Tag Archives: blogs

4 years and 2 months later… TheyWorkForYou plugin gets an update

Shocking it’s been so long really, but I’ve finally revived my TheyWorkForYou WordPress plugin.

When I first released it, all the plugin did was supply a TheyWorkForYou widget. Nothing’s changed! That’s for good reason though… At the time, the latest version of WordPress was 2.8.6 and we’re now on 3.8.1 so a lot has changed!

Crucially, the way plugin developers add widgets has changed so that needed to be updated.

Also of huge importance was that the original plugin hard-coded my own TheyWorkForYou API key and was a key reason why the plugin never made it to the WordPress.org plugin repository. There is now a simple settings page for you to enter your own API key, and the widget isn’t even available to you until you do that.

I have a bunch of other enhancements I want to add, all of which are listed on the GitHub issues page for the plugin. If there’s something you’d like to see in the plugin, please add it there too.

Given the amount of functions provided by the TheyWorkForYou API┬áthere are probably loads more things the plugin could do – please think of them and ask me to add them. Or, even better, fork and pull on GitHub and to add them yourself.

Finally, to use the plugin you can;

  1. Go to Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard, search for TheyWorkForYou and install
  2. Download from the WordPress.org plugin repository and install manually

One important note: if you are using the original plugin, you’ll need to remove that first.

Enjoy!

TheyWorkForYou.com WordPress plugin

As part of some work for Talk About Local I have just developed a WordPress plugin using the TheyWorkForYou.com API.

For this first version the plugin creates a single widget which shows the latest activity for your MP. I hope to add more in the future and if you have any suggestions, please add them to the comments below.

I made a demo video and wrote instructions on how to set the plugin up which have been posted over on the Talk About Local blog, as well as instructions on installing the plugin.

All that’s left to do now is download the plugin (ZIP).

ARGH! Where’s your RSS feed?!

Seriously, folks, if you’re going to have a blog you need to give me your RSS feed.

As I scan the net for news that interests me I get increasingly frustrated with the number of times I found myself looking around for the RSS feed.

A blog isn’t a blog without an RSS feed. That’s what makes blog different from just a news site or just someone’s page of ramblings.

An RSS feed (or Atom if you’re one of those people who likes to be different) is there so that interested folks like me can subscribe to your musings without having to remember to visit your site every day.

(I certainly need reminding. I have enough trouble remembering to have breakfast let alone read blogs.)

So why oh why oh why do so many blog owners make it so difficult?! Most of the time it’s a tiny “RSS” hyperlink somewhere down the side or even right at the bottom of the page. Occasionally, if I’m lucky there’ll be an equally tiny RSS icon next to the link.

Sometimes, I actually have to look at the source code of a blog to get the RSS feed. Ridiculous!

Blog owners – please can we all agree to put a nice big RSS icon in plain view at the top of every page, please? It’s really not that hard.

Look, I’ll even give you a link to an RSS icon available under the Creative Commons Attribution License. Or just search for your own on Flickr. Update: I found a site dedicated to providing RSS feed icons.

Go on, it’s for the good of humanity, if nothing else. I promise.

Disclaimer: I am aware that although I do have an RSS icon at the top of each page, it is only small. Rest assured, a new look is coming complete with frickin’ huge in-your-face RSS icon.

Brits Love Blogs

41% of the UK’s internet population have visited a blog, according to comScore.

The study shows that in August, 14.5 million people in the UK visited at least one blog, showing just how popular blogging is becoming.

It demonstrates just how important blogging is to the British internet user. And a reminder to businesses that to market their site effectively, they need to consider the blogosphere as part of their online marketing strategy.

For further on the subject you can view the comScore press release.

How Chris Brogan Got Me a Link Without Knowing It

Mark Cahill is someone I’ve always known of and respected, so I was delighted to find (albeit a bit late) that he’s mentioned (and linked to) me in one of his posts.

I wanted to share it with you because it goes to show just how much more valuable Social Media is than SEO.

In the comments, Ari Herzog (another person I have plenty of time for) says, “If Google died tomorrow, you and I would continue blogging as if nothing changed.” Ari says that we shouldn’t be thinking about Google, and I agree. I don’t even think anyone should be doing SEO any more (that’s another – very long – conversation, though)!

In the post, Mark acknowledges Ari’s and my view that we shouldn’t focus too much of our attention on search engines. In his comment back to Ari, Mark agrees but offers the view that Google knows which links are relevant. In a more e-commerce setting, search engines would also be much more important.

It’s a very worthwhile comment, we can’t just ignore search engines completely. I, for one, still look at my stats – my visitors, subscribers and in part, rankings – because that tells me whether what I am doing is working. What search engines should not be used as is a indicator of performance (or KPI).

If I show up in Google Blog Search for a topic I’ve blogged about, great! But that doesn’t mean I’m successful in my goals. That doesn’t necessarily mean that my work is having an impact.

Mark’s post has been the KPI in this case. The very fact that Mark has mentioned me and linked to me has shown that my methods are working. I’m aiming to become part of the community that I follow, listen to and respect, and Mark is part of that community.

That community also includes people like Chris Brogan and it’s Chris who’s inadvertently led to my mention on Mark’s blog. I had commented on Mark’s post about blog readership after Chris mentioned the post himself. Subsequently, Mark felt the need to mention my comments when talking about link relevance.

Purely by engaging with Mark and contributing to the relevant discussion, I have gained a very valuable mention and a great link. We’ve also got the beginnings of a dialogue. One that I expect will continue to blossom and benefit both of us, not just in terms of links but also with knowledge.

