Facebook to Launch Open Graph Actions

Earlier this year, Facebook announced the Open Graph protocol that enables developers to integrate pages into a social graph, allowing users to connect to brands, pages, and friends through social actions. Instead of merely “liking” a page or product, now additional verbs can be found filling the new feeds of Facebook users.

Those connected to Spotify, for instance, will publish stories displaying what they “listen” to through the online radio application, while avid news junkies can share all the articles they’ve “read” on a site. When Facebook launches Open Graph Actions, users will be able to interact with applications, products, and brands in even broader ways.

Facebook users are all too familiar with frequent changes to the popular social platform, but that doesn’t mean they’re immediately accepting of such updates. This is especially true when privacy issues arise, which is the case with the auto-publishing features that Open Graph applications enable.

While users do have the ability to remove any stories published to their Timeline, certain applications (such as Spotify) require Facebook users to grant access for auto-publishing. This is problematic for users who are not constantly monitoring their Timelines and do not want to share all, if any, actions.

On the other hand, however, Open Graph applications and the launch of Actions in particular will have positive implications for brands. Unlike brand pages, users do not have to “like” an application in order to use it or to enable auto-publishing. As a result, brands that are frequently interacted with can easily gain exposure through the new social actions.

Additionally, the Open Graph applications feature related friend activity prior to content, encouraging the sharing and discussion of mutually interesting brands and products. Paired with the action-based mini-news feed visible on the home page (implemented when Timeline was still in Beta) that tracks friend activity, brands have many more opportunities to attract new users through Actions.

Use BOTW to Avoid Spam in SEO Practices

As technology expands exponentially, so does the girth of the Internet, and with that arises the need for organization and curators. Search engines serve this purpose, prominently placing what are considered the most reliable and user-friendly sites at the top of public search results.

So what determines the websites that grace the front lines at the end of a user’s search and, if a website is buried in the back pages of search results, how can it prove its worth and break through the clutter? For many webmasters, the answer is search engine optimization (SEO); however, this is a trigger-term for some who have long been forewarned that SEO is a vessel for spam and is viewed unfavorably by major search engines.

Earlier this week, Matt Cutts, a member of Google’s Search Quality team, refuted this claim. In fact, he praised white-hat SEO efforts, stating that they are an effective way of ensuring that webpages are well represented in search engines. Cutts said these favorable SEO methods include: creating accessible and crawlable pages; using accurate keywords in place of industry jargon; improved speed and usability; and web design focused on ROI.

Cutts said that, when following these good business practices, SEO is incredibly helpful; however, he warned that it can also be abused. The reason SEO companies have gotten such a negative reputation among webmasters is that some tend to blur the lines between marketing and spam. The methods employed by these abusers include: hacks, redirects, overusing keywords, or including irrelevant keywords.

Never fear, webmasters: If you’re interested in applying SEO tactics to your Internet marketing strategy, you are not left to your own devices to seed the good from the bad among the many companies that offer these services. There are currently hundreds of SEO companies listed in the BOTW Directory, all of which are guaranteed to be spam-free.

As a reliable resource that has been part of the Internet community since 1994, Best of the Web ensures that every listed website has the features that search engines want their topmost results to possess. That includes a user-friendly design, functionality across multiple browsers, no empty pages or inaccessible links, unique content, and no signs of spam. Therefore users can find trusted businesses listed in the BOTW Directory while Internet marketers can earn their clients’ high-quality sites the BOTW seal of approval, which can lead to greater visibility in search engines.

The Reseller Video Contest

Best of the Web owes much of its success to affiliates, each of whom plays a part in reinforcing the BOTW brand across the web, particularly within the Internet marketing community. As a result, every so often we like to express our appreciation to those savvy BOTW Resellers by giving them the opportunity to showcase their competitive marketing skills for the chance to win big prizes. In the past, winners of BOTW Reseller Contests have been the recipients of HDTVs and iPads with all the latest features.

The Program
For those few BOTW fans out there who are unfamiliar with the Reseller Program, it provides webmasters and marketers alike with a way to earn money through referrals to the Web Directory while promoting their own websites. You can join the reseller ranks for free, either by upgrading an existing BOTW account or creating one, and immediately start earning 25% commission on all sales.

The Contest
We’re now holding a Reseller Contest that requires that competitive edge and creativity that we know all of our affiliates possess, but can be won without maxing out on referred customers. Here’s how:

Create a video of yourself recommending Best of the Web to potential customers and, once finished, email it with the subject “Reseller Video Contest” to contest@bestoftheweb.com. All affiliates who submit a recommendation video before July 31 will automatically receive a $25 Amazon gift card. The overall winner* will be awarded a $500 American Express gift card.

The winning video will then be displayed on prominent pages of the BOTW Directory**, and therefore all submissions should have a focused message while being both creative and authentic. Video submissions will be accepted throughout July, and the grand prize winner will be announced at the beginning of August, so don’t delay – start creating today!

The Details
Video submissions should be roughly 60 seconds long, and must be submitted by July 31 to be eligible for the prize. If you’re having trouble finding a focus for your recommendation (because with 60 seconds of camera time, you’ll need to choose a talking point) – here are a few suggestions:

  • Consider the benefits of having a listing in the Web Directory or Local Directory.
  • Explain why you submit to Best of the Web for your business or for clients.
  • Talk about your experiences with Best of the Web.

If you’re still struggling for ideas, find your inspiration by taking a look around the BOTW Directory. While you’re there, read over our Reseller Terms of Service, as they were recently updated.

*The winning video will be selected solely at the discretion of Best of the Web. All decisions are final.

**We reserve the right to use, edit, and display any parts of, or whole video submissions in any ways and for all chosen purposes deemed appropriate by and relating to Best of the Web.

