Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Adding the Yahoo! Buzz Widget to Any Blog

The Yahoo! Buzz, social networking/bookmarking/content sharing website that launched approximately a week ago has slowly made its way into many blogs, both small and popular, as a "competitor" to Digg - buttons are now commonplace among Digg and StumbleUpon's "submit" links.
Yahoo! Buzz Widgets

Since its official launch, the service has proven that it is able to drive pretty decent amounts of traffic to sites, as long as their content is interesting and relevant, much like Digg (except without as much discrimination against content that shouldn't make it to the front page).  There have been some recognized negative aspects of the service, as I found when I tried integrating the service on different blogging platforms.

Yahoo! Buzz does something that no other service can - place a link to your article (possibly redirecting to the Buzz page before your site) on the Yahoo! home page, within the four plus featured articles.  In addition, it will appear on the Buzz homepage, starred, and in the content/image slider at the top of the page.

As an example of the traffic you can receive, Read Write Web received more than 45,000 page views within a three and a half hour period (not when most people were online, too), plus that post received more than 160 comments, versus the twenty-two the site saw on the post where they exposed the traffic figures.  Some particular ranking services (comScore, for example), have found, at least in May, that the Buzz service grew to a larger size than Digg.

In addition, if people select the widget and place it on their website with the category that your blog is in, and you happen to be featured, the post will potentially be exposed to even more visitors.

In this post, I don't want to necessarily provide information on how to integrate the submit buttons onto your website, but resources that will help you do so.

The "general" buttons that are found on the Yahoo! Buzz website were created for adding to individual pages or posts - adding a great deal of time to your already busy posting schedule!  Plus, not all links that bloggers wanted to feature on their blog were included in the set available.  The steps may appear complicated to people who have not edited their code but want a particular style of image/link on their website.

Listed below are several different versions for integrating the widget into your blog.

First, you can use the Add to Any widget (plugin and embedable) for WordPress, Widgetbox, FeedFlare, Joomla, Blogger (advanced and basic/widget versions), TypePad (advanced and basic/widget versions), Tumblr, Drupal, and other basic websites.  This may be the best option, as it is one of the first and only "add to any social networking service plugins" that allows you to integrate the Yahoo! Buzz link without editing the code.  In addition, this service allows you to add additional services right from the editing panel should you need to add another service.

Add to Any

The ShareThis, AddThis, iBegin Share, and others do not include the Yahoo! Buzz widget by default.

An additional alternative for WordPress users is the Sociable Plugin, which adds buttons (links) to the bottom of each post. It does require editing and adding an image to the Yahoo! Buzz page, but is easier than other plugins that do not have the plugin already added.

A plugin, WPBuzz, created by Travis Johnson, allows you to automatically add a special button (similar to the Digg version) into each post.  It requires less than five steps to use the plugin (download, extract, upload, activate, then set the settings).

WordPress users can (manually) add the widget, by using the tag on this page (in the comments) instead of ARTICLEURL, provided their instructions:

Important! You must replace the word ARTICLEURL in the code with the URL of the page you want to submit to Yahoo! Buzz.

For Blogger/BlogSpot users, follow the following tips/resources to add the link to your site.

ThemeLib has created a tutorial to add the button to your website.  It involves editing the HTML/layout of your blog, but is fairly simple if you know how to do this.  Visitors will then be able to vote up each of your posts.

For any of the blogging services, you can use the buttons that Yahoo has provided, but you'll need to input the URL of each post into the script and in each post.  Placing the code in the sidebar will place a link to add your entire site (the main URL) to the service.

If you have any other suggestions as to adding the code to your website for proper usage, place leave the recommendation in the comments.

Your Advertisement Design Says a Lot About Your Blog

As with the whole premise of the Entrecard credit/advertising network, it is important to remember that your "125x125 pixel ad" does more than simply promote your blog.  Similar to traditional advertising, you must appeal to both your visitors, other bloggers on the network you are hoping to advertise to, as well as visitors to other bloggers (who may or may not be members of the Entrecard network).

The main ideal to remember is that your advertisement should make a bold statement about your business, website, or blog (your preference as to what you want to call it).

When designing your ad, think about the whole purpose of your site, and include some element of this on your advertisement.  For example, if you focus on your personal life, a caricature, personal photo, or other representation of yourself should ideally be placed on your advertisement.

Secondly, other members may prefer to see some type of words on the advertisement, at least until you have branded your site/advertisement to the point that anyone can recognize the image that is displayed (perhaps corresponding to the color scheme/layout/image a part of your website template).  These should include your main site title, a phrase or tagline about your site, or your name, again if you are blogging on a  personal domain using your name.

