Google is Crawling Facebook Comments Social Plug-In

Word on the Schipul SEM gossip street is that Facebook comments are being indexed by Google, which means BAM! More SEO love for your site — if you’re using the XFBML implementation.

A recent post on SearchEngineLand.com explains how at one point add-on commenting systems made it difficult for search engines to index content on sites. But now that Facebook comments are being crawled by Google, things are changing.

Apparently, the XFBML type comments are specifically the ones being crawled.  That means it’s in your favor to add the Facebook Comment s social plug-in to your site. (Yes, I feel like we’re feeding the Facebook monster here…but…eh…whatchagonnado? (._.)/) Here’s how to add the plug-in:

1. Go to https://developers.facebook.com/docs/reference/plugins/comments/ and select Get Code:

2. Select the XFBML version of the code and copy it.

3. Go to your site and add the code just below the first <body> tag.  (This is in the index template of your site. If you have a Tendenci site, contact support if you need help with this.)

4.  Select the line of code on the last line and place the line of code for the plug-in on the page where you’d like it to appear:

 

This should add the FB Comments social plug-in to your site. Of course it will vary across browsers, so be sure you follow the proper steps for the browser most of your site visitors use to access your content.

Trend Tuesday: Tools for Working Remote

photo thanks to flickr user purprin!

While the concept of working remote isn’t new (it used to be called ‘telecommuting’), the tools to facilitate it have grown over the last few years.

The Internet is likely the most obvious tool that facilitates working remote, and the phone may be the most commonly overlooked. Beyond email and phone, consider other third-party tools to extend your business beyond your home base and help your team continue to feel connected to one another. Let’s review the following tools for working remote:

  • Video Chat
  • Collaborative Tools
  • Web-based Teaching Tools

Substitute Conference Calls with Online Video Chats

Instead of  hearing only your remote team’s voices, enhance your conference calls with video chat so you can see them and experience a more engaging conversation. Skype and Google Video Chat are two free and easy-to-use tools that make meeting face-to-face a practical way to include your entire team in meetings.

Both are easy to set-up and install. You’ll need a stable internet connection, web cam and audio. Many webcams come with built-in audio devices (I have a LifeCam HD-6000 and really like it). All you do is plug ’em in, launch your video chat application and start your meeting.

Use Collaborative Tools to Create and Manage Documents

If you’ve saved, emailed, updated, saved again, and sent a follow-up email to spell out the changes you made, you may want to give collaborative tools a try.  Collaborative tools allow team members to work on the same document, together in real-time.  They’re also a workable solution for newsletter editors that are inundated with email attachments of articles and revisions of articles. This 3-minute video illustrates Google Docs, one of my favorite collaborative tools:

The documents and spreadsheets in Google Docs are very similar to those in MS Office. There’s no new software to learn, so getting started is just a matter of getting over the fear of trying something new. I recommend taking the tour to help get comfortable with the tool.

Use Web-based Tools to Demonstrate

Screen shots are helpful for walking clients and co-workers through online processes. Sometimes, when you can’t be there, talking a client or co-worker through the process is the most efficient way. While both methods work, tools like GoToMeeting let you share your computer screen with others to demonstrate processes in real-time. This tool has proven helpful in our web-based trainings and one-to-one client demonstrations.

What Tools do you use?

These are some of the tools we train our clients on using. Since opening our web marketing office in the San Francisco Bay Area, we’ve incorporated more of the video tools for getting face-time with our leading lady April Kyle. What are some of the tools you use or would like to know more about for working remote?

 

 

Showcase Content with Online Publishing Tools

Issuu Homepage

Just a few years ago, sites like Newspaper Death Watch, began tracking daily newspapers as they steadily went out of print. Since then, publications have adapted to the changing media landscape by creating online versions of their publications. But the delivery is different, and sometimes not as visually appealing as the copy you get to hold in your hand.

Online publishing tools offer just that. And not only are they useful for magazines, but they’re great for brochures and promotional pieces. Issuu and FlippingBook are two examples of online tools used by two Schipul clients to showcase their content.

The Houston Zoo‘s marketing team uses Issuu for their Events & Venue Guide.

