Twitter Chat, 24/9/2014 – Bloggers and Blog Advertising: Issues and Solutions

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Update: We corrected a few typos, missing links and incomplete phrases that escaped our proofreading phase. Let us know if there’s anything else we missed. Thanks!

On September 24, 2014, I held a Twitter chat for #sponsoredcircle at 9:00 AM EST.

The topic at hand was “Bloggers and their thoughts on blog advertising“.

My special guests for the chat were Ann Smarty, founder and CEO of MyBlogU and MyBlogGuest, and Phil Turner of EntrepreneurDifference.com.

Online Advertising

Blog advertising has been around since 2006 and it it was… well, kind of spammy at first.

It was a quick way for bloggers to make some money, because Google updated the PageRank toolbar often and the green was kind of high for everybody on the Web, so advertisers looked for PageRank.

Only for PageRank.

But things are different now— people want quality content even in ads. Hit and miss links, spun content and nonsensical anchors no longer work.

Unfortunately, many advertisers and brands still look for PageRank, missing other more important quality factors in a blog:

We asked Ann and Phil about their thoughts on blog advertising as it used to be and as it can be now:

“I used to make decent income with Adsense”, says Phil Turner, “not any more – I have to ask is it worth sending a visitor away for 5c.”

From the reports we have read, AdSense has become a dangerous tool to earn money. Like with Negative SEO, AdSense can penalize YOU for getting sabotaged.

“I think blog advertising should embrace new metrics to prevent pseudo-blogs to be created for monetization purposes”, adds Ann Smarty.

And I agree with Ann.

Because that’s important. An advertiser should be able to tell a genuine blog from one built purely to earn.

“But we know advertisers only like numbers”, says Ann, ” so what to do?”

Show Advertisers Your REAL Traffic Numbers!

Like Ann and Phil, we at Sponsored Circle are strongly against the faking of traffic numbers and we have added it as a rule in our Community Guidelines.

However, we understand that bloggers have to find a way to make their stats public.

Which stats, though? And how?

Many paid bloggers try to boost their DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority), because advertisers consider them as fair enough indicators of a site’s health, but we have a word of caution against these metrics– they should be used sparingly, or we’ll end up with a new PageRank that will make both bloggers and advertisers blind of a blog’s real value.

Also, we don’t encourage Alexa ranks as a metric, because it’s not only unreliable (it’s based on Alexa toolbar usage), but like Google, it’s also subjective: it depends on the vendor’s quality standards, so it’s not universally recognizable as objective.

What are the helpful numbers you should show advertisers, then?

Comments and social media shares are generally displayed natively, so they are there, for everybody’s eyes to see.

You can display your number of subscribers with the tools provided by your subscriber software’s vendor. For example, Feedburner and MailChimp have their own native widgets for count display.

Statistics are another matter, but unlike what many think, you don’t have to rely on screenshots to show advertisers you current traffic. If you use Google Analytics, you can make your analytics stats public with SeeTheStats.com. If you use Piwik, you can displat dynamic stat images on your blog via the Piwik API.

Here is a link to Sponsored Circle’s SeeTheStats traffic page: http://www.seethestats.com/site/sponsoredcircle.com/STSP4VWlXjE

Free tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and MonitorBacklinks provide backlink counters that you can display on your blog.

Here is an example for a blog I own: http://checker.monitorbacklinks.com/seo-tools/free-backlink-checker/eileenson.org

The “Google numbers” matter is a tough nut to crack because for many advertisers only a high Google placement is indicator of success.

But it’s NOT.

A blog may have high (manipulated?) PageRank and show on first page in SERPs, yet still mean nothing to users.

No users, no conversions. Right?

Look at sponsored ads in search results: they’ve got the highest place in SERPs, but they might not get clicks or conversions.

And like Ann Smarty suggests, if an active community is not a decisive factor to assess the value of a blog, what else can be?

Also, bloggers have used tracking links since early 2000 to count visits– the technology is easy to implement and there are measures you can install so it makes it harder to cheat.

