Posts

Howard Schultz’ Conversation With America -An Update

Social Energizer’s blogging goal is to bring attention to trends and issues that matter to small and medium-sized business owners. Although our intent is to be non-political, matters of national interest affect small and medium-sized businesses far more often than we’d like. That is why last month, in The Coffee Party Anyone? Howard Schultz of Starbucks”, we covered the story of CEO Howard Schultz of Starbucks asking fellow business owners not to contribute to national political campaigns “until a ‘fair bi-partisan long-term fiscal plan’ is created and in place.”Congressional Funding Fall 2011

Guess what? Today, I’m happy to report, it seems to be working! Last night, CBS Anchor, Scott Pelley reported, “In the third quarter of 2007, congressional reelection campaigns took in $201 million in contributions. Our Washington bureau crunched the numbers for the third quarter of this year and it`s just $69 million.”

Their report did not link the possibility that perhaps, Mr. Schultz’ combined efforts with No Labels, a non-political reform-oriented organization, is indeed having an affect on national politics. To be fair, there is a lot of similar sentiment in America today, but I think these numbers clearly show that the efforts of Mr. Schultz and his movement have had a measureable impact.

As I write this article today though, I am concerned. There does not appear to be significant recent online postings or much news coverage since the ‘town hall’ meeting in mid-September that started a conversation on partisanship, the national debt and the economy. Please, as so often happens in America, we cannot stop our efforts until we have accomplished what we have set out to do. Undoubtedly, there are more businesses to align with, more events that can bring impactful awareness.

Yes, Mr. Schultz, I believe it is working! You have created a powerful movement and started to move the needle. But, the movement has not yet accomplished its goal. We almost have it, let’s keep it going. Now is the time to get out and beat the drum even more loudly.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Part Four – How do I know I’m not ‘spamming’? I’m just trying to promote my blog

Hopefully last week’s post didn’t make you stay awake at night wondering if you, too, were a spammer. When you leave comments on someone else’s blog how do you know it’s not spam? You can rest easy if you are leaving thoughtful comments on blogs that match or at least have something to do with your blog’s topic. In fact, commenting thoughtfully on someone else’s blog is a great way to get people to visit your own site and create backlinks. If you are cutting and pasting from one blog to another then you just may be.

White hat versus Black hat SEOwhite hat vs blck hat seo

In broad terms, SEO techniques are classified as white hat vs black hat. Just like in the Lone Ranger, if you want to be considered one of the ‘good guys or gals’ you want to be in the ‘white hat’ category. White hat SEO tends to look long-term and builds sites that are based on good design and interactivity. Black hat marketers use tactics that take whatever means to build rankings and often involve deception. One method uses hidden text where the text and background blend together. Another uses a practice called cloaking, which provides a different page response depending on if the page requested is by human or search engine. Search engines may remove black hats from their databases or reduce their online rankings.

And for God’s Sake, Don’t ‘Content Spam’ Either

Bloggers should also be cognitive of Content Spam. We all get ‘good’ at knowing what the search engines want and we want to make it easy for them to get it. If you do this job too well, you run the risk of being tagged a content spammer. Here some things to look out for:

Keyword spamming

This is using calculated placement of keywords within a page to raise the keyword count, variety and density of the page. This may include keywords that are directed more to the demographic, than what belong in the article. For example: a promoter wants to attract moms with children under 5. He or she places hidden text that may be similar to a popular women’s site hoping that the site will get picked up by search engines and will receive visits from these moms. In reality, the site might be for a matchmaking site or something similarly unrelated.

Meta-tag stuffing

This involves repeating keywords in the Meta tags and using keywords that are unrelated to the site’s content.

Hidden Text

The explanation was covered above in Black Hat SEO tactics.

Scraper Sites

Scraper sites use various programs to glean content that scores high in the search engine results pages. By taking a sampling of info from many sites, and recombining them new content is created. Some of these sites end up with higher rankings than the original writer of the information.

Article Spinning

Article spinning uses existing articles, usually taken from other sites, and rewrites the content. It is usually done by automated means or by hired writers.