The Houston Zoo uses Issuu online publishing tool for their Events & Venue Guide

Issuu lets users upload in any format and choose the best way to display their content (magazine, presentation or paper).  One of the great things about Issuu is that it’s SEO-friendly. According to the site, every word inside publications on Issuu are available from any search engine.  More than that, users can try it for free or just browse it’s catalog of online publications.

Rice Epicurean uses FlippingBook to showcase their weekly specials.

Rice Epicurean Markets uses FlippingBook Online publishing tool for their Weekly Sales Paper

FlippingBook turns PDF files into flash on a specific site, rather than a searchable community. It allows users to share and view the content online.  Also, the program lets users tailor the look of publications, has a download feature for multiple ways of sharing and a built-in text search that helps users find specific information within the text.  The drawback of the program is that  its free versions are watermarked and only available for Windows 7, Vista and XP.

The sleek presentation of publishing sites like Issuu can be intimidating. If you’re seeking something simple, Scribd. is worth a peek.

Scribd is an online publishing tool for all types of documents

It’s an open reading platform, meaning you don’t need a flash player or web reader to view documents. It’s HTML based. The types of documents span the gamut –school work, how-to guides/manuals, books, presentations, spreadsheets – it’s all there. To get a better idea of the community Scribd caters to, I recommend watching their introductory slideshow.

Depending on your needs, FlippingBook,  Issuu and Scribd are all suitable online publication tools with great features. FlippingBook is a good tool for content that will change consistently, yet it offers the functionality of a visually appealing, hand-held publication. Issuu is definitely the way to go for a more substantial publication, that won’t “expire.” And Scribd offers a bit of both worlds, where your document can live and breath in a widely accessible format.

Check out a previous post from @cwminor on online publishing services.

Trend Tuesday: Online Publishing Services

Now that you know about online office software, it’s time to start publishing your work. While in the past this might of been nearly impossible for the average writer, today all you need is a document and an internet connection. Being able to publish has never been easier, as there are several services now available. With the rise these publishing services the question is now, Which one should I use? Below, I will list 3 different services and discuss what makes them different.

1) Issuu

Price: Free or $19/mo Pro Account

Features (Pro Acount): Unlimited Storage, Bulk Uploading, Unlimited Document Uploading, Detailed Statistics, No Ads (A big plus for your work), Privacy Controls

My Take: Their tagline is “Publish by millions” which goes to show they are serious about producing your work. Issuu appears to be the complete package with slick design, well-rounded features, and an easy to upload system. Issuu is a great service if you are serious and plan to be publishing for a long amount of time but if you are just publishing 1 or 2 pieces of work, the $19/mo plan would not be worth it.

2) Scribd

Price: 20% of earnings

Features: No monthly plan, HTML 5 integration, simple layout and uploading, support for many file types.

My Take: Scribd might not be as robust as Issuu, but the HTML5 integration completely changes the experience of reading documents. Most services make documents a static image, however Sribd formats documents so users can highlight text, and interact with the work. Also, documents load much faster and are able to be read on mobile devices like the iPhone. Scribd is practical for people who publish often but not enough to justify a $19/mo subscription. While there may not be as many features, the experience makes this service a competitor.

3) MagCloud

Price: $0.20/Per Page

Features: Simple interface and uploading. Designed for magazines.

My Take: MagCloud differs from the other services by focusing exclusively on magazines. MagCloud is based off a traditional system, where users upload documents, then receive a proof, and finally publish online. When users buy magazines online, they are shipped a physical copy instead of just a digital one. MagCloud doesn’t offer much flexibility other than what it’s designed to do (i.e. you can only upload PDF’s). I would suggest MagCloud to people who publish a magazine every week or so, and don’t care or need to do much else.

Trend Tuesday: Comment SPAM gets Tricky

We’ve all come across email SPAM, but that is only where the annoyance begins. If you have a blog, a website that takes comments, or even a contact form, then you have probably seen some SPAM there, too. It used to be easy to identify, but spammers are becoming craftier at their game. Learn how you can fight back.

We’ve all come across email SPAM, but that is only where the annoyance begins. If you have a blog, a website that takes comments, or even a contact form, then you have probably seen some SPAM there, too. It used to be easy to identify, but spammers are becoming craftier at their game. Learn how you can fight back.

SPAM stacks up
SPAM can pile up in your blog. Learn how to get rid of it.

