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Tracking Content with Google Alerts

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google-alerts-logoIf you blog long enough, it is inevitable that your content is going to be copied and shared around the Internet, some of it to your benefit, some of it not.

But regardless about how you feel about how others use your content, it is important to track it and follow it the best that you can. Even if you have no plans on stopping any potential infringements, finding out where your content is appearing and what is being used can give you an idea of how your content is received, what is attracting the most attention and what topics you may want to focus on moving forward.

However one of the most common forms of copying comes from the RSS feed. Whether it is syndication through a service such as BlogBurst or unwanted copying from a spam blog, most blogs have their RSS republished on the Web at some point.

It can be difficult to search for content in your RSS feed as it changes constantly and many of the sites that might take your content, namely spam blogs, are likely to appear and disappear in the search engines regularly.

However, there is a very simple and powerful way to track your RSS-based content as it is copied around the Web, enabling to either study its use or, if appropriate, take action to stop it. Even better, all that’s required is a simple plugin for WordPress and a free tool from Google called Google Alerts.

Setting Up a Digital Fingerprint

A digital fingerprint is a string of characters that is unique to you and your blog. If you enter it into Google, no results should appear, typically such fingerprints are gibberish, a mix of letters and numbers and relatively random. An example would be:

mbr450pol23

Note: Do not use the fingerprint above as Google will eventually pick up this post and any copies of it that exist, hampering its usefulness.

Once you have selected such a fingerprint, you next need to insert it into your RSS feed in a way that causes it to appear at the footer (or in the header) of every entry. If you are skillful with WordPress, you can attempt to edit the RSS file directly, or you can use MaxPower’s Digitial Fingerprint Plugin or the Feed Footer Plugin from Joost De Valk.

Both of these plugins are compatible with FeedBurner.

After you’ve added the fingerprint, as well as any other attribution you wish to provide yourself with the Feed Footer Plugin, it should start appearing automatically on every post that you make, but only within the RSS feed.

Once you have confirmed that this is working, it’s time to set up Google Alerts.

Setting Up Google Alerts

google-alerts-boxGoogle Alerts is a free service provided by Google that sends search results directly to your email box or feed reader. With Google Alerts, you set up an alert for a keyword or phrase you wish to follow, in this case your fingerprint, and then are sent a message every time that term appears on the Web.

Many people use Google Alerts to track keywords related to their business, their name, corporate identity or anything else that they might want to be notified of when a page using the phrase is spidered by Google.

In this case, you’re going to use Google Alerts to email you when new instances of your digital fingerprint appear on the Web. To do so, take the following steps.

  1. In the box entitled “Search Term” type or paste in your digital fingerprint, it should not require quotes.
  2. Leave the “Type” dropdown to comprehensive as we want results from as many sources as possible.
  3. Select a “How Often” parameter that fits your needs. Most select once per day but others prefer weekly. “As It Happens” risks inundating you if there are a lot of matches.
  4. Use the “Deliver To” box to either type in your email address (if you are logged into Google it may be already selected) or you can choose the “feed” option, which allows you to subscribe to the results in RSS.

Once you’ve done that, your alert will be created and you can log in later to edit or delete it. If you chose to receive alerts via email, you should start seeing them shortly, unless your site is new and the content is not being scraped. Likewise, if you chose the feed option, alerts should start showing up in your feed reader as soon as the first results are located.

The End Result

If everything went according to plan, you should receive near-instant notifications in your email or RSS reader about when your digital fingerprint, and most likely your articles, appear on other sites. This gives you the freedom to monitor their use and, if needed, take action to stop any abuse.

How you use this tool is up to you, but the knowledge it provides can be invaluable for any number of reasons.

Considering that it is easy to set up and free to use, there is almost no reason not to take advantage of it.

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What Is the Incredibly Easiest Way to Drive Blog Traffic?

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Drive traffic to other blogs.

Give what you want.

Help people get what they want and people help you get what you want.

I have found this to be the easiest way to drive traffic to my blog because friends I made through cross-promotion promote me around the clock, 24-7, 365. Easy peasy.

I checked my Twitter a few moments ago. During the past 3 hours I noticed 11 mentions, engagements and retweets collectively. 3 hours, 11 engagements, more blog traffic.