Do not confuse article spinning with recycling your content. Using information from blogs you have already written and changing them up can be a good thing. It’s not what you do but how you do it. When using old content be sure to add some life and vitality to it. Can you pull out some questions for a poll? Can you do a video version? Doing things like that separates it from the dangers of article spinning.

Sometimes the lines are less than clear as to what the acceptable standards are. And when they are clear the lines themselves tend to keep changing. As with all things social media, use common sense, ask if you don’t know, and admit that you may be doing it all wrong.

Thank you for visiting my site and if you’ve read all four articles in our four-part series or if you’ve only read this one, I’d love to hear from you. Please don’t be afraid that because I watch closely for spam, I’ll think you are spamming me. Comments are what we bloggers live for! But maybe just add ‘not spam’ in your comment this time, then I’ll know for sure. I dare you.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Part Three – Sorting Out Spam Comments in your Blog

What a thrill it is to get people commenting on your blog. That’s how it works, right? People from all over the world will discover your writing talents, appreciate your knowledge on a certain subject and leave comments. That is what all of us engaging in the social media world have all been promised, right? Well, good comments will happen, but I hate to tell you that here, too, spammers are lurking in the background.

Usually these spammers are trying to get into your site by adding links where you may not even realize it. This is called link spam and they are doing this to give their websites higher rankings by adding lots of links. These link spammers use various methods, which include link-building software, link farms (aka mutual admiration societies), hidden links and spam blogs.

So how do you recognize valid comments from a spam comment?

Many times you can recognize link spam by the nonsensical, irrelevant text and by the large quantity of links that all point to a single site. Link spam causes various problems from wasting your time in reviewing them, to clogging search engines, and in scraping content from other’s sites making real new content difficult to locate.

Sometimes it’s not easy to distinguish between spam comments and valid ones. They try to convince you with their high praise that you are literally the ‘cat’s pajaams’ (I had one that said exactly that).

Here are five things to look for and ways to clean up your comment list quickly:

1- First, delete the obvious ones, like the ones shown below entirely. Don’t let them get any link juice from your site.

Obvious Spam

Obvious spam message in blog

2- Do you know the commenter or business name behind the comment?

3- Is there content that appears original? Meaning that it responds to information that you specifically provided in your post or addresses you by name.

4- Multiple comments sent from the same address or domain.

Repeat Spam

5- Reply to their comment with a thank you and a question. Do you get an answer? If not , it’s probably a spammer.

Adjust how your blog or website is set up

There are some simple things you can do to deter link spamming in the setup of your website like: adding validation software like CAPTCHA, making comment links “no follow”, not allowing multiple consecutive submissions, and blocking certain keywords (Levitra, etc).

Use an anit-spam software like Akismet or Discus. This software helps by showing multiple email addresses, allows you to track back to the IP address easily and allows you to tag comments for spam, and approve or disapprove comments. I also like it because I can reply to a commenter without using my email address and putting that at risk.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Part Two – Spam on Social Networks

Recently I got scam-spammed on Facebook by reposting an entry on Amy Winehouse’s death stating that it was getting more media attention than several soldiers who were killed in action. I should know better, right? Maybe you saw it, too? Oops. Sorry! How did I find out? Shortly after I posted, I received an email from a friend that said it was an inaccurate message. The exact same message had circulated about a year earlier using Lindsay Lohan’s name. That got me mad enough to write this blog. People need to know how insidious spam has become.
'Folding the flag.' photo (c) 2008, Sam Craig - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Chuck Anastasia has done a nice job researching and straightening out the facts. What I learned from this incident was that in the future before I repost anything, especially posts honoring our fallen soldiers, I will check them out first. The great disrespect these soldiers’ families have experienced and the great pain caused to them is horrible.

Increasingly, social networks are experiencing viral marketing tactics that use embedded links that cause great harm to ever larger groups of people. They lure people to click on these links in many deceptive ways, some will say a person is missing and to click on the missing persons flyer, some say your system has a worm virus called “insert name of horrible sounding virus here”, some use a celebrity breaking news item, some use the lure of checking out ‘who’s checked your profile on Facebook’, etc. Similar links can be embedded in quizzes, games and apps. After the individual clicks on one of these embedded links a variety of things can happen. Some will take control of your address book and send malicious messages to your friends and some will download viruses, spyware or Trojan horses right onto your computer.

