Category Archives: Blogging

Blogging, blogs, and companies involved with blogging.

Yahoo! Buzz Plugin for WordPress

Yahoo BuzzYahoo! Buzz has been a success story for Yahoo! so far with it’s impressive ability to generate traffic for the initial hundred or so publishing partners who were allowed to submit articles to the service.

This allowed for quality control, but kept it from really being an important service for all the publishers outside of the lucky few who could participate.
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Automattic (WordPress) Snags 29.5 Million in Series B

Interesting news out of Silicon Valley where the creators of popular blogging software WordPress has taken a $29.5 million round of funding to help them grow into their next phase.

I’ve had a couple of conversations with founder Matt Mullenweg at conferences over the years and participated in the first Wordcamp event in San Francisco, and it’s great to see such a nice guy succeed. Matt’s a classy individual who really cares about what he works on, and it’s fun that he shares more of the WordPress backstory on his announcement post.

WordPress has always operated in a cheap manner being virtual for a long time and coming from the open source state of operations. It’ll be interesting to see what they do with such a large amount of money in the bank. Will it change how they operate? Do they have revenue models set up for the long haul that will earn their investors a big enough return on that investment? Supposedly they already turned down an acquisition offer of $200 million, and from Matt’s announcement post he seems to be in this for the long haul as an independent company. It should be fun to watch, I’ve enjoyed their software thus far.

Yahoo! Shortcuts is Cool, But Not Perfect

I’m going to agree with Greg, I like the Yahoo! Shortcuts plugin for WordPress that was just released, but I think it’d get more traction if the product links were affiliate-based so that bloggers could earn commission.

Very cool plugin though, it’ll be interesting to see how widely it gets used.

Web Revenue Blog Rankings: April Update

revenueblogrankings.gifIt’s been a couple of months since the original Web Revenue Blog Rankings were put out, so I thought it was time to put out an update as well as add a few more blogs to the list. Without further delay, here is the list:
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When Should You Monetize Your Blog With Ads?

HarpzOn.com riffs on an older Aaron Wall post about holding off on having ads on your blog.

There are many reasons to keep ads off your blog. You may not want to stunt your blog’s growth, annoy your users, slow down page loading times, or maybe you’re like HarpzOn and you’re planning on selling ebooks and information instead?
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Get Your Blog Ranked Well by Google Blog Search

As a web analytics junkie I tend to notice trends and changes in my blog statistics. One recent trend I’ve noticed is that I get more search traffic from Google Blog Search than I used to get.

One tip I have for people on this, is that some web analytics applications make it hard to tell the difference between regular Google Search traffic and Google Blog Search traffic. Google Analytics for example lumps them both together as “google(organic)” in the search keyword statistic. My new favorite easy analytics application of the moment Clicky has a link to each actual seach query so you can see that it’s from Google Blog Search instead.

Why am I seeing more Google Blog Search traffic? I think it’s a combination of reasons. I would bet that Google Blog Search is getting more traffic and queries than the past as blogs grow in the public conscious and people realize Google has such a tool. (Why isn’t it an option on the Google home page?) I also think that this blog has continued to get links and gain relevance which helps it rank higher in Google Blog Search results.

That last point brings up a question though, how do you optimize your blog for Google Blog Search? Is it the same factors that the normal Google search uses? I’d guess that the normal factors still apply, but the Google Operating System blog has done some Google patent research and talks about both positive and negative factors that influence your blog’s ranking.

A couple of interesting positive factors were the number of feed subscribers (how does Google get this from other feed providers? Or is it just Google Reader?), links from webmail and chat (how do they know if someone clicks a Yahoo mail link and lands on my blog?), and using tags to categorize posts. The negative factors seemed aimed at spam, but some tips there would be to make sure you have multiple links in posts, avoid spammy words, and don’t duplicate too much content.

