Monday, April 21, 2014

Jacob Gube of Six Revisions Up Close

Up Close with Jacob Gube of Six Revisions
SixRevisions, A website aimed at providing the best designs to its readers for free. The face behind SixRevisions is here with us today (Applause for Jacob). Jacob Gube is a web developer, designer and the founder of Six Revisions.

He has been a web professional for more than 8 years. His comfort areas include PHP, JavaScript, and standards-based CSS/HTML. He is also quite versed with .NET, VB, Perl, AS2/Flash etc.

The Story

Like all exceptional stories, this one too starts with our protagonist starting from humble beginnings (like the ones of Reza Farazmand or Paul Crowe). Jacob started as a freelancing graphic designer who made brand identities for small businesses. He started a blog with his brother on tech gadgets. Though it witnessed a good start but lack of scheduled posting (What did I tell you about regularity) lead to its demise. But finally he found something worth writing for, something he was passionate about.

Though SixRevisions has now become something just short of an Internet giant, the site too had humble beginnings like his maker. It was started on a Sunday morning in February. He wrote two posts and published one, just the same day. Many ask why "SixRevisions"? What's so special about the name. Jacob explains that the name was inspired by his experience as a graphic designer where they often had to make many revisions to the same design.

Now enough of me, Let us move towards Jacob. Let's pick his brains and see what has he leant from SixRevisions.

From Jacob's Flickr Page



More than 35 Authors?


Mohit: I would skip the "Hi Jacob, Tell us about yourself" as your fans know everything about you. First and foremost question, 35 Authors (Check out the about page) for a single Website! Why?

Jacob: Actually, we have a lot more authors than that. The authors in the Six Revisions "About" page are just a few of our authors. That reminds me: That page needs to be updated. In the last 14 months alone, we've on-boarded 62 new authors. In total, both  Six Revisions and Design Instruct combined, we've worked with over 300 authors. Our authors are responsible for the growth of our websites. It simply wouldn't  be possible to get our sites to where they are now without the valuable contributions of our authors.

In addition, it's important for any online publisher that covers subjects as big as design and development to have a diversity of thought. In order to have a fuller understanding of these subjects, you need to learn them from multiple qualified sources.


Mohit: A page-rank 6 Website backed with such huge online presence is one tough nut to crack, what’s your secret?

Jacob: There's only one secret. And, really, it's not a secret. Focus on publishing great content.
When we work on articles, we never discuss SEO, or spinning the article a certain way just to get more page views, or any of the other tricks that's unfortunately become commonplace within the online publishing industry. We don't care about those things. We believe that if our content is good, then people will read it. And if it isn't, then we have to work on it. What we do is concentrate all our time, effort, and resources to publishing great content our readers will find useful. And that takes a considerable amount of work on our authors' part and on us.

We have just one mission: Publish content that provides value to the lives of our readers.And if that result in more page views, that's awesome, but only because it's a signal that we're on the right track in terms of publishing content our audience wants to read.

From Jacob's Flickr Page



On Social Media

Mohit: With a website as huge as SixRevisions, maintenance must be a drag; from updating previous articles and moderating comments to interacting at social media, how do you distribute the work?

Jacob: We prioritize the work. We identify key tasks and long-term projects that bring the most value to our readers and decide that we're going to work on those first. We assign tasks based on ability and availability. It's nothing formal. We just meet once a week, discuss important matters, and then dole out the tasks as needed. Social media almost runs itself. We'll check it a couple of times a day just to see if we have any messages.

Moderating comments continues to be the toughest day-to-day task because we receive hundreds of spam comments a day despite having our spam-prevention mechanisms in place, and so we have to manually moderate those.


Mohit: You have an enormous Twitter following and considerable number of likes at Facebook and several highly interactive social profiles. How important is social Media Interaction for any website/Blog?

Jacob: Social media is important for being able to have discussions with your readers. We find that it's convenient for our readers to just send us a tweet or a message on Facebook rather than email. So if you truly care about what your audience has to say, social media becomes important. But let it grow organically. Let people truly interested in engaging with you to find you on social media by themselves.