Blog Commenting: Do’s and Don’ts

Blog commenting is a typical part of link building campaigns intended to raise the visibility of a site, but of course as with anything that helps, there are guys that over-do it to the extreme. When that happens, the big SEs make adjustments that decrease the effectiveness in a way that affects more than just the bozos that employ it wrong. Such is life.

You can go to any webmaster forum and find someone willing to take a small fee for a link building campaign, and in most cases they’ll describe it as “manual link building” and assure you they’ll be adding “quality” comments. Then they’ll quote you a fee of $50 to comment on a billion or so blogs.

I have to believe somebody is paying for their services, if only based on the amount of spam comments I see summarily canned by Askimet and similar spam guardians on blogs I work. I also have to believe that given women are just as involved on the web as men these days… roughly half of the people employing such services are female.

Here’s my question:

Where the heck were all these gullible girls when I was single?

Anyone that pays someone to spam the heck out of blogs is just dreaming. Sure, there are blogs that are unattended or built solely for the purpose of accepting such nonsense comments, but generic machine driven comments on any blog worth a backlink will be deleted manually if not tossed automatically. The few places they stick will be populated with a hundred similar comments… all guaranteed to fool people that’ve been on the net less than 5 minutes only.

Thank you for this marvelous post dear! I was searching for this most worthy information. Please post more about this topic. I have bookmarked this site and will come back often!

Yeah… obviously the work of someone that felt a burning need to commend the writer. For the record, its always a treat to hear from you, mister QualityTransmissionsRepairandHairSalon.co.whatever. Please stop in again (you dork).

I don’t think blog commenting is a waste. Anyone that actually takes the time to write a blog instead of relying on similarly worthless “auto-blog” software is always thrilled when somebody takes the time to read their work and make a comment that shows a sentient being engaged their brain and posted a reply.

Of course I figure when I finish this one… if nobody replies I can assuage my loneliness by going to the spam filter to see the comments no other human will ever see. No doubt I’ll have at least one that says…

“Thanks for your share!!! I am adding your RSS feed!!!”

~ QualityTransmissionsRepairandHairSalon.co.whatever

Argh. Lord, please take me now. ~ Rob :)

PS: If you’re looking for blogs on the topic of your choice that are NOT auto-written… see the BOTW Blog Directory.

Directories: The Mark Twain Syndrome

Rumors of My Death…
Mark Twain once ran into a situation that paralleled an experience of his fictitious Tom Sawyer character… ie – he was reported as dead,  and was in the unique position of being alive to hear it. His response was to send a note, something along the lines of  “Rumors of my death have been greatly exagerrated”.

Strangely it happened again, when a ship on which he was traveling experienced a delay and there was speculation that he’d been lost at sea. Hearing the tale after he reached port, he penned a news article announcing a personal investigation into the matter…

“You can assure my Virginia friends that I will make an exhaustive investigation of this report that I have been lost at sea. If there is any foundation for the report, I will at once apprise the anxious public.

I sincerely hope that there is no foundation for the report, and I also hope that judgment will be suspended until I ascertain the true state of affairs.”

On a Related Note… I hear “Directories are Dead”
That one gets repeated occasionally in webmaster forums. Funny thing is if you pay attention it’s almost always stated as grave fact by somebody that just happens to want to sell his own personal site promotion program… *guaranteed* to make your website run faster, jump higher, and attract supermodels.

[Be the first on your block to buy, kids, supply is limited!!!]

In one recent case it was stated as fact by a guy that was touting massive numbers of forum sigs as the new road to marketing a website. My thought there is that I DO notice forum sigs, and agree 100% having a site in the sig of your personal ID is ONE excellent marketing tool, *provided* it is… (A) the real thing and (B) your posts are frequent and knowledgeable, and (C) in the right forums. Nothing wrong with that. I personally generate direct traffic to sigs I think look interesting.

BUT Spam is still, as always… edible
All the above considered, the guys selling the idea of creating thousands of fake profiles (especially by bot) are ignoring the fact that any forum worth reading will regularly delete those as spam. Just as Askimet and other plugins of that genre are rapidly reducing comment spam in blogs, improved moderation software (and moderators familiar with the tactic) are rapidly making spam profiles a waste of time.

Even if such links remain after the ban, there’s the dubious honor having your site promoted by a character that has “BANNED” beside his name. Doesn’t do wonders for reputation or credibility.

Spam and The Law of Unintended Consequences
As an added bonus, in forums I’ve moderated, once a site has been promoted by spammy methods, the mere mention of that URL tends to raise a red flag about any member that later mentions it as a valuable resource… a direct result of the previous spam attempt.

Somehow I’m thinking that *can’t* have been the intended outcome when somebody paid a guy to promote the site in forums, but that’s the reality of letting your site be associated with spamtastic promo methods.

Consider the Source (and observe poultry product safety)
Basically the “directory is dead” stuff is often tossed out by guys that wish it were so in order to get folks to put their eggs in a different basket. By a no doubt fortunate coincidence, the guys saying so are almost always in the business of selling such baskets, and will gladly provide you alternative basketry as soon as your credit card clears.

When it comes to getting a website in front of people, I don’t think ANY one basket is a safe place for those future hatchlings. If somebody says their special method is a great replacement for all others, just put your hand on your wallet and back away.

Meanwhile over at a different analogy…
Even directory submissions, though a valuable tool for getting a website in front of folks, should be just ONE of many clubs in your bag. Face it, no professional (or even a talented amateur) goes golfing carrying just “their golf club”. There’s a reason.

Oh well, returning to the original theme…
If you hear reports of my own death, please tell my wife to quit fantasizing. :)

Y’all have a great day. ~ Rob

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