Archive for February, 2010

PostHeaderIcon Yoast: Implementing hreview in your WordPress theme

In his previous post here on Yoast, Frederick explained why you should use Microformats to increase the CTR from Google. In the comments of that post, people were asking if there are plugins to easily implement this in your theme. While those are probably a bit hard to do, I though it would be good to explain how I implemented hreview in my theme.

How I “activate” a review

I alluded to it in last tuesdays podcast with Dougal Campbell: When I add a custom field “rating” to a post, my theme now automatically marks up that post as an hreview microformat. So it’s as simple as this:

Rating Custom Field

The rating is between 0 and 5, because that way Google understands it best and we don’t have to give Google any extra metadata about it.

The hreview_echo function

To make this whole process easy, I’ve created a function in my functions.php file called hreview_echo. It looks like this:

function hreview_echo($val) { global $post; $rating = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'rating', true); if ($rating) { echo $val; }

We’ll use this function on the several places where we need to add extra classes to make up the hreview.

The wrapper class: hreview

The first class we should add is the wrapper for the entire microformat: the hreview class. This should be on the div surrounding the post (this div should include the title and author). In the default theme (and in mine) it looks like this:

<div <?php post_class() ?> id="post-< ?php the_ID(); ?>"></div>

In this case the class of this div is actually put out by the WordPress core post_class() function, so we’ll need to hook into that function. Luckily it allows us to easily do that using a filter, which we’ll do using the functions below, which you can drop into your functions.php too:

function hreview_post_class($classes, $class, $post_id) { global $post; $review = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'rating', true); if ($review) { $classes[] = 'hreview'; } return $classes;

If your theme doesn’t use the post_class() function, it’s even easier! Let’s say your post div looks like this:

<div class="post"></div>

You can just use our hreview_echo() function:

<div class="post<php hreview_echo(' hreview'); ?>"></div>

The item reviewed: the title

Next up in the line of things we have to add a class to is the post title, it needs two classnames: the item and fn classes. In my case it looked like this:

<h1>< ?php the_title();?></h1>

This is easily turned into the following, again using the hreview_echo function we created before:

<h1 <?php hreview_echo(' class="item fn"'); ?>>< ?php the_title();?></h1>

The date of the review

For the date we’ll have to work it a bit. The hreview microformat determines the date should be in ISO date format. Meaning the date should look like: 2010-03-01. Your theme probably has another way of showing the date, I know mine does. My date looked like this:

<span class="date">< ?php the_time('d F Y');?></span>

Now to make it so that it can still look like that but we can also give the microformat the correctly formatted date, we’ll use a trick: by adding a span with a class of value-title and then adding the correct date in the title of that span, microformat parsers will ignore the other content and pick the value from that title.

So we’ll turn it into this:

<span class="date<?php hreview_echo(' dtreviewed') ?>"> < ?php hreview_echo('<span class="value-title" title="'. get_the_time('Y-m-d').'"/>'); the_time('d F Y'); ?>

This outputs:

<span class="date dtreviewed"> <span class="value-title" title="2010-02-10"/> 10 February 2010

That’s a nice, non-intrusive solution, right?

The reviewer: the author

The next class we need to add is the reviewer class, as this is the author of the review, that’s a simple one too: it’s the author of the post. In my theme, my author block looks like this:

<span class="author">< ?php the_author(); ?></span>

Now you’ll get by now what we’ll do:

<span class="author<?php hreview_echo(' reviewer'); ?>"> < ?php the_author(); ?>

Easy does it, right? You can basically do something like this with any kind of showing the author’s name. Other functions that might be used in your theme are for instance the_author_link() or the_author_posts_link().

The content of the review

We’ve done more than half of it now! Let’s get going with the contents of the review, in the microformat, this needs the class description. In my theme, just like in the default kubrick theme, the content is wrapped in the following div:

<div class="entry"></div>

You’ve guessed it by now haven’t you? Here we go:

<div class="entry<?php hreview_echo(' description'); ?>"></div>

By the way: if you want to mark up articles on for instance your fronpage as hreview too, and you use excerpts there instead of full articles, like I do, you should use summary, instead of description:

<div class="entry<?php hreview_echo(' summary'); ?>"></div>

Finally: the rating!