From Jacob's Flickr Page



Something Personal :-P

Mohit: Let us get into something personal, some of us wonder Why isn't Isaac a part of your Author team?

Jacob: Isaac, my brother and my co-founder on Design Instruct, is part of the Six Revisions author team because he's written few posts on Six Revisions. But, as I've alluded to earlier, the Six Revisions "About" page doesn't display all of our authors.

He's editor-in-chief on Design Instruct. That means he's my boss when we're working on Design Instruct.


Mohit: What do you do when you're not working?

Jacob: I make it a habit to try and go to the gym a few times a week, I travel whenever I get a chance, and I work on personal coding projects. Recently, I've been playing console games on the PS 3. I suck though. You can add me on PSN and here's my public profile:


Mohit: Regarding revenue, how does the advertising revenue help in sustaining the website?


Jacob: It helps quite a lot. It's our primary source of funding.



Mohit: Ok Sensing a little secrecy.. Moving on, the designs at SixRevisions are unbelievingly cool and urbane. Yet, all of them are free. Why don't you sell them? I'm sure the proceeds would go a long way in improving SixRevisions.

Jacob: Our freebies? They're contributed to our community by creative professionals. Our freebies aren't meant for profit, but rather to provide useful resources our readers can use in their own projects. I believe publishing freebies is part of our mission to publish content that adds value to our readers' lives.

WordPress or Blogger?

Mohit: Let me ask a controversial question, many bloggers including me still prefer blogger/BlogSpot to Wordpress, How would you react?

Jacob: At the end of the day, your blogging software is simply a tool - just like a pen, a computer, or a paint brush. These tools don't matter if they're not being used by people. But under the right set of hands, the same paint brush can produce remarkable works of art that are celebrated for centuries, and the same laptop computer can be used to develop life-changing technologies that change the world forever.

So, use whatever helps you write and publish articles. Wordpress vs. Blogger vs. other publishing platforms is really all about preference. As for my personal choice: I use Wordpress. My partiality to WP is evident because it's the only online publishing platform that has its own category on Six Revisions. But I do regularly watch out for new publishing platforms that might serve our community better. I haven't found one yet, but a few new projects are coming close in terms of being better-suited for us. I'm keeping an eye on those.

Finally

Jacob Gube
Alright, this is the end of our up close and personal interview of Jacob from Six Revisions. We wish him well for his future endeavors. You can connect with him at Facebook and Twitter too. But do not forget to check out his awesome creations at his Flickr page.


If you have any questions, Pitch it in the comments, I'm sure Jacob wouldn't mind answering some more. This was about.

Up Close with Jacob Gube of Six Revisions MohitChar

Monday, April 14, 2014

War on Guest Blogging : Google VS The World

War on Guest Blogging : Google VS The World front
Matt Cutts, Google's Head of Spam recently took a bold step, claiming Guest Posts as a link building exercise thereby branding them as spam. Now the ball is in his court and he doesn't seem to mind penalizing many websites which resorted to Guest Blogging as an SEO exercise. 


He wrote a clear article on 'Why Guest Blogging is becoming worse'. He first gives an example of an unsolicited email asking permission to write an article for Matt's blog and then asking him to "do-follow a link or two". Finally Matt claims, quite rightly so, That often a beautiful and authentic SEO trend starts which is later duplicated by millions of people and this finally morphs into something grotesque.

After hearing this, many might recoil with horror. 

The Research


However, he later doles out some exceptions to Google’s wrath. He in his blog specifically mentions that high quality multi-author Blogs need not worry. To get to know about the topic better, I resorted to reading the comments section of the page. 

A person claimed that many of what Google had done made the lives of average site owners difficult, at this moment I thought to myself, the drastic step taken by Google actually helped small site owners. 

Larger site owners with exclusive contacts and deeper pockets often had reach towards content and SEO techniques from desperate people willing to share in exchange of some quality inbound links, A luxury ill afforded by people with lesser web presence. 


