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Google Slaps Blog Networks … Hard!

Google Slaps Blog NetworksBlog networks are being de-indexed by Google … hard and fast! Google always maintains it needs webmasters to follow all the ethical principles of ranking higher in search engines. Of course, it is hard to implement all of them, even by a giant like Google. This is why people have been using all sorts of methods to rank in higher. Remember for an internet marketer, the difference between the first and tenth position can be a few hundred thousand dollars, so there is a high incentive to use “black hat SEO” methods and the like. This isn’t a very good idea in the long run; after all, the bottom line of SEO is Quality Content. Links are a way for Google to identify quality content. If you try to deceive Google, there are consequences.

What are Paid Blog Networks?

For those who do not know, paid blog networks are a private network of blogs formed in a network only to build links to one another and to others who pay them, directly or indirectly. What this means is, you either pay a blog network to publish your article on their network (one of the blogs) or you indirectly pay by adding your own blog to the network so others and submit articles on it with a link back to their own website.

The problem with paid blog networks is that the only reason they exist is for back-links. They are not “natural” as Google would say. Even though it is private, Google the God knows everything. It is now beginning to de-index the sites.

Some of the blog networks are well-known names in the industry, like Build My Rank (BMR), Article Marketing Automation (AMA), Authority Link Network (ALN), Linkvana (LV), etc. If you have used these services before, you might notice a decrease in your overall Google ranking because you would have lost out on some backlinks now. Just hope Google doesn’t punish the users of blog networks too (harshly).

So What Happened?

Well, in simple words, Google found those out! Matt Cutts, the legendary inside-Google-SEO guy who does all the wizardry for search rankings and such updates, says blog networks are on his radar.

Google has already began de-indexing sites at BMR and ALN. Here is a discussion about ALN and was referenced by Matt Cutts in his tweet. BMR has posted the truth on their blog. It looks like the other networks are still safe, but no one knows for how long. Once Google is on to something, they can be pretty good with weeding out what they don’t like.

In the world of blog networks, de-indexing is part of the game. However, this is far more serious than the ones before.

If you are de-indexed by Google, you are essentially relegated to the netherworld of the internet, condemned to spend your time in obscurity without a soul in sight. That isn’t the best place for a site or blog to be, which is why it is never a good idea to be on the bad side of Google. Like it or not, they are the Gods in this game and you don’t want to displease them.

Looking Forward

For starters, don’t use paid blog networks for link building! Think about promotion methods that you can talk to Matt Cutts about over a cup of a coffee. Do you think you can tell him that you pay some shady network of blogs to get backlinks to your site so that Google thinks you are more popular than you actually are? If not, don’t do it.

The discussion between white-hat and black-hat SEO is a long one. Many people justify using black-hat methods on many grounds. However, you should remember it is hard to last and you shouldn’t use those for the long term.

The sad thing is, many webmasters are unaware of these methods and they go to the SEO companies for building their rankings. They don’t know what these companies do to get these ranks. This is one reason I am always suspicious of these SEO agencies. They have an incentive system that isn’t in line with yours. They want to get your site up the search engine rankings as fast as possible and take the money. You want to remain there for the long term. Ask Google about the difference!

Understand what good SEO is about and don’t make the big-G angry. Promote your blog but only through ethical methods. Or if you want to give something a try, don’t do it with your primary blog. It is hard to know which black-hat methods will be weeded out. Do you really want to take the chance though? Whether you deliberate engage in these practices or you are just a victim, unfortunately, Google isn’t likely to consider you on a special basis.

Have you used blog networks? Have you been affected? What are your thoughts on this issue?

Photo Credit: VerminInc

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Comprehensive PeoplePerHour Review

PeoplePerHour ReviewThis PeoplePerHour review is from a freelancer who has seen and worked on a lot of freelancing sites online. Is this legit or scam? Is it worth my time? Is it better than the other freelancing sites? I’ll attempt to answer these and many other questions about the site, so you can make an informed decision about whether to join PeoplePerHour or not.

What is PeoplePerHour?

