All posts by Mitch Mitchell

I'm an independent consultant in many fields, so I have a lot to share.

Ways To Get Quality Backlinks – Blah!

Time for another Mitchell rant, and this time it’s on the topic of “quality backlinks”.

Here’s the deal. I understand that many people are looking to find ways to get backlinks, which to me means getting something for nothing. Yeah, that’s not quite fair, but I say that because I keep seeing post after post with titles like “5 Ways To Get Quality Backlinks” and every single one of them says almost the same thing.

Sugar Chain
Windell Oskay via Compfight

You know, Google has messed up again because they tell people that the thing they look at in ranking websites and blogs is backlinks to other sites of quality. To this I say “blah”. What they’ve done is once again set people up in doing all sorts of stupid stuff, just so in two or three years they can come out with the Wolverine update and slam all of those sites for once again doing what they told them to do, saying “you idiots, we didn’t mean for you to do it that way.” And they’ll be laughing at you when it happens.

I say “you” instead of me because if you’re doing all this stuff to get backlinks and that’s your only goal, you deserve to be laughed at. And I say that while having one blog that I actually allow people to write guest posts for, which gives them a backlink to their site. But really, who’s benefiting more from that, them or me?

What are these genius recommendations I keep seeing, that you’re also seeing over and over? Here they are:

1. Write guest posts
2. Comment on other blogs
3. Write in forums
4. Post links on social networks
5. Ask others to trade links with you

Oh yeah, the sidebar 6th is to make sure you do all of this on both similarly themed websites and high ranking websites. And I saw one that talked about making sure you have quality content; didn’t I address that topic once before?

Are there problems with these recommendations? Well, some of them anyway. Guest posts are great for gaining some publicity but just how many guest posts can you write, or have someone else write for you, that’s actually going to do you any good? How many comments can you or will you actually make in a forum that’s going to help you? And don’t you hate when someone you know asks you to trade links with you and that they’ll make sure your link will be on a PR2, 3 or 4 ranked site?

The other two?

Blog commenting is more about joining the community of bloggers and having people learn who you are rather than creating backlinks, although it’s probably a benefit if you comment often and are on dofollow blogs. But if that’s all you’re looking for you’re kind of shallow.

Posting your links to social media sites is smart, but not necessarily for backlinks. Once again, the idea is getting your link out to others who might be interested in what you have to say and share and be willing to come back to your site to read your content, and they might even stick around to read other content or even buy something.

Just so we’re clear, I’m not saying that backlinks won’t do you any good. What I will say is that the ways everyone else is telling you to do it makes no sense. Who has that kind of time? And is your motivation legitimate?

Of course, some of you now want to pin me down on this question; what would I recommend in getting backlinks if I’m saying it’s not a bad thing to have them? My recommendation; write well, and write something compelling.

I’m not using the term “high quality content” because who can really define that? Instead, I’m saying to write something that others will look at, read, possibly comment, and then might be intrigued enough to want to link to you in their content. Wow, what a novel idea!

How do you do that? It’s a combination of 3 things:

1. Write things that are entertaining and challenging that makes people think and gets them to want to share your stuff without you asking them to

2. Try linking back to someone else’s blog post or article every once in awhile to show how it’s done. People not only like returning the compliment but commenting on what someone else had to say shows you read the post, were touched by the post, and that maybe your own stuff is worth looking at. You don’t always have to agree by the way; if you’re a consistent reader of this blog you’ll see that I’m always pulling a link from someone else’s blog and commenting on it.

3. Go get people to come to your blog by commenting on their blogs (good comments, not drive by’s) and by sharing your links on social media. This is a combined effort, but you have to be diligent with it. I’ve made this recommendation before and I’ll make it again. If you don’t have lots of time, find 5 blogs that you like and only concentrate on those 5 for awhile. But put your links out everywhere you can think of, that you like, at least once.

That’s it. Do that stuff, keep doing that stuff, and you’ll build up more juice for your blog or website than you can imagine. You’ll get quality people coming to your blog and the search engines won’t penalize you; who can ask for anything better than that?

