As a follow-up to my previous post, I’m turning off the blog comments altogether. It was interesting as an experiment, but as I’ve clearly been targeted by a bot, I’m getting several hundred blog spams a day.
In these post-penguin and panda days, it’s easy to assume that a clean broom has swept through the practice of SEO, and we’ve all dedicated ourselves to white hat strategies, and are looking at the value and usefulness of content to win us those oh-so-precious backlinks.
Then you start up a new blog, and allow comments. This blog does allow commenting, but they are only published after moderation. None of the comments received stand a cat’s chance in hell of being approved because they are unadulterated, crude old-fashioned blatant spam.
So why and how does this still continue?
Well let us look at an example – no links, names or urls will be published, obviously.
One comment has links to a site that sells a copy of a popular fashion boot, the site is aimed at the Dutch market. They use a recognizable name, but as a brand it’s not trademarked globally, so they are within their rights to do so. They do not appear on the first 10 pages of google.nl for the name of that type of footwear, nor for a long-tail variant that they use as anchor text. In fact the site is not indexed in google.nl at all.
However, 39,000 examples of their comment and forum spam are. A reliable backlink tool found over 60,000 backlinks, all from forum and blog comment spam and all gained in the last 2 months.
So, how can whoever is paying for this not have noticed that it’s doing more harm than good? The content of the spam post is complete gobbledegook, so there is no way it could even work as advertising. Obviously it’s all done by an automated programme, so must be dirt cheap. But as it’s doing more harm than good, it’s dear at any price.
Facebook offers two advertising options – Promoted Posts and Page Post Ads to reach out to the audience not already following your page.
Promoted Posts is an ad option that allows your Facebook page post to appear in the newsfeed of the friends of your followers. So, with a page with 5,000 followers with an average of 200 friends, you have an increased visibility to a potential hundred thousand pairs of eyes.
This is a very useful form of targeting, as the friends and family of your existing followers are likely to have factors in common that match your target audience, whether it be in terms of location, age-group or similar hobbies and interests.
In addition you can use another advertising option, Page Post Ads which show your post according to your choice of demographic or interest identifiers. So if you want to target your story to women in the U.K. aged between 20 -25 who are interested in food and dining, then Facebook can show your post potentially to 2,000,000 members that match. This gives you the opportunity to write posts aimed at a specific target and get it seen by them.
What are curated content sites and how can I use them?
At their most basic, curated content sites take posts, text, videos, or photos from a variety of sources, and repackage them as a new stand-alone page, or an app that you can add to an existing site.
(Some are specifically intended to be apps for iPhones or iPads or similar devices – but on this occasion we’ll be considering channels that are mainly web-based.)
The most common types are based around Twitter, and signing in with a Twitter account is an easy way to start using them. These can aggregate your tweets, and other tweets on a theme, and expand them to show the content of pages linked to.
The most versatile will automatically offer an easy way to search popular content sharing sites such as Flickr, YouTube, Wikipedia and add relevant items. Those with even more versatility allow you to take content from any source that you have a url for, or to add a new piece of content from scratch. Some use a bookmarklet that you add to your bookmark bar, then when you’re on a site that you want to add, you can do so with one click. This is useful as it means you can add content from a variety of sources.
Most also work as networking channels – you follow popular and interesting contributors, and they follow you.
What can I use them for?
You can use them to put together content from different sources to make a coherent story.
This may be content that you have posted yourself across different channels that you wish to pull into one place – your Twitter posts, your Flickr photos, your YouTube videos that share a topic or theme, and use them to make one page that presents everything you have to say on this subject in an attractive and easily accessible form.
In most cases, these pages can be frequently updated, so you can add to the story as it moves on. You may find that this is easier than making updates on your site, especially when it involves different types of content and sources, or when you have information that is time sensitive, or to promote an offer or event that is temporary. And on most you can make a new page whenever you have a new topic to promote.
Additionally you can use a mix of your own content and supporting material from other sources that add to the background and history of your message. You can then promote that page on Twitter, Facebook or your own site.
It’s also another way of adding a bit of internet ‘real estate’ that you can brand, as these pages will show up in search engine listings, and they can also provide backlinks.
Furthermore content curation sites can also be used to populate your social media offerings – some will automatically post to channels you specify.
Does it cost to use them?
Many very good curated content sites are completely free. The usual practice is to offfer a free service, but have a premium paid-for option that allows for more flexibility. A few have advertising on them over which you have no control, and the obtrusiveness and relevancy of the ads is something to consider
Are these the same as bookmarking sites?
There can be some crossover, but it’s less about just compiling a list of favourite links and more about putting a message across. This is where the idea of ‘curation’ comes in – like a museum or gallery curator, you are collecting things that relate to each other, and tell a story when seen together.
What are some of the factors that differentiate the various content curation sites?
Issues that are likely to influence which sites you decide are most useful to you will include: -
- What sources can I use?
- Does the site suggest sources to me if I’m not sure what is out there that might be relevant?
- If it does make suggestions, is it easy to filter out what I don’t like?
- Can I easily promote the content or integrate it into an existing site?
- Can I change the appearance of my page or app so that it matches my branding?
- Does the site work as a networking channel? Can I gain followers?