Web Revenue Blog Rankings

revenueblogrankings.gifWe’ve got Technorati, Alexa, and other various traffic or ranking services that help us quantify and rank blogs and give us something to talk about. Unfortunately, these servcies all rank with different criteria such as the number of links from other blogs, traffic based on a toolbar install, traffic estimates based on a panel, or something else entirely. Additionally, it’s not always that useful in context of your actual industry. What’s more useful to know, that my blog is #53,294 in Alexa or that it’s the 9th ranked blog in it’s niche?

Because of this, I’ve decided to compile a list of blogs that I call the “Web Revenue Blogs”, look up their rankings in various services, compile them, and then rank them accordingly. I
classify a blog as a “Web Revenue Blog” if the primary focus of the blog is helping people make money through a blog or website.

What is a “Web Revenue Blog”?
Blogs that focus on affiliate marketing, display advertising, contextual advertising, and actually helping people generate revenue in these ways by running their own site. This blog is a good example, as well as others in the list.

I’ve intentionally left out company blogs in this area like the YPN Blog, Inside Adsense, and others. I’ve also left out blogs that really just only cover news, or blogs that are really heavy on search engine news and optimization tips. The blogs in these rankings spend a lot of their time talking about making money from a website or blog.

Why make these rankings?
As I mentioned above, I don’t think any one service shows the whole picture. I was also interested to see how my blog stacked up agains the competition, and wanted to motivate myself. Additionally, I think this will help people find some good blogs that they can learn from, and it’s good to study these bloggers as the top ones are doing many things right.

How are the rankings calculated?
These rankings are a way to just calculate which blogs are the most popular and have the most influence in this industry. Therefore, I decided to try and find a way to combine link quantity, link authority, and actual site traffic. I took data from numerous sources, and then gave each blog a score for their ranking in that category. So if a blog was #1 in Alexa rank, they received a score of “1″ for that category. Then I averaged the scores across each data source to get an average score, and ranked the blogs in that order. I think it’d also be valuable to combine RSS subscribers into the rankings, but not all of the bloggers in the rankings publish their Feedburner subscriber count.

Is this perfect? No, and I’d be happy to hear comments on other data I should include or ways to change the formula.

The following is the data sources and why they were included:

Technorati Ranking – Provides the number of links from blogs to other blogs, and is the most commonly referred to blog ranking system. It relies on quantity of links from other blogs combined with the number of blogs doing the actual linking.

Alexa – Measures the number of visitors to a site based on Alexa toolbar installations on people’s computers. The data tends to favor the type of blogs we’re ranking, but can be easily skewed and is more accurate for the most popular sites out there.

Compete – Uses the number of unique visitors to a site based on USA visitors only. This data is also based on a panel like Comscore. Unfortunately this data is for the the USA audience only. It also only attempts to rank the top one million sites, and a few of the blogs in these rankings had no data in Compete.

Quantcast – A newer entry to the data sites, Quantcast measures site traffic by analyzing data provided by ISPs and various partners. They also allow website owners to put their code on your site so they can more accurately report your data. They also provide some other cool data about your site if you do this, and it can be very handy if you need to provide demographics to advertisers. A few blogs in these rankings also had no Quantcast data, so I’d recommend they ad the Quantcast code to make sure they get ranked.

Google Pagerank – Yes, I know Pagerank is just a number and doesn’t mean anything, but I think everyone can also agree that a site with a pagerank of 7/10 has a higher link authority than a site that has a 4/10. What that means for search results is irrelevant for these rankings, it’s more of a way to try and get some link authority into our data.

Yahoo Links – Google’s “link:” command doesn’t provide a full set of data, and we’re using Pagerank already, so I used Yahoo! Search to get a more full set of links to a site. Why do this when we have Technorati? Well, Technorati is only tracking blog links, while Yahoo is getting links from any type of site.

