Comment Terrorism – How to be a Good Blog Citizen

Anyone who runs a blog and modifies the comments which come through to you on a regular basis knows that sometimes, people behave badly online. Unfortunately, the lack of censorship online and the safety of having a screen between you and the world can sometimes lead to rash statements, comments made in poor taste or simply the joy of finding a platform where people can behave badly under the safe guise of anonymity.

Couple the ease with which people can make unpleasant comments with the huge prevalence of spam on our blogs, and it can make it difficult to wade through the feedback which you get on your site to find the truly relevant information. Sometimes as bloggers we need to take some time to look through our spam folders and unearth anything of value, as occasionally great remarks will be relegated to the trash pile unfairly.

As inhabitants of the blogosphere, we also have an obligation to know how and when to post up comments appropriately. Sometimes, the lure of comment terrorism can seem irresistible. Imagine if you have a client who has let you down financially, through, for example, not paying a bill.

The evil side of you understands that as a blogger with a strong following, you have the ideal platform for a naming and shaming exercise which could bring your assailant to their knees with a few choice posts. Add in the power of Twitter and Facebook for reinforcing your campaign, and you suddenly feel a rush of power, knowing that you control your site and all which goes on it, and have the capacity to damage someone’s reputation for good.

A nice feeling? Well, yes. Constructive? Not really! Campaigns like this may be a great way of highlighting the wrongdoings of others, but rarely bring much customer satisfaction when your readers get bombarded with off-target and venomous posts. Apart from looking unprofessional, it makes us seem like people who are not ethical or great to do business with, and a personal rant on the soapbox platform of your blog rarely yields positive results. The most likely scenario is that the subject of your comment terrorism gets off unscathed, while you end up looking like a small-minded bigot.

With all this in mind, here are some tips for playing nicely in the playground of blog commenting and tweets…

Keep it relevant

Never visit someone’s site to post comments which are not related to the post topic. This is the realm of spammers and psychos, and is best left to them as the experts. People aren’t interested in hearing about a great new software download site when they go online to look for tips on dog grooming. Stay on topic, and you’ll gain followers. Deviate, and you run the risk of being added to the trash along with the Viagra adverts.

Keep other people relevant, too!

Support readers on your blog to offer the same courtesy – when people go off-topic, bring them back through a few choice nudges in the right direction. This supports your blog to stay focused even when things have the potential to get heated.

Keep it polite

Don’t ever, ever bring personal or subjective views on to comment boards. The blogosphere is by and large a polite place, and an overly personal rant or attack on another person simply undermines your credibility. Would you want to buy services from someone who can’t rein in their opinions? No? Neither do your customers.

Keep it professional and product or service-related

If you have an issue to deal with professionally, take it off line rather than succumbing to the temptation to air your views through your blog. Your daily ups and downs are fascinating and engrossing for you, but don’t really hit the mark when your customers are deciding whether or not to make a positive purchasing decision.

Blogging To Increase Your Search Engine Ranking

Understanding and factoring in Search Engine Optimization when you’re posting articles can be a bit daunting. However, there are organizations out there that provide data to help which can help your search engine ranking. Every two years, SEOmoz survey 100 of the industry’s top SEO minds.

In 2009, 72 SEOs participated in the data gathering process, answering survey questions that consumed hours of time. The resulting document was a useful aggregation of data about how search engines rank documents.

This data is useful when we are trying to work out how to optimize our sites to improve our search engine ranking. It looks at the factors used in search ranking by major search engines, and outlines what works, and what doesn’t, when it comes to Search Engine Optimization.

It’s worth looking at the data to apply it to your own blog, bearing SEO in mind when you post:

Factors that support good search engine rankings:

1. Anchor Text with Keyword from External Links
2. External Link Popularity (Quantity & Quality of External Link)
3. Diversity of Linking Domains
4. Keyword in Title Tag
5. Trustworthiness of the Domain Based on Link Distance from Trusted Domains.

Once you understand the principles behind these positive factors, it’s easy enough to bear them in mind for search engine ranking when you post articles. Search engines respond well to well-chosen keywords, quality links to good sites, and a wide variety of diverse links.

Negative factors which lower your ranking:

1. Cloak with Malicious/Manipulative Intent
2. Link from link brokers/seller
3. Link from spam website
4. Cloaking by User Agent
5. Frequent Server Downtime & Site Inaccessibility.

These are pretty easy to understand – if you are using your site to spam, cloak malicious software or be badly behaved in any way, you’ll lose your credibility. Similarly, badly-built sites with broken links are going to be low-ranking.

Top 5 most contentious factors that put people off:

1. Cloaking by Cookie Detection
2. Cloaking by JavaScript/Rich Media Support Detection
3. Hiding Text with same/similar colored text/background
4. Cloaking by IP Address 15.3% moderate contention
5. Cloaking by User Agent 15.2% moderate contention.

If you don’t know what these are, then great! This report shows that there was very little change from the 2007 search ranking factors. The primary factors in SEO have not changed very much according to SEOmoz, despite the fact that search engines improve their features and technologies continuously.

Hopefully these search ranking factors will help search engine optimizers who are serious about managing positive changes in their sites. By sticking to the rules of good posting, using keywords and links effectively, and steering clear of spam or scams, you will be able to gradually climb up the ladder of the search engine page ranks and get to the top!

A high search engine ranking helps to bring your business to the attention of the people that matter – your existing and potential customers, and service users. SEO data provides us with the information we need to understand how search engine page rankings work, and what we need to do to enhance our own.
(source for data: www.seomoz.org)

WordPress Through the Eyes of Google

Apparently WordPress automatically takes care of ~90% of the mechanics of SEO. The video below, from San Francisco WordCamp ’09, is pretty long (46 minutes) but more interesting than an episode of CSI. Recommended viewing if you care about SEO on WordPress, fantastic stuff.

“Matt Cutts from the Web Spam team at Google showcases the good and the bad of WordPress as seen through the eyes of Google, including basics on how Google search works and how you can boost your blog’s results in Google searches” (via wordpress.tv).