Plus, there are other tricks that these spammers employ. If you are asked to “Sign Back into Facebook” beware! This is a sign that they are phishing for your password. Legitimate sites, using Facebook Connect, will open a new window with the URL starting with ‘facebook.com’. Do not type in your password using any other domain name. If you are asked to connect to an app and you are unsure of it, simply ‘deny it’ or ‘leave App’.

Where should you check first?

1- My first spam, scam, fraud and urban legend point-of-reference is Snopes.com. They have a treasure trove of information categorized on most everything. If the story is true, they say so. Although they didn’t have the Amy Winehouse on Facebook story yet, I still use them often.

2- I plan to continue checking Coolsparks, Chuck Anastasia’s blog. The comments from the Lindsay Lohan blog, posted over a year ago continue to come in.

3- About.com does a nice piece called Urban Legends.

Next week, for part three of this four-part series, I’ll talk about “Sorting Out Spam Comments in your Blog”. If you missed last week on recognizing spam, click here. Hope to see you then. Thank you for visiting.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Spam, Not The Ham. How Do You Recognize It?

Do you always know if and when you’re being spammed? Sometimes, it’s hard to tell. It has become so prevalent in our daily lives that I am writing a 4-part series, starting this week on spam, what it is, how do you recognize it and what are the best ways to manage it.

First, what exactly is spam?
'Spam' photo (c) 2008, Andy - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

We experience spam everyday, but what is it? According to Wikipedia, Spam is the use of any electronic messaging system that sends bulk messages indiscriminately. In 2011, the estimated figure for spam messages is around seven trillion. Fraud and lost productivity are the costs of this illegal activity and are largely borne by the public as a whole.

Although originally referred to as the sending of unwanted emails, the use of the term has now broadened to include other media like: instant messaging, forums, search engines, blogs, wikis, mobile phones, and social networking sites. Spam messaging ranges from openly blatant messages that ask you to send money to a foreign country for some reason or another, to phony ads for Viagra, to cunningly difficult to detect messages that contain embedded links.

Most of us are used to seeing spam emails and can easily recognize them because the people that sent them are either unknown to us or the messages sent are completely out of character for these people. As we enter the larger world of social networking, forums and blogging the people we interact with, by design, are not necessarily known to us. Spotting spammers is becoming more difficult. There is no ‘one size fits all’ for detecting spam.

In the next three weeks, I’ll break down how spam can change, depending on the venue, and what you can do about it. There is a lot to cover on this topic, and as things keep changing, it becomes more important everyday to keep up to date with what is going on in the world of spam.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

The Dark Side Of The Cloud

I am often asked what cloud computing is. Most people know the buzzwords: working in the cloud, move to the cloud, life in the cloud, etc. Technically speaking, Wikipedia says cloud-computing means using multiple server computers via a digital network, as though they were one computer. Cloud computing, like regular computing, can be broken up into three layers: infrastructure, platform and application. Each layer has it’s own issues in cloud computing. For the most part this blog discussion is about the application side of cloud computing –consumer and business applications, but the principles pertain to the other layers, too.Cloud application relationships

In plain terms, you can tell that you are dealing with cloud computing when you have access to applications and data from a network device (smartphones, iPods, laptops, etc.). Cloud computing differs from the classic client-server model by providing applications that are executed and managed via a web browser, without an installed software program required. Google docs and Facebook are examples of cloud apps that get used everyday worldwide without anyone giving it a second thought.

Still don’t get it? Here’s a great simple video explanation.

There is a Saleforce.com video that says their cloud computing solution does away with businesses needing to purchase and implement their own databases, office space, servers and business apps. They don’t have to hire the staff to support the infrastructure. They claim that businesses will experience lower costs, more scalability and offer better security. Indeed cloud computing is a great concept, similar in nature to the Internet itself, just more capitalized. It’s all about consumer power and the benefits of using shared resources and technology.