Well, maybe one more thing. In this video myself and the rest of the Hot Blog Tips Hangout group talked about finding motivation in blogging, and we broached the subject of this post as well; enjoy:


 

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Would You Recommend Something Unethical For Money?

Before I forget, I want to let you know that I wrote a guest post on a blog called Marcie Writes, which works well since the owner is Marcie Hill. It’s titled 5 Steps Towards Blogging Integrity and I think it’s a very good post, not necessarily because I wrote it but because I wrote a guest post for someone who asked for it and I wanted to make sure it would be really good. That’s how guest posting is supposed to work when you ask people if you can write a guest post for them or if they ask you; always give your best. In its own way it segues into today’s topic.

A Man Without His Word Means Nothing
Catherine Rankovic via Compfight

How many of you have heard of something called “payday loans“? If you haven’t, the concept is that if you need money and know you’re getting paid on Friday, if you will, but it’s Wednesday, you can go to an establishment, take out money now, then pay it back on Friday at a “nominal” interest rate.

To some people it sounds like a great way to get an advance on their pay, but the way I see it, and if you follow the link above you’ll see more reasoning, it’s a scam perpetrated against those without a lot of financial acumen and can lead to both untold debt and dangers people aren’t ready for. It’s people allowing themselves to be taken advantage of, with interest rates that can skyrocket at a moment’s notice and, in some cases, being charged daily, and eventually leave a person not being able to keep up and, well, leaving bankruptcy as a final decision to make if they’re not able to pay off the entire amount immediately.

Yes, I think this is unethical, and I’m not the only one. The Federal government is now investigating mainstream banks that are participating in this, including many that were bailed out by the government back in 2009. Eventually they may get to everyone, but this shows that they’re concerned enough to worry about it.

It’s under this belief in ethics that I was dismayed when I came across a post some weeks ago by someone I usually think is pretty cool, Zac Johnson, who wrote a post titled Is It Time You Started Looking At Promoting Pay Day Loans? In the article, he talks about how it’s one of the fastest growing programs in the world and how some affiliate marketers might want to think about hopping on the bandwagon financially, even though there’s a “slight” disclaimer near the end of the article: “No matter what your personal opinions are on pay days loans and whether they are ethical or not, you need to think of the situation from an advertising stand point.”

I’m sorry, but I personally disagree. The statement alone proves that even Zac knew there was an ethical standard being crossed when he wrote it, and he talked about it in a positive way anyway. There are a lot of people going to dog fighting matches or watching videos of the clubbing of baby seals; would you promote that in positive ways if they were making lots of money?

Along the lines of when I asked the question What Will You Do For More Followers, I ask just what will you do for money? If you truly believed payday loans were the greatest thing on planet Earth and decided to promote it, that’s one thing; if you know up front that there’s an unethical component to it, are you going to do it just because it might pay well? If racism paid well would you promote it if it didn’t fit in with your morality? What about child porn, videos of death, cruelty to animals, etc?

There may be things you find unethical that you’ll complain to someone else about that doesn’t find it unethical. In that case it’s more on you than on the other person. But if you know it’s unethical and you promote it anyway, or the other person knows or believes its unethical and promotes it anyway, what does that say about your commitment to principles? Is making a buck, no matter how much it is, really worth your self respect, let alone the respect of others?

I know what I think; what say you?
 

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Are Your Social Media Standards Too Strict?

A couple of weeks ago I had a post and video titled What Will You Do For More Followers? I asked at that time whether you’d go for the gusto to get more followers and thus more publicity with the possibility of more influence or whether you felt that wasn’t what you wanted to do at all.

Talk Nerdy To Me #2
Constantine Belias via Compfight

This time I’m asking you about your social media standards; what will you do, what do you do when it comes to social media in general. This question supposes 3 things:

1. That you have standards;

2. That you know what your standards are if you have them;

3. That you have good reasons for those standards if you have them

Yes, that’s kind of a challenge, because if you don’t have standards then it’s hard for you to be a part of the conversation, although I suppose not having standards can be freeing. If you have them but you don’t have any reason for them other than “because”, well, that’s your right but it’s certainly not informed. But if you have standards and have reasons… that’s when things get interesting.

