Category Archives: Terminology

The Five Types of Blog Commenters

Soldiers: These are the commenters who enjoy being the first to comment, even if they have nothing to say. Soldiers comments are typically encouraging but lack substance. They include phrases such as, “great post,” “interesting,” and “nice work.” Soldiers are always polite. Their comments are short and serve more of an acknowledgment that they read the post or visited the blog rather than substantive or thought provoking. If your blog had a “like” button, they would probably just click it. Most bloggers, myself included, appreciate these comments. They are at least one form of feedback that people are reading our posts.

Contributors: These are the most sought after types of commenters by most bloggers. This group might not leave a lot of comments around the blogosphere but when they do, they are worth reading. Contributors comments push forward the conversation started by the blog post. They can be both positive and negative, but they add substance to the conversation. These people are most likely to also retweet or otherwise share the post with their online networks.

Link Baiters: Most similar to Soldiers, link baiters objective is to try and build their own site’s Search Engine Optimization (SEO) by creating a new incoming link from your blog. They are selfish, thinking of their own interests before the blogger’s. Link baiters comments are short and often plug something that they’ve written on a similar topic. Many marketers try to behave as contributors but, especially when they start out, end up as link baiters instead.

Trolls: The Wikipedia definition works here: “a troll is someone who posts controversial, inflammatory, irrelevant, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

Spammers: Most spammers are actually bots that post off-topic comments on a blog to promote a commercial site, typically a pharma or porn site. Again, I’ll reference Wikipedia for a pretty good definition: It is done by automatically posting random comments or promoting commercial services to blogs, wikis, guestbooks, or other publicly accessible online discussion boards. Any web application that accepts and displays hyperlinks submitted by visitors may be a target. Adding links that point to the spammer’s web site artificially increases the site’s search engine ranking. An increased ranking often results in the spammer’s commercial site being listed ahead of other sites for certain searches, increasing the number of potential visitors and paying customers.

I’d like to consider myself a Contributor, but I often end up as more of a Solider. I want my friends and other bloggers to know that I’ve stopped by to read their posts. However, I often feel short on time and end up just posting a quick sentence or two instead of something more substantive. I’m going to work on that in the next year.

What am I missing? Let’s expand this list. Also let us know what type of commenter you are and why.

An Introduction to Search Engine Optimization for Corporate Blogs

Photo credit: elblogdeffuentes

Photo credit: elblogdeffuentes on Flickr

If you’re not yet thinking about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) when you’re writing your blog posts, then you’re missing a simple way to help promote your content in search engine results.

It’s something I didn’t give a lot of thought to until recently, and I can see it makes a difference.

The use of SEO often falls to the marketing and web teams, who, among other tactics, buy Google AdWords to boost the visibility of a company’s website when users search for certain related keywords. I’m simplifying here, but stay with me.

A whole industry has developed around the use of SEO for advertising and marketing, and much of this is now employed in the blogosphere as well. Since PR wasn’t part of this process in the past, it’s not necessarily something we think about when we launch a blog, but it should be a priority.

A Few Quick Tips

If you’re going to invest the time to create great content, you should make sure people can find it as well. Blogs with dynamic content are indexed by search engine bots much more frequently than static webpages, and these bots are looking for certain clues in your posts to tell them what’s important on the page.

Here are a few quick ways to boost your blog’s page rank in search results:

  • Hyperlink to relevant text: “This post is about SEO for corporate blogs.” The way many search engines work is that as they index a blog, they give more weight to the words that are linked via hypertext. So let’s say I wanted to link the previous sentence to another popular blog about SEO, which words should I choose to hyperlink? Either “SEO” or “corporate blogs” would be good choices since that’s what this post is about, but words like “post” or “about” would not add much value. The best advice is to make sure you’re linking to the meat of the content (a blogger’s name, the title of another blog post, etc.) and not the more generic words in the sentence.
  • Link to other blogs in your industry/niche: if you want to raise your blog’s profile in your niche, then make sure that you’re linking to conversations on other blogs in your industry. Search engines look for related content, which is why it’s important that your blog posts stay on topic and focus on one subject as much as possible. If you’re talking about your weekend plans in one post, the economy in another and your company’s product in another, it will take a lot longer to build up your ranking in one area. This will also help keep your blog focused on one topic.
  • Link to more popular blogs: The more you can link to posts from blogs with more traffic than you, the more likely you are to receive traffic from that blog. Also, search engines will count this as an endoresement and boost your ranking as a result. Remember, you need to link to more popular blogs in your niche to achieve these results.
  • Make your headline count: Search engines give extra weight to the titles of each post. The logic here is that if you are emphasizing those words visually for your visitors, then those words are probably key to your site’s content, too.

