Archive for June, 2009

Publisher Spotlight: Real Geeks Ride

Jun
29

Real Geeks Ride

There are four kinds of people that work here at Lijit*: those that race cars, those that run, those that bike, and those that do other things**. I’m of the opinion that bikers make up the second largest majority around the office, being slightly beaten out by the overall geek population. When I got word that there were a couple of self-proclaimed geeks that were riding their bicycles across the US to raise awareness about bike-commuting, I knew they had to be Lijit.

Carlos and Joe

Meet Carlos and Joe, the two geeks behind Real Geeks Ride. They started their cross-country cycling adventure on May 20th and are chronicling their journey via blog, tweets and pictures. We’re honored that they’ve chosen to use Lijit on the official RGR blog but reading about their travels just wasn’t enough. After a few emails (and one phone call he took from the side of the road in Nebraska with big trucks whizzing by), Carlos was happy to answer a few questions for us.

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?

I have been in the blogging world on and off for the past few years. It tends to be event/travel oriented, rather than opinion or news based. I started blogging in high school but dropped it when interest was lost. I picked it up again when I traveled around the world with a ‘worldly singing and dancing group’ to keep my parents and friends up to date.

What has been the greatest thing you’ve received from blogging?

During this bike ride, blogging has given both Joe and I hundreds of people looking out for our safety and health. They ask about us and offer suggestions when we write about our health issues. Knowing that we have moms across the country expecting our safety is uplifting.

What has suprised you on your cross-country bike trip and why?

It is most surprising how different each state reacts to cyclists on the road. We are currently in Nebraska and receive a wave from every other car (not exaggerating). Our experience here is that people give ample room when passing, and are willing to help at any moment. This differs greatly from our experience in Iowa, where we were screamed at, almost hit a few times, and given the finger more times than waves.

What has been the biggest challenge you guys have encountered on your trip so far?

The biggest challenge has been keeping up with the blog. After biking 100+ miles and arriving at our destination at 8 pm, the last thing we want to do is edit photos and write about the past few hours. However, we gain so much push to do ‘work’ when people send us messages of inspiration. It has been the hundreds of messages we have received that allow us to overcome not wanting to post.

How has Lijit helped you to become a better blogger?

Lijit has allowed me to become a better blogger by making it easy to search for people doing similar things. The more I read within a certain field, the more it gives me the ability to see the different writing styles of that field.

If you’re interested, you can follow along with Carlos and Joe on their blog, on Twitter or through their Flickr pics.

Additionally, if you’re in the Denver/Boulder area, you’re invited to meet the guys this Friday, July 3rd, as they make a stop in Boulder. We’ll be meeting up at the Boulder Draft House, from 4-6 pm, to enjoy some happy hour beers with the guys. (Look for us in the back room!) Ride your bike, stop in, and let us show Carlos and Joe just how much we love our bikes around here.

*A very sweeping overgeneralization, of course.

**Other things include: rugby, hiking, parenting, photography, playing video games & tweeting.

Get to Know Lijit: Aditya

Jun
26

Aditya holds the honor of being the first intern that we had at Lijit AND the first that we hired upon college graduation. That’s how important QA is to us. Here he is in the Lijit offices, working diligently on the white board, or for the purpose of this picture, pretending to be…

Aditya out of focus

(And yes, Aditya is a little out of focus but it’s only because I was playing with my new camera and amazed at the focal capabilities.)

What is your Lijit contribution?

As part of the QA team at Lijit, I work on making sure that the Lijit product is as bug-free as possible. The best part of my role is that I get to see and test all of the cool features being added to our product before they are released to our publishers. The more bugs I am able to test and find, the better the quality of the product.



What turns you off, creatively, spiritually, or emotionally and why?

Not being appreciated for the work being put in. It is my belief that appreciating an individual’s effort, however small, helps to bring out the best. And this applies to any setting.



What is your favorite word and why?