PeoplePerHour is an online freelancing portal. This is very similar in concept to oDesk and Elance, the more popular freelance marketplaces. An online marketplace brings together buyers and sellers. The buyers propose projects and the sellers bid on these projects. The sellers of course are almost always freelancers.

PeoplePerHour isn’t the first online marketplace for freelancers. There have been several in the past, some having a strong hold on the industry. Elance is one of the oldest, still popular marketplace. oDesk is newer but has grown at a really good rate over the years. For freelancers looking for work or for employers (usually start-ups and small businesses), there are plenty of options. When evaluating this site, therefore, you need to look at it from the larger perspective and compare it to existing businesses. This is what I will base my PeoplePerHour review on.

Check out my oDesk review and oDesk vs Elance to get a better idea of online marketplaces.

Quality/Quantity of Jobs Posted

The number of jobs at PeoplePerHour is definitely less than those of its bigger competitors like oDesk and Elance. However, I found the quality of jobs to be surprisingly high. I don’t have the statistics (yet) but the average pay on PeoplePerHour is far higher than either oDesk or Elance. I think I can safely say that the quality of jobs is the highest I have seen.

As a result, it is only natural that the freelancers are high quality too, which is great news for the buyers.

One of the major complaints about online marketplaces is the quality of jobs is really bad. This affects both sides of the equation. The freelancers are unhappy because of a downward pressure on their wages due to increasing competition from low quality providers. This drives the good workers away to other avenues which now affects the buyers because they cannot find enough quality people to do the job they want. As a result, the serious buyers look elsewhere. Thus what is left is a deteriorating marketplace. This is particularly stark in oDesk but present very well in Elance.

Surprisingly, this hasn’t yet happened with PeoplePerHour. The wages are decent and appropriate for the skills required for the jobs. I am not sure how they pulled it off and if this can be sustainable. Only time will tell. As of this moment, however, if you are a quality freelancer, this is certainly a site to check out. In addition, if you are a buyer looking for some good quality freelancers, it is definitely worth taking a look.

The obvious drawback however is that there are not enough jobs posted here. Besides, new freelancers might have a hard time competing against high quality and established workers.

Bottom Line: The quality of jobs posted is very high as compared to other marketplaces. The number of jobs is modest. If you have the right skills for the job, definitely worth checking out and being a part of. At the same time, accomplished freelancers might still find that they are better off on their own. The wages are good, but not extraordinary either. If you are looking for highly qualified workers, this is the place to look.

Subscription and Fees

PeoplePerHour subscription model is a layered one which I personally don’t particularly like. Elance has one too. I like oDesk the best in this sense – no membership upgrades; the fee structure, although high, is very straightforward (You pay a 10% project fee flat, no exceptions, no membership upgrades). However, this isn’t the case with PeoplePerHour.

PeoplePerHour Membership

As a free member, you have several restrictions and you can buy credits. As you can see from the chart above, basic free members pay a high fees of 10% as opposed to just 4.50% paid by Platinum members. The concept of freelancers picking up the tab for all the site’s workings too is a little weird for me (oDesk, on the other hand, is more uniform in this sense because everyone pays the same service fee and thus can be negotiated). I am not a fan of membership upgrades in general, but perhaps my fellow freelancers have a more favorable view of this.

Bottom Line: The service fees depends on your membership type, and so do limits on how many projects you can bid on. I am no fan of this model.

Transparency

PeoplePerHour can be very open as compared to the other online marketplaces. For example, you can find the team and know about them. Some client testimonials are also refreshingly open. In addition, the profiles look more professional, with a photograph, portfolio, feedback, etc. The earnings are open too, unlike oDesk (but like Elance). All this provides added credibility.

At the same time, I don’t like that they are not very transparent with some things especially those related to the fee/membership structure. The chart I displayed above is accessible only to members after joining the site. I would like to access this information before joining the site.

The PeoplePerHour Economy is another great feature to check out. You can get some really interesting statistics here about the freelancers and clients who use the site, the size of projects and other information that would interest both freelancers and buyers.

