28 July 2009

Advanced Web Clients for Tweeting from the Web

As a fresh user of the rising star of the blogosphere – Twitter – I am still looking around to find the most efficient ways to use this microblogging application. While it is early for me to quantify the Twitter influence on my blogs’ promotion efforts, I can already claim that it is definitely positive. In this post, we will offer the fresh review of the advanced web applications allowing Tweeting from the web and covering additional features, missing yet from the basic Twitter web application, by Israeli blogger Orli Yakuel at TechCrunch.

Believe it or not, almost 50% of Twitter users, prefer to tweet directly from Twitter.com. This isn't surprising, but most heavy Twitter users agree that Twitter.com is actually the poorest user experience among the plethora of alternative web applications to access the service. But there's one thing Twitter.com has going for it (besides being the default way all new users access Twitter) - it's simple and easy to use.

But after few months of using Twitter you begin to look for the retweet button, the auto-refresh updates, or a way to create groups, and moreover, you are looking for a better way to navigate through your endless list of friends and/or content. You won't find these features on Twitter (although the Power Twitter Add-on gets you most of the way there), but here's a list of alternative web applications that will let you monitor your Twitter account from your browser in a much richer way than the Twitter site itself.

With Web Seesmic (Disclosure: Arrington still has a small investment in Seesmic), you can monitor all of your tweet activities in one place and in real-time. Easily navigate through your list of friends, choose your favorite layout, and more - all from a very clean and clear interface. So far, I've found Web Seesmic to have the most potential in terms of becoming your next Twitterstream service. There is still room for improvement, of course. When it comes to usability, the design is just too minimalistic. The retweet/direct messages should be visual and accessible via one click only. The "list view" navigation is better than the column, but the font is way too small (that needs to be changed ASAP). In addition, it lacks two significant features: The trend list, which becomes very important if you want to be up-to-date with timely news and current events, as well as a twitpic/yfrog integration. Surprised, I have to ask: Where is the main thing that Seesmic does so well? Video-based comments would leverage this app at least ten times more. Have they given up on video completely?
Meanwhile PeopleBrowsr has it all. See all of your tweetstream, your mentions, DMs, search-based keywords, create groups, manage multi accounts from one dashboard, use a to-do list with quick tags, integrate with all your social networks, RSS import, map view, and tons of other features. The problem is - that it's just too overwhelming! Even the most skilled power user on Twitter won't need all of these advanced features. Luckily though, PeopleBrowsr has a light version that is more reasonable to use. Still, I did feel a bit lost in both the advanced and light versions.

PeopleBrowsr provides so many other services that are related to any and all of your social activities on the web. The service actually reminds me of Zoho, which turned out to be the largest office suite on the net. Maybe this is the direction PeopleBrowsr is heading towards? - Your one-stop-shop for all real time activities.

TwitHive is a multi-channel web dashboard for Twitter. The service lets you create channels based on your query. You can customize each channel whichever way you please. It might sound great overall, but during actual testing the service failed to impress me. The service is somewhat annoying to use - search and also new updates opens in a different layer, and column creation takes time, while other services do that for you automatically. One thing that I did enjoy and found unique was the integration of Google News and Blog Search alongside any search you perform.

If you have several Twitter accounts that you need to monitor (personal plus brand(s)), you may consider using Splitweet. Splitweet allows you to compose a list of accounts and distribute tweets to more than just one account. You can also follow your contacts' tweets from all of your managed accounts. OK, so here's my problem with this service: Each account gets its own color, and Splitweet places this color coded box next to each tweet in the stream. Personally I think it's a bit weird to have refer to various Twitter accounts by color. I rather see the username of the account, or a small icon, than to remember what color symbolizes that particular account.

TweetTabs, a Tweetmeme project, is the easiest way to track trends on Twitter. It's so easy, you don't really need to do anything. Just enter the site and enjoy the stream of each trend presented on Twitter right now. Additionally, you can run a keyword search and it will automatically add it as a new column. There's no registration whatsoever, and if you want to reply or retweet someone else's tweet, you'll be redirect to your own Twitter profile (which I found to be very useful always). Although on TweetTabs, you can't see your friends' streams or manage anything else beyond what I've mentioned above.

