Newsweek to Go All Digital in 2013

by Alison Lueders

Last week, Newsweek announced it is going all digital in 2013. Its print edition will cease on December 31, 2012.

I have mixed feelings about this. As a green (eco-friendly) business person, I applaud a decision that reduces the cutting down of trees, the manufacture of paper (a highly toxic process), and the printing and distribution of magazines each week that produce tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

However, I grew up enjoying the feel of a book or magazine in my hand, turning the pages, dog-earing the ones I want to go back to. There is something distinctly less inviting about a tablet – although I have and regularly use my Kindle Fire.

Whether you love or hate this news, I appreciate that Newsweek at least made a crisp decision. Lately, in what I can only guess is an attempt to “jazz up” their magazine, Businessweek’s print edition has taken to putting graphics on its pages in such a way that you have to turn the magazine sideways and upside down to read them all. Not only do I feel ridiculous doing that, it almost guarantees that I lose my place in the article itself. If BW is attempting to be “cooler” or more interesting by doing this, I wish they would stop.

I also lament the lost jobs for the folks who produce the print version of Newsweek, but I suspect there will only be more such decisions to come. As is so often the case, money is at the root of this decision. According to the New York TImes, Newsweek was losing about $40 million per year.

So what does this mean for web editors? I have to believe it’s good news. As more traditional print moves online, there will be more opportunities for those of us who create and manage online content already.

How do you see Newsweek’s decision?

Lessons from a Blogging Success Story

I hear a lot about people trying to make a living through blogging, but rarely do I get to see an example. So it was great to be in the audience at a recent meeting in which owners of a successful blog were interviewed.

The blog is youlookfab.com, a fashion blog run by Angie and Greg Cox, who live in the Seattle area. Even for someone with little interest in fashion, it was fascinating to hear how they made this blog work.
They talked about how they:

  • got started
  • built a blog so successful it supports them both
  • developed a thriving online community—a real community

You can check out the site yourself to get a sense of what they do, but the short version is that they started in 2006 with no particular goal, developed the blog and an online forum, and eventually Greg quit his job at Microsoft to run the back end. Now they run the blog together. Angie also has a business consulting with clients as a fashion stylist.

Fashion is not my thing, but for bloggers and web editors who deal with comments, social media, and the like, I found a lot of clues about what led to this couple’s success.

Not a Casual Interest

By the time Angie began a blog, she already had nearly two decades of professional experience in the fashion industry—as a fashion designer, buyer, and stylist.
How does she come up with ideas for ten posts a week? She answered that she is thinking about it all the time. Really all the time: when she’s with a client, she notices things to write in her next post. And when she’s not working with a client, she’s still thinking about fashion and what to blog about.

Elements that Form a Community

Since marketing has zoomed in on social media, “community” has become a holy grail for companies (who want it for marketing purposes). It’s no surprise that communities online tend to develop organically around shared interests. But even with common interests some groups thrive and some disintegrate.

What sets youlookfab.com apart is that it is a fashion advice blog. Fashion blogs come in lots of different types: celebrity-following blogs, daily photos of the blogger’s oufit, photos of street fashion, gossip+fashion, etc. Angie’s blog is really about style advice and helping people with their own style.

Angie and Greg didn’t set up the forum on the site until the volume of questions Angie was answering demanded it. The forum was an almost instant hit: it transformed the dynamic from Angie helping readers to Angie and readers helping other readers. The more I thought about advice—asking for and getting help—the more it made sense that it’s a perfect foundation for a thriving community:

  • People who help other people are usually nice
  • Nice, friendly people attract other people
  • Groups of nice people have some built-in immunity to trolls, keeping things useful and pleasant

Angie mentioned something else that I think further builds on the foundation of nice people+advice: her philosophy. To paraphrase, when it stops being fun, you stop.

If I had to sum up in one word my impression of what makes Angie and Greg’s endeavor successful, it would be authenticity.

Comments welcome.
@EditorAM

How Do You Better Serve Colour Blind Readers?

Page graphic from Luke McGrath "Using colour on your website" article.

Luke McGrath article, “Using colour on your website.”

How do your readers see colour on your website?

According to Web Editors Group member Luke McGrath, “…somewhere around 5% of your male customers will struggle with your website if you don’t use colour correctly” because they deal with some amount of colour blindness. Then McGrath goes on to tell you how to supplement your use of colour to better serve that audience.

Learn about colour and making it work for all of your readers in “Using colour on your website,” a valuable read for all webeditors.

Creating Quality Links

Quality Links Are a Main Ingredient of a Well Optimized Website

by Alan Eggleston

Links are part of a healthy diet for any optimized website, along with strong keywords, relevant content, and maximized meta tags. Yet, if you look at many websites, you see a wide range of link practices, from none at all to dozens on a page, and from links that mean nothing to links that rate very high. For someone looking to rank high in searches, the highly optimized website should always include at least a few links on every page, focusing on quality links, and here are a few guidelines you should work toward:

Quality Link Types

Internal Links

  • Home Page text links to main navigation home pages like main product or service pages, about pages, contact, news, and testimonials. (In the body text and at the bottom of the page.)
  • Home Page text links to other pages on your site that contain valuable keyword-relevant content, including news articles, biographies, product or service sub-level pages, special topic and special offer pages, and about sub-level pages. (In the body text and sidebars or tile ads.)
  • Links to the Home Page and main navigation home pages from sub-level pages which tag valuable relevant keywords. Anywhere you can reverse the direction of referral to reinforce the relevancy is a good place to link back.