Bottom Line: Some great steps towards a more transparent experience benefiting both freelancers and businesses. However, the sites need to be more transparent about its fee/subscription structure.

Hourlies

This is a new addition, and I thought I should add to the existing PeoplePerHour review. Hourlies is a great concept that this site started. Instead of the traditional way where employers post projects and freelancers bid on it, hourlies reverse this process, i.e., the freelancers post what they can do and the cost of doing it and the employers can ‘buy’ that hourlie and the freelancer delivers. This is a great concept, although it seems a little crowded. The concept is new but promising. I would like to see more statistics though – it shouldn’t become of those features that becomes incredibly hard to navigate because it is cluttered with low quality posting.

Bottom Line: Some innovation finally from PeoplePerHour in terms of bringing a new feature to the freelancing marketplace that more established sites like oDesk and Elance lack. It’s still too early in the game to define them successful, but hourlies are definitely promising.

Update: As promised, I need to revise my review of hourlies at PeoplePerHour. In a nutshell, they absolute, terribly suck. The whole approval process is ad-hoc and random and frankly too frustrating to deal with. When I made an extremely minor correction to an already published hourlie, it was rejected. Recently, they rejected another of my hourlie that was just about publishing an article about a business on EzineArticles. Obviously it makes no sense (their argument is without the slightest merit. I’ll publish their whole ‘explanation’ for those who are interested).

Conclusion

PeoplePerHour is a relatively new online marketplace and this PeoplePerHour review might not capture all aspects of the site. It is still growing and faces several challenges. The most distinguishing feature of the site so far is its ability to maintain quality. This can degrade very soon if the site aims only for growth without regard to quality. It seems to be at a critical stage in that sense. Both freelancers and workers know the better quality the site offers and it should stick to it. PeoplePerHour is still a great site to join and every freelancer should at least check it out to see if they want to be a part of the site. Definitely worth considering.

Hourlies is a great idea with terrible terrible implementation. Hopefully other sites can take the model and improve it.

Photo Credit: laverrue

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PubSlush Review: Crowdsource Publishing

PubSlush ReviewPubSlush is a new crowdsourced publishing platform for writers. Crowdsourcing is the decentralization of the authority structure which derives its strength from numbers rather than specialization alone (think Wikipedia vs. Brittanica Encyclopedia). Crowds, it is argued, can do things better and more efficiently than individuals. Whichever side of the fence you stand on such a controversial stand is up to you, but there is no denying that there are certain aspects which are indeed best done by crowdsourcing.

PubSlush seems to have found a sweet spot. Collecting money can be very efficient when done in small contributions. Obama knows this. And now, so does PubSlush. I find the concept really interesting, and hence this early PubSlush review, early because it is yet to prove it is a good model for authors.

What is PubSlush

In a nutshell, PubSlush allows writers to become published authors … if enough people support it. This is the crucial crowdsourcing aspect of the site. They will get you published but you need to get 1000 people to support your work. The way it works is simple – if I wish to support the book A Sweeter Stride for example, written by a friend, I can “buy” the book right now, but it will only be published if the author gets 1000 people to support it. At this stage, the book is published and I’ll get my copy. Only then will my credit card ever be charged. If the book isn’t published, I am never charged.

For people who like books and like to support upcoming authors, they can browse through a good collection of books and support books that they like. This is a great way for people to discover some interesting content online written by non-professional writers. After all, everyone has a story to tell.

Who Should use PubSlush

Writers who are looking to get published should keep an eye out for the site. It looks like a promising concept. Even if you don’t have immediate plans to get published, it is always good to know such a site exists. In addition, it greatly helps your credibility if you are a published author. It should help you in all walks of life. If you are a freelance writer, wouldn’t it be good to tell your clients, “Oh and by the way, I am a published author too” so you can really prove your point?

Ask James Altucher, the author of 7 books who wrote about it in a recent post.

Where is PubSlush Headed?

Unfortunately, at this point of time, I will need to base my PubSlush review on the limited information that I have simply because the site is new. As of now, they haven’t published anyone. The maximum support for a book is at 362. However, it looks promising enough.