Similar to TweetTabs, Monitter allows you to track what most matters to you on Twitter without the need to sign up or in. Just type three words into the three search boxes (you are free to add more boxes if needed), and within seconds you'll start seeing relevant tweets streaming live. The one thing that Monitter gives above all the others listed here is the ability to grab a real-time twitter stream widget for your site, with the option to customise the CSS to make it look the way you want.

Kudos to Tweenky, for being the first service that enables real time tweets from the web. Unfortunately, it didn't evolve any further. Their first version had this nifty Gmail look & feel, but for some reason, today, it just looks pretty plain and boring. Having said that, you may want to use it because of its simplicity. Tweenky is designed to be very obvious to the user. The list of activities and trends are accessible always, and the main stream is easy to adjust to. I found the larger font in the update box to be conveniently useful.

Remember all the buzz around Tweetree? I tried it again today and was surprised to see that nothing has changed (usually you get to see more useful features over time, no?). Anyway, it still a good service, if you want to see a bigger picture of your stream. Tweetree embeds external content so you get to see pictures, videos and even the text from submitted links right in your twitterstream. To be honest, I didn't like how the service overtook the Twitter layout. If you already use Twitter in the background, go easy with your logos. In Tweetree's case, they placed two extremely large logos on top of the twitter page, and it is just a distraction. It would have been less annoying to get all of the features without all of the noisy design around it.

TwitZap is not half bad for a layer that sits on top of Twitter site, and frankly it has great tools that the others don't have. First of all it lets you organize your favorite channels, then it shows you how many updates you missed when you're not on the channel, which relates to a RSS reader experience. But furthermore, it shows you who are the people that are viewing the same channel right now, and this is by far the best way to find people based on a shared activity. The page refreshes in real time (you can even choose its speed), and on its browser tab you get to see how many of new tweets you've missed. The bottom line, if I have to choose the best service among these 9, I think TwitZap is the winner (they should change their registration to a single sign-in though).

Frankly, I'm not completely satisfied with all of these services. I think that Twitter web clients are weak compared to the desktop ones. I wonder who will step up and take the entire experience forward. Who will integrate twitpic, blip.fm, emoticons, videos, and all that fun stuff that we found on other Twitter applications into one? One thing we know - it most likely will not be Twitter. Therefore it's up to someone else to gather everything into a single, easy-to-use page. I'm still in searching for that one service.

20 July 2009

Get Targeted Backlinks to your blog with Comment Kahuna

Every blogger, unless the blog is exclusively setup for private and limited purposes, is interested in gaining more quality traffic and better blog ranking in search engines. One of the widely recognized approaches to improve the position and attract more visitors is receiving quality backlinks. However, while task sounds simple and self-explanatory, the realization step is quite complicated. How can you encourage another blogger, preferably with good Google PageRank standing, to post link on you blog?

Comment Kahuna is one of the best free tools on the market, that will assist you in reaching your goal. It is a simple, but efficient utility that helps you in searching blogs related to the niche of your website. Use it to offer informative comments on the blog posts. This will give your website quality backlinks that search engines looks for while evaluating your blog position. Many of these blogs get lots of visitors, so if your comment is interesting, relevant and informative, some will follow the link to your website.

I checked multiple reviews on the web for the user comments, and most of them are super positive, so try for yourself. It is absolutely free, but the registration on site is required.

16 July 2009

Why You Should Try Wowzio Widgets on Your Blog

With Wowzio you can take any feed, and with that feed you can generate attractive widget for your site or blog. You can even have up to 15 feeds streaming the data on the same one widget. Wowzio looks at the feed and pulls out the blog posts as well as the photos or images with each post.