This is a question I ask myself all the time because I do have standards and I have reasons for those standards, and sometimes I wonder if I’m holding myself back in some ways because of those standards. I mean, is it legitimate for me to hope to get tens of thousands of followers on Twitter when I’m following less than 900 people? Is it right of me not to connect with people on LinkedIn because they don’t have a picture on their profile, or because I can’t figure out why they think our businesses are compatible? Is it right of me to not just accept every friend request on Facebook when they know at least one other person I’m connected to? Is it right that I don’t just automatically follow people on YouTube or Instagram that are following me?

Some weeks back I made a comment on a post by Marcus Sheridan titled The Fleeting Title that is “Social Media Expert”, when he asked what makes someone a social media expert. I stated that I tend to believe that most of the folks put on lists were anointed by someone else who really had earned it and thus had the banner passed onto them without having had to work for it. I stated that I looked at a list that was recent at the time, checked out many of the names I didn’t already know, and saw that this blog was ranked higher than a lot of them, had way more content, and was written at least as well as those blogs, or not better (trying not to be conceited), and that the only real difference I saw between myself and those folks was that they had been anointed, put on a list, and given a boost that I’m not sure they deserved.

Then I looked at other numbers and, well, that’s when you get to thinking about things. These were people connected to tens of thousands of people on Twitter, thousands of people on Facebook, and well connected in other places as well. I’ve never really played the numbers game so I don’t compete well on this level. I do know that numbers mean something, but I’ve always been more about engagement and interaction, figuring that worked well with my mores.

Are your social media standards strict at all? Are mine? I’ll share mine; tell me what you think:

Twitter – If you don’t talk to anyone except to say “thank you” or to share links, I’m not following. If your politics are not only different than mine but your statements come across as hateful, I’m not following. In general, if you don’t really interact with others, I’m not following. If you AutoDM me after we connect, I’m immediately unfollowing you. I have some other standards as well but these are enough for now.

LinkedIn – If you don’t have a picture and I don’t know you, I’m not following. If your business isn’t compatible with anything I do and I haven’t talked to you in a group and you’re not local, I’m not connecting with you.

Facebook – If you ask to connect with me as a friend and you don’t have a picture, it’s not happening. If I don’t know you and you don’t know a lot of people I know, I’m not connecting with you. If I know who you are but we’ve never talked anywhere before, I’m probably not going to add you. And, sad as this might be, if I start getting irritated by stuff you’re putting up all the time because of its negativity, I’m hiding everything you post from that point on, possibly removing you from my friends list.

YouTube – if you don’t have any videos on your channel I’m not following you. If you have some videos but they’re not yours or you’re not in them, I’m not following. If they’re horrid… well, you know.

Instagram – I’m still relatively new to Instagram so I’ll admit to not really having a standard there yet, which is fine. However, I figure that for those people I have checked out that I haven’t added there’s got to be something in my mind that’s repelled me, and once I figure that out then I’ll have a true standard to uphold.

Am I too tough with my standards? Are there any you’d like to share? And is it possible our standards hold us back, and if so is it worth it?
 

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Getting More Annoying Phone Calls? Is It Craigslist’s Fault?

I’ve had an increase in phone calls lately from out of town. They’re coming from Oregon and Washington state, and since I only know one person living in Washington and no one in Oregon, and I don’t owe anyone any money, I know that they’re probably sales calls of some type.


by Mark Fischer via Flickr

The funny thing is that it’s the same two numbers over and over. That’s rare, as you know these people like to randomly change numbers all the time. I’m not one to call numbers back to find out which companies these are because I don’t want to give them that kind of time. I am the type, though, that looks up phone numbers after awhile to see if I can learn anything about them.