And now, finally, it’s time for us to add the rating, because that’s what it’s all about right? There’s all sorts of ways to display a rating, I have chosen to do it in HTML that looks like this:

<div class="rating">My rating:</div>
<div title="4.5 out of 5 stars" class="rating_bar"> <div style="width:90%"></div>

Which outputs this:

My rating:

The second div (class rating_bar) displays the rating, and it contains the empty stars. The div within that contains the yellow stars, and fills the stars up to where they need to be.

The CSS for these 3 divs looks like this:

.rating { float: left; margin-right: 10px;
.rating_bar { float: left; width: 55px; background: url(images/stars.gif) 0 0 repeat-x;
.rating_bar div { height: 12px; background: url(images/stars.gif) 0 -13px repeat-x;

Download the (sprited) image of the stars here.

Now we’ll need to do two things: dynamically output the size of the inner div within rating_bar, and make the rating readable for a microformat parser.

To display the rating, because it’s a value between 0 and 5, we’ll multiply it by 20. To make the output parseable by a microformat parser, we’ll use the same value-title trick we used before. Finally, we’ll turn this all into a function to display the rating, which you can drop into your functions.php, just like the two functions before.

< ?php
function display_hreview_rating() { global $post; $rating = get_post_meta($post->ID, 'rating', true); if ($rating) {
?> <div class="rating"> My rating: <span class="value-title" title="<?php echo $rating; ?>"/> </span></div> <div title="<?php echo $rating; ?> out of 5 stars" class="rating_bar"> <div style="width:<?php echo ($rating*20); ?>%"></div> </div>
< ?php } return $output;

So, now you can just use the display_hreview_rating() function anywhere in your post where you want to display the rating. If there is no rating, it won’t display anything.

Testing your hreview

Testing your hreview markup can be done with multiple tools, but I myself found the Google Rich Snippets tool to be extremely useful. If you use Quix, just type ‘snippet’ on the post you want to test! In my case it outputs a snippet like this for my review of a WordPress backup plugin:

Rich Snippet hreview

Bonus: pricerange and tags

As you can see in the above snippet, it includes something that is not documented anywhere in the official Google documentation for reviews, but that Google does support: the pricerange.

Credit where credit is due: I first found this pricerange attribute when my colleague Eduard pointed me to this post by the SEOgadget guys, which pointed to this Knol. It’s extremely useful and seems to basically allow for all sorts of text. People use it to display a pricerange in a €€ – €€€ style, or to display a “real” pricerange, like € 100 – € 150. In case of an individual review, you can just use it to tell what you paid for it.

Since what I paid for a product is not a real part of my theme, I just make it simple: when I tell that the plugin is free, I mark up that line as:

this plugin is completely <span class="pricerange">free</span>

If you do want to put the value into a custom field and display it, you could easily adapt one of the functions above to do that, I’ll leave that as an exercise to you, the reader.

Another thing I found that Google recognizes is the class tags. That’s really easy to do: I just added the class ‘tags’ around my tags. I don’t know how Google uses that though, haven’t seen it anywhere in the wild.

A final note

If you’ve modified your theme to mark up as hreview, please make sure to use this form to let Google know that you have. They might not show it if you don’t fit their test segment though, because as Google states in the Knol:

Currently, review sites and social networking/people profile sites are eligible. We plan to expand Rich Snippets to other types of content in the future.

I hope you’ve found this post useful, let me know in the comments if you’ve used it to add hreview to your (premium) theme, and feel free to post links to examples, I’d love to see them! If you’re wondering: all code examples on this site, unless specifically otherwise stated, are MIT licensed: free to distribute, free to modify. Please do add a link to where you got the original code though.

It’s my humble opinion that additions like these should make it into all the premium themes, because that’s what really makes a premium theme premium, in my opinion. Happy coding!

Implementing hreview in your WordPress theme is a post from Joost de Valk‘s Yoast – Tweaking Websites.A good WordPress blog needs good hosting, you don’t want your blog to be slow, or, even worse, down, do you? Check out my thoughts on WordPress hosting!

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PostHeaderIcon This Week in the ShoeMoney Marketplace

New listings placed this week in the ShoeMoney Marketplace:

Want to get your job, product, or announcement out to hundreds of thousands of very targeted ShoeMoney readers? Create a marketplace listing today!