Any blog that is javascript-enabled, can install Wowzio's widgets by simply pasting the javascript code into template. Note that if your blog is hosted by Wordpress.com, Wowzio widgets will not work, because wordpress.com strips off javascript from the embedded html.
After you input the feed (RSS URL), you can start with a version of the widget which can be customized as per your needs. The theme, color, size and interactions can be configured, using Wowzio's WYSIWYG designer.
Wowzio provides a wide spec of the widget customization options in the following categories:

Live Activity Widget
The Wowzio Live Activity Widget provides you and your users with a "live" feed of the visits to your blog or site. Every time a page that the widget is on loads, the widget detects the user's location and the page they are coming from. This information is fed in real-time to every other widget open at that time, to give your visitors a rare insight into the vitality of your blog or site! You can see the latest activity on your blog and so can everyone else. They can see where people are coming from and what they are reading on your blog.

TagCloud Widget
This is a cloud of all your popular tags, extracted from your blog as well as from Technorati. It helps revitalize the rich content that is deeply embedded in blog posts. When a user clicks on a tag, the widget displays the matching blog posts inside the tagcloud widget frame, thus keeping the user on the same page.  If your blog post does not contain native tags, nor Technorati tags, Wowzio extracts tags using Yahoo's Term Extraction API, one of the APIs provided by Web Services by Yahoo! For each tag, the widget factors in its recency, frequency, and placement, and than assigns it a rating score accordingly. Finally, the tags are ordered by their score, and the top tags are picked first to display in the tagcloud widget.

Photo Gallery Widget
This widget provides an elegant and simple way for users of your blog to discover the awesome content created by you. Every photo provides backlink to the related blog post. This results in increased engagement of users on your blog, causing an increase in page views. This is great if you want to put together Flickr feeds of your favorite photographers. You can select a specific display option for the gallery and with auto sizing it should fit nicely to any blog template. The widget automatically displays the most recent 50 photos from your feed(s).

Panoramic Slideshow Widget
This widgets extends the capabilities of the Photo Gallery to the Slideshow, using the similar guidelines for the pictures, extracted from the RSS feeds. In this widget, the images just are smaller and you have additional previous and next buttons to flip through images.

Feed Content Widget
The content widget is a syndication and content distribution mechanism. You can aggregate feeds from multiple sources (up to 15) into one widget. You can use it for cross-promotion of content, or syndication via 3-rd party channels. This will display the content from your feeds including blurbs about each posts and images.

If you do not have a Widget yet, but you would like to get it, you need to send email to the authors at invite@wowzio.com, with a pointer to your blog. The members of the staff are giving away just 25 invites every 24 hours by email. So, you might need some patience, waiting “in line”.

If you already have a Wowzio widget on your blog, you can make changes to your widget by simply clicking on the "Grab This" link at the bottom of the Wowzio widget. That will take you to the Wowzio Widget Designer. After you make your changes, you will need to re-install the new html snippet/code.

Get more information and order invite at http://www.wowzio.com/.

The best review on the topic 10 Reasons Why You Should Try Wowzio Widgets On Your Blog/Site will give you more insights and considerations, while you are deciding if you need these widgets on your blog. 

10 July 2009

Share Files with your Blog Visitors through Embedded Widget

A simple, easy to use, widget from Box.net will allow you to share the files with your blog readers (or your profile visitors in the social networks, like MySpace) a simple and attractive way.

You just need to follow three easy steps to create your own personalized widget, from where anybody can preview video, audio files, and images, and download them as needed.

Example of the Widget:
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Access the widget generation page: http://www.box.net/widget/

06 July 2009

Free Blogs Templates Creator

There are multiple blogs with the same templates on the Web. Does that bother you that the same template you are using, can be found elsewhere? If that does, you might find interesting to take a look on the free web-based templates self-designer.