Matt's Response

Through Google’s guidelines (including the ones of blogger), deserving people with extraordinary stories and commendable content shall come into picture. Someone posted that, it looks as if Google is running our websites; it seems as if it is an intrusion into personal decisions. Matt's response too deserved applause, when he said that webmasters have always had the freedom to do whatever they chose. Same should be applicable to Google. It should be able to tweak its algorithm to provide quality user experience. As they always say, there are plenty of fish in the sea; you must remember that just Google has changed its algorithm and not the others. 

If you really want your page to be displayed in its search results, you will have to change with the trend (Never be a Potato Blogger). But with 69% of Search engine share hogged up by Google, It is tough to find other fishes in the sea. Another Question comes up, why now? Why didn't he tell sooner? Actually he has been posting videos depicting the wrong usage of guest blogging and its conversion into a link building SEO exercise. But, when the water went over the head, he had to take some serious steps.

What was really hilarious was when one comment highlighted a Guest Post hosted by Matt himself! Who later explained that he knew the guest pretty well and could vouch for her. But then again a Google algorithm can never determine if the webmaster vouches for the guest. All in all it is really a grey area. 

Still clarity can only be sought by keeping in mind the following points,

First
Create/implement a really tight filter on which guest posts to accept. In short publish only the best of Guest posts.


SecondWordstream.com came up with a Really weird strategy, asking publishers to not label Guest posts as "Guest Post". Empirical evidence for its working is not available but this still makes sense.

Third
Determine if the Guest post written is for your users or for the search engine. Does it rely on making relationships or bringing back traffic?

MoreIf you still need clarity to know if a guest post is spammy, you can have a look at a previous article of ours which outlined 7 Ways to find if a Guest Post is bad.

7 ways to check if a Guest Post is bad

So the obvious question, Is Guest Blogging Really DEAD?

The answer though really contentious, can be "no". Many comments at Matt's blog too agree and certain really influential (like Search Engine Journal or Marketing Land) websites too accede that Guest blogging isn't dead. If it was, Google would have announced a new update with another endangered animal name. Just the spammy ones or the ones which actually rely on guest blogging to bring traffic. Or rely on Paid links/Articles to create content and links.

Update:

To get further clarity, I posted a question at Google webmaster forums on whether interviews too come under Guest Post Category (Considering Codemakit conducts interviews with prominent and influential personalities). 

The people there were really helpful and after arguing for quite a long time, they succeeded in influencing my thoughts. One of the contributors that really inspired me explained it like this, 
Quote 2
Quote 1
Is the link there for users, or search engines? If the link is there for users, you can no-follow the link and users will never know, they will still click on it if it useful for them and provide traffic to the outgoing site. If the links are for search engines, it's an unnatural link and you could be penalized for it.


Hear Hear,
War on Guest Blogging : Google VS The World MohitChar

Monday, April 7, 2014

7 Ways to check if a guest post is bad

7 Ways to check if a guest post is bad Front
Matt Cutts in his recent post took out all his artillery and beat down on Guest posts warning or so to say cautioning publishers and webmasters to stop using Guest posts as a link building exercise (Though he Himself used it). The Article was a real marvel but what it lacked were clear instructions. 


He reminded web owners that the websites with high quality guest articles would be exempt. But, there is no tangibility towards High Quality. 

What if the article is of better quality or of good quality? So here are some instructions for webmasters to determine if they should allow a guest post on their blog or not.

FirstTight Filter

First enforce a really tight filter on which guest posts to accept. 
In short publish only the best of Guest posts. When you target the best, you might not come under Matt's Purview.

SecondThink and Label

Wordstream.com came up with a really weird strategy, asking publishers to not label Guest posts as "Guest Post". Empirical evidence for its working is not available but logically, it still makes sense.

ThirdArticle or the Link

Any Webmaster aiming to be one of the top players of the internet world knows that External links and Internal Links play a pivotal role in determining the PageRank of the website
So site owners write guest posts for high page rank websites. Not for the information but for the links. But does the article you receive rely on making relationships or bringing back traffic? 

FourthBall-park a topic, 


If yours is not a personal blog, it is understood that the articles posted would be pertaining to a single topic or revolve around a topic. If tomorrow you receive a mail saying how awesome your site is or how amazed they are with your blog and would like to add something to it, ask them what they are writing on. If it’s a topic away from yours, decline respectfully.