Now that’s past us, let’s get on to the rankings. I’m sure there are a ton of blogs not listed here that should be. I compiled this list as they are blogs I read or that I knew were some of the most popular. If you know of a blog that should be included, add it in the comments and I’ll compile the data.

Web Revenue Blog Rankings

Blog T-rati Alexa Compete Quantcast P-Rank Yahoo Score
Problogger 1 2 2 1 1 1 1.33
ShoeMoney 2 1 8 8 2 2 3.83
JohnChow 3 3 6 5 4 4 4.17
AffiliateTip 5 6 7 6 2 7 5.50
Jensense 4 5 11 10 2 3 5.83
5 Star Affiliate 7 4 3 15 3 6 6.33
JoelComm 15 8 4 4 2 5 6.33
TamingTheBeast 12 9 1 2 3 16 7.17
ConversionRater 6 14 10 7 3 9 8.17
MEMWGA 15 12 5 3 3 15 8.83
AOJon 8 10 11 12 3 10 9.00
TylerCruz 9 11 11 13 3 8 9.17
WebsitePublisher 13 7 9 9 3 14 9.17
CostPerNews 11 13 11 11 3 12 10.17
WebPublishingBlog 10 15 11 14 3 11 10.67
LeeDodd 14 16 11 15 5 13 12.33

You can see the raw data with the actual rankings from each service here.

Interesting Notes
Darren Rowse and ProBlogger was far and away the winner as the site with the best rankingt in 4 of the 6 categories, and was second in the other two. The only blog with a Google Page Rank of 7/10, one of the two Technorati Top 100 members (Shoemoney being the other), and his 437,368 Yahoo links was way ahead of the #2 which was ShoeMoney with 53,173.

A few of the sites benefit from having content beyond a normal blog which probably helps in a few of the different rankings. Those sites are Shawn Collins Affiliate Tip, TamingTheBeast.net, 5 Star Affiliate, WebsitePublisher.net, and Make Easy Money With Google Adsense.

Even though LeeDodd.com comes up at the bottom of the rankings, I expect it to be a fast mover up the list. He already has a presence in the community with EarnersForum and the Elite Retreat events, and his blog is very new but is moving up in Alexa fast.

Various sites didn’t show up in one of the ratings services, so you’ll see them tied with their score in the categories above. For JoelComm.com and Make Money With Adsense they could easily claim their blogs in Technorati to get listed their rankings, and for the blogs not in Quantcast they could add the Quantcast code to their page to get ranked.

When will the next rankings be released?
I think I’ll update these rankings as much as it makes sense. I expect new blogs to join the rankings, but I won’t publish new rankings unless there is decent movement within the rankings. There isn’t much of a point to do it each month if there is very little change. I’ll check again in a month to see if it make sense to update the rankings.

Feedback is welcome on how to improve these rankings and what blogs should be included that aren’t here now.

Top 11 Publisher Ad Tools That Help You Make More Money

I always enjoy posts from bloggers where they mention the top tools or resources they use to master whatever it is they are an expert in. Along those lines, I thought it’d be a good dea to pass along the list of the top ad tools I use and know of to help web publishers and bloggers make more money.

The basic assumption for these tools to be useful to you is that you run a blog or website that uses advertising to make money whether that advertising is sold directly by you, through an ad network, or you use a contextual solution like Google Adsense or YPN. Some of them are very direct in how they help make more money, and some of them are helpful tools that provide information to help you make more money from your advertising. For the most part they are free tools with a couple of exceptions.

crazyegg logoCrazyEgg
Self-described as a visualization tool to improve, test, and track your site, CrazyEgg is best used for publishers to generate “heatmaps” of where people are clicking on their site. This data can be used to make better decisions on where to place ads to get more clicks and response from users. CrazyEgg allows you to set up tests so you can effectively test the difference between two different ad sizes in the same spot, two different color palettes, or totally changing an ad’s location.