I drive a heavy amount of traffic to my blog by driving a heavy amount of traffic to fellow bloggers who drive a heavy amount of traffic to Blogging From Paradise every day, all day long.

The more you give, the more you get.

The hardest way to drive blog traffic is to try to do it solo. Imagine publishing one post and hitting social share buttons. Even if I do a fine job writing the post, gaining traction solo is tough because successful bloggers know: 1000 is better than 1. 1000 blogging buddies promoting you 24-7, 365 beats you promoting yourself or you trying to write and publish 5 to 10 or more posts daily.

I used to publish 60 posts daily between 2 blogs. Short videos and short posts created the bulk of the content. I had a difficult time succeeding because you can only do so much solo. I published 60 posts in a cyber cave. Nobody listened to me because I did not listen to anybody. But making friends by driving traffic to other blogs made blogging easier and easier for me.

My blogging buddies – who appreciate me promoting them – freely:

  • link to me on their blogs
  • retweet my posts
  • share my posts on Facebook
  • share my posts on LinkedIn
  • send my blog posts to their email list

That my friends is a lot of traffic flowing to my blog easily, freely and exponentially.

Every time a blogging buddy promotes you to their tribe you gain exposure to one more large, targeted audience. Imagine when you gain exposure in front of 10, 50, 100 and 1,000 or more audiences daily? This is serious traffic! Plus it is easy traffic because your prime duties of reading posts and tapping social share buttons, or, linking to fellow bloggers on your blog, are quite easy.

How to Drive Traffic to other Blogs

I spent a fair chunk of today driving traffic to other blogs.

I promoted some of my blog posts linking to my blogging buddies. I also retweeted and Facebook shared posts from other bloggers.

Each share lays the foundation for new blogging friendships and fortifies old blogging friendships. Every time I promote Donna Merrill or Alonzo Pichardo, we bond more deeply. Easy way to keep friendships strong and to grow your blog traffic exponentially.

You Will Run out of Time Solo But You Never Run out of Friends

Eventually, I ran out of time each day trying to do it all by myself. No human is super human. No human can be in a billion places at once, by their own steam.

But you never run out of friends if you are generous. During a reasonable lifetime, no blogger will befriend all 7 billion humans. You will however keep meeting friends every day if you drive traffic to other blogs every day.

As more folks befriend you, more folks promote you. What an easy way to increase traffic to your blog. Your ever expanding friend network does much of the legwork for you and also drives traffic to your blog:

  • when you sleep
  • when you travel
  • when you spend time offline with family and friends

Sounds sweet, right?

Give freely.

Drive traffic to your blog easily.

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What Are 2 Powerful Qualities of Top Bloggers?

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John Chow and Bigfoot.

No correlation exists save this post. Although John is super tall. I met him in person during Affiliate Summit East.

Both JC and Bigfoot taught me 2 incredibly powerful qualities of top bloggers.

John taught me how to think abundantly.

Bigfoot taught me to be open-minded and to think for myself.

Think Abundantly

A while back I recall reading a post on John’s blog.

He explained how being an Amazon Associate creates a steady passive income stream.

For an example, he showed how linking to a product your audience finds useful – in the proper context – leads to blogging profits. At the time, I admired his strategy but could not get why you’d link to an affiliate product for a measly $2 commission. But of course, John thinks like, feels like and is a multi millionaire so he thinks of acquiring increasing wealth versus thinking of how little he makes on certain commissions.

$2 adds to the John Chow millions. Plus, even if JC began blogging yesterday, at zero, he thought like a millionaire well before becoming a millionaire, so he would have made his first $2 on his way to millions.

These days, I think, feel and act abundantly. I celebrate every penny I make online because where your attention and energy goes, grows. Top bloggers think abundantly. If you think, feel and act abundantly, at year’s end, the $2 commission per sale yields $500,to $1000, to $5000 per a single income stream because the more you celebrate money and feel rich, the more money you make.

Top bloggers think: money. Open 5, 10, 15 or more income streams. Seize every opportunity to prosper. $2, there, and 100 sales later, you made $200. Top bloggers think abundance – versus lack – and make money.

Be Open Minded and Think for Yourself

As you know, I love studying the creature Bigfoot.

Most humans are closed-minded and follow the herd, being lazy thinkers, and simply agreed with the herd; naturally, these folks believe Bigfoot is a myth.

