FTC Guidelines and Bloggers

If you talk to bloggers, particularly bloggers who work with brands, concerns about meeting FTC guidelines are bound to enter the conversation.  While the FTC Endorsement Guidelines document may seem overwhelming, essentially what the guidelines are asking of bloggers and brands is really quite simple.  It’s about disclosure, about letting readers know of relationships that exist between the two parties.

Here are two quick videos of Mary Engle, Associate Director for the Bureau of Consumer Protection addressing the guidelines and what they mean.

1) What do the Endorsement Guides mean for bloggers?

2) How do bloggers follow the Endorsement Guides?

~ Shannan


Ten Great Plugins for WordPress

One of the questions I often get from bloggers new to using WordPress is, “What plugins should I use?” Because it’s such a popular blog platform I thought I would share some of my favorites here on Cincinnati Women Bloggers.  Here are 10 great plugins for getting started with WordPress.

1)      Comment Luv ~ When readers leave a comment, a link to their most recent blog post is also displayed.  This is a great way for you to see what they’re talking about on their blog.

2)      Yet Another Related Posts ~ Displays a list of related blog posts at the end of each post.  A great way to expose readers to additional content on the same topic.

3)      Link Within ~ Similar to “Yet Another Related Posts” but more visual. The Link Within plugin displays related content along with images at the bottom of posts.

4)      All in one SEO pack ~ Easy to use plugin that allows you to optimize your blog posts.

5)      Google (XML) Sitemaps Generator for WordPress ~ Generate a special XML sitemap which helps search engines index your blog.

6)      Print Friendly ~ When installed, this plugin enables readers to print a “printer friendly” version of your blog post. Great plugin for those of you who share recipes, write “how to” posts, etc.

7)      Subscribe Remind ~ Adds a subtle reminder to readers to subscribe to your RSS feed at the end of blog posts.

8)      TweetMeme ~ Adds an icon to your blog posts that allows readers to Tweet it to their Twitter followers.

9)      Twitter for WordPress ~ Simple plugin for displaying your recent Tweets in your sidebar.

10)  Sociable ~ Allows you to add links to various social booking marking sites after blog posts. Having these at the end of your post increase the chances that someone might ‘Stumble’ or ‘digg’ your post.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg as far as great plugins that are out there.  What plugins are you using? Any you’d recommend? Any you think people should avoid?

~~ Shannan

PS. I would also recommend using the Akismet plugin for dealing with spam.  It does a great job and filtering out comments from bots.

Wisdom Takeaways from Blissdom 2010: Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Following is a guest post by blogger (and friend of CWB!) Jeanne Bernish.

I have to admit that when I decided to attend Blissdom 2010 I had pretty high expectations for a content rich share-fest common to Cincinnati Social Media meet-ups.   Blissdom 2010 was good – very good – and I did learn a great deal in the three days of jam-packed Conference offerings – new motivation to “Bring Fun and Passion” back into my work courtesy of the Opening Keynote by Kevin Carroll (@kckatalyst) and some really great tips and tools from the Wisdom Workshops which preceded the conference itself.

“SEO and Counting What Counts,” a dynamic 2 hour workshop presented by  Kelby Carr (@typeAmom) and Angela England (@AngEngland) was a fast-paced, information packed session which, for me at least, made the entire conference worthwhile.

Articles about how to blog abound – but a workshop centered on SEO is more about how to do it more visibly.  If you are trying to monetize your blog or raise the profile of the subject you are blogging about, what good is great content if no one is seeing it?

Once you have captured your tone and topic and are on your way to attracting and keeping the eyes of interested readers, how do you appeal to those elusive automated ones – the Search Engines?

The number one thing to focus on for good SEO are your Keywords.