One important thing to notice is the inherent viral nature of the website. If you are a writer, you would like to get published and this seems like an easier way than to chase down traditional publishers (provided of course you aren’t already famous). However, to get published, they will need at least 1000 supporters, each of whom will come to know about the site. Chances are, a few of them are writers themselves. This creates a great opportunity for PubSlush to promote itself because most of the promotion is through the authors. I like such business strategies.

Agonizing Inception Stage

As great a model as it seems, it is going to take time. The site doesn’t have tens of thousands of active users yet, which means it is up to the authors to really promote their book through their limited means. Also, there is a high probability of failure at this stage – it is hard to get 1000 people to buy your book before it comes out.

As the site progresses, I suspect the number of users will increase and authors will have a higher probability of success from more active users. This is a risk that authors are taking right now. 1000 doesn’t seem like too huge a number, but for a new website, it sure is.

PubSlush Challenge: Supply and Demand

For the future, it would be an interesting dynamic between the number of authors and number of supporters. As the site grows, it will need to maintain a healthy supply-demand dynamic in terms of attracting quality authors and interested buyers. If there are too many authors, they will never all get published because there aren’t enough people to support the project and the site will be left in a ghost-shell. If there are too few authors to choose from, the supporters will not have enough choice and probably will not find books of their interest and will never return.

In any marketplace, this dynamic is really important. It is hard to know beforehand how the site will pan out in the future. It needs quality authors and quality supporters who are interested to buy books from upcoming authors.

Since the site is new, I will update my PubSlush review from time to time. Getting the first book published should be a good milestone for the site. Once it reaches a critical mass, I suspect it would be a really good endeavor to consider.

Edit: An earlier version of the article incorrectly stated “If this target isn’t met, then the site will simply refund me the money.” with regards to a book not being published. In reality, you are only charged if the book is published, so really, there is no “refund” if a book isn’t published – you don’t get charged in the first place. Thanks to Erin for pointing it out. And thanks to PubSlush for keeping an eye out for their reviews, including this blog!

Photo Credit: Jenn Fishman

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Making money through affiliate marketing – Does it pay off?

This is a guest post from Grace Ruskin.

During such hard economic conditions throughout the world, a large number of people are desperately looking for some passive income sources to boost their present income level and meet their monthly debt obligations. With the widespread use of the internet, online marketing has become an increasingly popular option to generate cash and use it in paying off your debt obligations. Have you ever heard of affiliate marketing as an option to make fast online cash? If answered no, you should educate yourself on this as this is one of the best ways to boost your monthly cash flow and use it in paying off your debt obligations. Make money affiliate marketing tips are available in the internet and you should go through them in order to ensure best returns. Here are some tips that you may consider.

 

  • Knowing your audience is very important: If you are looking for the most successful way to use the affiliate programs, you should predict and also meet the needs of the online audience. Initially, before you start off with it, you have to consider the reason they are coming to your blog. Are you providing the exact thing that they are looking for? Always try to be sure that the product that you are promoting provides an effective solution to the problems of the visitors. Put ads that are relevant to the theme of the website so that it does not seem irrelevant. 

     

  • Help the online visitors: Remember that the affiliate ads are nothing but the additional resources that complement the content of your website and your utmost job is to add value to your content by making it useful, unique and informative as much as possible. If you are dealing with books, do not put up a list predicting the visitors to click on the links and purchase them. Instead you can write a detailed review of the books and use the affiliate ads to point them to the exact direction. Make use of your resources. 

     

  • Be loyal to your audience: It is very tough to get a bulk of audience who are interested in the content of your website and when you already grab them, you need to value them so that they stick to your website and remain loyal to you. You should not break their trust by promoting something that you personally do not believe in. You should understand that it is the repeat visitors that drive the main traffic and they are the ones who will provide you back links and also recommend your blog to other people. 

    Before you become an affiliate for a merchant company, you have to choose the products carefully so that you do not promote something that you do not support personally. Make money affiliate marketing is the most vital part of earning online cash and you should follow the tips mentioned in order to ensure maximum returns with minimum risk.