In recent times, I think my favorite word has become ‘Verified!’ because that status on a bug means that the product is cleaner and of better quality. With releases becoming more frequent, it has become my new mantra.



What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt and why?

Playback Singer in Indian movies because I love music. I think music has the ability to influence people’s moods and I would love to be able to do that. And since I have grown up on Indian movies (Bollywood!), it would be great to be a part of them.



Something you’re guilty of…

I am crazy about cricket and can never get enough of it. In the summer, I play the game at least 3 times a week (I wish it were sunny all year in Boulder) and watch pretty much any cricket match that India is involved in.

Aditya as QA ninja

We love having Aditya around and hope that as his first job out of college, we haven’t set him up for future disappointment when he realizes other companies aren’t as cool as ours. Here’s to Aditya’s ninja-like QA skills and many more successful bug smashings! (Insert the Hulk’s menacing growl here.)

You’ve Got Comments in My Search Results!

Jun
23

Yeah, that’s kinda old news. By now, if you are a Lijit user, you have seen that we have integrated all the major comment systems (Disqus, JS-Kit and Intense Debate) as well as blog platform comments (Wordpress and Typepad) into the search results.

But, what we may not have done is explain why it’s such a important feature.

Of all the components of a blog post (the title, the body and the comments), only comments describe the engagement level of the readership of a particular post.

Think about it. The title gives you a hint as to what the content is, and the content gives you, well, the content. But its the comments where real interaction occurs.

Lijit, focusing on trust based results, wants to provide the searcher all the possible clues available as to which result is most trust-worthy as well as most relevant. It’s one of the reasons why searchers use less words in their searches to discover content.

In this result from my blog, you will see that the first result, which has the most comments is expanded to show the first few comments. I highlighted an interesting line in the comment about the importance of community interaction:

Disqus Comments

Features such as comment integration are important for us to continue to roll out as we continue to provide search results that provide real value to the blogger and the searcher.

The added benefit of comment systems, such as Disqus, is their network and how people comment on blogs both within and outside the Lijit network. Beyond the simple comment integration, we hope to continue to explore ways to use the comment data in our results.

You will see that we have added Disqus to this blog. We are excited to test it first hand and see what behaviors it drives. Over time, we will continue to use this blog as a place to test other technologies and their potential integration or partnership with Lijit.

If you are interested in us trying out specific plugins or technologies, please leave a comment.

Publisher Spotlight: Jason Womack

Jun
16

I first met Jason when he had installed our widget on his blog…four times. We always appreciate enthusiasm like that, but one widget is normally enough. Turns out he was having problems with his advanced Typepad template and we grew to be close through many tech support emails. Imagine my surprise when, just a week after we had solved his problem, he sent me an email saying he was going to be in Boulder for business.

Since we have an “open-door” policy around Lijit, I told him to stop by…

and he did! We spoke for a half-hour and it reminded me, once again, just how spectacular it is to meet our publishers in person. Jason was incredibly energetic, full of questions, and loved the idea of Lijit. In my opinion, this makes him an ideal candidate for a Publisher Spotlight profile.

Jason is a productivity consultant and does a lot of work in helping people to be more efficient and effective in their work. Not to mention he’s an incredible triathlete and really nice guy. Let’s find out more about Jason’s thoughts on blogging…

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?

In early 2002, I had lunch with Robert Scoble in Seattle, Washington, and he suggested I “just get started.” In fact, his advice fit hand-in-hand with my own coaching philosophy…Get Started.

My current blog is titled “Your Best Just Got Better”, Jason Womack Blog, and has been “in action” since March of 2004.

What has been the greatest thing you’ve received from blogging?

As an executive coach and triathlete, I dedicate my life to performance, in both theory and action. To perform means: To carry out, bring about, accomplish or achieve. Blogging serves at least two purposes for me as a consultant and practitioner of this methodology:

1) Writing about what I learn about, my experiments and the results gives me the opportunity to slow down and reflect on the lessons I experience on an “almost” daily basis.