Get a sneak peak at the all new ShoeMoney System

This Post Is From ShoeMoney’s Internet Marketing Blog

This Week in the ShoeMoney Marketplace

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PostHeaderIcon Dot Com Pho – The Gadget of Last Year Edition

For this final Dot Com Pho of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games, we decided to head back to Pho Thai Hoa to try out more items from their newly revamped menu. We were joined by Ronald Lee from Man Meet Woman. Ronald said he’ll be bringing a couple of friends along. We assumed the friends would be some hot women since Ronald is a world famous pick up artist. Instead, he brought along two guys and our weekly pho meet up was once again male dominated.

In addition to the two dudes, Ronald also brought what he thought would be a great gadget of the week. However, it turns out Ronny was behind the times because we’ve featured his gadget over a year ago. All was not lost however as we did have a gadget of the week that saved the day.

For this week’s Dot Com Pho we have the real gadget of the week, comparing food photos on the menu to the real food you get served, killing off background noise and how I plan to buy drinks for all the medal winning Olympians. Enjoy!

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PostHeaderIcon 8 Reasons You Might Not Be Getting Many Comments

A Guest Post by Charlie Gilkey from Productive Flourishing.

No matter how big their blog is, every blogger loves and wants comments. When you’re just starting out, there are few bigger thrills than writing something and having people comment and give you feedback about what you’ve written. Veteran bloggers love comments and also know that the quantity and quality of the comments says a lot about the impact of the particular post in question.

But sometimes you write something that you think is awesome and the comment thread is like a ghost town. To say that this is discouraging is to put it too lightly. Not only does it suck, but it’s enough to make you start thinking that your writing sucks, and it makes it really hard to hit write and hit publish the next time, too.

Here’s the deal, though: just because you’re not getting a lot of comments doesn’t mean that your posts suck. Here are eight reasons why you might not be getting comments – and what you can do about it.

1. Your Posts Are Too Long

While it’s hard to say that long post always get fewer comments – there are a lot of different considerations at play – as a general rule, longer posts set a bigger barrier to commenting. I write a lot of long posts, and I’ve seen this bear out time and time again.

There are two things to keep in mind when you’re writing longer posts: 1) most blog posts are short(er) and 2) your readers are busy. If they’re used to reading 500 word posts on other blogs and then hit your 3,000 word post, they’re might be a bit overwhelmed. It’s not uncommon for them to bookmark your post for reading “when they have time” and move on to the next, shorter post, only to forget to come back and read yours. (For more considerations on blog length, check out Post Length ‚Äì How Long Should a Blog Post Be?)

Some bloggers manage to thrive in the long post format, but you’ve got to understand that you’ll be going against the current if you write in that style. That’s not a bad thing – just understand that you might not get as many comments as if you wrote shorter posts.

Once your post is published, it’s probably best to leave it, though. In the future, see if you can take a long draft of a post and split it into a series or discrete post. Also try varying the tempo of your blog by following a long post with a short post and vice versa.

2. You Haven’t Asked Them to Comment

Sometimes a post just ends and it’s not clear to your readers whether you actually want a response. Because they don’t know whether you want a response or not, they might not comment.

Furthermore, if you don’t answer comments at all or regularly enough, it sends the message that you don’t really value comments. Larger blogs get a pass on this one, since many people understand that bloggers with larger audiences can’t answer every response.

When you conclude a post, ask your readers what they think or end it with a question that makes it clear that you’d like a comment. If you haven’t been responding to comments on your blog, start doing so.

3. They Don’t Know What To Say

Have you ever read a post and were so inspired that you felt that anything you might say wouldn’t do the post service, but at the same time didn’t want to say “Great post!”? Or have you read a post that was so deep or complex that you honestly didn’t know how to respond?

I’m sure you have. Now, why don’t you think that can happen with your own posts?

Before you write off a lack of comments as a sign of your utter brilliance, though, check your post to see if you wrote clearly and simply. Ask if what you wrote was relevant, useful, or interesting to your readers>. And if it is a bit of inspirational awesomeness, consider editing it and including a question or statement that lets people know that you’d appreciate some feedback.

4. They’re Doing What You Told Them To Do

If you give your readers a great tip that requires them to do something to implement it, be prepared for the possibility that they might actually go implement it.