Outbound Links

  • Link to authoritative sites like news organizations, reference sites, and sites highly regarded in your specific topic area. Linking to their home pages is fine, but linking to specific internal pages that relate even more specifically to your keyword is even better. If a home page is good, an about page is even better for a general information link. Link to the highest ranking page from a search if you don’t have a general page for linking.
  • Remember to link to association and verification sites like the Better Business Bureau, which also carry high authority. Check with them for application and approval rules.
  • When non-authoritative pages are all that you have, the same rules apply: For general linking, link to the home page, about page, or highest ranking results page from a search. (This would be for linking to a business page, for instance.) Naturally, if you are referring to a specific item on the site, link to that page.
  • Keep your outbound links natural and relevant to your content. In other words, don’t force links just to have links. Consider your reader’s desire to find more information and link to sites that will best supply that information. Yet, don’t get link-happy; create value-added links for both you and your reader.
  • Where possible, create a “mesh” of links: When the opportunity arises, arrange for links back to your site from sites to which you link. For instance, if you link to a vendor site that supplies you with products, they may be able to provide a link back to your site. The best mesh is between pages that link to each other.

Inbound Links

  • Be careful of the links you accept to your site. Spam links can damage your ranking as can doorway sites (sites set up as lists of links that are not related). Be wary of offers to simply trade links – those are often doorway sites!
  • Some inbound links look all right. The immediate site seems okay, but if you further trace the links in them, they go to pages that aren’t all right. Because the search engines follow all those links, such links can damage your ranking. You often see these in the comments section of blogs.
  • Trackbacks can be as questionable as links. If they are to a blank page or an aggregate content page that may be penalized by Panda, they could negatively affect your ranking.
  • Good inbound links you can set up include Yellow Pages links, directory pages links, professional pages links, Google Pages links (and similar pages on Bing), Google Locations (and Yahoo and Bing), Facebook Fan Pages, Google + Fan Pages, and locality pages like Local First. You can spend hours setting up these!

You don’t need all your links set up at once. In fact, other than the main links on your Home Page, it’s probably best to add links a bit at a time. All-at-once looks like a spamming effort, whereas building links over time looks like a sustained campaign, adding links with content showing attention to your site.

Next Time – Tightening the Screws on Cheaters

With Panda, Penguin, and now EMD, Google is tightening the screws on optimization cheaters. Don’t get caught between the screws.

Pinterest for Your Publication

By Jennifer Ford

Most publications have gotten started with the basics of a social media plan by creating a Twitter feed and a Facebook page. But there are many, many other social media tools that your readers might be using and where you might be able to reach them. Readers and consumers these days don’t much care how you get your content to them, but they want to be able to find you on every screen and every device and every network they use.

That’s why you might want to consider Pinterest as part of your social media strategy to share your content. Pinterest is a virtual pinboard that launched in 2010. In under 2 years it became one of the 10 largest social networking services. I can easily see why: its purpose is to share photos, which we all know innately (and gauging from the shift toward a more photo-centric Timeline, Facebook agrees) are the most enticing element of social networking. I joined Pinterest during its beta phase and it has since become a regular at my social media table along with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Businesses selling products marketed with images on Pinterest are seeing better sales than through Facebook. In a comparison of 50,000 purchases via Facebook and 50,000 purchases via Pinterest on jewelry site Boticca.com, Pinterest buyers spent $180 to Facebook’s $85 per purchase.

That’s great for an e-commerce site, you say, but what about for publications? They’re getting in on the game, too. Publications like the New York Times curate images from lifestyle and blog areas of their site on Pinterest. And take the magazine House Beautiful, for example. As of the time I am writing this, they maintain 41 boards of various themes on Pinterest. And this year they became the first Pinterest-enabled print magazine by implementing a digital watermark tool, like a QR code but integrated into an image, called Print-to-Pin (Digimarc). You can actually take a photo of the printed page with your smartphone and create a pin that will reference the House Beautiful site. There are still some wrinkles to be ironed out, but there are so many possible applications it makes the mind spin.

But there are reasons you might not want to use Pinterest, either. Consider the way it works: a steady stream of photos that reference a URL. For example, healthcare publications could face HIPAA compliance fines or other legal action if Pinterest users ever shared photos that did not have identifying information removed or did not have the necessary permissions attached. Even if you’re not risking something as serious as legal action, you don’t want to risk wasting your time. You need to gauge whether your readers are on Pinterest and would want to see your content there.

If you have decided you want to get on the Pinterest bandwagon, start by downloading the Pin It plugin that you can put on your site. You can also look to see if anyone has already pinned something from your website by going to http://pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite.com/. And, of course, you’ll want to develop a strategy for your activity on Pinterest and share it with other editors who are involved. When you pin your content, you’ll want to be sure that there are feature images that relate to the content, because the image associated with a URL is what users see in the pin, and if you don’t have one, Pinterest will try to use another image it can find, like your logo or an ad. Another resource that could be helpful is the book Pinfluence by social media expert Beth Hayden, which was published in July 2012.

Share your experiences! Leave a comment or tweet @jeniford or @thewebeditors.