2) Recording those lessons in a blog gives me a reviewable “resource” to demonstrate my growth over time.

I am a “fortunate blogger” in that I have a few people who read what I write, and I’ve made more than one group of friends around the world because of the community we’ve been able to build via online, on phone, and in person meetings. Here’s an example: A group of us put together the “bloggers’ bike ride” several years ago. (You can read about it here.)

Of all the posts you’ve written, what has been your favorite and why?

Over the years, I don’t know if there is a “favorite” post, but I tend to spend most of my time contributing to two categories: Perform (at work) and Competing.

Both of these sections collect my thoughts and suggestions on the “time management” problem we all face: Too much to do (well) and not enough time to do it (at our best.) My job-really, my life-is to research practice and share the world’s best and most sustainable answers to questions like: “How can I be effective at work?”

With so many things available to distract us, can you share some of your tips for being the most effective while at work?

For some answers, visit the blog! One idea to get you started is: For the next 5 days, separate EVERYthing you get into one of two buckets/folders/stacks on your desk/in your email/within your notebook.

1) Action materials/action reminders: Everything that when you see it you think, “I have to DO something about that.”

2) Reference materials: ANYthing you see and think, “I might need this later on.”

How has Lijit helped you to become a better blog publisher?

I’m a Lijit fan and continue to talk about them in our seminars because:

1) They care. While working in Boulder, I was invited to “stop by”, and I got a tour of the office as well as a tutorial on how to best use their service.

2) They are there. Now, when I go to my blog I can search (and find) something I know I wrote about.

3) They are there (part II). While I’m on the phone with a client, I can ask THEM to go to the blog, do a search, and find what it is they’re looking for, or what I want them to see.

4) They get it. These days, its not just about capturing information; it’s about pulling the information BACK that is in there “somewhere.” This is a reason I recommend all bloggers at least “experiment” with Lijit.

As a blog publisher, knowing that Lijit is there by my side, I am really thinking through my blog posts, asking myself, “Would this come up in the way I would like it to if someone searched my blog for one of these terms?”

Thank you to the Lijit “family” for doing all you do to keep us moving forward.

You’re welcome, Jason. :) Thank you for your support. And if anyone out there needs help accomplishing more, be sure to check out Jason’s blog and follow him on Twitter for even more helpful information about how to make your best even better.

New Lijit Wordpress Plugin Available

Jun
11

We are super excited to announce a new update to our Wordpress Plugin. The same plugin that brought sweet search functionality and stats information to your wordpress blog is now even better.  You might not notice much, as the core of this update revolves around backend functionality. So what does that mean to you???

  • Our search form override functionality is now compatible with just about any wordpress theme out there.  (if you find one that doesn’t work, let us know, and we’ll try to add it)
  • The plugin enables new widget functionality which results in faster widget loading for your readers.

If you are using Wordpress 2.7 or higher, you should see auto upgrade notices for version 1.1 showing up in your admin console within the next 24 hours. You can just auto upgrade from your plugins screen. Or, you can always manually install/upgrade the plugin from the Lijit Wordpress Plugin page. For handy install tips and instructions, you can always reference our Lijit Help pages for guidance.

As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at support@lijit.com.

Blogs With Balls. Its Not What You Think.

Jun
10

This Saturday, I am excited to speak at the Blogs With Balls conference in NYC. There is quite a line up, and I am glad to be included.

Yes, my 12 year old mind immediately went to the gutter when I was first approached about speaking. But, the conference is all about sports blogging.

Put together by Don Povia and Chris Lucas as a sports blogging conference, they have assembled a strong array of speakers, highlighted by my good friends, Gary Vaynerchuk and Julia Roy.

The sponsors are also fantastic. (Yes, we are helping sponsor the event!). YardBarker, SBNation, VaynerMedia and BlogWorldExpo are all companies that I have worked with and am excited to have them be part of this inaugural conference.