The Problem With Blog Advertising Networks

Another problem for honest bloggers is blog advertising networks that act like middlemen and can be partial because advertisers pay them commissions, while bloggers do not.

Also coming from a direct experience with an advertiser that bullied me (Luana) into posting more spam and the network suspended me. Far from being a pleasant experience, I promise.

Exact match anchors are a huge problem, even when you forget Google. They make posts impossible to read, and if your visitor can’t read your post, what you wrote is useless.

As for anchor texts, one way for the advertiser to do it right is to let the blogger write and then choose a phrase to link, so by all means insist that your advertiser allows you to link naturally within the text.

Disclosures, Disclosures

Disclosures are yet another issue in the blog advertising world.

FTC (and common sense) require them, but many advertisers ignore them intentionally.

“You mean like “DON’T mention it’s sponsored!””, adds Ann Smarty. Spot on.

Nofollow links are a Google-thing, so it should be up to the advertiser and the blogger to decide whether to use them, but while disclosing for search engines is debatable, disclosing for human beings is a must— omit disclosures, and you’re lying.

Until 2009, I didn’t use disclosures. I was tempted to do it, but it wasn’t a common practice yet, and advertisers frowned upon it. I was actually glad when FTC enforced the rule to protect consumers from deceptive online reviews, because it gave advertisers a push that I, as a young blogger, could not.

In Sponsored Circle, We All Work Together

In Sponsored Circle, bloggers and advertisers will be encouraged to act like collaborators, so there’s no forcing on one or another.

I think it’s worth repeating that the success of an advertiser’s campaign depends largely on how useful their ads are to the blogger’s readers– irrelevant ads not only get no clicks, but they stay invisible to the reader’s eye, used to so much noise online and on TV that it goes selective almost automatically.

Like Phil says, the trick is “about personalising ads for each blog”.

As a blogger, make sure to remind your advertiser about the relevancy of their ads, and work together to craft an advertisement that readers will enjoy reading or looking at.

And take action.

A Word About Native Advertising

Native advertising applies well to blogs just as it does to magazines. All it takes is the right type of disclosure and a note telling the reader why the blogger chose to work with this advertiser.

The question is: “Where’s the value for my readers?”

In a recent comment to Julie Joyce’s post at Search Engine Watch, I wrote:

(…) I like to offer two types of disclosures: the first is the ordinary “This post was sponsored by ABC. All opinion is 100% mine” at the bottom of the post; the second goes at the top of the post and works like this:

“Dear readers, today’s post was sponsored by ABC, a company that I found interesting for reason 1 and 2. In this post, I will discuss this and that, something ABC can help you with more than I can do. Hope you enjoy this collaborative post ABC and I wrote! Let me know if you have feedback for them, too. I’ll be happy to pass word. :)”

This is also the kind of approach I’m going to encourage in my upcoming forum-based advertising community. Advertising is a type of human relationship and I think many people (who hate it) miss this aspect.

Here at Sponsored Circle, you will see more of that in the upcoming weeks. My volunteers and I are working hard to help you and your advertisers develop great relationships. :) Leave your questions and feedback in the comments below!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We will hold another Twitter chat on October 10, 2014, at 2:00 PM EST (8:00 PM GMT+2)!

Topic: “Bloggers: How to find sponsors/advertisers

You may or may not know, but there’s a current challenge between Sponsored Circle and Matt Cutts. So unless you don’t care about Google’s ranks, use nofollows to link to Sponsored Circle ;) At the current rate they penalize link networks, it takes really nothing. Oh, it’s going to be a fun challenge here!

Originally posted on: Written on October 2, 2014, Thursday

Luana Spinetti freelances as a writer, an artist and a designer/coder for WP and HTML5 themes. She loves Web Marketing for the creativity outcomes it produces and its power to bring people together. Contact Luana on Diaspora or via email here at n0t SEO.

One response to “Twitter Chat, 24/9/2014 – Bloggers and Blog Advertising: Issues and Solutions”

  1. Technic (1 comments) says:

    Thanks For This Informative Post. :)

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