Sure I could go to an SEO or link builder and say “get me 100 links by this time next week” but I’d take this one link from Mr Cahill over that any day!

And that, ladies and germs is the power of social media (and Chris Brogan)!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Algo chasing and SEOs generalisation

One of the biggest things that annoys me about SEOs is how so many of them make generalisations. For example, a recent poll conducted by Search Roundtable asked SEOs and webmasters, “do you like blog links?” The poll was sparked off by suggestions by some SEOs that Google had started to de-value links from blogs.

My bug bear with this is that a link, whether from a blog or not, has value based on it’s relevance, not on whether the site it appears on is a blog. In fact, a link from a blog is more likely to be relevant because of the nature of blogging. You’re more likely to get a good quality, contextual link from a blog (or a social site) than a normal information or commercial site.

This is a typical example of how SEO can adversely affect your on line marketing. Those SEOs (not all SEOs!) who generalise like this are often chasing the algorithm all the time, making big changes and doing u-turns because of the latest ‘filter’ or penalty. The result is a compromise between quality and the pursuit of rankings (which may not prove fruitful).

The truth is, if you build a quality site in an ethical and common sense way you hardly even need to think about search engines. Your time will be focused almost entirely on achieving your business goals and meeting those all important targets.

Are All PR Professionals Scared of the Web?

For some reason I’m doing a good job of finding opinion pieces preaching to businesses about why they shouldn’t do SEO, PPC, social networking, blogging and so on. Obviously, being an internet consultant that could be bad for business but it’s getting my back up because I can see a common theme running through a lot of these – fear of change.

Fact: the internet is changing the way we all do business. Problem is, people don’t generally like change and this seems to be quite prevalent in traditional marketing circles, where a distinct lack of understanding of the differences in online marketing is manifesting itself into attacks on the worth of online tactics.

Case in point: This afternoon a client sent me a snippet from an innocently title article, Generating press coverage for your accountancy practice, by Tim Prizeman of PR advisors, Kelso Consulting.

Essentially he is suffering from a lack of understanding of the role of blogging in internet marketing. Corporate blogging is an essential part of online PR. In fact PR is a bit misleading in a B2B situation – it should be more like Industry Relations. Corporate blogging allows you not only to talk to your industry (like you do offline through press releases, interviews etc) but to actively participate in industry discussion with both journalists and industry peers (like you would do at an industry conference). It breaks down geographical barriers.

In part of his article, Tim says, “The next time a development arises that effects its readers (eg tax change, VAT tribunal, or you just generally think that people in that industry are missing a particular trick) immediately ring up the journalist and say something along the following lines: “Hello, I’m Mark Tomarket from accountants Tick & Bash. The change in yesterday’s Budget increasing employers’ national insurance could have a dramatic adverse effect on employment in this town because of the large number of retail and other labour intensive industries – is this a story you are interested in covering?”

The beauty of corporate blogging is that you become a semi-journalist. Instead of phoning a journalist you would simply write a brief blog post on your thoughts and because of the nature of blogging, that post would be immediately distributed around the web to all those people who are interested in that topic (ie, your industry peers). The benefit being that it gives your company credibility by showing that you are fully aware of your business environment and the forces affecting your market. That inspires confidence.

It doesn’t take a lot of time like Tim says, either. In ten minutes one can set up a blog, write a post and notify any clients and associates that may be interested creating an instant, targeted (if small) readership.

I’d like to know how Tim came to the conclusion that most have become moribund and why that makes all efforts at corporate blogging worthless. Tim himself admits that “a modest number of these have large and growing followings” which is surely a sign to us all that blogging can work.

I may be reading between the lines too much here but the tone of Tim’s article suggests that in order for a blog to be successful it must have “a large and growing following” but what about the thousands of blogs created by individuals to entertain their groups of friends, colleagues or community groups. Blogs that may only be updated once each month, if that, and only have a small following of twenty or less but are still much loved and cared for areas of the web.

Tim calculates that 179,900 unsuccessful blogs are created each day, adding to the already “71.75m existing little visited ones” again assuming that a less active blog is an unsuccessful blog. The phrase “it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality” comes to mind.

My immediate conclusion is that Tim is suffering from a lack of understanding. He’s never seen successful blogging and so he can’t comprehend it. In all likelihood he’s only ever seen blogging done badly and that’s all he has to go on. Funny enough, one of the most popular blogging efforts on the web today is that of Guardian Unlimited. The online arm of a publication Tim should be very familiar with. Guardian Unlimited in fact won awards for it’s web site and many people are now beginning to turn to media blogs instead of buying newspapers.

My second thought is that Tim is scared. He’s a traditional PR consultant and the internet is becoming more and more powerful. Businesses are switching more of their marketing budgets on line and away from offline marketing because they’re seeing such good returns in comparison. This is obviously affecting Tim’s business and he’s trying to circumvent.

My advice to Tim: Open your mind and realise that blogging is the most prolific form of online PR. Blogging is your cousin and you’d do well to get along or you may find yourself fighting a losing battle.

To the rest of you (accountancy practices included); keep an open mind and never dismiss an idea until you have all the facts. Always take advice about an industry from industry professionals and be mindful of ulterior motives.

If you’re thinking about blogging or internet marketing in general then philipjohn is always available to answer questions without any obligation. Call him on 0844 884 5419 and he’ll help in the best way he can.