about how this is done. Do spam blogs (splogs) have special bots that crawl around our sites? No. As a blog author, I have enabled RSS or really simple syndication. That means followers of this site who use newsreaders can see my posts. It also means sites that generate content dynamically can pull in my content and shape it any way they want. RSS is an automated way to submit your content all over the web. It’s one of the first things I enabled when I started this blog and any blog for that matter.
Why do these sites take content? They post ads that pull from the content posted on their site. This practice is annoying because if you have trackbacks enabled, it can clutter up your comment section. WordPress is now keeping trackbacks separate from comments so it’s not that big of a worry.
What’s a trackback? – When you link to a specific post in a blog, it will generate a brief description of what you wrote as well as a link back to your own site. Instead of linking to Jay’s main page at http://www.phoenixrealestateguy.com, I linked to a specific page which will generate a trackback to me if he has the feature enabled. I’m not sure he does ;-) You can see specific examples of trackbacks if you click on an individual post on this site and then go to the comments. Trackbacks appear in their own tab.
Let’s go back to why Jay was so annoyed. He didn’t see any value in getting that link and he wasn’t properly credited as the author. He’s got a great screen shot of the offending splog. I commented on his post that it didn’t really matter because an inbound link is an inbound link. That’s only partially true. A quality inbound link is one that comes from a site that has Page Rank, is relevant to your site and has been around for a while. Splogs typically don’t have Page Rank and haven’t been around very long, but the way they’re structured is often relevant. For a new blog, I don’t think it’s a bad thing to get these types of links. They send the spiders to your site and they may even send real visitors.
Besides the annoyance of having to turn off or delete trackbacks, the biggest concern bloggers have is these splogs will outrank them on search engines and even reduce their own rankings on the results pages. This duplicate content penalty is an unjustified fear. Let’s take a look. Jay’s post was called, “RealEstateMindSet.Info Steals Blog Content.” Type those words into Google and what do you get? Jay’s site is number one and two. A couple splogs turn up and there’s a result from another search engine. RealEstateMindSet.Info isn’t even around any more.
I know you’re thinking that’s just one example. It could be a fluke! Let’s look at another example. Here’s an article I wrote a few years ago and syndicated using RSS. Here are the search engine results -
Let’s face it…not everybody likes going to school and high school can be a terrible experience for many students. Whether you’re the hands on type who …
Ten Careers For High School Seniors Who Hate School. Let?s face it?not everybody likes going to school and high school can be a terrible experience for many …
How did my optimized page wind up number one out of all these pages that appear to have the exact same content? Remember my last post about the importance of page titles? Look at these SERPs and you’ll see only one result has our keyphrase in the title, description and URL. Two others have similar structures, but they’re not exactly the same. With those differences in descriptions and the metatags we don’t see in the SERPs, it’s obvious the spider’s don’t consider these to be duplicate pages. When you throw in some of the other ranking algorithm features like age, it becomes apparant that a blog post copied by a splog will never be outranked and never be penalized.
As a blog author, you have little control over how your syndicated content is used. A splog may not link back to you. It may not properly credit you as the author. There are two things you can control on your RSS feeds and this is how I deal with splogs.
1. Don’t post your full feed. If you only publish a portion of it, you’ll never have to worry about duplicate content penalties. Secondly, a splog will typically link back to the original source just in case a human visitor shows up.
2. Do link back to your own site somewhere in the post. RSS feeds are verbatim. If you’re not posting your full feed, it’s helpful to include that link towards the beginning of the post because that’s what usually gets excerpted.
Blog authors can feel confident in utilizing RSS feeds to gain readers and search engine rankings because splogs will never out rank the original post. By following the tips in this article, you can maximize the automated power of RSS.
When I consult with clients, I find managing expectations is very important. What SEO clients want to know is, “When will I see results?” I normally counsel them it can take up to six months to see results on a web page. Blogs, however can be much faster. There are several reasons for this which I will discuss in future articles.
In launching this blog, I made a few adjustments to my normal strategy and its paid off quite well. One of the most discouraging things about starting a new blog is a lack of feedback from the audience, because there isn’t one. As you can see from this graph, I didn’t have to wait too long to start seeing results.
Visitors started posting comments right away too. For me, the most important result I want is to show up on search engines. Fortunately I didn’t have to wait too long for that either. Earlier this week, I wrote a series on how to use Facebook. It turned out to be quite popular. In fact, if you searched for “how should Facebook be used” this site turned up number one out of over a billion search results. I was quite shocked because that result seemed to defy Google’s result algorithm which is a complex combination of number of inbound links, number of relevant inbound links, Pagerank, length of time the domain has been active and a number of other factors too complex for this article.
I thought it would be an interesting experiment to figure out why I got this ranking. Usually, the most important factor is inbound links. I’ve received a few in a short time because I utilize RSS that puts this content on other sites, but not enough to generate that kind of result. The WordPress domain name has been around for a while so that helps, but nothing could explain how this little blog was out ranking about.com and facebook.com…the two SERPs that now are currently ahead of me.
So I did another search…this time putting my phrase in quotation marks…which gives me an exact number of sites that have that exact phrase. There are only 743 pages with results. That’s a lot less than the 1.8 billion results that show up containing some form of that phrase.
Now I know it’s not that competitive of a key phrase, but there are still hundreds of sites that have been around longer than mine and I’m outranking them. So let’s look a little closer. What is the next best result?
On Balance : How Should FaceBook Be Used? As with other enabling technologies, such as email, web search engines, and online publishing outlets like …
social-networking-tagging.suite101.com/…/facebook_good_or_bad_for_communication – Cached – Similar –
This one shows up fourth…after three variations of mine. It was written in May of this year, so it’s definitely been around longer. It’s got 5500 inbound links to it’s domain. So what’s different between my SERP and their SERP? It’s the title. Now look at mine -
How Should Facebook be Used? August 27th, 2009 seobyswaby Leave a comment Go to comments. Cocktail party. My personal opinion of Facebook is it’s an odd …
Matching titles to content is one of the keys to maximizing search engine results. For a blog this is especially true.
