Blogging: A Business Model To Contend With

If there is one marketing tool that is grossly underestimated by most business owners, it certainly is blogging. Using a blog to get your word out there is starting to make sense for a lot of corporates, and even small business owners. Here's why:

  • Establishing an online presence: A blog makes perfect sense because it gives a personal feel to your business, while still enhancing your presence over the web.
  • Cost effective campaigning: A blog is not viewed as a direct advertorial, and this means understated marketing. Blogs are also economical considering the range of free or economical blog domains available.
  • Lending personality to your site: An out of domain blog lends a fresh view on your corporate image. When big brands blog, everybody listens, but this does not mean the evolving entreprenuers are to be left behind.
  • Brand community: Blogs are great ways to gather a loyal community of like minded businesspeople or even a prospective clientele.
  • Getting up close and personal: Blogs lend a certain personal touch to your business site or your product catalogue.
  • A two-way forum: Perhaps the key advantage to a blog is raking in on the feedback mechanism where reader commenting is encouraged. This can be a valuable tool to create an easy exchange of opinions and expectations.

Undeniably blogs mean a bit of investment in terms of finding time to keep it fresh and updated with interesting and insightful pieces. It is not uncommon for corporates to hire bloggers or to let in house staff handle the postings. Regardless of the dynamics of maintaining a successful blog, it is a great value add and brings a new facet to the business. What more can a budding business ask for?

Plaigarising Anew - Are Spammers Fooling Search Engines?

An Overview

Plagiarism is not a new online phenomenon by any standard. In reality, the ease and the lack of established governance in curbing online content theft have in essence made this concept into a notoriety of sorts. The rise of spam sites, splogs, and mirror sites, which conveniently delve into its benefits to either enhance their site hits or their ad revenue, or both, just goes to prove how widespread it really is. In the online arena no website is unassailable, and no security is absolute. It is little wonder then that this has led leading search engines to adopt strict criteria to weed out plaigarised content, thus protecting the original site reputation. This measure began with Google bringing down the search rankings and indexing of sites with duplicate content, thus slashing their exposure rates. And other search sites have followed in tandem too.

Foolproof Plagiarism? Almost...

So why is plagiarism now a new phenomenon? Nope, it certainly is as old as the web arena itself, but there is a catch. Indeed this is a fresh approach to scraping content off reputed sites, something every webmaster and online publisher would do well to heed. The concept of synonymized plagiarism has perhaps been touched often by many publishers. Any ardent SEO addict would grasp quite simply the fact that search engines are not immune to plagiarism in that they are tuned to identifying reasonably exact content lifting, but a more complex arrangement of words would miss its search 'spiders'. The use of synonyms to replace portions of the content will essentially make the text unique, and these would easily disentangle itself from being marked 'duplicate'. There are even auto-synonomizer software out there to make the task even simpler for the spammer. Innovative isn't it.

Newer Ways to Plagiarise

And then the plot gets thicker. Well, it actually began when some well know webmasters and bloggers caught on sites hosting content that seemed almost like their own, but something was not quite right. Well, it turns out these content were 'created' via 'double translation', using the available online translation tools to translate the text to another language and then back to the original one, English in most cases. The whole process is automated - screening for related content of interest to the site or splog, the translation itself, and then the publishing process. While the content essentially retains the same meaning it escapes any online check. And to their credit, some sites do track back to the original post, but several others would not be as courteous.

But is this method foolproof? Hardly. You see, any writer worth his salt will tell you that using automated translation software will generate output that is technically correct, but makes no linguistic sense. A re-translation is practically commercial suicide, and the final content is probably gibberish. But that doesn't really stop the spammers, who of course are not looking to educate their audience anyway!

How Do Publishers Cope

So, finally the verdict. How does one escape these ruthless content lifters. How do you really protect your site from plagiarists and scrapers? You could begin with copyrighting every word you publish online, regardless of how insignificant it may seem. You could set up plagiarism tools, such as Google alerts or Copyscape detection. Applying digital fingerprints to protect yourself from misuse of your RSS feeds is another point to ponder, since RSS scraping appears to be a dance for spammers. This feature can be used along with Google alerts, or as a plugin if you publish via Wordpress. There is no one answer, but every bit helps.

Publish in Peace

To conclude, the aim to protect yourself from plagiarism is to be able to publish without worrying about whether someone else will one day claim ownership to your content. Using your original writing with due sourcing and linking is acceptable, but a breach of copyrights shall be socked no less! So publish without restraint, but monitor incessantly.