Similarly, if you’re doing a link roll-up and you tell people to go check out the links you’re talking about, there’s a good chance that they might go do that.

I know that this is obvious in hindsight, but it’s easy to forget that our words can influence people into action, and it’s possible to unintentionally steer people away from commenting.

5. They’re Chasing Links On Your Blog

Writing posts that include links to older posts or using plugins that show related posts do have an effect on the number of comments you’ll get. If they click a link that’s midway in your post, they’ll probably read the second post before they comment on the first, and if that second post is linked to others, they might just keep clicking.

It’s for this very reason that you don’t find many links on a sales or landing page, and if you do find them, they eventually lead back to the original page. Marketers know that people will click on the links, and if those links lead away from the original page, that’s probably a lost sale.

While it’s not exactly an exclusive either/or choice, think about the relationship between how long people stay on your blog (due to interlinking) and comments. If you write compelling headlines, there’s a good chance that those related post plugins have an effect on the number of comments you’re getting. Change your linking strategy or consider turning those plugins off a bit if you’d like to see if they’re making a difference.

6. They’re Following Your Social Media Trail

This is very similar to the last two points, but if you’ve given your readers a bunch of different ways to connect with you, then that’s another thing that might keep people from commenting.

Think about how many times you’ve clicked to follow someone on Facebook only to get lost in a chat on Facebook, or how many times you’ve followed someone on Twitter only to get engaged in conversations there. The same thing goes for badges and links that send people to blog networks.

If you’d prefer more comments than social media connections, consider placing your social media links further down the page or only keeping the ones where you’re active.

While you’re at it, it’s probably a good time to declutter your sidebar.

7. It’s Hard For Them To Comment

I ran into this one the other day. I wanted to reply to a friend’s blog that was hosted on Blogger and found myself frustrated that I couldn’t just leave a comment like I can on other websites. It gave me five or six different options – none of which I use – and, ten minutes later, I finally went with the “best fit” option just so that I could comment. If she weren’t my friend, I probably would’ve given up.

Some of the other comment implementations like Disqus can also set a barrier to comment. I’ve often bailed on those, too, because I didn’t remember my OpenID and didn’t feel like figuring it out. (Luckily, they’ve improved substantially over the last year.)

The harder your readers have to work to comment, the less likely that they’ll do it. Think long and hard about all the comment plugins you might want to implement – and remember that sometimes the best solution is the simplest one.

8. You’re Posting At The Wrong Time

If you post when all your readers are asleep, then the soonest they’ll comment is the next day, but then your post is in with a bunch of others in an RSS feed. Likewise, if you post after the time that your email subscribers get their daily email, the soonest many of them will read what post is the next day when they get that hit.

Figure out when your readers are active and try to publish when they’re reading posts. This takes a bit of homework and observation on your part, but it makes a huge difference in terms of the number of comments you’ll get on your post.

There’s More To Comments Than Content

What you may have noticed is that the first five of these points have to do with the content of your individual posts and the last three don’t have anything to do with your posts. It’s hard to say what would have the biggest effect since each of our blogs are different, so take a look at your post and blog from your reader’s point of view, pick one that you’d like to tweak, and see if it has any effect. (By far the easiest place to start is by changing your comment plugin/solution, though.)

As you can see, there are a lot of different reasons that people might not be leaving comments on your blog, and many of them have nothing to do with you or your posts being unworthy. Keep writing and testing what works – that’s the only way you can become a better writer and grow your blog.

About the Author: Charlie Gilkey writes about meaningful action, creativity, and entrepreneurship at Productive Flourishing. Follow him on Twitter to get bite-sized slices of mojo.

Post from: Blog Tips at ProBlogger.


8 Reasons You Might Not Be Getting Many Comments

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PostHeaderIcon Checking Out The Action At LiveCity Vancouver 2010

LiveCity Vancouver is one of two live cities in the downtown core (the other is LiveCity Yaletown). The two live cities have a big open space with a huge screen so people can watch the Olympic games live – the place is completely packed during any of the Canadian hockey games. In addition to the live viewing space, LiveCity Vancouver houses the Manitoba Pavilion, the Canada Pavilion and a beer garden.