A handful of YouTube videos of Bigfoot scientifically breakdown:

  • the size of these creatures: 7-10 foot tall, up to 5 feet wide, and 500-900 pounds
  • the physiology of these creatures; compliant gate, 90% knee flexion, absence of neck, hulking trap muscles, heavy brow ridge
  • the sounds these creatures make; clearly not within our current animal kingdom

If you are open-minded and think for yourself, you clearly see a huge, primate-type creature with some human-like qualities appears in these videos. Truth reveals itself to clear, deeper thinks.

But if you are closed-minded and agree with the herd, you become blind to the truth and see a guy in a suit, or hoax, in these handful of legit Sasquatch videos.

Like the small group of humans who know Sasquatch exist, top bloggers are both open-minded and do their own thinking. Successful bloggers open up to new strategies and new income streams. Plus these top folks never agree with the herd just because most people think a certain way; these pros think critically, for themselves.

I think incredibly deeply about blogging, and mindset, and see parallels no blogger on earth sees, save me. Why? I am open-minded and do my own thinking, for myself, never being swayed by the general public and its poisonous, limiting skepticism.

You almost have to be insane *not* to believe in Bigfoot after scientific video breakdowns and tens of thousands of credible eye-witnesses prove these encounters are with large primates, not humans in suits. Even a 300 pound, pro bodybuilder would look like a 5 year old trying to fit in his dad’s suit if he tried to wear a suit with dimensions for a 9 foot tall, 800 pound being.

In the same breath, you really need to be out there, if you are so closed-minded and agreeing with the poor masses, that you are blind to the truth of abundance around you, as a blogger.

Think abundance.

Open your mind.

Think for yourself.

Succeed.

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What Should You Ask Yourself Before Using a Pop Up or Slider Form?

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Before you use a pop up or slider form, ask yourself:

“Do I want to ask the reader for something or tell the reader to do something before I give them what they want?”

Yesterday I clicked on a link based on the blog title promise. I found the title and link on Twitter.

Since I wanted to see the solution based on the title-promise, I looked forward to reading the blog post. I wanted content; quick content, easy to access content, and simple content.

But I was quickly disappointed.

Why?

One second after arriving to the blog to read the post, I saw a pop up form. The blogger wanted something from me; my name and email. The blogger asked for my information. I did not click the link to volunteer my information. I clicked the link to get what I wanted; content. Oh well.

Mildly annoyed, I closed the pop up form to finally get what I wanted: helpful content promised via an attractive blog post title. But then I had to deal with a slider form; yep, the blogger asked me to click a box if I agreed with my personal information being stored via cookies. I have no idea why you do this as a US blogger; the European Union and its laws have zero jurisdiction in the US. Mass fear tends to goad the weaker minded to do silly stuff.

Anyway, this marked the second time the blogger asked me for something or told me to do something before giving me what I wanted. 99% of the time, I close the window and leave the blog forever. I have no time to waste. But to see how far this blogger would go, I closed the slider form and stuck around. Until 2 seconds later when, I kid you not, the blogger used a corner slider form calling me to do something else. Some ask; some command.

I immediately closed the window and left the blog; never to return.

One of the biggest mistakes bloggers make is promising readers helpful content, then, before giving readers what they want, asking them once, twice or three times to do something, before giving readers what they want.

Bad idea.

Most or all readers will exit your blog and never return. Who wants to jump through hoops once, twice or 3 times before getting what they want? Readers get my content immediately. I use no pop up, slider, or barrier to content. People get what they want immediately and also buy my stuff. Good for me. Good for you.

Jeff Bezos became the wealthiest human being in modern times because he made it incredibly easy to get what you want immediately. His net worth is $150 billion because:

  • he enabled one click buying
  • he offers 2 hour to overnight delivery for many products in urban and suburban areas
  • he uses few or no pop ups or other barriers to giving customers what they want

Why do you think I have 170 plus products on Amazon? Dude makes it easy for me to make money. No barriers to buying.

Ask Yourself

Do you want to give readers what they want quickly and easily so you succeed more quickly? Remove all pop ups, sliders and other barriers to content and buying. My blog took off like the dickens when I removed everything so readers could read my content fast and buy my stuff fast.

Stop trying to get what YOU want (names, emails) and give readers what they want – quickly – to become a successful blogger.

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