My panel will be focusing on how to monetize your blog. With Lijit’s recent release of our Ad Network, we have learned a lot about how to help bloggers really maximize the revenue their blogs are generating, and it will be nice to share it with the attendees.

While there is a focus on sports blogging, the truth is that many of the panels are providing information that is appropriate to any blogger.

So, if you are in New York City on June 13, you should swing by and say hi.

Of course if you are a Lijit blogger, please let me know, I would love to meet and thank each one of you!

A Friendly Recommendation: outbrain

Jun
9

Here at Lijit, we love finding out about new blog tools that make it easier to discover great content. (Hey, it’s a big part of what we do!) We first met the folks from outbrain at SXSW in 2008, when both of our companies were helping with the b5 Blog Network Camp. Since then, we’ve both grown up a bit. It’s not unusual now to hear both Lijit and outbrain discussed as must-have tools for any blogger.

In the interest of research, I wanted to give outbrain a try on my work blog, I quit for Lijit. It really is a simple one-click install and only took me a couple of minutes to get it up on my blog. I love that I can now get instant feedback and, underneath my posts, I’m recommending other quality content for my visitors to read. For a free service, outbrain rocks. I’m looking forward to checking out the reports that outbrain provides and to find out even more about the people coming to my blog. Who doesn’t love stats?

If you’re interested in an easy blog enhancement, be sure to give outbrain a try. Their widget inherits the look and feel of your blog, making for a seamless integration that can only help your readers. We really like what outbrain is doing and think you will too!

You can read more about outbrain on their blog and follow them on Twitter.

Context Brings The Right Answers

Jun
4

I just checked my TripIt account and so far I have been traveling for 25% of 2009. That means, having just started June, that I have been gone from Boulder for more than a solid month. (Well, not a solid month, more like a total of a month worth of days, but I bet you get it.)

Which also means I get a lot of time to read. Lately, I have been reading a book called The Know-It-All by AJ Jacobs. In the book, which is non-fiction, AJ reads the entire encyclopedia to become the smartest person in his family.

In many ways, I view Google, Yahoo!, and MSN (I mean BING!) similarly. They are out there attempting to catalog the worlds information so that when asked a question, they can provide you with THE one right answer.

Often, they do. But as time as passed and the information store has grown, context has been lost. When you do the search for “seal” what is returned? The animal? The singer?

Google Results - Seal

Google hedges its bets by displaying images of both, but guesses the singer in the results…

There was a recent article in DM News that search queries of three words or less were down 3%, 5% and 1% respectively, but that searches of four to eight words had grown from 3% to 20%.

In short, searchers have learned that to get relevant results, you have to use more than three words.

My friend Kevin Lee of Did-It was quoted as saying:

“Longer queries are a sign of the searchers becoming more educated and savvy and essentially being trained by the fact that results for shorter queries tend to return less relevant results than longer searches.” (emphasis mine)

Frankly, while not surprising, that boggles my mind. Searchers have learned that the major search engines are inherently inefficient and ineffective at applying context to a search query. How is this progress?

That major search engines are relying on the searcher to provide the context via additional keywords in the query.  How does that create a better search experience?

Which, of course, brings us to Lijit.

Across our network approximately 75% of the searches are three words or less. Why is that?

Because we allow the publisher to provide the context. Their readers, by going to a trusted source first, already believe that the results that are returned will be contextual to the query. Therefore, they don’t need to use multiple word queries to return relevant results.

How do we know that this is the case?

1) On average, we get a higher click through rate on organic results than people using Google Custom Search.

2) On average, we get a higher click through rate on ads than the industry standard for text ads.

So what is better for publishers?

The “one right answer” approach that the major search engines take, or the “every publisher has a right answer” approach that we take?

I suppose that is up to the searcher.

But, I can guarantee it will take less keywords in the query to find the answer on a Lijit publisher.