Articles by Mike Seidle

About Mike Seidle

Mike Seidle is one of the founders of Professional Blog Service and currently is Director of Development for DirectEmployers Association. Mike currently serves on Professional Blog Service's board of directors.

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Here are my most recent posts

How to Help Google Identify Authors of Content on Your Site

Google is changing the web again. This time, they are asking webmasters to begin identifying authors in a way that allows:

  • Google to track who is the author of content
  • Google to track about the author pages (called profiles by Google).
  • Authors to authenticate their profiles (author pages) on multiple websites.

If you are an author, this is fantastic… and if you are a content publisher, it’s even better because Google is now starting to look at who writes, not just the cold math behind an article.

To acknowledge an author, you use the HTML5  rel attribute in a link pointing to an “about the author” page on the same website like this:

Article written by <a rel="author" href="../authors/mikeseidle">Mike Seidle</a>

Because most authors have profile (about the author pages) on multiple websites, Google has a way to link them together. The first step is to put a link to the author’s website on the profile with a rel=”me” attribute like this:

<a rel="me" href="http://mikeseidle.com/about">Read more about Mike</a>

On the page mikeseidle.com/about, we have to insert a recriprocal link back to the above about the author page (profile)  with the rel=”me” attribute:

<a rel="me" href="http://problogservice.com/authors/mikeseidle">How To Help Google Identify Authors of Content on Your Site</a>

Before all you search engine optimization experts get your hair on fire about reciprocal links causing bad things to happen to your page rank, here’s the link on Google’s Webmaster Tools that shows that it is required by Google to do a reciprocal link.

As of the time this post was written, most blogging software does not support the new author tagging features yet, so you’ll either have to write a plug in or embed your own links. I would expect to see support for author and profile tagging to be included in future versions of WordPress soon.

 

How To Turbocharge Your LinkedIn Profile

Web pages are useless without traffic, and the same is true about LinkedIn profiles. It doesn’t matter if you are looking for new customers, a job or just more connections, no traffic = no opportunity. Here’s a simple strategy I used to increase the traffic to my LinkedIn profile page from 3-4 people per day to 70-80 people per day (that means 27,000+ visits in a year). Feel free to make it your own:

Step 1: Figure out what your goal is with your LinkedIn Profile.

This isn’t that hard. Your LinkedIn profile is a resume with a couple of places you get to be creative, and there are really only a few practical uses for LinkedIn. Most likely your goal is one of these four: [Read more…]

If You Want Your Content Republished, Have a Republishable RSS Feed

If you have a blog or other content source, 1/3 of the functionality is its ability to handle RSS feeds (syndicated news feeds). RSS is a vital part of the blog ecosystem, and if you are neglecting it, you are giving up 30-50% of the return on investment you should be expecting from your blog. Isn’t RSS automatic? Well, yes and no.

Most blogs have some kind of RSS publishing capability (an RSS feed is part of what makes a blog a blog), and most have it turned on by default, the problem is that most blogging software have horrible defaults settings that result in your RSS feed being useless to everyone other than desktop news tickers.

When you neglect your RSS feed:

  • You minimize the search engine optimization effect. You aren’t getting backlinks from people republishing your article, and therefore, aren’t getting any link juice.
  • You diminish your site’s ability to harvest traffic from social networks like LinkedIn, Facebook and niche sites on Ning and Groupsites.
  • People may be stealing your articles without sending traffic back to your site or crediting the author.

If you want your content republished, have an RSS feed.

So what does “republishable” mean?