Here’s how -
The page title is automatically turned into the URL, so you get double exposure to the key phrase.
Repeat the page title, or parts of the page title in the body of your article and it will show up in the description portion of the SERP.
Aug 27, 2009 … I’ll have part II on how should Facebook be used tomorrow. … How do you think Facebook should be used? http://bit.ly/Qb5aw 50 minutes ago
Utilize your blog’s capability to show past articles. I’m using RSS to show my latest posts.
I’m also showing my Twitter feed which serves as more repetition for my key phrase.
How do you think Facebook should be used? http://bit.ly/Qb5aw 50 minutes ago
What about regular web pages? The same results will occur. Matching up meta data is one of the first things I do when optimizing a static web page.
What is the take away from all this? Pay very close attention to your page titles when blogging and performing SEO on websites. Utilizing good, solid keyphrases and repeating them on your site is an excellent way to beat the competition and maximize your search results.
Tired of having to login to Facebook and Twitter to post updates? Now you don’t have to. You can set up Facebook to mirror your updates to Twitter and save a bit of time.
It’s very easy to do. Just go here on Facebook and follow the steps. If you have a group page on Facebook, it will also post to your main profile feed. Just remember to keep it below 140 characters.
Thanks to Mark Ijlal for mentioning it in his great post on driving traffic to a new site.
Yesterday, I talked about the power of branding in relation to product returns. That’s just a simple example of how powerful creating a brand is. My thoughts for this article have been percolating for about ten days now, so imagine my surprise when I received an article this morning describing the power of online ads that don’t get clicked on.
Online advertising is not just about the clicks, as a recent study from marketing firm Eyeblaster clearly illustrates. Users can engage with advertisements without actually clicking through.
In fact, Eyeblaster is even trying to coin a new metric called “dwell time.” This is in reference to the amount of time a user “dwells” on an ad. This could mean different things depending on the nature of the ad. It could be how long the ad is viewed if it contains video, how long it is expanded if it is expandable, etc.
Interesting. Even though someone doesn’t click on my ad or my search result, they’re still exposed to my online message! If a message is repeated enough, or repeated in different ways, it can eventually pay off. When I read this article, I immediately thought of the old Orbitz ads with the games…either baseball or miniature golf. If you clicked on the ad, you got to play a Flash game for a minute or two, branded with the Orbitz name. After a few plays, a landing page would open up in a new screen. Simple, yet clever. Life Savers has accomplished a similar feat with its Candystand game site.
Of all the methods to brand a product, service or even an individual, the Internet seems to be one of the most powerful ways. Advertising has evolved from a game of eyeballs (CPM) to a much more targeted process. Without the web, this transformation wouldn’t be possible. The decline of newspaper, magazine and TV advertising is proof of the phenomenon.
Why is the web so powerful?
- Low cost – In the beginning, twelve years ago, the costs for entering the web were much higher. With advances in technology, everything can be turnkey and low cost. If you don’t want a free blog like WordPress or Blogger, get a content management system – also for free.
- Low barriers to entry – Besides cost, it used to be that technical knowledge was needed to launch a web presence. The same free software that eliminates costs, also reduces required technical expertise. If you can operate a word processor, you can operate a blog or CMS.
- Cloud computing – I’m going to group a few things into this category, social media in particular. With Twitter and Facebook, a person or company can create a presence with no technical knowledge and no cost. Ashton Kutcher’s challenge to CNN is a great example.
What do these changes in branding philosophy mean? It means every business, organization and person who wants to be successful must have an Internet plan to market themselves. What’s yours?
I wanted to share with you a recent experience I had. Everybody reading this has probably experienced this at one point in their life…making a product return to a store.
What makes a person return an item for cash or store credit, versus a simple exchange? I submit that it’s perception and perception is created by branding.
Consider the item in the photo. It is a Bissell carpet cleaner that was purchased at Home Depot. About a month after its first use, it stopped working. So it was returned to Home Depot and exchanged for another one. What made me exchange it for an exact duplicate of the broken one was my perception the new one would work fine and for much longer than the old one. That perception was created by years of effort by the Bissell Corporation to create that image in my mind through TV and print branding. So far the new carpet cleaner is working fine.
The counterpoint to this story is another shopping experience I had with Home Depot. At the end of spring I bought a gas powered weed eater and chain saw to help take care of my yard for the summer. I purchased some off-brand that I’d never heard of and both items were very cheap. When I went to put these items to work, I couldn’t get either one to start. I finally got the weed eater to work, but it wouldn’t stay running for more than 10 minutes. After a few days of frustration, I took them back to Home Depot. But I didn’t want to trade them out for duplicates. I didn’t want them at all.
Why is there a difference in these two stories? How did Bissell wind up with a better outcome than Brand X? Perception. Bissell had branded a positive impression into my brain, so there was still trust left when their product failed. Brand X had no branding impression, so even though I purchased their product, its disappointing performance led me to take it back and never buy their product again.
The Internet has taken branding to an entirely different level. What the Internet says about you can make or break even the most expensive marketing campaigns. One night I was watching TV and saw some infomercial from a guy named Kevin Trudeau. I was curious, so I punched his name into Google. The search results are not pretty. I can’t imagine how much money he loses because of negative search results. Not everyone goes to the web, but I think as this medium matures more people will follow the path I just described – initial media contact – web search – buying decision.
I’ll continue this article in part two and discuss how the Internet can help or hurt with branding.