SEO the Bad Way

Courtesy of Dagny Scott, fireflythegreat, on Flickr

Okay, the blog that got me into social media was the blog I started in 2006 when I was living in Seoul and getting a master’s at Ewha Womans University.  I’ve been back in the States since 2009, but when I have time, I still keep it going.  I’ve always moderated the comments…always.

You always get spam comments or comments from people trying to build links back to their sites.  Honestly?  That’s fine if they’ve read my blog and their comment is on the topic.  I’m willing to help someone with a link back to them if they’re contributing to the conversation on my blog.  No worries!  Go ahead, comment and link back to yourself.

However, when you’re just showing up, typing something completely irrelevant in, and hitting submit, well, that’s not contributing to the conversation. That’s just spam.  It’s not getting through.  That’s one big reason I still police the comments on my blog and on my client’s blogs.  Another reason is the one Anil Dash wrote a great blog about this week.  You can set the tone of the discussion on your site, but you have to do that proactively.  Here is that post: If Your Website’s Full of Assholes, It’s Your Fault.  He’s right.

However, the disruptive troll commentor isn’t the topic of this post.  My topic is spam commentor: the SEO firm or site owners who try to cheat on getting links back to whatever sites.

The first two attempts were by a pamella.

I had a feeling right away this was a junk comment.  The writing is just careless and sloppy.  No one writing a dissertation is likely that sloppy.  Also, why would someone comment on a post about a social media class?  It would make more sense if the post was on the post I made when I was back in school about how to get through writer’s block.  Of course, the comment had a link.  It was to some junk dissertation page.  Basically, think of the businesses that give lazy students papers or substantial chunks of probably plagiarized writing for a fee. There was also a link to pamella’s profile.  That led me to a company page that did various things like app development and, surprise, SEO.

I got another comment from wholesaleherbs.

Basically, the same m.o.  However, at least, this time they linked to a page about health care.  However, the sloppy writing was there and the comment really didn’t make a lot of sense.  This time the link was to some retail site selling herbs, vitamins and natural remedies.  And, oh, surprise, the same link back to the same company.

I tell my clients to definitely go to blogs and contribute quality comments.  I DO NOT tell my clients to go to blogs and spam someone’s comment section.  I definitely do not do that for them.  However, I think this company does.  BTW, I know it’s a numbers game.  I catch it, but how many people are bothering to moderate their blog comments?  If you’re not, honestly? You’re part of the problem.

Be careful who you hire.  Run some searches and see what links are coming back to them.  That’s a good way to see exactly how they implement SEO for themselves and for the people who pay them.

Sloppy Social Media (Well, really, sloppy blogging)

Honestly, I’m getting a bit tired of the constant stream of opinions delivered to me via social media these days. I know that, while I’m tired of it, it’s not going to stop. I also know that I can just choose to stop reading it. I also realize that there is an irony to even making this a blog post. I’m contributing to the noise that I’m complaining about.

What’s inspiring me is the sloppiness of it all.

There is this pressure to spew info out there on a constant basis. I really think that something has to give because a lot of it is simply noise. It’s this mad scramble to be the first to get the most Facebook mentions, retweets, Diggs, Stumbles, etc. It sounds hauntingly like newspapers way back when fighting to break the story first. Breaking a story can still be a great thing, but news is so ubiquitous now that it’s being rewritten or simply reposted on hundreds of websites within hours if not minutes.

It’s just rare to see some truly thoughtful work and thoughtful perspectives. I’d prefer to see more of that.

What is irking me is quality or, more accurately, a lack of quality. I know that went I’m in a rush to hit the “publish” button the quality of my work suffers. I like to give myself time to check my facts, check my spelling and grammar, dig for more information and see if there is another angle.

What inspired this?

I was reading yet another article on the Facebook privacy mess. There was nothing new to what this blogger wrote. I then get to the end and there was just a glaring typo. I know it happened simply because the pressure to publish fast is huge. The writer would have caught it had she just put the piece aside and come back to it. The problem is when you’re writing for a blog with a news slant, the pressure is on to hit publish quickly.

I won’t link to the post because it’s not that blog post per se that’s irked me. It’s seeing that sort of careless error come up over and over that irks me. The trade off of this great technology is just a lot of bad writing and flimsy reporting going on.

I don’t think anything will slow it down. I just hope that the quality work rises to the top and gets found so that I don’t have to suffer through too much crap.

Bloggers Expect to Get Paid for Reviews!

I have to admit that monetizing my blogs has always been something I wasn’t too keen to do.  However, I’m in the minority on that issue.

There have been many people attempting to profit in one way or another from blogging.  There is nothing wrong with that.  In fact, blogging helped me realize that I did want to make my living writing and working on web-related projects.  So don’t misunderstand me. I’ve got no problem with blogs that have ads on them.  I’ve got no problem with bloggers being paid in their area of expertise.  I have no problem with most ways bloggers now make a living from their writing.

However, I do think there is something very wrong with getting paid for reviews UNLESS you disclose that you’ve been paid.  A review gives the impression that it’s an unbiased opinion based on someone trying a product or service.  That’s why reviews by reputable sources are blind reviews.  The business has no idea they’re being sized up.  When money is exchanged for a review there your objectivity is compromised.  I want to know if a reviewer got paid because, if they did, I don’t care about what they have to say. Well, it seems that many bloggers weren’t disclosing that they were being paid. This got so bad that the US government recently passed law requiring bloggers to disclose that they’ve been compensated for a review.