  1. The full article text is included. If you have a WordPress or Typepad blog, chances are you are set for the summary feed which gives exactly 200 characters of each article, which is good for exactly nothing. Go to Settings… reading and change your feed from summary to full article.
  2. Links and picture sources are fully qualified. That means all links and images point to to “http://yoursite.com/super-cool-content.whatever” and not to “/super-cool-content.whatever.” It also means that when your article is republished, the links work. If your site runs Joomla, you’ll have to have someone who is comfortable with PHP make a change to the code that generates your site’s RSS Feed.
  3. An about the author block is included. This way, you will always be credited. Don’t do a lot of crazy styling – just keep it simple as many RSS aggregators (the software that grabs your feed and includes it in another website) strip most formatting out, leaving links, and basic HTML intact (stuff like the bold and italics tags). Include your name, a one line description of the author, and it is a good idea to provide a link to your blog, and even your LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook page.
  4. A copyright statement is included, if needed.
  5. Turn photos off in your feeds. Photos sized and selected for your blog are often not edited correctly for other people’s websites. If you use Typepad, you’ll have to make a settings change.
  6. Make sure your logo is set. Some sites will publish your logo next to or above your site’s headlines. Joomla site owners, chances are right now your logo is the Joomla logo.
  7. You have a clear set of rules on your site that tell others how they can use your content. A lot of blogs use Creative Commons licenses that make it a snap for people to understand your intent and their legal obligations.

Accuracy in Web Metrics is a Myth. Go for Real Time Analytics

It’s online marketers’ dirty little secret: Web metrics are not very accurate. None of them.

Surprised? You shouldn’t be.

Users can block script and pixel based systems and proxy servers (servers that cache content to reduce bandwidth use on networks, like say, your ISP’s or corporate network) prevent your server’s weblog from recording every page view (I wrote in a little more detail on accuracy issues here). On top of network issues, there are some basic software limitations in browsers and metric packages that prevent every click and visit from being counted.

How bad is it? Somewhere between 4% and 12%. And it’s almost, almost always missing clicks, visits and page views.

So, do web analytics have value? Yes. But despite what you may think, their value isn’t counting every single click you get on your site. It’s for identifying trends. Knowing what is happening and what has happened in aggregate has great value. Even with a 6-12% margin of error.

The problem is, many web metrics solutions are on a time delay (like Google Analytics) that prevents you from seeing what is happening now. On the internet “NOW” means everything. And if you want to see what is happening minute to minute, your options are rather limited.

Here’s a situation that happened with one of my clients:

We had a client who had just started a $90,000, 48 hour advertising campaign for a major affiliate network. We didn’t realize it, but some bad code was preventing people coming to a landing page for step 3 in the registration process. A real-time analytics package allowed us to see the problem and fix it in about 15 minutes, but a once-a-day analytics package would have only pointed out the problem halfway through our 48 hour schedule.

Should we have tested the landing page better? Yes. Reality is that marketing sites are often done on much tighter deadlines than traditional software development and sometimes testing isn’t that great. That means real time metrics are critical.

If we had waited 12 hours for metrics to become available, my client would have lost 25% of sales and 25% of the money they had spent on the campaign.

Real time matters more than you think. If you’re not investing in it, you need to consider it.

New Report Reveals Surprising Findings About Hoosier Social Media Usage

LinkingIndiana.com recently conducted a survey of social media usage among Hoosiers, and found some rather surprising results.

For those of us who work in the social media realm, it sometimes seems like everyone is using social media. We’re often surprised to find people who aren’t on any kind of social network or don’t read blogs, and I’ve wondered if they have ever upgraded to an electric typewriter. But there are still a lot of people who aren’t on it, although thanks to programs like Facebook and Twitter, that number is shrinking greatly.

The number one finding? Social media is now mainstream with Hoosier businesspeople. It’s not a flash in the pan, or a passing fad (like some people called the Internet 15 years ago). Rather, it’s a real way to do business.

According to the survey of more than 300 respondents, we know the following about our social media habits in the Hoosier state.

  • 94% use social networks weekly.
  • 77.6% use social networks daily.
  • Facebook and LinkedIn are used most often by 86.1% respondents.
  • Facebook is clearly used for personal activity.
  • Despite growth in social media use, Hoosier businesses are lagging in adopting social media:
  • Over half (52%) don’t have a blog.
  • Less than half polled (42%) think their employer is effectively using social media.

With these numbers, we can draw a few conclusions, which we will explore in future blog posts.