There is no doubt that cloud computing is the wave of the future. Stopping the growth of cloud computing would be like stopping Internet expansion. Cloud computing can provide some very solid benefits like: lower costs, increased reach, collaboration, easy and stable software updates, no capital expenses, and working remotely. But there is a dark lining to many cloud apps and I’ve found a few things people should be watching for when deciding which ones to choose. Here’s my list of things to consider.

1. Assess the software or service carefully and have ‘an exit plan’

I started a couple of years ago with a new free cloud-based service called iCyte. It’s a bookmarking site that allows you to annotate and organize your web searches. After about a year and a half into using this software, they started charging a monthly fee. I decided not to pay the fee, but found the best I could do to export my vast collection of data was to export it to a very messy .csv file (aka spreadsheet). Lesson learned. I don’t give up info, pictures, and/or even clicks until I find out if I can get that info OUT in a usable manner. Test it early.

2. Does it fit the scope of your business?

When I ‘tested’ Salesforce.com within a small business, I found that although it may have been a good solution for a medium-sized business that had database-knowledgeable staff ready to customize these apps, it was not as easy as they portrayed. Most small businesses would not have the know-how or man-hours needed to get Salesforce.com or many other cloud apps to work easily for them.

3. Sales guys never think about security

Although the sales guys may tell you that cloud computing is safer, the proof is in the news recently. From Citigroup to Sony, this article explains how, in fact, there is cause for great alarm and  describes the vulnerability of cloud computing.

4. How supporting is your support personnel?

Do they even have support personnel? Can you get a  REAL PERSON on the phone to help? One of the first things that I check before choosing a cloud computing vendor is who will be the support team and if it offers live support. Since I speak only American, then they need to, too. Simple as that. If they do not speak American English, as in the same syntax, slang, etc. then I know when I get frustrated with an issue that I will not be able to get my point across. I’ve tried and tried it and now it is simply –my choice.

5. Beware the ‘free trial’

After the ‘free trial’ is done, businesses that ‘tested it out’ find difficulty in recovering the info and getting it back in house. If it’s a one month or 3-month trial, BEWARE. The longer you use a trial, that you decide later is not worth it, the more time and data you have added to someone else’s software. I suggest, in the event of the trial not working out, that you first assess (see point #1) how you will export the info out of their site and back into your system OR run dual processes (work in both places) while you test their system.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their visibility online.

In addition to building dynamic and affordable websites, we integrate inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and utilize digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Give us a call today!

Dynamic Websites and What They Mean For Your Small Business

There are a lot of people out there suggesting that a small business owner can create their website overnight. And you can. But will it do what you want it to do?
A is for Accessphoto © 2007 Ben Zvan | more info (via: Wylio)

What exactly do you want it to do? Are you happy with a simple online brochure, one that can be visited by existing customers to find what you offer and where you are located? What do your customers expect?

Or do you want it to open doors? Maybe to attract new customers with a site that gets attention and keeps it? Get customers to visit it regularly? Should they understand your business, in part, because they have interacted with your website and have struck up a bond of familiarity? That is the difference between basic brochure websites and today’s dynamic websites. Dynamic websites can do a lot of the customer acquisition steps for you …and at about the same cost!

Dynamic Website Structure

A dynamic website requires an integrated strategy and platform. One which may include blogging, lead generation, SEO (search engine optimization), social media, web-blog-CMS integration, analytics, plus may add in some key traditional marketing techniques that can really optimize your reach. What’s behind the site is as important as what is seen by its viewers. When done well, this package helps drive customers to your business and allows you to successfully reach your goals. The first step is to create a dynamic website that supports and is integrated with some of the tactics listed above.  Does your site do this? Can it do this?

Have I scared you? That’s a lot to take in and it takes a different approach than was used to create websites of days gone by. Dynamic websites should be thought of more as a process (that you, the business owner, are a part of) than a project that you can check off your to do list. Today’s websites should be the center of your marketing activities and should support those activities. The benefit? Less guesswork, better measurement, better realization of where your marketing efforts and monies are going; all getting you to your goal faster.