While you can always stick with the default advertisement (using a text/image combination) provided by Entrecard (as I have done), it is always better to produce your own variant of an advertisement.  If you do decide to use the default Entrecard ad/widget, make sure that your tagline and title combination are catchy, and not a run-of-the-mill title and uncreative slogan.

Another final point to remember is the fact that you are trying to get the most from this advertisement, whether you advertise your "card" on other blogs, simply use it to gain credits and/or traffic by dropping, or through other promotion methods through the system.  It must be unique, creative, and eye-catching, or you won't be able to leverage the amount of traffic that you had intended on.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Startup Experiment Using the Entrecard Network

The founder of Entrecard is putting his system to work, by launching a new blog and solely depending on the Entrecard blog network to promote and grow the site.
Entrecard Experiment

Tutorials, stats, and tips will be placed on the Entrecard Blog to help other members who may be using the system for a similar purpose (growing their blog).

He started with several requisites - starting with something he felt passionately about, is an increasing trend, affecting a lot of people, and something that will have a positive contribution to society.

Every three to four days, there will be an update on the optimization techniques that took place. Starting with the WordPress blog publishing platform, several common plugins, FeedBurner, a clean theme, and relevant sidebar links, he will drop 100 cards on blogs in that particular niche, and see what happens.

First Impression: I feel that he should have waited about a month before announcing that he owned the site, as the cost of the ad already skyrocketed to 4,096 credits, putting it as one of the most expensive blogs, indicative of an established, popular, or high daily dropper.  Instead, the experiment should have taken place after the one month period was over, then continue to see the results thereafter.

Yahoo! Buzz Announcement

Yahoo! Buzz is a new service from the world's most visited and used search engine (second, depending on the particular service measuring visitors), that may potentially help bloggers achieve new traffic levels through the use of the widget that you can place on your site.
Yahoo! Buzz

The founder of Entrecard is hoping that the Digg-like service will help fellow bloggers, as their content can be published and ranked on the site by people who visit your blog and those that visit the Yahoo! Buzz page.

Steps to install the widget are provided on the announcement post, for both Blogger and WordPress users.

I feel that this may be a good opportunity for the Entrecard blog community to gain some traffic, although the service may be restrictive, much like Digg, of allowing smaller bloggers of reaching the front page.  However, if people join together to promote each others' content, it will surely benefit all the people that integrate the widget on their blog.

Graham states that "this is the single largest opportunity to come along since Entrecard launched eight months ago."

In other news, Entrecard has broken the 17,000 active bloggers mark, with traffic in July breaking the one million unique visitor and 2.57 million page view mark for the first time, an 8% increase month over month in visitors.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

How to Increase the Cost of Your Ad

One of the biggest goals that most people using Entrecard have is increasing the cost of their advertisement.  When their advertisement cost is high, along with the popularity rating, that their site receives traffic and is an authority in their niche.  It also allows the blog in mention to have more advertising power on other blogs, as they receive 25% of the total cost of the ad (2048 credits/day equates to 512 credits earned/day).

While there are no truly "free" ways to increase the cost of your ad, as all take time and devotion to raise it, there are some quick and easy methods to increase it, gradually over time.
  1. Drop Regularly - When you drop your card on other bloggers, it indicates that you like their blog, and they may return the favor, dropping on you or deciding to advertise on your blog.  I have tried this method, regularly dropping the maximum amount of credits on other blogs and was able to get to the first page (advertisement and popularity-wise) of my category.  This is probably the most time consuming method.
  2. Substitute Traditional Advertising for Entrecard - Entrecard has proven that you are able to exchange credits for cash at a similar rate to advertising on a blog, so you would be able to remove all your traditional 125x125 advertising and instead ask people to join Entrecard to advertise on your blog.  This method may not be the most beneficial for your advertisers (1 day vs. 1 month+ advertising).
  3. Form a Community - A large part of Entrecard is built around the premise that everyone is in a community, able to help each other out.  If you are able to get together with a few other bloggers, possibly dropping and advertising on each other everyday, the cost of your advertisement will likely increase.  For example, if someone advertises on your blog, return the favor on their blog.
  4. Create New Content - One of the biggest things that other bloggers and I look for when advertising is new content being produced on an everyday/regular basis.  This is a huge indication as to whether the blog receives a decent amount of traffic, as RSS/feed readers will likely visit the blog when new content has been produced.  A big problem that the previous "quick drop" pages had was that the traffic was limited to only that of the Entrecard community vs. a typical blog with content on it.
  5. Gradually Increase the Cost of Your Ad (naturally) - As your blog grows and becomes recognized, the cost of advertising on your blog will, in theory, also increase.  As Entrecard typically features the most expensive blogs first, your blog will become a bigger target for advertisers, appearing on the fist page vs. the 87th page.  Keeping the cost of your advertisement high will also result in more blogs advertising on your site.
Finally, remember that you aren't supposed to do anything against the terms of Entrecard to increase the cost of your advertisement.  These were just a few basic tips to help you increase the cost of your ad using proven, natural, and somewhat time consuming methods.  There are dozens of other methods, but these are some of the main ones that people are using to increase the cost of their advertisement space.  
If you have any thoughts on this or would like to leave a response as to how you have increased the cost of your ad, feel free to leave a comment below.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Entrecard Toolbar Now Available