    Grace Ruskin is a professional writer and has immense knowledge on various aspects of the US online money making industry. She has contributed her articles to several websites and some topics covered by her are earning money through pay per lead affiliate programs, make money affiliate marketing tip ( http://www.debtconsolidationcare.com/affiliate/ ), importance of SEO in internet marketing and many more.

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    oDesk vs Elance: Comprehensive Guide

    oDesk vs ElanceoDesk vs Elance is an important question to ask because they are two of the biggest freelance marketplaces online today. If you want to start your freelancing career, both oDesk and Elance are good places to start because they have a good supply of employers looking to hire you. In the long term, however, you would probably be better off searching for projects by yourself. However, when you are starting out, an established platform definitely helps.

    Elance is older, but oDesk is faster growing. They both have their own strengths and weaknesses. As a freelancer, you should be able to choose the site that better suits your needs. Ultimately, you want to earn more money, in a consistent manner and get paid as high as possible for your skills. With this in mind, lets look at oDesk and Elance and evaluate them based on different aspects of a freelancing site.

    I wouldn’t suggest joining all the freelancing sites at once simply because it can overwhelm you. I would suggest being active on one of them. Another important reason to concentrate on one of them is the feedback system – if you have excellent feedback on one of them, you will still need to start over at the other, which would be equivalent to underselling yourself.

    Freelancing is growing fast. Quoting statistics from Elance research, CNN recently asked whether 2013 is the age of the freelancer. It’s not just the young, unemployed people looking to be freelancers. In fact, boomers are booming as freelancers! If you want to be part of the action, choosing the right freelance marketplace to get started can be a crucial decision.

    oDesk vs Elance: Quality of Job Postings

    Quality of job postings is a very important aspect of any freelancing marketplace. No one wants to work on crappy assignments with low pay. In terms of overall quality, Elance beats oDesk in almost all cases. oDesk has seen a drop in quality job openings and this decline has been consistent. Of course this is a very general trend I am talking about – there could be certain types of jobs where the quality is getting better. Unfortunately a criteria such as this one is hard to quantify.

    If you look at major players and small businesses, they seem to prefer Elance. These bigger companies are more likely to look for better quality providers and also willing to pay more. If you own a small business generating a million dollars and looking to post freelance projects, chances are, you will go for Elance. I think the main reason is because it is old and has some good freelancers working on the site for a long time.

    Of course on the flip side, if you are just getting started, I think it might be easier to break into oDesk. More on that later.

    oDesk vs Elance: Fees

    Freelancing sites like Elance or oDesk charge you money for using their services. These are usually not a one time charge but you need to give up a percentage of your income. This is unlike a jobs board, for example, where you pay a flat rate to get access to all the jobs. Fees can actually be a very significant part of what you earn, especially if you are looking to get into freelancing more seriously.

    oDesk has a flat fee structure: you pay 10% of your gross income as fees. Thus if the employer pays you $100, you end up with $90. However, the good thing with oDesk is that there is no fees to join. There is no concept of premium memberships at the site. Therefore if all you are looking to do is play around and take a look at how things are, you might find this attractive.

    Elance has a more complex fee structure. From their website,the per assignment fees are 8.75% for standard Service Fee for relationships less than $10,000 and 6.75% discounted Service Fee for relationships that exceed $10,000 and new relationships referred to Elance. Then there is membership fees. Individual membership is $10/month for premium membership. There are other levels for small and large businesses. There is also a free membership level but is very restrictive in terms of what you can do.

    oDesk vs Elance: Payments and Protection

    Of course at the end of the day you want to get paid. Both Elance and oDesk have systems in place which ensure that buyers pay freelancers. However, they go about it in very different ways.

