Implementing Google Authorship: The Sales Funnel on Steroids

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If you are a content provider that receives a byline on your work, your common sense should tell you to make the most of that opportunity. A byline is what all writers shoot for. It is a business maker, giving you an instant portfolio and street cred. And in the world of Internet content, it is also great marketing.

Meet Google Authorship, the sales funnel on steroids. Think of it as a cross-referencing service. When users execute a keyword search, Authorship displays an active link byline in the search results with the article title. The active byline works in two ways:

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Case Study: How 5 Simple Tools Revolutionized Ebyline’s New Website Design

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Smart companies never settle. They are constantly searching for ways to improve their service, provide their users with additional value, and grow intelligently along with their audience. This sometimes necessitates making changes to many highly visible parts of their business, whether it be swapping out old language for new, making functional changes to the core business, or altering their visual aesthetic to better communicate their brand or simplify the use of their website.

As you may have noticed, Ebyline.com recently underwent a bit of an aesthetic makeover. As with anything that affects our users, changes were made based on carefully accumulated information and a deep belief that they’ll improve the overall quality of our service

Through this process we used a number of simple tools to get the information we needed to make intelligent, functional changes to the site that will ultimately make Ebyline as easy to use as possible. When leveraged properly, these five tools can dramatically increase the knowledge you have at your disposal, and help optimize your website’s user experience!

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5 Crucial Performance Indicators To Measure Your Content Marketing Efforts

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It’s a pretty well-established fact that if you invest in marketing efforts, general public awareness of your brand or business will increase. While this fact holds true for content marking efforts, there’s a lot more to it than just a pay-and-be-paid structure. Without knowing your KPIs, key performance indicators, you’re shooting in the dark. What is a KPI? It’s a set of vital metrics used to measure the performance of an individual, an ad campaign, a company or in this case, your content marketing strategy. There are KPIs for every industry. Not only is it important to establish KPIs, but it’s just as important to use the right ones. Let’s look at a set of KPIs crucial to measuring your content marketing efforts through the following scenario.

If you’re just starting out, here are some tips for your content writers.

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What Does the Ryan Holiday Media Prank Teach Us?

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Ryan Holiday, the 25-year-old author of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator, lied to multiple journalists in order to prove that he could influence the media. In response, the Society of Professional Journalists tweeted:

Journalists: 1) Crowdsourcing is fine. 2) Fact checking is still a thing. 3) Heard of Google?

Several of the outlets involved in the Ryan Holiday case have rigorous fact-checking standards, which speaks to the quality of the outlets represented. It also speaks to the quality of the editors that represent those outlets. Not long after news broke, Dave Thier reported that all of the outlets involved in the Ryan Holiday case offered an editor’s note or removed Holiday’s quotes altogether.

Ebyline asked the New York Times if the paper has created a more vigorous fact-checking process in response to the incident. In an email statement, Eileen M. Murphy, vice president of corporate communications for the New York Times, responded:

Our fact checking process is already quite vigorous.  While we have no written guideline that would say specifically to verify a source like these online “experts,” it is one of those givens that fall under the broad guidelines of the 1999 Newsroom Integrity Statement and the ethics handbook.  The freelancer who made this error has been reminded of these policies.

So, is there a way for journalists to avoid being hoodwinked by sources?

Mary Ellen Lowney, Chair of the Communications Department at American International College, says that relying on web-based sources raises the level of risk when a reporter quotes someone in an article. “You believe what they put on the Internet is right,” said Lowney.

“Be more thorough, one on a web-based source, or two, you don’t know well,” said Lowney.

Lowney added that the risk of being deceived remains, but it happens to almost all journalists.

With more news outlets turning to same day deadlines, and editors requiring multiple articles at once, journalists should consider themselves the first layer of fact-checking for an article. Going back to the basics of fact-checking that most reporters learned in J-school could help avoid these issues in the future.

“Check and double check; that’s the time to fact-check,” said Lowney. If you come across a questionable item, Lowney suggests calling another source to verify it and checking public records if you don’t have a reliable source available.

According to Alec MacGillis at The New Republic in “The Hard Truth About Fact-Checking”

Every reporter still working at the smaller papers should be, at bottom, a fact-checker.

Can a Souped-Up Google Doc Make You a Better Blogger?

Content Strategy Generator Tool

Last week, when a colleague sent me a link to Problogger’s guest post about a must-have blog post topic generation tool, my reaction was a combination of curiosity and skepticism. In the blogger and publisher’s constant quest for fresher, stickier, and more click-worthy content, would the Content Strategy Generator Tool (or CSGT) prove useful? I tested out CSGT, which is essentially a Google spreadsheet with lots of bells and whistles. (Full disclosure: as blog editor, I use a simpler Google Doc to keep track of published topics and keep my colleagues in the loop on upcoming posts, which works well for us.) Enter a keyword phrase and the CSGT spits out top headlines and tweets relating to your topic. As you can see in the screenshot below, there’s a bit of repetition, which I suppose reinforces the popularity of those topics. Content Strategy Generator Tool Using the keywords “digital+journalism,” I uncovered a link to ONA’s MJ Bear Fellowship for young digital journalists. That seemed relevant to  journalists who follow @Ebyline so I tweeted the link last week and got several retweets. The rest of the the headlines, especially the links to content on Fark.com and Helium, didn’t net much useful information, so I skipped over those. Not much in the way of strategy, is it? Then I created additional spreadsheets to track the keywords “saving+money” and “personal+finance” for another freelance client. Again, lots of silly linkbait and headlines that over-promise, but the exercise prompted me to check Amazon.com for new personal finance titles, which sparked ideas for two new articles I’m now tackling. Content Strategy Generator Tool Bottom line? Technology has its limits. Sure, the CSGT might be useful to see what topics are trending online, but it takes a thinking, breathing journalist or content writer to make the mental leap from “here’s what all these other websites are writing about” and “here’s my perspective on it.” That leap makes the difference between content aggregation or mere linkbait and content that’s truly thoughtful and valuable.

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