It’s easy to setup, it just requires signing up for an account and placing some code in your page footer. You then create a test and start tracking clicks. The free version allows you to track up to 5,000 visits and track 4 different pages at once. There are paid plans if you want to do more in-depth tests.

RMX Direct LogoRMX Direct
If you’re working with ad networks, you should be working with RMX Direct. RMX Direct is a free ad network manager that helps you sell your inventory easily and for maximum revenue. It allows you to work with networks directly that are part of the Right Media Exchange, as well as auction your own ad networks like Google Adsense, YPN, Valueclick, Tribal Fusion, or anyone else.

Auctioning your inventory is the best way to maximize your revenue, and RMX Direct has other cool features that make managing ad networks a much better process. Check out a previous post about using it manage contextual ad networks.

feedburner logoFeedburner
If you run a blog or a website with RSS, you need to be running your RSS feed(s) through Feedburner. There are numerous benefits alone in the streamlining, analyzing, and optimizing of RSS feeds by using Feedburner, but if you have enough subscribers it’s an ad revenue stream as well. If I wasn’t consolidating and tracking my RSS subscribers through my Feedburner feed, I probably would have never bothered advertising within my feed. Feedburner makes it extremely easy to advertise in your feed once you hit 500 subscribers, so I’m now just making additional revenue without additional work. Bravo.

AdsBlackList
If you’re using Google Adsense, you should be using AdsBlackList. It’s a site that compiles user submissions of sites that are “Made For Adsense” sites and low cost per click advertisers. When you sign up for an account, it has you enter your site and some keywords about it. It then returns a list of “Made for Adsense” and low cost per click advertisers you can then ban from showing ads on your site. Besides probably helping increase the quality of ads, you’re also hurting the distribution of a lot of junk in Google’s system. I have not run specific tests on if the overall revenue per click goes up after banning their suggested lists, but other publishers have reported good results.

Google Analytics LogoGoogle Analytics
Yes, it has performance issues. Yes, there is a lag time before you get your data. Yes, it’s Google. However, Google Analytics is still the most complete free web analytics tool out there. For this article, the benefit of Google Analytics as it relates to ad revenue is that you need to analyze your traffic and find out what type of content is interesting to them, what keywords are they using to find you, what referring sites are there, and what geography your users from.

Armed with that data you can now make decisions. Can you identify an underserved area of your site that users are interested in? Interested users means more page views which equals more money! Do you have a lot of visitors from a foreign country? Perhaps it’d be good to sign up with an ad network based in that country and geotarget it to those users with a tool like RMX Direct? You can’t make smart decisions without data, and Google Analytics provides it for free.

amigo-logo-lowres.pngAmigo
For those of you who are still signing up users for email newsletters, Amigo operates much like an ad network except it’s a tool for email advertising. Sign up with Amigo and they’ll match ads and stick ads into your email newsletters earning you additional revenue. If you don’t have an email newsletter, maybe it’s time to start one?

Google Adwords Keyword Tool
I know this tool is meant for Adwords advertisers, but it can be a great way for publishers to find out what search phrases are paying a lot per click if they’re using Adsense or YPN. Click on the “Site-related Keywords” tab, and enter in the URL of a site in the topic you’d like to research. Check the “Include other pages on my site linked from this URL” box, then select “Cost and Ad Position Estimates”, and enter something large like $50.00. You’ll get a result that shows keywords along with an estimate of the CPC they require to get to the estimated ad position.

This is a rough way to find out what topics and terms are generating high revenue per click to focus your content. You can also get estimates of search volume and search volume trends if you’re curious as to how the keywords in the topic stack up there.