I did that with these two numbers and what I found was interesting. On both numbers, someone mentioned that they had been responding to ads on Craigslist for jobs lately and that it coincided with the increase in calls.

I hadn’t thought about that at all. I also have been checking out links originating on Craigslist for writing gigs, though I haven’t been scouring Craigslist independently. I subscribe to a site that sends out writing offers on a daily basis and within the last couple of weeks I’ve started reaching out to some of these people.

Luckily, one of them has come through and it’s turned into a writing project, but that doesn’t negate any of the rest being dodgy. I contact every one of them through my SEO business account email, which has my phone number in the signature file, and of course it’s on my website if they bothered to check that out.

Can I definitely say these two things are related? No I can’t, but it does bring up the issue of just how much one can trust what we come across online. Whereas in general Craigslist is a fairly trustworthy place, there are a lot of scammers doing things that, until it’s caught, could end up causing you grief. After all, when I wrote my post last year about the anatomy of a scam, that also involved responding to a Craigslist ad.

This is just another warning to be cautious of things you find online, even on Craigslist. You’re never sure what you might be getting yourself into.
 

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Dream It And It Will Come

By now most everyone is familiar with the quote “Build it and they will come” from the movie Field of Dreams (which I’ve never seen; I’ll have to rectify that one of these days). Of course, most of us that blog know that’s not quite true. We spend our time writing posts and putting them out there for the masses, and unless we get into the blogosphere and find readers our dreams of blogging success just aren’t going to come true. So, the phrase is false.


Or is it? Not according to someone I just met in person a couple of weeks ago, but who I’ve known for at least 8 years online. He’s the guy in the picture to the right along with myself; I’m the guy on the right in the picture, just to clarify things.

His name is Rasheed, and he’s on an interesting quest. He’s taking a 2-month trek across the country with the intention of visiting people in 40 states that he’s met over the years online. He might be visiting some people he already knows as well; I didn’t clarify that one with him. He started out from Houston, went west, north, then east and eventually will head south down to Florida before getting back to Texas.

Of course we had to talk about this venture, and I asked him why and how he was doing it. He said that his dream was to be able to travel around the country once he got to a certain age to meet people and to see the sights. His reality was that he wasn’t rich and thus had to figure out a way to fund his travels.

However, he said that in his opinion it was more important to have the dream, visualize the dream, and see the dream as a reality by setting a date for when it would begin. In his mind, the dream would create the way he could get it done.

Then he found his way. One of the talents he has it that he can make balloon animals. What he realized is that children love them, people will pay someone to make them for their kids, and all he had to do was find places that would allow him to do it everywhere he went. His belief was that he could fund his entire trip by working only on weekends, when he could also catch up on his rest by staying in one place.

And it’s worked. He finds restaurants or malls that allow him to set up a place for a number of hours and he does his thing. And he’s making pretty good money from it; seems weekend work really can be lucrative if you can find something you love to do that other people love to partake of, and who hasn’t seen a child being amazed at watching balloons become animals?

So the dream worked; all is good, and that’s all it took. No, not quite. Leading up to the date he started preparing for the trip. He bought lots of large blue tubs for his supplies and clothes. He converted the back of his Kia Sedona into a sleeping space (that’s the beauty of being shorter than me, as I’d never fit lol). He bought what he needed so he could cook some meals if he didn’t want to eat fast food. And of course he stays connected via his laptop and smartphone.

He put all of this together over many months once he had the dream secure in his mind and he’d figured out how he was going to fund his trip. He did admit that he wasn’t sure if his trip would last even 2 weeks, since once we all leave the areas where we live we’re not sure how others will react to us but it’s worked out well for him.

This means you not only dream, but you start working towards your dream. This is a great lesson for all of us. Then he asked me about my dream and I said… I don’t have one. Wow, when did that happen? So, I have started thinking about a dream for myself, something to concentrate on, and if I come up with it you know I’ll write about it here because it’s my belief that it’s going to have something to do with readers of this blog, other blogs, and social media. In its own way this is an interesting trek. Thanks Rasheed; you keep on trekking as well.
 

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