Long Tail Keyword Research 101

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I’m on a panel tonight at Social Media Club Austin talking about the connection between SEO (search engine optimization) and social media. I’ll be focusing on long tail keyword research, an essential core strategy for businesses looking to use social media to bring targeted traffic to their website (which, let’s face it, really should be one of the major goals of any social media initiative).

I’ve put together a presentation, a keyword research spreadsheet template and detailed instructions for using it. I know I should probably repurpose it all as a blog post, but I have to walk out the door in an hour, so this’ll have to do for now. 🙂

Image credit: Carol Foil

Notes from New York Word Camp 2008

I enjoyed attending New York Word Camp 2008, which attracted about 150 avid WordPress users. My notes follow:

Matt Mullenweg, CEO, Automattic, “State of the Word”: NYC Edition

WordPress was born from a blog: I posted that a prior open-source blogging platform really needed to be taken forward. Someone contacted me, and it grew from there. There are now over 90 contributors to the core code, plus thousands of plugins.

Asked audience split between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. It was roughly 50-50.

Mentioned WordPress.com is blocked in China, because WordPress.com doesn’t cooperate with China’s censorship requirements.

Notes from the subversion repository: the place where people document their changes
2007: 1090 changes
2008: 2,840 changes to date, which lead to 11 releases (He apologizes for that number.)

We are at a historical high in # core developers for WordPress. This team reviews contributions of outside developers into WordPress.

2007: 2.8m downloads
2008: 11.1 m downloads

WordPress.com:
2007: 1m blogs , 20m posts, 1.6b page views
2008: 2.4m blogs , 35.8m posts, 6.5b page views

Akismet has caught 5b spam, with 99.925% accuracy, which is much better than success rate of email spam blockers.

Spammers are going to invent artificial intelligence, because they have motivation and $ to do it.

New technique they use: leave complimentary post and link it to a URL that looks like a church or school, but is really a spamfront. Sometimes, the post is copied from a legit comment a few months ago.

I created Akismet to save my mom from reading offensive spam, when she started a blog

I’ve been to 18 Wordcamps, 9 upcoming.

We only organized one; the rest are community-organized.

Three major releases this year: 2.3, 2.5, 2.6

100,000 installs of WordPress iphone app. Coming soon: stats and comment moderation on your iphone.

Most popular page on WordPress.com: stats page. “You guys reload your stats like hamsters on crack.”

Behind the scenes, new changes coming: theme directory. All themes will be vetted for safety/security.

There were spammers who bought ads for ‘free wordpress themes’; created a beautiful ‘free wordpress themes’ website; but every theme would have a backdoor or spam links in the footer.

We’re getting 100 theme submissions/ week. They’re all being manually vetted for safety. Now over 100,000 downloads.

Also launching WordPress Zeitgeist. We’re following the Firefox model. We want to make it one-click easy to upgrade.

6m WordPress.org blogs (including WordPress MU, multi-user). About 4m of these are multi-user blogs. I was surprised, because WordPress MU is much harder to use.
Of these, 5.1m are secure

Plugins are a free market of features.

On a list of activated plugins, here are the most popular:
#145 OpenID
#24 Adsense-manager
#12 Hello Dolly, my favorite
#10 cforms (contact forms)
#9 wp-polls. Lightweight forms of interaction with audience increase likelihood of commenting
#8 WP Automatic Upgrade
#7 wp-cache—performance upgrade
#6 wp-db-ackup
#5 stats
#4 nextgen-gallery. I frequently get asked how do plugin authors feel when you move the plugin into the core. We usually simplify it when we bring it in.
#3 google-sitemap-generator
#2 all-in-one-seo-pack
#1 Akismet

This list is a very good indicator of what WordPress will look like in the future. By tracking this, we can build features for people before they even know it.

We acquired Intensivate (commenting system) a few weeks ago

Average of 5 plugins per blug. The record is 800 plugins. Therefore, essentially everyone in this room is running their own version of WordPress. This makes it very hard for people to compete with WordPress. It’s easy to compete with features (just pay some developers), but hard to compete with community.

Going forward:
-better plugin stats

Hardest part of my job: deciding what should be in core? We believe core should be small, light, fast. It should be faster with every release. Look at popularity of plugins. Look at what bleeding-edge blogs are doing. Sometimes I put in things that I just want. I’m a photographer, so I like the galley feature.

Some people were gaming the download feature; that’s why we don’t consider it the most meaningful feature.

