Category Archives: Blogging

Spam Settings On My Blogs

Last week I talked about adding Akismet back on one of my blogs to help in my fight against spam and Brian Hawkins had a post on his blog about crazy things people do to control spam, impugning my wondrous reputation by griping about something I do (LOL) on this blog. Regardless, we all end up having to deal with spam in one fashion or another.

Agent [smith]
[martin] via Compfight

Some people do some crazy things, as Brian stated, but I find the majority of people don’t know what they can do to fight some of the spam at least. Therefore, I thought I’d share what I have set up on my blog under the Discussion settings area and then talk about my settings in the GASP plugin, since I’ve already talked about AkismetIf you don’t know about the Settings / Discussion area this is a good time to go there and follow along as I tell you why I’ve set up what I’ve done.

The first thing you see are the default article settings. I have all of mine checked, but if you use the GASP plugin and have unchecked the box saying to block all trackbacks, the middle choice makes no difference. If you don’t want comments on your blog you can uncheck the last box.

Next we have other comment settings. I have checked the first one, which should be standard for everyone.

I don’t want people logging into my blog so that’s unchecked. Actually, back a few years ago it was recommended that you don’t allow people to register on your blog because some folks knew how to then break into the rest of your blog once they had gained even a modicum of access. The new CommentLuv Premium gives owners the option of allowing it to have access to more posts, but I still wouldn’t recommend doing it.

I have the box checked talking about automatically closing comments on posts and I’ve added the number 720 in the final box, which is just under 2 years. Many spammers target old posts and I figure that people can read them but two years is long enough for someone to discover them and comment on them.

The next box I have checked and I’ve added 9 into the box, though many people only have it set at 4. I hope for extended conversation but I’ve never reached 9. By the way, this doesn’t work for all blog themes, so you might have to add a plugin to get it to work correctly. For this theme, which is older, I had to add the Threaded Comments plugin, but for all my other blogs this works fine.

I have the final box unchecked, which means that if I end up with more than 50 comments they’ll continue on the same page instead of turning it into more than one page. Frankly, it can be confusing going to a blog and seeing that there are a bunch of comments yet not seeing them. I think it messes up continuity, so I have it turned off.

I’m skipping the email me whenever and going to the next one, before a comment appears. I have both unchecked because frankly I hate moderation and thus I won’t do it to anyone else. Now, some folks are probably saying “hey, my comment ended up in moderation”; we’ll get to that.

Next up is comment moderation. I don’t have anything in the main box here and I’ll tell you why. To me, why would I want to add words or domain names or numbers to have things go into moderation, or the pending area? Anything that goes into moderation might as well go into the spam filter so I can review everything in there. Now, this used to be an easier decision when you could approve a comment directly out of the spam area but since WordPress took that option away and sends comments to the pending area instead (a stupid move people), you might decide to have some things go into pending instead, since now you have duplication of effort. Having said that, I do have a 1 in the box about links, so if you add a link it does head to moderation.

Soldier from 1 Yorks on Patrol in Afghanistan
UK Ministry of Defence via Compfight

The final thing I’m going to talk about here is the comment blacklist space. This is where you can list words or urls or IP addresses, which are those numbers under each comment you see in the Admin area of comments, and if the comments have any of these associated with them they’ll automatically go to the spam filter. What I’ve done is added a few specific words that I know are spam since I’d never write about any of that stuff here, and I’ve added lots of IP addresses.

This part bothers Brian a little bit because there’s a lot you’ll end up having to do, but there is a shortcut. For instance, there are some IPs that send you multiple comments but rotate the third and fourth set of numbers. I’ve taken care of that by logging just the first two numbers, and from that point anything that comes in with the first two sets of numbers automatically goes into spam. That’s ended up saving lots of time.

Okay, let’s talk about the GASP plugin settings briefly, since I know most people just go with the defaults. I left many defaults so I’m only going to talk about the things I’ve changed.

First, I’ve unchecked the box for trackbacks, which I mentioned earlier. Yeah, I know that it offers a way for others to let you know they’ve written about you but there’s no real SEO benefit to it and it’s how spammers can really bombard your blog. I unchecked it during a time period when I was averaging nearly 20 spam messages an hour that were all trackback spam; ugh!