FifthCtrl+C, 


This one is an understood one, If someone offers you some text for publication you would first check if it has not been plagiarized (You know there are some pretty good blogs around there). Simple steps to check are taking a snippet and Google it. For a more detailed method you can check out this Duplicate Content tool.

SixthCheck the content, 


The information sent by them should be synonymous with your website's content. It should cater to Google's Quality Guidelines. If you use blogger, it should be conducive to Blogger's content policy. All the more it should not try to pull visitors away from your website (Might be selfish). It should not promote itself; rather it should just provide quality information. Grammatical and semantic errors should also be checked.

SeventhThe Thumb Rule,

One comment at Matt's Blog always inspires me. It said, "Before you agree to post some one's article on your blog, try and answer this question, Was the article written for your readers or for a search engine". I feel this point will always help you when you're confused.

This was all about.
7 Ways to check if a guest post is bad MohitChar

Monday, March 24, 2014

A Guide to Creating Awesome E-Book Covers


A content based website like a blog is always dependent on its readers for fame. Such websites strive for quality and try to provide as much new knowledge as possible. But alas, webmasters can only do this much. 

This is where having an eBook comes in handy. Some distinct advantages of an eBook are often forgotten by people. In this article we'll first talk why do webmasters need eBooks on their website and secondly some of the best E-Book covers and what you could learn from them.

Why E-Books?

Lets first discuss, why would a webmaster/ owner/ blogger ever need an E-Book. 
Is the website not enough?
  1. An eBook is never crawled by a Google bot. So in short you could write anything and everything in an eBook. You can badmouth others, you can give away links that you could never ever host on your website, hell you could even plagiarize from your competitors, take their images, text etc. But a worthy and ethical person would never do that, (and believe me, only the people in the latter category succeed). 
  2. Another reason for hosting eBooks or pdf materials at websites is that psychologically people are happy to download an eBook because they feel a sense of superiority as well as achievement as they downloaded a material that was not readily available on the internet. A sense of attachment starts towards the eBook and hence the website too.
  3. Another reason for websites to use eBooks is because they stand out in the world of bloggers and web enthusiasts, the race towards unique content and quality material has never been tougher, hence an eBook that would set them apart.
  4. Though an eBook is a less popular method of disseminating information than an embedded video, it still is an effective method for targeting visitors and converting them into a regularly visiting/loyal readers.
  5. Finally, E-Books are currently one of the niches where marketing geeks have just stepped into. E book websites like bookboon is speculated to earn a lot by just allotting some space in their eBooks for advertisements. So you can earn from eBooks too!

Famous E-Book Covers..

Now that we're talking about eBook, we must also know that no body would read an eBook if it does not look interesting. So here are some examples of famous eBooks and what their cover designers did to attract visitors.



The first example could be Bookboon, just because of its sheer size and output that the website provides. It has a really simple yet elegant way of creating their covers. Almost all books hosted on bookboon have the same cover page template. Orange background, Really large text "Bookboon" and simple space in between displaying a really simple image relevant to the contents of the eBook. All in all, a really nice but average type of eBook cover.



Let us take another type of cover for our discussion. Let us take "Access to Information Act, Canada" for the same. Keeping the content aside, one must first acknowledge how color combination can set a really different mood. Complete Front page is of a single color, lined with matching colors. But as is evident, The document is a part of series. Hence the book number in huge font and the book title as well as other information in smaller fonts (However, It looks microscopic related to the number itself, but who are we to judge)




For many books color isn't that important, psychologically too black as a color denotes completeness and creates a sense of awe in the mind of readers. Check out, for example the book E2, written by Pam Grout. Based on its content, Pam had to choose the cover image as something between awkwardly mathematical or unrealistic photoshoped abstract, So he chose something in between. If your content is something like this, you too can experiment.




Same is the case with the Fiction, "Hunger Games", The ebook's frontpage dwlves on human psychology that often humans judge a book by its cover, and as expected the cover goes perfectly well with the book. Complete black background with golden words and an insignia at the center, preping its readers for a journey into the unknown.