WordPress 2.7 will include: Dashboard redesign, dashboard comment replies, keyboard shortcuts.

We created a “Bizarro WordPress”, Crazy Horse, which was the opposite of everything WordPress does. Very popular.

It doesn’t make sense to download a plugin to your PC and then upload to your server. It should be a direct link between the two servers, each of which is on a 100megabit connection.

Should soon be buttons to add a Google map, photo from Flickr, etc.

When he was in China, as an experiment, he did a search on ‘falun gong’. The search didn’t work, and his internet went down for 5 minutes. He was punished.

Blogging in China is highly self-censored. Your posts can get unpublished if you discuss certain inappropriate topics, so you have strong motivation to self-censor.

When he was there, the Chinese milk story disappeared one day. No blog posts, no news stories.

A lot of people are using WordPress.org . Long term, I think censorship will be less of an issue.

Themes for 2009 development of WordPress:
– Upgrades should be super-easy
– Security. Many US government agencies are using WordPress internally. Showed an impressive list, e.g., Coast Guard.
– Rich Media. I just bought a tool that adds core GPS/bearing data to photos I take. We can incorporate that.
– Multi-modal. Blogging should adopt to whatever you’re blogging. E.g., if you blog a photo it should be formatted differently than just text.
– WordPress becomes a hub. Bring Facebook/Twitter to WordPress.
– Fashion and tattoos. “We’re taking the “W” back.”
– Crazyhorse.
– Year of Themes. Themes can do everything plugins can do, and can even bundle plugins.

I can’t take my data out of facebook and run my own Facebook. But I can take my data out of WordPress and run my own WordPress.

Backpress = shared infrastructure between different systems that are broadly applicable. Includes: user authentication. People will be able to build other systems on back of this.

BuddyPress = rough equivalent of Facebook network but on WordPress system. You never know what will happen with Facebook, Flickr, etc. WordPress can be the safe repository of all that data.

There aren’t that many applications that can get 150 people to get together on a Sunday to meet one another.

Contact information: http://Ma.tt
m (at) mullenweg dot com

We’ll probably always be in PHP and MySQL. Because we’re a platform, we have to be backwards compatible. Apple broke that rule, and it hurt their popularity with developers. I recently loaded a 1992 DOS game and it ran on Vista. That’s amazing.

Buddypress today is not ready.

A prominent musician with hundreds of thousands of users is switching his social network over to BuddyPress.

WordPress MU lags regular WordPress by a few weeks.

We’re seeing a lot of WordPress being taught in journalism schools. I think you’ll see some prominent journalists, e.g., Om Malik, starting their own company and blog. His brand was more important than Web 2.0/Fortune. He has 10 employees now.

NY Times is an investor in Automattic. We’re working with them.

All the CNN blogs are hosted on WordPress.com .

WordPress.org and Automattic have only one link between them, which is me.

Automattic has raised 2 rounds: $1m first round, $30m earlier this year. Everyone around the table is in it for the long term. No plans to sell or IPO. We’re trying to build something generational. Inspiration is Craigslist, with 25 employees, massive pageviews.

WordPress.com now has 230m unique visitors. 30 employees.

When I started WordPress, I feared it would break the open-source model, but it didn’t. People kept contributing. When I started Automattic there was no IP in the firm, which is highly unusual for a software company.

Any of you could download WordPress.org today, and start a direct competitor to WordPress.com . This totally aligns incentives in the long term. There are now about a dozen companies trying to do roughly the same thing.

Aaron Brazell, How to Hit the Blog Big Leagues
Former CTO of b5media
Technosailor.com . 4 writers on this site.

90% of your visitors come from Google. They’re first-time visitors. Important to convert them.

Scoble’s starfish theory: there are people who don’t really know what they want. Scoble is very distributed (Flickr, Friendfeed, etc.), and those different legs touch people with different interests. If you’re a mommy blogger, and there’s a searcher who is visually oriented, you as a mommy blogger will reach her because you have uploaded some good stroller photos to Flickr.

Get to know the top bloggers in your vertical. You’ll learn a lot from that.

Endorses Friendfeed over carnivals as a vehicle to build social capital with top bloggers

PageRank is not as important as subscriber count. (Incidentally, Google doesn’t own PageRank; Stanford does and Google has a perpetual license.)

Problogger has 50,000 readers; very knowledgeable.