Scalability to Fit Your Needs

Scalability is important to small business owners. A 3-5 page website is fine for some, where a 20 page website is needed for others. For some, blogging is the way to go, and for others maybe an online service that produces the same results is the answer. A dynamic website can offer many integrated features no matter the scale. Choice is the key. It can be scaled to fit the small business owners’ goals, and by implementing the right choices, also fit into their busy time schedules. Do you only have an hour a week to spend? There are many options to support the time crunch, which will also get you great results.

I can help you make the choices that make the most sense for you and your business. Call today for a free consultation. You really won’t know the possibilities until you check out your options, will you?

Free -and Legal- Images for Your Blog

Creative Commons Attribution Levels

from http://www.flickr.com/creativecommons/

For basic tips on using images online, please see our blog, Image Basics for Bloggers, from last week.

What is Creative Commons?

In the past, buying photography was expensive and complicated. Royalties needed to be paid and photos were limited to many restrictions on how they could be used. Then along came Creative Commons in 2001, and everything changed. This non-profit corporation started with a cooperative effort between MIT and Harvard Law professors (among others) who realized that the digital revolution altered many past concepts on copyright theory. The ability to work collaboratively, globally, decentralized and create derivative works and collections that were low to no cost were all issues that were eased with the creation of Creative Commons licensing. Click on the following link for more information on Creative Commons licensing.

How do I use a Creative Commons image?

Things are much easier today in the world of social media and inbound marketing. How do you know if it’s legal and IF you’re placing it correctly?

  • Be sure the image you choose and the way you are using it, applies under the Creative Commons license category shown to the right.
  • Credit the photographer (a.k.a. attribution)
    • If saving the photo, add the contributors’ name into the file name of the image (when downloading or taking a screen shot).  example: pen_ParkerDuofoldNib_JanosFeher_Flickr.jpg
    • If using a link, HTML or BBCode, review the code to be sure the contributor’s name is included.
  • Link back to them when you can.

How do I find Creative Commons images?

Google Creative Commons

From Google Image interface

What do you need to do to add photos into your blog or website with little to no cost, legally? Here are a few suggestions.

Google Images offers an “Advanced Image Search” (found just to the right of the standard Google Image search button) that allows you to use images “labeled for commercial use” only. Just click on the blue link and a window similar to this Google image  appears. In a search for ‘pens’ you enter the word in the top field and make sure the “labeled for commercial use” is chosen in the field second from the bottom. Membership is not required. Attribution is required.

Flickr image options

from Flickr

Flickr has a nice interface for Creative Commons. You choose the level that works for you depending on if you blog to earn money or just for fun. To use an image in Flickr, you click on the bar above the image, as shown in this Flickr image, and grab the Link or HTML/BBCode. The problem with this is that the image is not physically loaded into your site, it’s called ‘hot-linked’ and means it is ‘linked’ to your site through the Internet and does not sit on your directly-accessible servers. Test it to see if your page takes too long to load. Membership is required. Attribution is required.

New, Wylio.com for Creative Commons Images

With all that said, THIS ONE GETS MY VOTE… Wylio.com!

Wylio.com

Wylio.com search for pens

Wylio is a slick, new image search engine that only searches for images offered under the Creative Common’s license. Users can be sure that all images offered are free for use. It’s a simple 3-step process: Search for an image, Resize and Position, and Copy and Paste the Code. Bloggers can easily grab the code to place in their blog posts, or for the low cost of $2.99 per month they can buy the premium version of Wylio.com and download the files.

Here’s the best part. Wylio inserts the photographer’s attribution into the code for you, no asking for permission, no wondering if you’re ‘covered’. Grab it and you’re done! With that said, I am testing this ‘hot-linking method’ today for download speeds and performance. Let me know, in the comments section below, if the pen image gives you any trouble. It is a ‘live’ test from Wylio.com.

Join the conversation on Twitter. How do you use images? Have you worried about your images?
Ballpoint Pensphoto © 2009 Jana Lehmann | more info (via: Wylio)

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

Still need some help? Give us a call!