The Manitoba Pavilion has literally nothing in it, which is proper since the Province of Manitoba has literally nothing in it. The bigger Canada Pavilion is where all the action is. Inside, you can take photos with the Olympic torch and view interactive displays. The beer garden is wall to wall people during a hockey game.

All the pavilions will be shutting down this Sunday. On Monday, the city will try to return to normal after 17 days of games, partying and having the eyes of the world on it. Vancouver 2010 has been a total blast. If your city ever tries to make a bid for the Olympics, I recommend you back it 100 percent. You can worry about the bill afterward.

Discover the SECRETS I’ve Learned to go from zero a month to over $40,000 a month from blogging. Download Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com for FREE!

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PostHeaderIcon T-Shirt Contest Finalists – Who Should Win The $1,000?

I want to thanks everyone who entered the T-Shirt contest. We had a ton of great entries and has chosen the five finalists and now it’s up to Missy Ward, Zac Johnson, Murray Newlands and me to pick the grand prize winner. The big winner will receive $1,000 cash and $1,000 donated to the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund in their name. Here are the five finalists.

Heather In BC
Affiliate By Night
Blog Fully
Stog Blog
Joe Tech

Please read over the entries and tell me who you think I should give the grand prize to. Thanks to for sponsoring this contest and thanks to everyone who entered. It’s been a lot of fun.

Discover the SECRETS I’ve Learned to go from zero a month to over $40,000 a month from blogging. Download Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com for FREE!

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PostHeaderIcon 4 Ways to Overcome the “Nobody’s Reading My Blog” Blues

This is a guest post by Jennifer Brown Banks . If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

Blogs are a great way to brand your business and create a buzz about personal and professional agendas.

But, let’s face it; the R.O.I. (return on investment) can be a bit low in the beginning.

In my many years as a professional writer and relationship columnist, I’ve started several, gotten frustrated, lost the momentum, and decided to move on to bigger and better things. Then I would visit other sites, love the energy, read the success stories of how Blogs were turned to book deals, and well, have since reconsidered.

After all, it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. Right?

Here’s the problem: because I enjoyed a pretty good “following” as a relationship columnist and feature writer, I expected to have as much traffic on my site as Chicago’s Eisenhower Expressway during rush hour! Wrong.

I would devote hours to choosing a hot topic, penning my thoughts, finding the perfect graphics, and see 0 “comments” posted for all my efforts.

This happened for several consecutive months. I started to call it quits, but much like a romantic relationship, I felt I was too far in to throw in the towel.

There would be nothing to show for my sweat equity.

So the strategist in me decided to work smarter, not harder this time.

I started visiting other sites with a mission. I wanted to know what was out there, how it compared to my online journal, and essentially what worked and what didn’t as a reader.

Here’s what I discovered and you will too. Even Blogs that have huge followings rarely have a lot of comments posted. Readers either don’t take the time to post their thoughts, don’t know how to register their comments, or don’t recognize the importance of their input.

In fact, the only way I knew folks were even reading my work is that my friends would call me on the phone or send Emails to tell me how much they enjoyed my posts. Go figure.

So, the next time you suffer from a bout of the “nobody’s reading my Blog blues” here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Recognize that success doesn’t come overnight. Blogging, even more so than any other form of writing, requires a lot of time and patience before it begins to bloom and take off.

2. Know that numbers can sometimes be deceiving. Have you ever gone on a diet? Most folks who have can tell you that the scale sometimes will show the same weight even though you’ve lost inches and your clothes are baggier. Pay less attention to the numbers and more attention to the needs of your readers.

3. Write with the right purpose. Rather than penning your way to popularity, use your adventures or misadventures in Blogging to become a better story teller, or to write tighter, or to develop ideas for editorial pieces. No writing done well is ever truly wasted!

4. Don’t get bogged in the Blog. Work on other projects that provide immediate gratification. Write a poem, do research, say hi to your Facebook friends. Like all areas in life, balance is important.

Follow these four tips and even if you don’t “win friends and influence people” your blogging blues might make you a hit song writer or the next American Idol!

You just never know where space travels can take you.

About the Author: Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, columnist, and editor. You can read more from here on her blog: Pen and Prosper.

Original Post: 4 Ways to Overcome the “Nobody’s Reading My Blog” Blues

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PostHeaderIcon What Is Link Cloacking?

questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. Just use the contact form if you want to submit a question.