I Made the Blog A-List! (And You Can Too)

A-List BloggerIt’s official, as of last week — according to Technorati, and to Kineda’s cool A-List Bloglebrity tool which uses it, I am now an A-List blogger:

Now, that might not be all that interesting to you, except that I’ve spent some time analyzing my results and I’ve explained on my blog exactly how I made the A-list, and without working at it nearly as hard as Technorati and others suggests you might have to (Posting twice a day??? Who has that kind of time???).

Anyway… I want to help YOU do this too, so I’ve set up a thread on my forum there to help you make the A-list. You can post your current authority ranking, ask any questions, share any tips, and…most of all…share your progress! We may not be able to get everyone on the A-list, but we should at least be able to move everybody up a notch or two.

Comments / feedback welcome here, but if you want to participate in the project and boost your blog authority, you need to go post on there — I can only fragment the conversation so much. 😉

By the way, you might want to also take a look back at How to Become an A-List Blogger – 3.5 years old and still timely.

Blog Comment Signatures Can Boost Your Traffic

This week, Jason Alba is doing a series of posts about his blogging secrets. This is a great guide for how to effectively build relationships and your personal brand with your blog.

One of the tips that came up in the comments on his Day 1 post was the matter of using a signature in your post when you leave comments on other people’s blogs. Typically, if you leave your name and URL in the comment posting form, it ends up linking your name to your site, e.g., Scott Allen points to TheVirtualHandshake.com (or LinkedIntelligence.com or Entrepreneurs.About.com, depending on the context). However, that’s a) usually at the top of your comment – people don’t scroll back up once they’ve read your comment, and b) it’s non-obvious that it actually links to your blog.

Jason explains, as well as sharing his hesitation about using comment signatures:

ALso along these lines, I have since started to leave a new signature:

Jason Alba
CEO – JibberJobber.com
.. self-serve job security ..

I’ve been trying it out, and with different tag lines. Putting a URL in the comments makes it really easy for readers to just click over to my website, and the tagline makes people curious.

Sometimes I’ve hesitated before putting the signature on the comment, especially when no one else is, but I figure it’s better to risk than pass up the chance, and if someone says they don’t like that then I’ll make note of it and leave the signature off for later comments.

But Pete Johnson reassured him, sharing the success he had after learning the tip from The Virtual Handshake:

As I learned from Scott Allen (and am writing about later in the week), the post signature is huge. On one techie site in particular, I got 10x more traffic when I went from this:

—Pete
http://nerdguru.net

to this:

Pete Johnson
HP.com Chief Architect
Personal Blog: http://nerdguru.net

The second one even got me an unsolicited email from the editor wanting to know if I wanted to write a case study based on HP’s web architecture, an opportunity I wouldn’t have dreamed of otherwise.

This is a great example of co-opting a brand. “Nerdguru” isn’t a household name, but HP.com sure is. Pete is able to leverage his position to build his personal brand.

But what if you don’t have a big-name brand to co-opt? Even a simple signature can serve you well. Which is more likely to get your attention and make you click?

Scott Allen
LinkedIntelligence.com

or

Scott Allen
Linked Intelligence – Home of 80+ Smart Ways to Use LinkedIn

Or how about:

Scott Allen
TheVirtualHandshake.com

or

Scott Allen
Coauthor, The Virtual Handshake: Opening Doors and Closing Deals Online

*Sigh*

I need to remember to follow my own advice! 🙂

New Management & Career Blog from Miki Saxon

My long-time virtual friend Miki Saxon has finally started blogging at MAPping Company Success. She labels herself quite a Luddite, and tends to be very resistant to new technology. Of course, I’ve always found that incredibly ironic, since she and I have only known each other virtually, and some of my first interaction with her was through her weekly hosted online chat sessions. She was also one of the first people to take my Virtual Handshake course a couple of years ago.

I’ve been encouraging her to write a blog for a long time, since she’s such a great writer, and I wasn’t disappointed. She writes on company culture, employee motivation, communications, hiring and retention. Here’s a selections of some of my favorite recent posts:

Miki’s blog is especially targeted at executives, senior managers and board members, but there’s a little something there for everyone. It’s also a great example of how a blog can be used by consultants to showcase your expertise and increase your reach.

Scoble Leaving Microsoft – News at 11

Chris Pirillo reports that Robert Scoble, the world’s most famous corporate blogger, is leaving Microsoft and heading to PodTech.net. I haven’t seen a confirmation from Scoble himself yet, so for the moment we’ll put it in the realm of a rumor with a high likelihood of veracity.