Top Five SXSW 2011 Videos

NASA at SXSWSXSW 2011 has wound down for this year, but they’ll be back next year and I plan to be there. SXSW has something for everyone, especially in social media or inbound marketing. So many of the heavy hitters are there that it makes ones head spin.

It has taken a bit of searching around, but I found several short videos that really share the SXSW experience. These are all worth watching –sometimes more than once. Let me know what you think. It’s almost like being there.

3, 2, 1, Twitter: The NASA Tweet up Shuttle Discovery Launch

Phylise Banner, from APUS, speaking on how people are using tweet-ups to gather for Shuttle Take-offs. Sounds like fun.

“Mario” – SXSW 2011 Film Bumper

This film bumper makes me feel like I can’t wait to see the movie, a grown-up tongue-in-cheek version of my favorite video game. Just a bit naughty.

Gary Vaynerchuck -Author, Wine Connoisseur, Explorer of all things Social Media

You can’t help but love Gary. Such passion! He epitomizes the energy born from social media. Three for the price of one here:

Keynote part1- http://bit.ly/i3lcej

Keynote part 2- http://bit.ly/fuGxSz

Keynote part3 – http://bit.ly/hOx9ac

More Gary Vaynerchuck –he was a busy boy

1-1 Interview part1- http://bit.ly/ffpS1K

1-1 Interview part 2- http://bit.ly/hlvWeg

Matt Mallenweg, WordPress/Automatic

Speaking on the growth of WordPress and next step P2. Matt says that, yes, WordPress has moved beyond a blog platform and is, in fact, a complete web platform. Yes, indeed.

Social Energizer’s purpose is to help companies develop lasting relationships with their customers and increase their conversion rates by adding proven online marketing techniques to their marketing mix.

We do this by integrating inbound marketing techniques into each business’ current marketing plan and by utilizing digital channels and strategies like Blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Search Engine Optimization, and Web-integrated Email Campaigns.

We invite you to comment and rate each blog, so we can ever improve our offerings to you.

Bluehost ad

Dispatches from Blogistan, A Book Review

Described in the subtitle as “a travel guide for the modern blogger,” Suzanne Stefanac’s book, Dispatches from Blogistan, is worth reading whether you are a blogger or not. This is not so much a how-to book as it is a why-to-blog book.

The first two chapters offer a new take on the history of communications. And the book really begins with the introduction of the internet as radicalizing the way communications occur. Instead of pushing messages (from advertising to propaganda), the shift is to pull the audience to the message. Instead of one-to-many or one-to-one channels of communication, the shift is toward many-to-many channels. The blogosphere is the heart of the many-to-many messages.

Stefanac provides a layout of the landscape in her explanation of the blogosphere. Even though the book was published in 2007(by New Riders in Berkeley) and some things have changed, her insights into the culture still ring true. Technorati is no longer the only major search engine for blogs, for example. Google, Yahoo, Bing and most others now include blogs in their search engine results. Such changes confirm how spot-on Stefanac is about the democratization of media.

With a common sensical approach she addresses issues of trust, privacy, security, and legal safeguards. Yet its reading about the power of collaborative discourse — many-to-many conversations — that gets to the heart of blogging.

There are so many basics to blogging covered in this book I can highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand this new social media phenomena. People all over the world upload more than a million new blog posts every day. Every day.

News blogs are written by citizen journalists and professional reporters. Food blogs by farmers, grocery stores, chefs, home cooks, foodies, gardeners, and upscale food magazines, food manufacturers, product advertisers, etc.

Blogs as diaries. Blogs as clubhouses. Blogs as news feeds.  Blogs as soapboxes.

Stefanac takes the blogger on a road tour. She gives the reader driving instructions but most importantly takes them under the hood of the car to explain how the search engines work. And how to check our own fluids, tire pressure and lights. It’s a handy desk reference for a seasoned blogger and a wonderful place to start for someone who is new to blogging.

Blogging has never been easier. WordPress makes it the easiest.