A great way to sum up your headline?  When your partner or friend asks “what is your post about?” – the headline should closely reflect that answer.  Your headline may be cute and clever, but if it doesn’t carry essential keywords within it, you are missing a critical component of SEO.  TIP:  do a Google keyword search (https://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal) on your post topic before you write it – then use those keywords in your post title.  Or not.  Seriously, if you are writing a post on education you should know that the global monthly search volume for “education” is 45,500,000:  for “online high schools” it’s 5,400 – which one do you think you’d have a better chance vaulting near the top in?  So keyword searches can help you refine your topic and identify those keywords you will want to include in your post title.  And as for the titles – long ones are fine.  Google accommodates plurals and other word forms so go ahead and use them if they make sense – but try to keep the main phrase in the first part of the title (because really long titles do get cut off at some point).

Most of the tips revolve around Keyword Density:

Squeeze keywords into every square pixel you can find:

Photos should be renamed and are another great way to hide keywords.  Google image search drives a lot of traffic so if you are leaving “DSG_000123.jpg” as your photo name you are missing an opportunity to max out on SEO.

Permalinks (or “low hanging fruit”):  A Permalink is a URL automatically generated by your blogging platform (in this case, WordPress) to allow for a permanent archival “address” (it means “permanent link”).  In WordPress, Permalink options can be found under “Settings.”  The Default setting is the short form and looks like this:  http://racetothemiddle.com/?p=123 Do not use this form.  Instead, select “Date and Name” or “Month and Name”  so the URL looks more like this:  http://racetothemiddle.com/2010/02/flyover-journalism/ Permalinks are another place to maximize your keywords and if you use the short form (?p=123) the keywords are lost. If you have followed the earlier guidelines of using your Keywords in your title then *well how about that?!* there they are again in the Permalink!   Sweet!

Use the “Header” format in your posts rather than regular bolding.  Search engines treat subheads differently than they do text or bolded text.

Use Tags when you need to supplement a smaller title – but don’t bother with them if the title supplement isn’t searchable.

Use the descriptive keywords to hang the link on:  e.g. “Here are the basics of SEO” is the link.  Do NOT write “The basics of SEO are here

Once You’ve Nailed the Keywords:

Nobody searches “uncategorized” – so just go ahead and delete it from your Categories list.

Spend a day playing with Google Analytics.  There’s stuff there I didn’t know existed.  Google Analytics gives you an eye for what is working and if you are below 50% on Google traffic as a source, that is an indication that something may be wrong.

Lastly,  connect with other women bloggers!  Guest post or comment on another Cincinnati Women Bloggers Blog.  Add each other to Blog Rolls.  The gold in SEO is in people linking to you!

Jeanne Bernish (@JeanneBernish) is a communications specialist and writer who moved to Cincinnati in 1989 to open a newswire bureau and never left.  Currently the web and social media manager for a local non-profit, she Manages The World of Learning blog at http://www.knowledgeworks.org/worldoflearning/ and Tweets as @WorldofLearning for KnowledgeWorks.  Her personal blog is called Race To The Middle.

Twitter Updates TOS

twitter-birdIf you are on Twitter you may have recieved an email recently from Biz Stone with information on Twitter’s revised Terms of Service (TOS). In a nut shell the revisions include (From the Twitter Blog):

Advertising—In the Terms, we leave the door open for advertising. We’d like to keep our options open as we’ve said before.

Ownership—Twitter is allowed to “use, copy, reproduce, process, adapt, modify, publish, transmit, display and distribute” your tweets because that’s what we do. However, they are your tweets and they belong to you.

APIs—The apps that have grown around the Twitter platform are flourishing and adding value to the ecosystem. You authorize us to make content available via our APIs. We’re also working onguidelines for use of the API.

SPAM—Abusive behavior and spam is also outlined in these terms according to the rules we’ve been operating under for some time.

For a more detailed look at the changes, check out Twitter’s complete TOS, which includes information on Privacy, Copyright, User Rights, Liability and more.

PS. Twitter also just added several more background options for those of you who like to customized your Twitter.com page.

Tutorial: Creating Your Own Blog Button w/ Code Box

Please note this post has been moved to my personal blog, Mommy Bits.