    At Elance, there is the concept of Escrow payments – the buyer puts aside money for the project with Elance and Elance releases it when the job is completed. If there is a dispute, Elance will not release the funds, so freelancers cannot ‘take the money and run’. This is quite a reasonable system and helps protect both buyers and sellers.

    oDesk on the other hand has a payment guarantee for hourly assignments. oDesk monitors workers through screenshots, keystrokes and mouse clicks (more on this later) and above a minimum threshold of activity, oDesk will guarantee that the freelancer will be paid. However, on fixed price assignments, there is no system of escrow payments. Most buyers will not pay a percentage of assignment in advance. This means freelancers are at risk and if the buyer is dishonest, they lose out. Fixed price assignments inherently make more sense for many types of projects and it is a pity that they are not protected better.

    oDesk vs Elance: Privacy

    Elance wins hands-down. This is a no brainer. oDesk has the policy with hourly assignments where you have to install a software that takes screenshots of your screen at random intervals and sends it to the employer, making sure that you are working on the project at hand. In addition, the software collects keyboard strokes and mouse click information. This is an extremely intrusive method of monitoring workers and frankly doesn’t even make a lot of sense. Did anyone hear about “thinking” while doing a job? Needless to say, this is still a controversial thing.

    I know a lot of freelancers don’t like to be monitored like lab rats every waking hour of their life when they are working. After all, as long as they get the job done, they are entitled to some time off while working too. No company in the world monitors workers in this fashion anyway.

    oDesk vs Elance: Feedback System

    Feedback is an integral part of any freelancing marketplace because it distinguishes the good workers from the bad. It is also a good way to establish trust with future potential employers.

    oDesk feedback seems a little more transparent and truer. Most good workers at Elance seem to have a 5 or near 5 rating. Even though many at oDesk do that too, there is a better differential. This differential is important, after all, if you want to distinguish yourself, which is the very purpose of feedback to begin with. If everyone is a 5 star, there is nothing you gain by being one yourself.

    oDesk vs Elance: Customer Service

    Both Elance and oDesk have good customer service. This is an important aspect because the sites handle all the administrative tasks for freelancers, like getting paid, invoicing, money transfers, etc. I tend to like oDesk customer service more than Elance. I think they are more prompt with their replies and provide good solutions to your problems. both sites have a good amount of information in their help pages, so you can find most answers there. Again, I tend to like oDesk help pages more.

    In addition, oDesk has a whole Community – forums, which can be immensely useful for freelancers and employers looking for solutions or voicing their complaints or ideas. This is a great feature to have and can be very helpful especially to the people new to the site.

    Learn More
    There is a great book on Amazon about freelancing on Elance that is equally applicable to oDesk. It’s called The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Elance
    Check it out, and may be you’ll learn something new!

    Know more about these by visiting Elance and oDesk and comparing them yourself. I hope this review was useful. Feel free to drop a line in the comments and share your experience with others, so we can all benefit.

    Photo Credit: Ionics

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    7 Online Writing Tips

    Online Writing TipsOnline writing tips help both beginners and professionals to captivate an online audience. The type of writing that attracts an online audience can be very different from what traditional publishing media is used to, which is why even very good writers sometimes have trouble holding on to their visitors. Understanding the psyche of the online visitor is very important.

    Online Writing Tip-1: Don’t be a White Swan
    There are billions of websites and blogs out there on the internet. Chances are, the broad topic that you wish to write about, still has millions of articles online. How are you different? Why should someone read what you write over the million other pages?

    Bringing something unique to the table is universal in all forms of writing but is especially so for online writing. Whenever you sit down to write something, always think about how you can be different.

    There are many ways in which you can distinguish your writing from others. One way is through personal stories, which is what blogs are for. Make sure to research well what you write, so that you not only know the facts right but also know the competition. Try to approach the same problem from a different angle and point of view. Be creative and think different.

    Online Writing Tip-2: Don’t be Greedy
    I am talking about links. Yes, it doesn’t cost you money to link to other, authoritative websites and you shouldn’t be greedy with respect to the links going out from your article. Many writers shy away from linking to others because they are afraid that they may lose readers to the other site. However, if you have a good collection of these links, chances are, your readers will come back just for your references! Also, it greatly improves your credibility online when you link to relevant articles and pages (think Wikipedia).

    People are always looking to read a helpful article. If you are the one who leads them to discover another great website, they will remember you. Sharing is the key on the internet, so don’t be afraid to point your readers to good websites, even if sometimes these come in direct competition with your own writing.