Yahoo/Overture Keyword Tool
The famous Yahoo/Overture tool returns keywords that contain the keyword you enter, along with the number of searches on Yahoo Search from the previous month. Many question the accuracy of this data as some strange terms sometimes have really high search counts, but regardless it can be a good estimate of search volume and provides a way to brainstorm additional topics to cover to get more traffic and ad revenue. It also provides a good counterbalance if you’re using the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. If a keyword looks interesting to you in both tools, chances are it’s an interesting keyword in reality.

quantcast dataQuantcast
A newer and very cool data/ranking service is out called Quantcast. Quantcast “quantifies” publisher sites and provides an Alexa-like traffic estimate and ranking, but takes it a step further and provides demographic estimates of your audience such as age, gender, household income, ethnicity, and education.

It doesn’t stop there either, and shows interesting things like “Siteographics” which shows what entertainment the audience likes, what retail stores they shop at, and what magazines they check out. It also shows what keywords they used and what other sites are similar in audience. Here is the Quantcast data for YouTube.com.

Why is this cool? Well, once you start selling advertising on your site directly to advertisers, they are often interested in demographic data. The beauty of Quantcast is that they’ll get the data for you and you can point advertisers to this objective third party that has the data. If your site is big enough, they probably already have you listed. If not, you “Quantify” your site by placing a bit of code in the footer of your site template and it will start grabbing the data.

SurveyMonkey
If you don’t trust Quantcast or want your own specific data, you can use SurveyMonkey to create surveys you can show to your audience via popup windows or direct link. It’s a free service, and is pretty easy to use to setup surveys and distribute them.

Just like the benefits of Quantcast, this is great data to provide to advertisers about your audience, and SurveyMonkey results make a great addition to your online media kit or page that pitches advertising on your site.

Webmaster Forums
While not specifically a tool, I felt it necessary to point out some of the top discussion forums where there are web publishers talking about advertising and how to make more money. In no particular order here are ones that I’ve found value in on a consistent basis:

Conclusion
If you have additional tools to suggest, please list them below in the comments. If they make sense, I’ll add them to the list.

Repetitive RSS Items Are Pissing Me Off

Like many bloggers, I use Technorati and Feedster to track when other blogs link to my blog. I do this by subscribing to the RSS feed of a search for this blog URL on both services. Here is an example of my Technorati search and the results.

Doing this is rather handy as it takes a lot of the work out of discovering blogs linking to mine, however the RSS feeds for them are driving me nuts. Every time I check my RSS reader I get the same results I just got last time all marked as new again. It gets really old having to mark the same RSS items as read every time I check my reader. Is it impossible for Technorati to just show the result once? I have the same problem with Feedster, but it’s not as bad as Technorati.

I’m guessing there may be a different blog search engine or service that may do what I’m asking as accurately and in a less annoying way. Google Blog Search? IceRocket? Any suggestions?

MyBlogLog Gets Yahoo’d

Announcements are all over the place, as MyBlogLog has been acquired by Yahoo! and will be made part of the Yahoo Developer Network.

MyBlogLog is pretty fun, kind of a social network for bloggers and blog readers at this point which makes it feel like a blog social network/LinkedIn hybrid, with an added voyeur twist of both seeing who’s browsing your blog or being seen reading other blogs. While I’m not sure it fits perfectly with the social network aspects, MyBlogLog has some simple blog analytics built in as well, so if you have the code for the reader widget like you see in my right sidebar, it also is tracking some basic stats for me.

The analytics it provides are basic but useful for most bloggers, and I actually find myself looking at them more often than some other analytics packages I used or have used simply because I’m using MyBlogLog to add a contact or join a community. So, simply having the location of the analytics being part of something else useful is making mre more likely to use them. They also have a few more advanced analytics that you have to pay to have access for. It’d be interesting to know what percentage of blog publishers are paying for analytics. 5-10% perhaps?

Being that I work for a company that Yahoo is a minority investor in, when I heard about the announcement I immediately started of thinking of ways that the application I head up called RMX Direct could potentially work with MyBlogLog. My immediate thought is that if bloggers using MyBlogLog for analytics, perhaps we could do an intergration of some type to provide ad network management through RMX Direct as well. Perhaps I’ll get in touch!