Don asks:

Do you have a opinion on link cloaking for affiliate marketers? Do the pros use cloaking and should it be a standard practice as an affiliate?

What Is Link Cloaking

First things first, what is link cloaking? It is the practice of using redirects or Javascript to hide affiliate links, thus increasing the conversion rates.

Let’s explain this. Affiliate links are usually very easy to identify. They always contain some numbers and the referral id of the affiliate. One example could be:

If you use such a link, upon hovering the mouse over it the end user would be able to see it on the bottom of his browser (called “status bar”), and this could reduce the chances of him clicking on the link and making a purchase. Why? Because he might suspect that your recommendation/review was biased, and that you are just trying to earn an affiliate commission.

Link cloaking tries to solve this problem. You could use a Javascript link, for example, so that when users hover over your links the status bar would display nothing.

A better solution, however, is to use a redirect. That is, you would create another link that redirects to the affiliate one. The easiest way to do that with a URL shortening service like Alternatively you can also use some PHP or a WordPress plugin to create the redirects within your own domain. An example of a redirect could be:

Apart from cloaking your affiliate link the internal redirect might also get a higher click-through rate because some user might believe that they will not leave your website by clicking on the link.

Do the Pros Use It?

Yes the professional affiliate marketers use link cloaking, and it is a very widespread tactic around the web.

Some users frown upon cloaked links, because they won’t know where the link is pointing. Pro affiliate marketers are only worried with the bottom line, however, so if the conversion rates increase they will certainly use cloaked links.

My Opinion and a New Trend

I have nothing against using cloaked links. In fact on some affiliate marketing campaigns I promote I do use redirects. My main motivation for that is to be able to track clicks, but it ends up working as a link cloak as well.

However, I believe that the use of link cloaking is becoming less important in certain contexts. For example, if you promote affiliate products with reviews on your blog you might not need to use link cloaking, and if you do cloak your links you might not see an improvement on your conversion rates.

Why? Because your readers will know that you are promoting an affiliate offer (at least they should), and they will expect an affiliate link there. If you are upfront and transparent, therefore, you won’t need to cloak your links at all.

On other contexts link cloaking will remain important, though. One example would be on landing pages where you drive PPC traffic. You have no relationship with the people that will visit your page, so cloaking the affiliate links will probably increase your conversion rates.

What about you, do you use link cloaking? Why? Why not?

Original Post: What Is Link Cloacking?

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PostHeaderIcon HubSpot TV – Follow the Party with Guest @MattDouglas

HubSpot TV is LIVE every Friday at 4:00pm EST. Watch the show in real-time at and chat with us via Twitter using NEW hashtag #HubSpotTV.


Episode #80 – February 19, 2010

(Episode Length: 28 minutes, 53 seconds)


  • How to interact on Twitter: Include #HubSpotTV in your tweets!
  • On the show today is Mike Volpe (@mvolpe), Karen Rubin (@karenrubin) and Matt Douglas (@MattDouglas)
  • As always, all the old episodes are in iTunes: If you like the show, please leave a review!
  • Wild Web Women have nominated Mike for “Social Media Man Crush” finalist.  Please vote!
  • We’re considering doing an “on location” HubSpot TV in Las Vegas on March 22, so let us know if you would to attend the event live!

Special Guest Matt Douglas


Inbound Marketing Book Reaches #74 on Amazon

  • Marketing Takeaway: Go buy Inbound Marketing if you haven’t already. Help us get to the top 50!

Southwest Ejects Large Movie Producer

  • Kevin Smith and Southwest Airlines Are Not A Good Fit
  • “Long story short: Kevin Smith is a large man. As a result, due to a flight change on Saturday flying from Oakland to Burbank, Smith was told he had to leave a flight because he did not have two seats to sit in since he apparently cannot meet the single seat standard for Southwest.”
  • “Smith, 39, responded with a barrage of profanity-laced Twitter posts, saying he was treated worse than a terrorist. ‘I know I’m fat, but was [the pilot] really justified in throwing me off a flight for which I was already seated?’ he tweeted.”
  • Marketing Takeaway: Avoid problems by being clear and honest about your product and maintaining consistent service.

Are Social Media Sites Responsible for Social Monitoring?