    Online Writing Tip-3: Bullets are Deadly
    Chances are, you are skimming through this article and you just want to see what all I have to say. Great! Now you know why lists, like a list of N things is so effective online.

    The attention span of an online reader is far less than that of the reader of say a book or a magazine offline. Breaking down the article into points helps the reader grasp what you are trying to say quickly and efficiently. There are some forms of writing, like essays, that can never be broken down into lists, which is good. However, whenever feasible, consider bullet points and lists. They also have a better chance of going viral.

    Online Writing Tip-4: Know Thyself … and Thy Reader
    This is oft repeated, but simply because it is so important. You should know what your audience wants. Sometimes, it is just a single piece of information (the score was 14-31). Sometimes they want the inner details. Sometimes they want an analysis. If you deliver what your audience is looking for, you should do great with your readers.

    The same goes with blogging or having your own website. If you deviate too much away from your niche, you are only going to alienate your readers because they don’t want what you are writing. Personal stories are fine, but don’t go on about fitness and technology in a blog dedicated to pets. Be relevant.

    Online Writing Tip-5: Speed Thrills but Kills
    It is almost always a trade-off between covering something fast and covering something accurately. When a new piece of information arrives, everyone today has access to it at almost the same time. However, how you analyze and interpret it is going to be very different. You need to strike a balance between how fast you want to cover something and how detailed you want the analysis to be.

    For example, lets say Google releases another change and modification to their algorithm. How is it going to affect bloggers? The actual algorithm change will probably be mentioned in Google’s blog but your thoughts on how it is going to impact bloggers is going to be an analysis. If you want too long, say a week or two, you can probably get more concrete data and make some fancy graphs. However, that is probably best done as a follow-up article.

    It is important to be fast and accurate when you report something new.

    Online Writing Tip-6: Read to Write
    If you wish to really succeed at online writing, you should read a lot. The reason is simple – if you read, you are aware of a number of different things and you can connect different events and happenings. You can get the big picture which your competitors can miss. You can connect social memes and write a comprehensive report on a given topic. In addition, reading more helps you get more ideas for whatever it is that you wish to write.

    Online Writing Tip-7: Creatively Different
    Always look to hold your reader’s attention with stories, personal accounts, case studies, etc. Malcolm Gladwell does this well with most of his essays. He is a great storyteller, which makes him able to put his point across in a clear, strong manner, backing up his argument with his case studies. Writing online can be a creative challenge for writers, and that should be enough to motivate you to be different.

    What are your online writing tips? Do share!

     

     

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    How to Increase Alexa Ranking: Unconventional Strategies

    How to Increase Alexa Ranking?

    How to increase Alexa rankingI had asked this question a long time ago, when I thought and gave a lot of importance to Alexa ranking. However, I now realize that the real question that I should have asked is, Is Alexa Rank Relevant? And it turns out, that Alexa rank is a surprisingly poor indicator of your traffic. There are popular sites with hundreds of visitors a day with an Alexa rank of over a million while a lot of sites with a few visitors are ranked really well. Why is that?

    To answer how to increase Alexa rank, you should first ask yourself how Alexa rank is calculated. Alexa ranking is supposed to rank websites based on traffic. The ultimate purpose of course is to give a traffic ranking to each and every website on the internet – an ambitious task. However, even if this can be done for the top say 10 million sites, that’s a great achievement. The problem is, it turns out that it isn’t as straightforward and the method employed by Alexa is flawed. If you want to improve your Alexa ranking, you should work your way through these flaws.

    Learning About Alexa Ranking

    • Your Alexa rank is not an accurate indicator of traffic.
    • The traffic statistics are calculated based on the number of visitors who have installed Alexa toolbar to your site.
    • If you blog in a niche that doesn’t attract many people who would be interested in installing this, your ranking will be poor.
    • Domain traffic is added up, except in obvious cases like blogger or wordpress or typepad.
    • As a general rule, higher traffic would still result in higher Alexa ranking.