E-books do not always use monochromatic backgrounds or Orange and red stripes to woo their readers. Some, like "The essential Guide to customs and culture, Ireland" also use images as the front page. You know a really detailed and colorful image can go a long way in attracting readers. Also, since its an eBook, one does not have to pay extra for printing such high resolution images. But images like these can become the perfect way for Authors to showcase their book. Take this for examples willfully placed the word Ireland  on the shores depicted in the image. In short, the images do not look awkwardly hanging in the air but look properly supported (in this case on sandy beaches). You too can try, this out, However you much choose your background image carefully for the effect to look authentic.



But as a website, you cannot afford to have an image like the above on your webpage. It simply does not go with the content. So you create something much simpler, something that you could change with the flick of your hand. Copyblogger's ebook front pages are popular in this matter. The front page is usually red with simple images at the back as if it has nothing to hide. Then it has a small strip at the bottom for the website name.




If you do not have enough images and you are releasing eBooks in a row, you can take you inspiration from United Nations Human Rights (UNHRC) eBook. It is less minimalist from the information Act document discussed above, as it provides much more information than its counterparts. One look at the eBook and you know its contents. If you too hate highly minimalist front pages, you should go for this. Replete with images, logos and text, It can be called as a really comprehensive front page.

This was all about,
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Monday, March 17, 2014

Do Pages with questions as title receive more clicks (Part 2)

Do Pages with questions as title receive more clicks (Part 2)
This article is the complete study conducted by codemakit Website Research. If you feel that the contents are too technical for you, you may want to read the simplified summary presented at part I of the article first. Based on the data obtained from 190 Web Pages and their page views, the following observations were found.

The data available were the number of views, and the date of publication of page. Since the pages were linearly published (i.e. one page after another), the difference of the number of days were found and Cumulative number of days were found. Cumulative number of days helped in determining the number of days a webpage was present on the website as published. As a page's page views and the number of published days are directly proportional. 

Do Pages with questions as title receive more headline

The Data Set

The complete Data Set containing information in pdf for all the blog posts is available for perusal here. To probe this even further, Consider Page A has 200 page views and Page B has 20. This cannot be called as the complete indicator of the actual worth of the page, As Page A might have been published a year ago and Page B just a week ago. Hence a balanced base is needed to determine whether a webpage is performing well or not.

V/D ratio was found out. The V/D ratio is the ratio of the number of page views per unit cumulative day. The ratio is a perfect indicator of the number of how well did the page do in terms of garnering visitors. Using V/D ratio the index for page A would be (200 page views/365 days) and for page B as (20 page views /7 days). The ratio for Page A comes to be 0.548 and for Page B comes to be 2.85. The page A which at first looked better in comparison to Page B, now doesn't look worthy at all. Hence a normalized base would help in determining the true worth of a page.

Do Pages with questions as title receive more headline Large Graph

Types of Webpages

The complete analysis was done using V/D ratio. Graphically, V/D = 0.2 was obtained as the value to be used for determining if a webpage performed well or not. Complete Data was divided into three parts 

1. The lesser ones,
Now all Web Pages which had a V/D ratio less than 0.2 can be safely said to perform worse than its counterparts. Hence all Web Pages with a V/D ratio less than 0.2 come under its purview. There were 53 lesser ones.

2. The Greater Ones
Just like the name suggests, all the Web Pages with a V/D ratio more than 0.2 were called as the greater ones or the ones that performed better. There were 123 Greater ones.

3. The questions
Each webpage which contains a question in its title text is a question type webpage. There existed 63 question type Web Pages on the said website.

How did we arrive at V/D=0.2 ?

Note. It must first be understood how the value of 0.2 was obtained. The complete analysis being a really simple one, It was thought that the sample could be plotted on the graph based on its frequency. The graph was then created taking V/D ratio on the abscissa and the frequency at ordinate. 