    • Social media is no longer the next big thing. It is the thing.
    • B2B marketers should consider launching marketing programs on Facebook. Sure, it’s primarily being used by people to keep up with family and friends, or to play Pirate Clan and SuperPoke people. But it’s still being used by businesspeople, students, retirees, home makers. People are using Facebook like crazy, and you can’t ignore it anymore.
    • Take care that your campaigns are done correctly, and aren’t just bludgeon-over-the-head ads. Facebook users don’t use the site for business, and won’t respond well to typical B2B engagement strategies. You can still reach them with fan pages and similar strategies; this is where the “social” in social networking becomes important.
    • Only 48% of business people have a blog, yet it’s the one piece of social media that has not changed in nearly 10 years. Blogging is still a great business solution. Search engines love it, forward thinking companies have embraced it, and your customers are reading them, including your competition’s.
    • While we love Twitter and Smaller Indiana (I got this job and company because of Smaller Indiana), they aren’t necessarily the best place to spend marketing dollars when you’re trying to reach a large audience. Smaller Indiana is a great niche network, and if you wanted to reach some of the state’s influencers, it’s the place to be. But if you’re trying to reach a wide audience, there are better options.

There are a lot more points to the report, and some that deserve their own post, rather than giving them short shrift here. We’ll explore the important points and discuss the implications for Hoosier businesspeople and the marketers who want to reach them.

Download a copy of the 2009 Indiana Business Social Media Use Survey Survey here.

The Case Against a DIY Business Blog

Recently a potential client tried to make the case that writing their own business blog made financial sense because it “was cheaper”. So we sharpened up our pencils and analyzed what it really costs to write your own blog in three different scenarios:

  1. A corporation where technical experts (think engineers, accountants, lawyers, sales managers, marketing managers or executives) would be writing their own blog posts.
  2. A company that uses lower level clerical help to write the company blog.
  3. A small business where the owner is writing her own blog posts. In this case the owner is literally working for free.

Here’s how the numbers worked out:

Scenario One: Technical Experts
This is the most common situation we encounter: companies with knowledge workers who write their own blog posts. Compared to our highest-end product, the practice of using your own people may cost three times as much annually and offers little or no comparative advantage.

 

Knowledge Worker Professional Blog Service Platinum
Assumptions Assumptions
Worker Annual Salary $85,000.00 Worker Annual Salary n/a
18% Benefits & Tax Load $15,300.00 18% Benefits & Tax Load n/a
Annual Loaded Salary $100,300.00 Annual Loaded Salary n/a
Hourly Rate $48.22 Hourly Rate n/a
Company Income/Hour $144.66 Company Income/Hour n/a
Blog Post Costs Blog Post Costs
2 hrs labor to write & post blog $96.44 2 hrs labor to write & post blog n/a
Lost income on two hours labor $289.33 Lost income on two hours labor n/a
Cost Per Blog Post $385.77 Cost Per Blog Post $135.00
Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $5,400.77 Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $1,890.00
Annual Cost of Blog $64,809.23 Annual Cost of Blog $22,680.00

Scenario 2: Clerical Workers
Smarter companies utilize internal resources better, so instead of having expensive knowledge workers do the writing, lower cost clerical or creative workers are used.  The result: Pro Blog Service’s midrange business blogging service is less than half the cost.

 

Midsize Company Example Professional Blog SMB
Assumptions Assumptions
Worker Annual Salary $35,000.00 Worker Annual Salary n/a
18% Benefits & Tax Load $6,300.00 18% Benefits & Tax Load n/a
Annual Loaded Salary $41,300.00 Annual Loaded Salary n/a
Hourly Rate $19.86 Hourly Rate n/a
Company Income/Hour $59.57 Company Income/Hour n/a
Blog Post Costs Blog Post Costs
2 hrs labor to write & post blog $39.71 2 hrs labor to write & post blog n/a
Lost income on two hours labor $119.13 Lost income on two hours labor n/a
Cost Per Blog Post $158.85 Cost Per Blog Post $55.00
Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $2,223.85 Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $770.00
Annual Cost of Blog $26,686.15 Annual Cost of Blog $9,240.00