Why people Spam

Before diving into the problem of comment SPAM, I’d like to answer this question: Why do people SPAM? The biggest purpose of comment SPAM is SEO-related. One of the things Google and the others factor into their algorithms is linkbacks. A linkback is any link from an external site back to your website. In many comment forms on blogging platforms there is an option to include a website, which is then linked to your name when you leave a comment. This is a way of telling people who it is that is leaving the comment. Spammers use this opportunity to link to trashy SPAM websites that make pennies per visitor. If they rank higher in the search engines for keywords like “free viagra”, they can drive more traffic and make more pennies. Pennies turn into dollars which turn into Benjamins, and you get the picture. However, this doesn’t work very well for the spammers.

While most of the blogging platforms include comments and do send links, they include a little piece of code that prevents linkbacks. It’s called a “nofollow” link. It tells Google not to count a link as a linkback. Google doesn’t follow the link, so that website isn’t given any benefit. It’s an optional setting, but it is turned on for professional blogs as well as Blogger.com and WordPress.com hosted blogs. We don’t use nofollow links on this blog so that we can pass along benefits to our commenters. However, spammers don’t know that we do this, and they don’t seem to care much either way. Even with nofollow links, the spammers will still attack your site. Now that we know the why, lets look into the “what” of comment SPAM.

What Comment SPAM looks like

Most people can identify the obvious SPAM very quickly. It is riddled with links to ED drugs or other pharmaceuticals, or in some cases it is written in Russian. This kind of SPAM is automated by the spammers and can be caught by filters. The other types of SPAM are much harder to identify. They look more like real comments. Here is an example (the link doesn’t work):

From Investment Ideas: Great Post! I stumble by this blog from Google and your content really speaks to me. You are an expert in your field and this post is proof. I am now subscribing to read more.

At first glance this looks like a very nice comment. It is probably one you would be proud to have at the bottom of your posts. Unfortunately, it is SPAM. The “name” of the commenter is used as a keyword to create a linkback to the URL, which in this case is also about investment ideas. The text sounds very nice, but it would probably sound very nice on any of your posts. These types of comments have a few things in common, and you can become a pro at identifying it and removing it.

How to Identify and Stop SPAM

Unfortunately, this kind of SPAM is not caught by the filters because it looks genuine. In many cases it is even entered by a real person (often overseas). They copy/paste a snippet on many sites as fast as possible. But, you can spot it when moderating your comments. Here is three-item test to identify the tricky SPAM:

  1. The name looks like a description and not really a person’s name. In the example, it is Investment Ideas.
  2. The link goes to a site very similar to the name. It may also include several hyphens, which are sometimes used in spam URLs.
  3. The text of the comment is very generic. It doesn’t reference anything in the post and can probably apply to almost any of your posts.

Those three quick tests can help you to identify most comment SPAM. After reviewing the fake comment above, you will see that it includes all three of the regular pieces of SPAM comments. You may come across some comments that just say “Great Post!”. To determine if these are SPAM you should pay close attention to the name and link. If it is a person’s name and goes to a personal site or blog (like JMO), then it is probably not SPAM.

You will have to use your own discretion when deciding which comments are SPAM on your blog. Comments are great places to have a bit of further discussion about posts. They can add to the “conversation” in many cases, so blocking SPAM is even more important to keep the conversation fluid. While comment SPAM can’t hurt you directly, it can look ugly on your blog.

While some sites have turned off comments all together to prevent this, you may still want to keep comments on your site. Using nofollow links can help prevent the spammers from gaining anything with their garbage, but it will still pile up in the back and can clutter your real comments. Moderating your comments regularly and having a keen eye for SPAM can protect your site from the evils of comment SPAM.

UPDATE:

I have decided it to let the SPAM comments show up on this post so you can see some examples of what we get. I will neuter them by removing the link, but the text and name of the commenter will be left alone (unless it’s profane). Our first winner is “Affiliate Network”.

UPDATE 2:

Many more SPAM comments have rolled in to the mix. I’ve removed links on all of them, but the text gives you an idea of what they may look like on your site.

Awesome SPAM creative commons image thanks to freezelight.

