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DISCLAIMER: The FTC requires me to let you know that I may be compensated for products or services recommended. In many cases I am recommending my own company's services, so it's kind of funny to have to spell this out, but I do get paid by some of the companies whose ads are on the site. I ONLY list ads for companies that I use and fully endorse.

Archive for the ‘blogging’ Category

Blogger Ethics and Guest Posting

There has been a lot of talk about blogger ethics in light of the FTC rules enacted in December, 2009. Although how the new regulations will be interpreted and enforced is still in question, there is no doubt that behaving ethically and transparently is in the best interests of bloggers, regardless of the law.

One way bloggers are being transparent is with a disclosure policy. Most disclosure policies explain the bloggers’ positions on things such as advertising, affiliate links and receiving freebies. If a blogger has never considered his approach to these issues, establishing a disclosure policy will cause him to think about how he wants to operate. The policy then lets readers know what to expect from the blog.

But what about when you are hosting a guest blogger on your site, or guest blogging on another site? What are the best practices for guest blogging? Here are some thoughts on how you can be ethical and above-board as a guest blogger or when you are hosting guest bloggers.

When you are the guest blogger
Read and follow the host blogger’s disclosure policy. How do they handle things such as affiliate links? Do they identify each affiliate link, post a notice with any post containing an affiliate link, or just rely on the disclosure policy to state that some posts may contain affiliate links?

Use links that are clear, and do not try to mislead the host or his readers about what you are linking to.

Do not make recommendations solely for the purposes of inserting an affiliate link. Your reputation is on the line here, just as it is on your own blog. Only make sincere and warranted recommendations.

Do not disguise any involvement you have with a product or service you are reviewing or recommending. Using someone else’s blog to recommend your product by blogging under a false name is unethical no matter how you look at it.

When you are the host
Make guest bloggers aware of your policies and requirements. Do you not allow affiliate links? Do you require that each post disclose any affiliate links, compensation or possible conflict of interest? If so, let guest bloggers know they must make these disclosures in their posts.

Check links to make sure they go where they appear to go. This is your site, so verify that any links in posts are what they say they are.

Consider adding a disclaimer, such as, “Posts by guest authors represent the ideas and recommendations of the guest authors, and I do not necessarily share these opinions.” This can be added to each guest post, or made a part of your overall disclosure policy. Although it may not function as a legal defense, it lets readers know that your publication of a post does not mean you endorse it.

In short, whenever you publish a post as an author or host, be honest and transparent. Your name is your most important asset. Protect it by always blogging with integrity.

This is a guest post from Cathy Stucker. Cathy runs a free service to connect bloggers and guest posters at http://BloggerLinkUp.com/.

Article Marketing – Fueled Friday

Content is “king” when it comes to online marketing and article marketing can be a great way to get your content published and get exposure for your business. It will also help to build links to your website that will help in the ranking process. There are pros and cons to traditional article marketing, and also there was some great way to effectively market articles as you will see.

The old school method of article marketing would tell you to write lots articles and submit them to lots of traditional article marketing sites like Ezine Articles. At these sites (and there are about a dozen quality article sites), webmasters come to find articles to populate their websites and blogs. The rules say that they are supposed to use the articles as they are and not remove any of your links. Sadly, I have seen first hand the removal of links and also seen articles get posted on hokey sites that are designed to only make money by showing Google Ads which some people may not want to be associated with. These are a few reasons why people shy away from this strategy.

The other argument is “original content” versus “duplicate content”. Some argue that duplicate content is bad and that Google will penalize a website for duplicate content and others says Google doesn’t care. You can read this excerpt from Google’s webmaster guidelines regarding duplicate content and decide for yourself. My preference is to not use duplicate content, and not just because Google doesn’t want to you to, but because it allows others to try and claim your work or expertise. There is a strategy for getting your article published on multiple sites and it is referred to as “article spinning” where you rewrite your articles in a few different ways so that it does not appear to be duplicate content on these various sites.

Aside from using article sites, a great way to promote your articles is as a guest blogger. There are two sites out there that will help you find blogs to post on. One is Blogger Link Up and the other is My Blog Guest. I have used both successfully and these sites are run by people that I know and trust in the online marketing industry. This would be my first choice for how to use articles and you would always want to submit original articles to bloggers as a guest poster. Next week, I will be sharing more on guest blog posting; first through a guest post by the founder of Blogger Link Up and then next weeks Fueled Friday will give you more insights on how to guest blog (it really will be on Friday). :-)

The Good News
A well known SEO software company just came out with a software called SEO LinkVine that will not only help you get your articles placed without having to visit multiple articles sites or contact lots of bloggers, but will help you “spin” your content so that you are not distributing the same content across multiple sites. Even better, their software has an educational resource center where they teach you lots of in depth SEO strategies, and also they have a component that allows you to monitor your keyword rankings in the search engines. If you are serious about article marketing, you need to use a tool such as SEO LinkVine to maximize your time and effectiveness. My advice is still to create lots of content as you do not want to have too many sites sharing the same version of your article.