Scenario Three: Small Business Owners
When a small business owner works inside her business, often the labor is viewed as having no direct cost. It does have an opportunity cost. Even working for free, a small business owner would have made more money having outsourced blog writing to Professional Blog Service using our top of the line service:

 

Small Business Owner Professional Blog Service Platinum
Assumptions Assumptions
Worker Annual Salary $35,000.00 Worker Annual Salary n/a
18% Benefits & Tax Load $6,300.00 18% Benefits & Tax Load n/a
Annual Loaded Salary $41,300.00 Annual Loaded Salary n/a
Hourly Rate $0.00 Hourly Rate n/a
Company Income/Hour $120.00 Company Income/Hour n/a
Blog Post Costs Blog Post Costs
2 hrs labor to write & post blog $0.00 2 hrs labor to write & post blog n/a
Lost income on two hours labor $240.00 Lost income on two hours labor n/a
Cost Per Blog Post $240.00 Cost Per Blog Post $135.00
Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $3,360.00 Monthly Cost @ 14 Posts $1,890.00
Annual Cost of Blog $40,320.00 Annual Cost of Blog $22,680.00

Conclusion

Hiring a professional ghost writing service can save you 50-66% over having your employees write your company’s blog.

roi, ghostwriting, blogging, businessblog

Five Questions To Ask a Potential Ghost Blogger

Yesterday, we discussed the challenges of finding the right kind of ghost blogger to handle your blogging duties on your behalf, whether hiring a sweat shop, solo practitioner, or a professional blogging agency.

Assuming you’ve settled on the kind of person you want to hire, here are five questions you can ask any potential ghost writer or ghost blogger to quickly discover which bucket they fit in:

What country are your writers located in? 
If it’s not a country where your language is native, then you may have issues. Big issues. At the very least, you’ll spend some time editing and proofing each post, until you’re comfortable with the quality of content they’re providing.

How do you protect me from your writers plagiarizing someone else’s content? 
The right answer has three parts: First, they should have an editor check the writer’s work using Google and Copyscape to ensure your content isn’t lifted. Second, their writers should sign a no-plagiarism indemnification when they get hired (this way, the writer has financial skin in the game if they steal content). Finally, the blogger should register content with Copyscape to protect you from other’s plagiarizing. Please remember the biggest risk in blogging isn’t someone stealing your content. It’s getting sued for infringing on someone else’s copyright.

How do you make sure my posts are authentic? 
The answer you’re looking for is, “we don’t put words in your mouth, we put your ideas in writing.” To be honest and genuine, there needs to be a process that ensures that your ideas and your style of articulating ideas comes out in the final product. It’s important that the ideas and concepts be uniquely yours — but it’s okay to have a professional dress them up and put them on paper. Of course, you will need to be involved and at least read your blog before it is posted.

What happens when my contact goes on vacation? 
Do things stop when your social media person is out of town? What happens if a writer’s child gets sick? Success in social media requires discipline and planning, but there are times when you have to get things done and a one person show simply can’t hit deadlines. If you work with a solo practitioner, make sure you have either a backup, or have a second freelancer you work with to cover the gap.

How do I be sure my posts meet my quality standards? 
Here’s how it works: you have to be sure that what goes online complies with your legal department’s rules, is accurate, and you like it. The only way to ensure that happens is to make sure the work isn’t done at the last second. You need time to read, review and approve your blog posts. If you have a tough legal department or an “extraordinarily responsible” marketing compliance person, it’s likely your blog writing service will have to charge extra to deal with the cost of proofreading.

While there is no one-size-fits-all approach for everyone — maybe you’re willing to work with a writer’s schedule — there are a few things that you cannot and should not waver on: plagiarism and quality. Make sure the blogger(s) you hire can guarantee they won’t steal content from someone else, and that you’re happy with the work they’re doing.