Trend Tuesday: iHype and a different kind of Internet Marketing

Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, and comments had speculated about Apple making a tablet. Last week, Apple did something they hadn’t done during that entire timespan. They admitted they had designed a tablet computer. How did they create so much buzz?

Steve Jobs Apple iPad announcement
Steve Jobs announces Apple's new product.

Over the past two years, hundreds of thousands of blog posts, forums, and comments had speculated about Apple making a tablet. Last week, Apple did something they hadn’t done during that entire time span. They admitted they had designed a tablet computer. How did they create so much buzz?

While I think their new device is a real breakthrough in future computing, I find the marketing (or lack of marketing) for such an item much more fascinating. How does a company build up so much hype? Why are people so excited about something they didn’t even know existed? And why have so many critics turned negative on something that isn’t technically for sale yet? Let’s dive a little deeper to solve the iHype mystery.

Apple iHype

Apple, in its history as a company, has been known for releasing ground-breaking products that change the way we do things. It started back in the ’80s with the Apple II and the Macintosh, and continued in the 2000’s with the iPod and iPhone. The widespread obsession in the tech community over Apple rumors is fairly new, but the true Apple geeks have always been a hype-driven excitable bunch. The return of Steve Jobs near the end of the ’90s helped to rejuvenate this passionate group. The basics behind iHype are these:

  1. Develop new things in ways that haven’t been done before.
  2. Don’t publicly show prototypes or “proofs of concept”.
  3. Make a polished, grand announcement of the new thing.
  4. Ignore the negative critics.

Your business or organization may not make awesome tablet computers, but the principles of iHype can still apply to your business.

Develop New Things

Whether it is a piece of software, a book, a networking organization, or a physical item, your product or service stands out in some way. You may do lots of R&D for your new device, or you could simply offer a better way to manage alumni donors. Perhaps you offer public speaking advice or maybe you write code and build web apps. You can be a star by developing things that are new, fresh, and useful. Think like Apple and create things that people dream of using. Offer services that no one else can match and create your own category. To build iHype, you must build something to hype up.

Don’t show Prototypes

The biggest lesson here is this: Prototypes eat up all the hype. When you announce that your company is working on a new product to be released in 18 months, users will forget about it two days later. Not only are future predictions unreliable (see XKCD’s take below), you kill off all of your excitement by the time the thing launches. You effectively use your marketing window of opportunity to announce a future announcement.

20 years away will be 20 years away forever.
What Prototype announcements really mean (from XKCD)

Imagine going to a party on July 31st that was solely to announce another party in 4-6 months (New Years Eve). You would likely kill any buzz for the real party and possibly upset your current guests. The exception to this is a short timeframe with a solid date. Announcing your new product that will come out at the end of the month is probably OK, but it’s better to announce things that ship today. (Apple occasionally announces things before their release to do patent and FCC filings which inadvertently announce things. If they could wait until the ship date, they would.)

The Grand and Polished Announcement

You won’t have the same stage as Apple, but you can deliver your message with the same gusto. If you are issuing a press release, than include graphics, numbers, and memorable quotes and taglines. If you are sending an email newsletter to current clients to announce a new service, give it a great subject line and pay attention to the details. If you are lucky enough to make your announcement in person as a presentation then practice, practice, practice. A boring and unoriginal announcement is likely to be forgotten. Tell the story of your great new thing. The time you spend on it will often mirror the amount of attention it gets from your audience, so put in the time it deserves.

Ignore the naysayers

Apple made their announcement last week and already many of the tech blogs are denouncing the new device. Apple has experienced the same thing happening with the iPod an iPhone, so they are not fazed by harsh words. You may not have the same experience so a negative review could be very painful initially. Do not let it get you down. Your new offering has taken you time and energy because you built it with intent and passion. If someone with a blog or an email account doesn’t like it, there is no reason they should kill any of your excitement. You are trying to sell your product to people who want it, not people who don’t. Do not forget this. Every product has a negative critic and unfortunately their voices can drown out the positive folks. Have confidence in your service and in your announcement, do great marketing, and the buyers will come.

You probably won’t get the same media level of hype that Apple gets, but there is no reason you can’t create stir of similar excitement with your followers and customers. Make something great, boldly announce it when it’s ready, and ignore anyone who talks down about it. These are the simple keys to creating your own storm of iHype.