Psycho is an exclusive weblog template designer for the following blogging platforms: Blogger (Classic), Persian Blog, BlogFa. It will help you to make the following:
  • Create your ever-wished template in less than 10 minutes!
  • Walk on the edges of template design without any HTML knowledge!
  • Have W3C valid XHTML template, which will bring a higher ranking in search engines and eventually more hits.
  • Fix the browser's incompatibility.
  • Accelerate the loading time and style of your page.
  • Have CSS-Based template: The page can never be lighter and cleaner than it!
  • Always be capable to modify and share your template easily by saving your format in the PsycHodrama!
PsycHo is
  • An Open-Source project: You can read and even modify thousand lines of its javascript codes under terms of GPL.
  • Absolutely free of charge: You don't need to pay for anything!
  • Based on a single DHTML page: No submission or lag it has!
  • Working offline: Just get the page and hang the connection up; it works yet!
  • As PsycHo's generated templates have absolutely no warranty, it's strongly recommended to get a backup of your current template before pasting new code and making any modifications. Actually, it is a generic advice that is suitable for anything you do with your template code.
  • PsycHo generates Blogger templates only for the old Blogger, and they are not completely compatible with new Blogger. Fortunately you can still use them on new Blogger! Just tell it (Blogger service) that you wish to use an old (Blogger says classic) template in cost of losing Blogger's new features like labels and etc.
    To do that, in template area of Blogger, instead of pasting the HTML code (output of PsycHo), click on Revert to Classic Template link at the bottom of the box. Then, when you went to the classic menu (where Change the NavBar menu appears), paste the code and click "Save Template Changes".
  • FireFox is a recommended browser, while creating your template.

02 July 2009

Blog Promotion Tips from Darren Rowse

Can you make your blogging hobby a full time job? Really - the job that pays your bill and provides satisfaction from your performance results? While many of you would be skeptical, basing the lack of belief that you will ever acquire such status, there are already professional bloggers, who converted the blogging obsession in a full-time successful career. Darren Rowse is one of these lucky successful individuals, who started his blogging career from scratch in 2002 and became a prominent blogger several years later. His well-known website Problogger is dedicated to helping other bloggers learn the skills of blogging, share their own experiences and promote the blogging medium. You can review his blogging books, like 31 Days to Build a Better Blog workbook, released in 2009, for example, but this post is not about promoting these tutorials, no matter how good they are, since we dedicated our resources to the exclusively free opportunities. Not exactly free, since you spend your time, which is also cost money…
Image and video hosting by TinyPic

The strategic suggestions for this post are originated by Darren Rowse posts and summarized by MagikWidjet. And using Darren's name in the title of the blog post actually illustrates one of the promotional techniques.

Obviously, when you write a blog post, you'd love for it to rank high in the search engines. So maybe you optimize the title and the meta tags and the post copy around a keyword phrase. That works, definitely. But you can do much better if you take this a step further.

Think how people search. These days, every time you use Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all the other search engines, you can quickly be crushed under 185 tons of irrelevant garbage. You have to get very good at search, or you will get discouraged by poor results and waste a lot of time.
So what do experienced searchers do?

Simple. They search terms which REALLY narrow down their results. An experienced searcher would not just search the obvious keywords they are looking for. They would also search other terms combined with that keyword to really narrow down the search and get much more targeted results.
Use this to your advantage:
  • Include the source of the information (website, news agency, etc.) in the copy of your post.
  • Put exact names of people, products, brands, & businesses into your blog posts, not just content.
  • Use bullets (more keyword phrases) to quickly hit every point that you want to illustrate.
  • Choose only 1 or 2 social bookmarking links (Digg & StumbleUpon?). Make these links REALLY stand out!
Interesting bit of insight from The Daily Rundown, a website which has disappeared, but which was cited by Darren Rowse:
‘28% of Google searches are for a “product name”, 9% are for a “brand name” and 5% are searches for a “company name”. “Brand” keywords also have a 8x higher ROI than generic keywords. Not sure if that is for all searches or just consumer-product related searches, but either way it demonstrates the importance of making sure your site shows up on the SERPs for your brand.’

Include these names in your title, your copy, your meta description, your keyword tags, & your image tags. Your blog posts will get much more love from the search engines.


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