    That being said, the Alexa ranking is still relevant for many webmasters.Here are some reasons why Alexa ranking is still relevant, when used in the right context.

    How to Use Alexa Ranking

    • Show-off: This is especially true for attracting advertisers and selling yourself and your blog. It is a number, and people like numbers. If you have a good Alexa rank, it never hurts.
    • Compare Sites: You can still find some relevant use of Alexa ranking when you compare two sites in a very similar area and same niche. For example, if you want to know which among two photography sites that seem to cater to similar kinds of professionals is more popular, and you find that the Alexa ranking of one is far better than the other, chances are it is more popular.
    • Weed out Scams: I personally use Alexa ranking to quickly get an estimate of a site’s popularity. If you claim to be the #1 Furniture website in the United States and your Alexa ranking is 15 million, I will probably be suspicious.
    • Guesstimation: Alexa ranking can still be used to estimate traffic, popularity and relevance, especially if you have a fair idea about the traffic and rankings of other sites in the same area. It should always be taken with a pinch of salt, however.

    Now that you know about Alexa rank and how it is calculated, here are 7 tips to help you improve your Alexa ranking

    Secrets to Increase Alexa Ranking

    • Download the Alexa Toolbar: Duh! Well, this is definitely the first step. Download the Alexa toolbar. Like previously mentioned, Alexa calculates its website rankings based on the number of visitors who have installed the toolbar and have visited your website. Shouldn’t you be the first one to do so? You should, especially if you are starting out. It can help you quickly cross over from the big millions to the little millions in traffic ranking if you visit your website yourself, after installing the Alexa Toolbar.
    • Get Webmaster Targeted Traffic: I do not want to state the obvious – that you should increase traffic in general, so statistically speaking, you improve your Alexa ranking. However, there are certain niches that seem to have a higher probability of visitors with Alexa toolbar installed. These are usually webmasters, blog owners, etc. who want to monitor their own progress and also that of their competition. Therefore, you should try to get traffic from these sources, like visiting and posting useful information on relevant forums and leaving your link in the signature. This should get you more targeted traffic specially to improve your Alexa ranking.
    • Find Traffic Exchange Sites: Traffic exchange sites can be good for you, depending on which niche you operate in. I found Entrecard to be quite useful for my other blogs when I wanted to bump up their Alexa rankings. However, the bad news is, it can increase your bounce rate, especially if visitors are not very interested in what you have to offer. However, in my case, I was getting only a few visitors from Entrecard and had hundreds of other normal visitors but the ratio of people with Alexa toolbar from Entrecard seemed to be much higher.
    • Use the Redirection Trick: You can use a redirection trick to let Alexa know about your website even if the visitor doesn’t have a toolbar installed. For example, you can use a URL like http://redirect.alexa.com/redirect?<your website domain> and this should redirect to your website, but through Alexa. I am not a huge fan of this because you don’t get direct backlinks, but this trick is especially handy if you want to mention your site in Alexa specific forums, discussion boards or leaving your URL behind during a review.
    • Buy Traffic: This of course involves paying money, but using pay-per-click type of advertising, you can drive relevant visitors to your blog. Of course this needs to fit in with the overall strategy of your blog. You might also consider advertising on popular webmaster blogs, so that the conversion ratio – percentage of people with Alexa toolbar installed is higher.
    • Ignore the Myths: There are several myths about Alexa ranking floating around the internet. One common myth that I always end up seeing is some blogger claiming that having an Alexa traffic widget installed on your blog helps improve your Alexa ranking. It doesn’t. You shouldn’t waste your time and effort in following all kinds of advice that isn’t even beneficial for the long-term traffic sustainability of your blog.
    • Traffic!: Of course, the main purpose of Alexa or any traffic rank is, well, traffic! You should concentrate on getting more traffic to your blog, which is the bottom line for any serious and successful blog or website. Remember that Alexa ranking is not the most important thing, ultimately it is just traffic. Alexa ranking is just an additional boost. Use Google approved methodologies for building a high quality long-term sustainable site.

    If you have other tips to share, feel free to let me know in the comments.

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