Tools

I’ve found these tools useful for determining how to structure posts using SEO:

  • Google Keyword Tool: make sure to click on the “website content” button on the left side, then search your own blog or that of your competitor to get a sense of keywords based on the content of the webpage/blog. You can use this to then make sure you integrate the right words in your post to return improved results.
  • Google Insights: this is my favorite new tool because the options are just limitless. Play around and find out interesting information about your niche, including where searches for certain words originate, historical statistical data or even keywords within your own industry. Google has a useful tutorial to get you started.

SEO Blogs

The two that I’ve learned the most from are Search Engine Land and SEO Chat, the latter of which is more of an aggregator of SEO conversations where I’ve found a tremendous amount of useful information lately. In the PR/Marketing space, I recommend reading Lee Odden, who posted a bunch of SEO case studies last month.

Free SEO Webinar and Podcast

This podcast posted by Eric Schwartzman from On the Record Online features an interview with Russell Wright, where he offers some quick tips on SEO. If you have an hour, it’s worth the listen. Otherwise, you can skip to the parts that you’re most interested in via the notes Eric provides.

Finally, Nathan Gillatt points to an upcoming free webinar hosted by Visible Technologies titled, “Is Your Search Engine Reputation Helping or Hurting Your Brand? Why Online Reputation Management is Critical for Brands and Individuals.” The webinar is on September 30. I don’t know anything about the presenters, but the topic sounds like it’s on target.

If you have more questions about how to optimize your blog using any of the above SEO techniques, please include them in the comments. And if you have any other resources you’ve found useful, please share those as well!

Best Posts of the Week

Thought I’d share a couple of interesting and useful posts I’ve read this week:

Enjoy. And if you have any feedback, please leave them for the bloggers at the end of their posts. Bloggers love feedback!

Social Media Word of the Day: Astroturfing

Definition: an orchestrated public relations campaign that seeks to create the impression of being spontaneous, grassroots behavior. Hence the reference to the artificial grass AstroTurf. (Wikipedia)

Negative Examples: Target, WalMart, Whole Foods

Analysis: Companies end up astroturfing for one of two reasons: either they don’t understand how to build online communities or they don’t want to take the time to do so (i.e. they’ve paid for a video and they want it to be “viral” NOW!). Often, these programs originate not with the PR team, but in the marketing department. However, there are also companies that have got it right, like H&R Block.

Transparency, trust and authenticity are KEY to social media success, people!

Further Reading: Paull Young, organizer of the anti-astroturfing campaign.

Social Media Word of the Day: Liveblogging

Definition: Taking notes during a conference and publishing them for others to read in real-time.

Examples: Time Magazine liveblogs the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting, A participants liveblogs IBM CEO Sam Palmisano’s keynote at BPLC, and Venturebeat liveblogs from the Web 2.0 Expo.

Analysis: Liveblogging is a valuable resource, both for people who are not able to attend the conference and those who want to continue the conversation started at the conference once it concludes. Twitter has become a popular tool for sharing mini-updates from conferences as well.

More Resources: Bruno Giussani has some great liveblogging tips. There’s also a new software tool that’s supposed to make this much easier called CoverItLive, although I haven’t tried it yet myself.

Social Media Word of the Day: Viral

Definition: web, video or image content which gains widespread popularity through the process of Internet sharing, typically through email or IM messages, blogs and other media sharing websites. (Wikipedia)

Corporate Examples: Coke and Mentos video, OfficeMax’s ElfYourself, BlendTec’s “Will It Blend?” video series, Ford’s “Evil Twin” advert

Analysis: It’s difficult for a company to show its personality, but there are ways to do it that maintain the authenticity of the brand, as the corporate examples above illustrate.

A guest post on TechCrunch revealed one firm’s approach to creating viral videos for clients, and it involved a lot of tactics commonly called astroturfing, which is essentially creating the appearance of a grassroots movement when in fact it isn’t..

It’s a common mistake among communicators to ask their PR agencies to create “something viral” without first asking questions like:

  • Who’s our target audience?
  • Why would someone want to share our post/video/image with their friends?
  • What metrics will help us determine if this is successful?

Without first addressing the question of community, audience and content, it’s nearly impossible to create something viral. Looking at the above corporate examples, can you answer those three questions?