Some of you will be interested in the news itself, but I was wondering more generally about what happens when a prominent corporate blogger leaves the company. I’m sure Scoble will still maintain somewhat of a following, as he is so well-known in the blogosphere. But I’m thinking he’s going to lose a big part of his audience. Sure, readers have developed some attachment to him personally, but let’s face it — most of the people reading his blog aren’t just reading it because he’s a great writer, but because they’re interested in knowing what’s going on at Microsoft and he offers more of an inside scoop than anyone else. But he’ll build a new audience. Podcasting is hot now (although I have to admit that I’m ambivalent about it myself). I’d be curious to see his traffic stats over the next few months (hint-hint, Robert!).

Now what about Microsoft? Who will become the new principal voice of Microsoft in the blogosphere? There are certainly plenty of popular Microsoft bloggers – Eileen Brown, KC Lemson, Raymond Chen, Michael Kaplan, Heather Leigh, Larry Osterman, et al. (my apologies to the other several thousand I didn’t list here). And no, while he may be more “famous”, Ray Ozzie’s once-a-month posting habits won’t cut it.

But Scoble definitely leaves a void there. Does Microsoft need to deliberately attempt to fill it? I think if they’re smart, they won’t. It will happen like most things do in the blogosphere – organically.

What do you think? Will you continue to follow Scoble’s blog or no? Who would you like to see as the next prominent “voice of Microsoft” in the blogosphere?

Blog Carnivals – Keeping Up with the Best of the Blogosphere

I love to read blogs, but increasingly, I find it harder and harder to keep up with all the blogs I’d like to read because there is just so much good stuff out of there. And, of course, it’s all mixed up with a lot more stuff ranging from merely mediocre to just plain pointless.

Recently, I’ve particularly become a fan of the “blog carnival” format, a weekly traveling roadshow of the best of the blogosphere on a particular topic. I got overwhelmed trying to keep up with the dozens and dozens of good blogs out there, and just setting up search feeds on keywords wasn’t giving me a good variety.

Blog carnivals, though, give you a very concise view of some of the best of the blogosphere on various topics. Here are some that you may find particularly relevant:

To learn more about blog carnivals, including what they are, submitting articles, and a list of all known blog carnivals (here’s another), visit BlogCarnival.com. This site is a one-stop resource where you can subscribe to RSS feeds for individual carnivals, submit posts to multiple carnivals, and have some great tools for managing a carnival if you already run one or want to start one.

Choosing the Right Tool for Selling and Building Relationships Online

One of the questions David and I are frequently asked, and that comes up as a recurring topic of debate, is, “Which online tool is best for me to meet and sell to the right people?” In our latest Fast Company column, Of Hammers, Wrenches, and Screwdrivers, we take a side-by-side look at online networking communities, blogging, and LinkedIn, and compare and contrast them based upon the Seven Keys framework we introduced in The Virtual Handshake.

While the boundaries between the application of these tools is somewhat fuzzy and they tend to cross over each other, this is a handy, concise overview of the predominant models and how they relate to each other and to your activities.

David Teten notes that Professor Constance Porter wrote more on this topic at Centrality Journal. See Blogs, Social Networking Sites or Virtual Communities: Alternative Paths to Building Relational Equity with Customers (Part 2)

I Have Been Joe Jobbed – Need Your Help

It seems that an evil spammer (who shall remain nameless pending further investigation) has developed a personal vendetta against me and is maliciously trying to smear my reputation by posting bogus blog comment spam in my name (and my wife’s – that bastard!), linking to this site, my About.com site (entrepreneurs.about.com), and another domain I use just for e-mail.

This is a blog variation on a tactic employed by email spammers called a Joe job, “an incident of spamming designed to tarnish the reputation of an innocent third party.” (Wikipedia) While this tactic has been around for at least ten years, its application in blog comment spamming is new and presents a whole new set of issues in identifying the perpetrator and fighting it.

If you don’t want to read the whole story…
Click here if you have received one of these spam messages
Click here if you’d like to help me keep my name clear and stop this perpetrator

The posts are that genre of innocuous spam that doesn’t actually say enough to trip off the spam filters. Here are a couple of examples:

Posted on kcyap.com/wordpress-16-theme-design-competition:

Comment by Scott Allen

Hi. I’ve got some really good stuff for download at my site at http://snipurl.com/tvhamazon.
Not to be boasting or anything, but I am the coauthor of this little gem. Come on by and have a look.
BTW, your blog is just okay.