  • Philly targets Facebook, Twitter after snowball fight turns ugly
  • “Two members of the Philadelphia City Council are considering legal action against Facebook, Twitter and MySpace in the wake of a ‘flash mob’ earlier this week that turned violent, according to a letter sent to the city’s mayor and obtained by CNET. The letter, written by council members Frank DiCicco and James F. Kenney, explains that this is the second such time a band of mischievous teens has formed via social media and went on to destroy property. ‘We believe that the lack of monitoring of these sites allows for mass, organized riots to occur.’”
  • Marketing Takeaway: Social media can be used for good or evil, so make sure you are on the right side of the fence.

Search Engine Use Linked to Personality

  • Study Finds Link Between Brand Building and Search
  • A study by Wunderman (owners of Compete) found that what search engine consumers use to find a brand’s website impacts their perception of that brand and impacts their decisions made while they’re on the site.
  • “The demographic and psychographic profile of each loyal search engine user is different. Bing users, for example, tend to be mostly from the tip of the adoption curve (innovators and early adopters) where Yahoo! and Google’s passengers tend to be middle majority.”
  • Marketing Takeaway: Make sure you figure out what search engines your customers are most likely to use.

Forum Fodder

  • Jim – “Should I follow my competitors using Twitter, and how do I get their followers to follow me?
  • M2 – Following is easy, listening isn’t. Follow everybody that affects your business: customers, vendors, competitors, etc. Use a Twitter client to build lists that isolate the useful signal and funnel it into more manageable buckets. (I like TweetDeck; Seesmic is another option, and there are others.) The lists will help you find the conversations that you want to monitor or join.

Marketing Tip of the Week: Sell umbrellas, not rain.


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PostHeaderIcon What Are You Taking For Granted That Might Be Useful to Others?

I recently was chatting with a new blogger and they made the comment that after 3 weeks of blogging that they’d run out of things to write about. They had written 10 posts so far but felt that they’d nothing else to share of value on the topic.

What surprised me about their comments was that the blogger was actually a seasoned pro in their niche. They were new to blogging about their topic but they’d been working in their industry for 25 years and were seen as an expert in their field…. yet they didn’t feel like they had anything to say about the topic!

I dug a little deeper and it turned out that the reason for their issue was not that they didn’t have much to write about – but that they were taking for granted the level of knowledge that they actually had. Much of what they’d learned over the years was now so basic to them that they didn’t realise how valuable it was for someone at a lower level of expertise.

To use an old cliche – they were the type of person who has forgotten what most of us will ever know about their topic.

He said to me at one point – ‘I just want every post I write to be something that cuts new ground – something that says something great that no one has ever thought before.’

I’ve felt this way myself over the years (and still do). For me it often came about in those nervous moments before I’d go on stage to present about blogging. Doubts would creep in….”what do I know?”…. “my presentation is too basic”….. “what if people are too advanced for this?”….

The reality is though that 99% of people in the audiences I spoke to had a such basic understanding of my topic that what I often thought was basic was often a stretch for them.

Often in the Q&A times at the end of such presentations I’d realise to myself just how much I actually did know about my topic and how often in the search for my next profound post that unlocked the secrets to the universe that I was actually over looking a treasure trove of more basic but just as helpful topics.

I’m not suggesting that every post you write needs to rehash the basics of your topic – however I guess this is simple a challenge for those of us who sometimes struggle to feel we’ve got anything helpful and worthwhile to say to realize that we might be over thinking things and could probably serve our readers better by examining what we do know and sharing that.

Sidenote: I was having a discussion that touched on this today at Third Tribe when Valeria Maltoni commented – ‘I also take what I know for granted a lot.

I responded to her with:

I think most of us have stuff in our head that we think is too basic to share with others however it’s real GOLD when we do share it because it’s often things that others are thinking about asking but are too scared – or its something that they need to know but don’t really know that they need it.

How does one get to those Basic but Golden things?

A few ides for posts come to mind:

  • Describe an experience that you’ve had
  • Share a problem that you overcame and how you did it
  • Give an example of where you learned an important lesson
  • Tell the story of how you taught someone something
  • Remember what it was like to be a beginner in your topic and outline the things you wish you’d known
  • Share the answers to some questions that you or someone else once had

Post from: Blog Tips at ProBlogger.


What Are You Taking For Granted That Might Be Useful to Others?

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