The big announcement that was posted on the Entrecard site over the past couple days turned out to be a toolbar, which allows you to quickly navigate through not only blog categories, drop cards using the tools integrated into the browser, but access your account and purchase credits.
Entrecard Toolbar

Enterecard Toolbar (EntreBar)
Click image for larger image.

You must be using Firefox 3 in order to use the EntreBar.

Other features of the browser bar include:

  • Quick Account Switching - Quickly switch between accounts, even if you don't have them connected on the site.
  • Entrecard Menu - Displays a report of how many credits are in your account, how many you've dropped for the current day, and other quick links to your dashboard, message box, ad calendar, statistics, linked blogs page, and the buy Entrecards page.
  • Favorites Menu - You can choose which category you'd like to browse, or add your daily drops to the Favorites menu using the button to the right of the "open ten sites" button.
  • Browsing Options - Within the bar, you can also choose whether to browse most popular, newest, cheapest, most expensive, most advertised, or random.
  • Jump Buttons - These buttons allow you to open either one or ten sites, depending on the site categories you've previously selected in the "how to browse" and "what to browse" menus.
  • One-click Favorites - These buttons allow you to automatically, with one click choose sites that are your "favorite," for easier dropping via the EntreBar.
  • One-Button Advertising - Off to the right, there is a button for advertising on the site that is currently open, and it also displays the number of credits it costs to advertise on the particular site.
  • Interaction Menu - The final menu in this area is the interaction menu, which allows you to go to the site's Entrecard profile, send message, write recommendation, tip site, or report site.
  • Entrecard Menu - (right-hand side of bar) This menu allows you to login or out, go to the Entrecard Blog, the community forum, support forum, the bugs forum, and the help section.

I really like the idea of the Entrecard Toolbar, as it makes dropping cards easier than having to go to the site each time and browsing the sites using the Campaign area.  For the most part, the feedback has been positive, with more than 135 comments, and the only drawback that I can see is the fact that it is only on one browser, and there isn't total control over the experience of browsing blogs (changing the number of tabs that open at once, etc.).

I believe that with further releases and other updates to the site, the bar will become an even more valuable part of the whole blogging and community experience that has been building with Entrecard.

You can download the EntreBar through the link in the release post or download Firefox 3 (if you haven't upgraded or made the switch yet).

Saturday, August 2, 2008

August 3rd Entrecard Links

While there weren't many updates this week directly related to Entrecard, there will likely be more with the next week, as a "big" announcement will be posted tomorrow (August 3rd), which will likely benefit bloggers - in the form of either profit or traffic/comments.

Graham also mentioned how it is important to have a set of quality advertisers on your blog [post].  As a result of the need to help fellow bloggers promote their blogs, he has decided to slash the price of monthly advertising on the blog to $50 (previously $150) for the month of August [post].

In some musings on the Entrecard credit economy, one of the admins noted some future plans on the direction of the site and the credit system, which is worth reading [forum post]:

The first is luxury goods. We're trying to come up with things that will be worth paying a pile of credits for, to try and get those big credit lots moving without basically being binned at ebay.
The second is general credit sinks. We want to give people more variety in their spending options, because it's clear that not everyone really wants to advertise - one of the more interesting discoveries is that if the price of advertising goes up, the total spend does not increase, despite the fact that there are credits to spare in "savings". These credits are essentially dead for advertising purposes - the holders are not willing to spend them on ads - so we'd like to find ways of shaking them lose in a valuable fashion.
The last is that we are in the early stages of considering removing the "magic" from the economy entirely. At the moment, each day X new credits are generated by dropping, and Y credits are removed via the tax system. When they're removed they're destroyed, we don't store them up or anything.