Some would fault me for sharing one of my secrets, but that’s just how I work. I am never afraid to share “secrets” or educate my clients. In fact, I tell them that I am happy when I can help a client become self sufficient and not need to rely on me as much because it makes their business more profitable. The real real reason is that there is a universal law of “sowing and reaping”; the more we give the more we get (and we cannot out give that law).

P.S. – I am a user and an affiliate of SEO LinkVine. If you decide to purchase it using the links above (which are affiliate links), I will also share with you one of my resources where you can get your articles written for you at a cost of just $10 per article – which is amazing! (just forward your reciept to me via email at akirlew(@)akaim.com).

Fueled Friday – Using Multiple Online Marketing Strategies

Today, I want to discuss the various types on online marketing strategies that you can use as an intro to the upcoming blog posts on the mechanics of each.

For many, the term online marketing brings to mind a host of different thoughts. Some immediately think of search engine optimization, others may think of paid search, and yet others may think of email marketing, blogging, or social media strategies. The fact remains, that they are all components of online marketing, and frankly should all be employed at some level. Some strategies will come more naturally to you, and others will seem to give you better results. Over the next several posts, I will cover each, but today, I will leave you with a simple list of online marketing strategies to consider. To get a head start on this series of posts, I recommend doing a search on this blog to see what you can find on the topic as well as a Google search to learn more about whichever segment of online marketing you are seeking to learn more about.

Here is my list of the various online marketing strategies that you can employ. If you feel something is missing, let me know my leaving a comment below:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): This involves architecting your website to obtain natural rankings in the search engines. It is the most effective form of online marketing, and takes the most time to see results.

Paid Search / Pay Per Click (PPC) Search: This involves paying for each visitor that comes to your website. The upside is that you will see results immediately; the down side is that you can lose lots of money if you do this wrong.

– Blogging: You will learn several reasons why blogging is a highly effective form on online marketing. It is one of my favorite and I cannot wait to share more on this. You can also implement blogging without spending a penny, which make it a great option for those with limited budgets.

Email Marketing: There are two aspect of email marketing that I will share. The first is the most effective and involves emailing your clients and prospect. The second and less recommended form of email marketing it purchasing email lists (NOT spam lists) and marketing to cold prospects.

Viral Marketing: This is a form of marketing where you share valuable information for free (from your website) and allow others to share it for free. It is a great way to get the word out about your product, service, or business.

Social Media Marketing: Everyone is talking about Social Media these days, and it’s a great way to build a following for your brand and reach lots of prospects in a short period of time. Sadly, most don’t really understand how to implement it effectively.

Text / Mobile Marketing: As the name implies, this is a method of reaching people via cell phones and smart devices. It is a growing field that you should not ignore.

Affiliate Marketing: This is a powerful way to empower others to send you business. Of course, you will pay them for their successful referrals, but it essentially puts a commissioned sales force to work for you.

Online Press / Media Relations: This is an area that many businesses neglect and it can produce amazing results.

Online Advertising: This is closely related to PPC, yet it deserves its own category. I would recommend this only as a last resort or a supplement to a multi-channel online marketing program.

Local Search Marketing: Reaching your local audience is critical if you are a local business, but even if you are a national business you don’t want to neglect customers in your own backyard.

Well, I am sure that gives you lots to consider. Please take the time to do some research on any of these that are not familiar with you. This way, when we reach this part in the series, it won’t be totally new to you and you will be able to ask some great questions to help you implement or optimize a specific strategy.

I am off to Louisville, KY today where I hear it will be cold, so keep sending me warm thoughts. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Best Practices For Sharing Facebook Events

Today, I saw a local event announcement on Facebook that I wanted to share with others because it was promoting a local event where Les Brown was speaking. The challenge is that there was no way for me to link to it other than the Facebook event link and not every one uses Facebook as there end-all resource (believe it or not).

I shared with my friend that if she could post the event details on a blog I would be more than happy to help her promote her event. For example, I am active on Twitter & LinkedIn, where blog links can easily be shared (this may be a revelation to some), and where I am connected to thousands of local business owners that might want to attend.

My advice is that if you have notes or events that you want others to share, you should provide a link to an outside resource (ideally a blog) so that others can help promote it. Having others promote your content has a lot to do with making it easy for them to do so.

New FTC Law Requires Bloggers to Disclose Payments for Reviews

According to a recent New York Times article(they took the link down) this CBS News article, the Federal Trade Commission has passed a law (effective December 1st), stating that any bloggers providing reviews for companies must disclose any compensation (including free products or services).

It has not yet been determined how this will affect current blog reviews and whether or not they will have to be revised. I will keep you posted as I learn more.

UPDATE: Here is a link to the actual advertising disclosure guidelines from the FTC for your reading enjoyment.

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