The big one, the most controversial I suppose, is the next to last box, which says Maximum number of words allowed in name field. I’ve put 2 in there, which seems to be throwing a lot of commenters into the spam filter, and those are the folks who believe they’re being moderated. Sorry but that’s staying, and we’ll just have to hope that I pull your comments out of the spam box. The overwhelming number of spam that comes in is keyword spam, and most of those keywords are 3 or more words. Most people either go with one name or first and last name. A few of you have decided to add your initial; that’s on you. Also, some of you continue to add keywords to the end of your name because some people offer the Keyword plugin; I don’t. I used to take the time to remove all of that but now it’s rare I’ll remove it, especially if you’re a return commenter. At least now you know why I do it.

That’s that. I didn’t think it would turn out to be this long but there you are. If this is new stuff to you then it’s worth it. If it’s something you hadn’t thought about in awhile then it’s also worth it. And if you don’t like it… LOL!
 

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Posting Times On Social Media?

I’ve always been someone who has given a lot of thought into when I should have my posts show up on Twitter and on other social media platforms. I really didn’t have anything to go on so I used my own judgment.

21-06-10 Cause I'd Rather Pretend I'll Still Be There At The End ~ Explored #1
Βethan via Compfight

For the last 2 years I’ve had the posts on my blog go live between 9 and 10AM Eastern Standard time. In my way of thinking, it would be the time that most people on the East Coast, where I live, would be alert, probably already at work or have started their working day and have some energy.

Then, later in the evening or early morning, I find myself reposting my links to Twitter, often between midnight and 1AM, trying to reach a second audience that I figure is either on the West Coast or in other countries that might just be coming alert or waking up.

Anyway, these were my preconceived notions. I never had any data. Now I do, as this post on Kissmetrics titled An In-Depth Look at the Science of Twitter Timing was kind of illuminating. In essence, the person who wrote the article found some statistics that pretty much blew my mind.

The article is mainly about Twitter but in my mind if it works on Twitter it probably works on other sites as well. The main thing it stated is that 80% of the American audience on Twitter is in Eastern and Central time zones; that’s just wild! It also stated that based on user patterns, the majority of people who are apt to read and retweet posts do it between noon and 6PM, but that 5PM is the best time of all.

Talk about something that freaked my mind out. I’ve never thought about posting in the afternoon as a strategy. My mind said that’s when people were looking to go home from work and thus would be otherwise engaged. But numbers don’t lie, do they?

What to do, what to do… Well, that’s the blessing of having multiple blogs, isn’t it? Since I have 4 blogs that are the most regular, I’m going to split the times up better so I can do my own testing. I’m not sure as I write this, which is about 2 weeks in advance, of which blogs will post when. I do know that this particular blog’s feed goes out around 7PM every time I write a post, so I’ll have to take that into consideration.

What do you think of some of these stats? And if you’re in other parts of the world, do you think they’ll hold true for you as well?
 

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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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Does Your Writing Touch People?

You know, last month I did a series of posts that began with the term “blogging tips”. The whole series was done with the intention of giving people some shorter pieces on blogging as opposed to some of my longer pieces on the subject. I’m not sure how much people liked them as opposed to my normal writing but I do know that traffic increased some, though I think it was for the post on Getty Images more than the blogging posts, as it seemed to have touched a nerve.


It may be polluted
but it’s my lake

I’ve always said that when you write a blog you should be aiming for one of three things: to educate, to entertain, or to inform. You can integrate them into each other if you wish, but you should at least achieve one of those three things with each post.

What I also hope to do with each post is touch someone in some fashion, most of the time in a positive way. If I can make a connection with someone that goes beyond “nice post” status, to the point where that person decides what I’ve given them is strong enough that they can use it in some fashion for their lives, then it’s all good.

I write a lot of motivational posts with that goal in mind, but there’s a post I wrote that was titled Know Your Audience Part II that touched a young man (okay, he’s 38, but that’s young to me) named Alan and encouraged him to write a post linking back to it because of some thoughts he’d been having at the time. The post he wrote was called Why Cicero’s 6 Mistakes Of Man Is All You Need. What’s funny about it is it’s the type of post that, had I read it first, it would have inspired me to write something.

I’m going to own up to something here. I’ve been in business 11 years, but the last 3 1/2 have been horrendous. I’m surviving by the skin of my teeth, which is never any fun. Frankly, there are times when I’m ready to chuck it all in and go jump in the lake; then I remember I can’t swim, I don’t want fish touching me, our lake is considered one of the most polluted in the world (yes, I said world) even though I like walking at it, I’m scared of dying, I know bugs would somehow be involved, my mother would blame herself for some reason, and my own mantra that states “Every day is another chance to start again.” I wouldn’t be true to my own mantra if I took myself out, would I?