Do Pages with questions as title receive more headline Graph 1

The resultant graph was a sharp bell shaped curve. The sharpness was due to excessive variations among the sample group with different number of Web Pages having inordinate differences in their V/D ratios. Hence, The Graph was then magnified at its peak in the hopes of arriving at the dividing value. This graphically came near 0.2.

Do Pages with questions as title receive more headline Graph 2

Do Pages with questions as title receive more headline Graph 3

The Observations

Summarily, It was found that, The Webpages with questions as their title text that performed poorly was 21.21%. However, The Webpages/Articles/Blog Post with questions as their title text which performed poorly was just 21.21%. In Short, if you put your title text as a question for any webpage, you have 50% more chances of making it more famous. 

Greater Ones Lesser Ones
Total Number of WebPages 123 66
Number of Webpages with Questions 39 14
Percentage of Webpages with questions 31.71 21.21

Disclaimer for the study, 

It is however pertinent to note that, the study took 197 webpages and had to exclude some to maintain the sample's integrity. The study was conducted on a single type of website with a single Page Rank and hence same results cannot be expected for any other.

The study could be extended to cover other types of websites too. These could be analysed and results displayed. Also, one must understand that the criterion for determining if a webpage performed good or poor, was created based on the overall performance of the website itself. Hence, there exists a need for determining independent criteria for websites of different types, page ranks and visitor interaction.

Also, you can bring people to your webpage, but making them stay there is wholly dependent on how you present the content. Bounce rate isn't too irrelevant you know.

Is the Study too technical for you?

For a much simpler version of this study you can visit the part I of the series

If you still have doubts or would like to share your own story, comment below, we'll be happy to answer.

This was all about,
Do pages with questions as title receive more clicks MohitChar

Do Pages with questions as title receive more clicks (Part 1)

There exists a very contended view that, If you write an article with a question as its headline or title, it will receive more clicks and the webpage as a whole would be more successful. 

codemakit in the past has published material on improving the readership of any blog like, using specific publishing schedule, controlling Spam, creating apps, organising your blog content etc.

Though some are of the opinion that it plays no part in determining the popularity of an article. However, Online marketing experts disagree, Several studies claim an increase of 100% (Though there are several more probable methods of doubling your website traffic) traffic to the website, i.e. "Double Your Traffic!", some claim a modest 10% increase.

The truth isn't inaccessible, its just hidden. Gregory Ciotti, who oversees marketing at Help Scout and is the founder at Sparring Mind, believes, there exists an information Gap Theory based on a paper by George Loewenstein, on "The psychology of Curiosity: A Review and Reinterpretation

The Online marketing geniuses often claim that once a person glances on the headline, She/he frames their question as per the one displayed. For example, You need to know how to plant a eucalyptus tree in your backyard. You put the search term as "Plant a big eucalyptus tree". Suppose you stumble upon the headline, "How do you plant a large tree", though the queries are different enough, you must understand that the person finds it irresistible not to merge the two and experience that Aha! moment where you feel "That is just the damn thing I was searching for! How cool is that, I must check this out!"

Codemakit Website Research performed a study and analyzed Web Pages to answer this question. Since the study can prove to be too technical for some, It has been included in the second part of the article.

In the study, We took 197 Web Pages and collected just two information from them, Their number of Page views and the number of days they had been public on the web. We divided the complete set into three parts. 
  1. One was the Greater ones or the ones that performed really great. 
  2. Second was the lesser ones, i.e. those that did not perform up to the mark. 
  3. Third set consisted of those which contained questions as their headlines. 

You can take a look at part II of the article if you want to know how did we divide the articles/blog posts into good and bad (complete Data Set containing information in pdf format for is available for perusal here). Once that was achieved, We analyzed and are now presenting our findings. 



Read carefully, The Web Pages which performed really good had 31% of them as questions. However, The ones that performed really bad had 21% as questions. In short your webpage has 50% more chances of performing good if it has a question as its title/ headline. 

For more information on the study you can visit the part II of the series. If you still have doubts or would like to share your own story, comment below, we'll be happy to answer.

But, Don't you wanna know how did we arrive at this conclusion?

Check out the second part of the series

Also, tell us how much better did your website perform?

This was all about,