Posted on www.simonwaldman.net/2005/12/30/these-are-a-few:

Scott 512-215-9720 Says:

Hi. I’ve got some really good stuff for download at my site at
http://www.thevirtualhandshake.com/ Come on by and have a look.
BTW, your blog is great.

To anyone even remotely familiar with my work, it’s obvious that this is totally antithetical to everything I teach, everything I believe in, and couldn’t possibly be from me. But I’m not a household name to the vast majority of bloggers out there, so to someone who’s never heard of me, this is incredibly damaging to my reputation, to the book, and to my co-author David Teten by implication. In fact, I first learned this was occurring from a blogger who sent me a message saying:

Hi. I’ve got some really good spam on my blog from you – I really appreciated it. Thanks for visiting, I’m sorry your last name is “512-215-9720”

Does your book really sell that badly that you must spam blogs for more attention?

Never having visited their blog, I was shocked to see the least. I can’t say that I blame them. Comment spam pisses me off too.

So how did this all start? I wrote to a comment spammer asking them to stop and telling them I was going to expose their site publicly as engaging in spam marketing if they continued.

So how do I know they’re the ones behind this?

  1. The fake posts started within minutes after sending that message.
  2. The site that was doing the spamming has comments right next to the fake comments in my name on all the same sites. Talk about a smoking gun!
  3. Other evidence I can’t disclose at this time.

What I’m Doing About This

I’m not an expert on spamming, or internet security, etc. But fortunately, a lot of really smart people in my network are. I’m not a lawyer, but a lot of smart people in my network are. I’m a bit of a PR expert, but I haven’t really ever had to deal with a smear campaign like this. Fortunately, some really smart people in my network have.

I turned to that network of really smart people that I’ve built up over the past few years and asked for advice. While there were certainly some differences of opinion, there were a few things that stood out as consistent advice, all of which I’m following.

  1. I’ve reported this to the FBI as a case of identity theft and fraud.
  2. I’ve reported it to About.com’s legal department, since they are now implicated by the impersonator linking to my site at About.
  3. I’m going on a counter-PR campaign to make sure my name stays clear and that this person is caught and prosecuted. This is what the vast majority of the people who gave me advice said to do. The legal process will be long and arduous. Counter-publicity is the only way that I can immediately combat the damage this person is doing to me right now.

I would never have wished for this. It’s going to be a pain in the rear to monitor this, collect the evidence, and take appropriate action. It creates a lot of work for me, and will damage my reputation with those people who never hear about this and just assume that I’m a spammer.

But ironically, in the process of trying to create negative publicity, this whole fiasco will probably end up generating far more positive publicity for me. As a result of my posting on one list, I ended up doing a full-hour interview on The David Lawrence Show last night. You can listen to the whole thing for just a quarter, or to the 10-minute podcast for free. Thanks, David!

How You Can Help

If you have received one of these bogus comments in my or my wife’s name (Jayne), please do the following:

  1. Leave it up until I can capture a screen shot as evidence.
  2. Make a note of the raw IP address.
  3. If you can, please make a note of any other comment spam from the same IP address. This is particularly important.
  4. Contact me with the information.
  5. Once I’ve confirmed back to you that I’ve got the screenshot, delete the comment.

If you would like to support me in helping keep my name clear and catch this perpetrator:

  1. Please post about it in your blog and link back to this post.
  2. If you see fake comments in my name like the ones above, please contact me with the URL so I can gather evidence and contact the blog owner.

Thanks for your understanding and support. I don’t know what I’d do without the support of the network I’ve built in the past few years — yet again another lesson in the importance of building a diverse and powerful network.

New Blog Carnival – Carnival of Entrepreneurship

I love blog carnivals – they’re probably the very best way to keep up with the best of the blogs with a minimum of effort. Amazingly, there is not yet a blog carnival about entrepreneurship – marketing, capitalism, and many related topics, but not entrepreneurship. Inspired by helping launch the Carnival of Marketing, I’ve decided to create the Carnival of Entrepreneurship, a traveling weekly roadshow of the best blog posts about starting and running your own business.

The first edition went up today on my About.com site, and the hosting calendar is filling up fast. Submitting and hosting are both great opportunities to increase exposure for your blog. If you write about entrepreneurship and small business, whether as an expert or just sharing your personal experience, see the submission and hosting guidelines for information on participating in future editions.