I think this is essential because social media is the new barber shop, hair salon or white picket fence.  People would talk about the butcher or the car shop and let friends know whether to go to these businesses or not.  Now online spots like blogs are the places where people talk and exchange opinions. If you’re a blogger and you’ve built up an audience that trusts you, what you have to say on a product or service has value to them. I know that a few recommendations for places I’ve written about have generated comments and probably customers for a few places.  I didn’t expect to benefit financially.  I just expected to spread the news of a great space, product or service.  However, both bloggers and businesses realized this influence could be used for mutually beneficial profits.

Well, with the economic slow down and this new law, some of the reviewing for pay action has dried up.  I say rightly so.  If a company pays you to review a product or service, it’s a advertisement. You very well might really like the product or service, but I want to know that you’ve been paid to talk up something.  Like it or not, you’re a paid representative when you do that and it needs to be disclosed.

It’s sort of funny to be that some people seem to be genuinely out of sorts that they’re not being readily paid to “recommend” things now.  It’s sort of like the presumptuous blogger who had the nerve to try to blackmail George Smith at BlogHer 2009 to get a pair of Crocs.  What the idiot blogger didn’t realize was as easily as she could bad mouth him, well, duh…he could bad mouth her.  He said as much, and she slinked away. Even if the relation is reversed, it’s the same with being paid to review a product.  Getting paid to talk something up or getting a pair of Crocs to not spread bad stories, is still compensation. Aren’t we glad that George stood up to this woman’s bullying?  I’m also very glad that bloggers are being forced to let people know they’ve been paid to review something.

Here is a piece on the top from MediaBistro’s PRNewser’s blog.  I’m glad they get it.

Blogger Complains Because Companies Want “Free” Reviews

By Joe Ciarallo on Nov 03, 2009 05:01 PM

paid blogging123.jpg

ProBlogger, the popular blog that teaches one how to make a living off blogging, published an interesting guest post from a former beauty/fashion blogger. In the post, the blogger talks about how she was so excited to do “product reviews” and get all sorts of free stuff sent to her by companies.

She even signed an $8,000 deal with, “a large pharmaceutical company to write six posts for them to try educating readers on the benefits of their product…the only thing I had to do was to get the copy reviewed by the pharmaceutical company to ensure that I wasn’t using any medical words in the wrong way.”

But then the economy took a turn for the worse and the blogger’s freebie parade slowed down. What did she learn? People were actually asking her questions like how many unique visitors her site had and to send links of recent, relevant coverage before sending products. That didn’t work out, so the blogger got into another niche, “healthy eating and healthy lifestyles,” which she said worked out much better.

“One company (which manufactures supplements) that contacted me to send products for review also wanted to know how much it would cost to sponsor spots on my site. They actually wanted to pay to have banners on my site and not only receive a free review!” she said.

Um, free review? Companies aren’t supposed to pay publications for product reviews, or to influence them. Although it does happen. This post, in essence, sums up the difference between how media has traditionally worked: build audience/content, sell advertising against said audience/content – versus how it is unfortunately working for some bloggers: the content is the advertising.

Trolls Beware!

I started off blogging a few years ago. I was never a fan of being catty online unless I associated myself with it. If I’ve been critical, it was never difficult to realize it was me being critical. It’s always been pretty easy to associate my words, whether hard or soft, with me.

If you say it’s not easy to find me from this blog, please note my Twitter stream in the sidebar.  My Twitter stream is under my real name = easy.  Before that, I was pretty much the only black female student in a foreign graduate program in Seoul.  Again, I was easy to find even if I wrote using a pseudonym.

However, online we know a lot of people are not into transparency. There are tons of people who say some pretty horrible things online. Because of anonymity, they’re pretty much shielded from any negative consequences. In some situations, this can be a good thing: corporate or even government whistle-blowers.  It’s just that in most, the person isn’t saying controversial things to expose a wrong.  It’s usually just an angry person saying mean and nasty things and getting away with it.

Well, maybe not for much longer.

Google Hands Over “Skank” Blogger Info

Model-Cohen.gifOh goodness. Looks like we’re going to have to start minding our P’s and Q’s online.

Under court order, Google has just handed over the IP address of the user of Blogger (a Google service) who had posted some very unkind things about Vogue cover model Liskula Cohen on a blog called “Skanks in NYC,” including photo captions referring to her as the “Skankiest in NYC” and a “psychotic, lying, whoring … skank.”

Cohen had asked Google for the information, so she could sue the author for defamation. Google had refused, citing the company’s privacy policy (though it did take down the blog). Cohen’s attorney’s brought the matter to court. On Monday, a New York Supreme Court justice batted down the anonymous blogger’s contention that the bons mot were mere opinion and instead, according to the Guardian (UK), “found Cohen may insist in a suit that the statements are factually inaccurate.”

As Cohen’s attorney Steve Wagner told Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America today, the judge “balanced the first amendment rights with the rights of people to be protected from harmful, defamatory speech. It’s sending out a message that the Internet is no longer a safe harbor for defamatory language.”

It turns out that the perp is an acquaintance of Cohen’s, “an irrelevant person in my life,” Cohen told Sawyer. She’s already called the woman to tell her she forgives her but hasn’t ruled out a defamation suit. “Maybe if she apologizes…,” Cohen said.

Video report, including interview with Cohen, at Good Morning America.

We’ll see how this impacts blogs.  One fear I have is this will only be a weapon that can be used by those with money.  It takes having cash to be able to retain attorneys.  Average people don’t have those sorts of resources.  In that case, it’s only going to be a solution for the rich and that’s unfair because a David vs. Goliath situation can come up pretty fast.  However, let’s see how this develops and how it will impact other blogs.

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