And, of course, hearing about things like Alan being inspired by something I wrote, a guy I didn’t even know or know anything about until the middle of July, even though he wrote his post in January. And I realize that’s what it’s all about. It’s about having the opportunity to help change someone else’s life by being honest and forthright and calling out bad behavior when it’s exhibited and trying to teach and motivate and, well, sometimes just plain ol’ have fun.

I’m feeling pretty good as I write this; how many times do you get to feel this way when you write a blog post? Wouldn’t it be nice if you could feel it more often? I appreciate all of you; thanks for continuing to stop by and read what I have to say.
 

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Commenting On Similarly Themed And Niched Blogs

A recommendation I see all the time by people who proclaim to teach you how to increase traffic to your blog and to get juice for your blog is through commenting; that part is actually correct. The second half of that recommendation is to only comment on blogs that talk about the same thing your blog talks about, with the expectation that people will see that who are already interested in your topic and they’ll pop over.

That sounds great in theory but I’m here to tell you that it’s kind of a fallacy in more ways than one. Yes, I’ve done an experiment and I’m here to give you some shocking results. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a research project, but at least I got paid for this one.

Let me explain. I was paid by someone to go out and visit blogs in a certain niche and then write comments under his name. This is a client for whom I’ve done work for 3 years and he’s a good guy, and of course I got paid well for it. Y’all know I’m not one of those types that will only write one line either. Since I knew his topic really well I knew that I could write comments that made sense and were on point with the niche, which is real estate.

The experiment was to write 50 comments on real estate related blogs. I could deviate as long as the topic was real estate in some fashion, which included legal and finance blogs. It took me 3 days to get this done, mainly because many sites weren’t really blogs, and some blogs didn’t accept comments. Some were only highlights of property as well; nothing to say there. I used the “blog” search feature of Google to find these blogs.

What happened? Out of 50 comments, my comment showed up 29 times; that’s it. Out of those 21 times the comment didn’t show up, 16 times no comments showed up at all, which either means no one else commented or the writer didn’t approve anyone’s comments.

Out of the 29 times that the comment I left showed up, it got a response only twice; yup, that’s it. On only 4 blogs total was there use of CommentLuv. And on one of the blogs that my comment got a comment, the guy asked a question, which I responded to and that guy responded to that comment as well.

So, what do we assume? Are these people typical bloggers, in that they don’t know what some of us consider as the rules of blogging in responding to comments? Do these people only write and not really monitor the blogs, and thus never approve any of the comments? Do these people not want someone from the same industry in their space, taking away from what they’re trying to do? Are they, in essence, blog sculpting, or just making sure their advertising is the only one, blog or not?

In the past I’ve been the lone voice that’s said commenting only on blogs whose niche or topic is the same as yours doesn’t always work. I tried in the past commenting only on leadership blogs using my business blog link and found that many of those blogs never approved my comments either, and some didn’t approve any comments. Isn’t that a strange thing to discover when it’s a business blog, and you’d think that those people would have been taught that engagement is what they’re shooting for if their blog says it’s accepting comments, unlike what Seth Godin does, which is to not accept comments at all? At least when I comment on SEO blogs and use that business blog’s account those people always respond; that’s an industry that knows better, right?

Of course, me being me, I have a secondary reason for writing this particular post. I know there are a lot of people who monitor their comments for more than just content. There are some folks who delete links from sites whose niche doesn’t correspond with their own. They do that to stay in keeping with what they believe the search engines like and don’t like. I’m not sure how true all that is, and it’s hard to discount that as working or not.

I have to say that it’s rare for me to delete links from legitimate comments, though I have done it. If there’s a link going back to something I totally disagree with I will remove the link and the “love” if you will. But most of those links come from spammers and thus it’s an easy call; that’s why it’s rare that someone who really cares writes a comment and represents something that might be sleazy or salacious or something that just irks me to no end, like “payday loans”. I don’t care where you’re coming from otherwise; if you have something to share and it’s not stupid, use your link, get your love, and hopefully you’ll come back. Who knows, we might work together in some fashion one day; that would be nice as well.

If you’ve been waiting to comment only on specific types of blogs, stop. If you feel like commenting, whether it’s highly ranked or in your niche, do it. Reciprocity works in many different ways, and you never know when you’ll meet a friend.
 

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