Social Networking – Redefining The Information Era

Not too long ago, getting news depended upon your daily newspaper and your dose of magazines and TV. If you had an opinion to share with the rest of the community, you rarely did get the opportunity unless of course you were part of the media elite or a revered critic in your own right. For the less influential though, projecting their take on an issue was a distant dream, yet. The established media had its own notions about letting the common man have his say – carefully guarded procedures and a wary control over public opinion meant that an outsider rarely made a mark on the literary scene.

Well, the Internet changed all that. The marked media-shift has been born of nothing less than sustained efforts to change the way the world shares news. It’s no more the sole prerogative of the choicest few; information now flows instantaneously across the globe. The age of the Web 2.0 has finally arrived and is here to stay. You, the layman, can now not only write on topics close to your heart but can be heard and judged an expert if you have adequate following. Sites from Wikipedia and Slashdot to even Google count on the web savvy to become authoritative sources on a given subject. From Google’s revolutionary PageRank methodology to sites such as Alexa that work at par, tracking website growth and credibility has become as important as building them.

The cyber world is as chaotic as it can get, but with the advent of social networking things have become a whole new ball game altogether. From My Space to Facebook and Orkut, keeping in touch is vogue. It’s no more the time of exchanging boring emails, what with sites that allow interaction with the global community. The world never got any smaller. Open source portals have given way to a community that adds to a site’s content sans an editor. The arrival of Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia, has been a mere preliminary. The Internet has undergone a revolution no less.

The evolution of other sites such as Digg and Reddit will be a precursor of things to come. ‘Digg’, was in that way a pioneer in evolving the global wired society by offering a social networking portal that catered to a diverse range of netizens. Digg allows upload of content with a voting interface and you may soon find yourself on the best seller’s list. The site relies on its users to play the ‘good sheriff’.

This means that there is in essence a self-regulated team wherein the ‘bad apples’ are voted out, after having said their piece. One can see social networking sites such as Digg encompass activities including private networks, iPhone and geography tracking and streaming live video. Why, you can even check on the whereabouts of your friends, children and family members with GPS tracking and mobile number tracking through the sites. Social lending is also catching up in a big way from Zopa, based in the UK, to Prosper, which is well known in the States.

In fact, one of the factors in Barack Obama’s successful democratic presidential nomination was his recognition and ability to ‘digg’ in to the social networking sites, raising his profile to even reach every individual in America. Digg and other such sites is a valuable contributor to the cause of Democracy - it defends the Freedom of Speech and this means one need not cower down to institutional or corporate pressures to temper the content that is posted.

As with all human activity and commerce, the element of trust is the key to social networking. Development of trust leads to enhancement of human relationships and the society in general. Even the concept of streaming live videos is not just entertainment but can be construed as an effort to build trust - the very idea of being able to see someone live goes a long way in building interpersonal relationships.

In the age of frequent scamming that is part of Internet commerce, social networking is fast becoming the unforeseen billion-dollar industry. Social networking sites without doubt add to the burgeoning trade and financial transactions over the net. With their niche products and clubs, like-minded people can now freely converse and interact to add to their collective security.

And then, there is, like in anything else, a caveat. Indeed, social networking needs to be employed with due caution – the good and the bad exists everywhere including the cyberspace. Learning to use the freedom responsibly is a priceless suggestion one would do well to heed. Sharing personal information sensibly is a prudent choice to make. There is however, no doubt that social networking sites are here to stay, and are indisputable leaders in making the cyberspace a global community in every sense of the word.

Eco Living – When All Is Not So Green

We have all heard about the joys and benefits of going green, and about how it is inevitable in current times. The sky high levels of pollution, and the global warming and climate change phenomena have been discussed aplenty, particularly by the environmentally conscious American population. Yet, eco-friendly living has not established itself well in the US, despite several calls for change. Exploring this in depth reveals some startling truths about Eco-conscious living.

Why Going Green Is
Admittedly several benefits work in favor of an environmental-friendly lifestyle. For one thing it ensures health living and the satisfaction that the world will remain beautiful and unscarred. Perhaps the innate contentment also comes from knowing that the world we live in will be a secure and wholesome abode for generations to come. Being environmentally conscious is appealing and is certainly a worthy cause.

The Downside to Eco Friendly Living
While acknowledging the benefits of adopting the Eco-friendly way of life, one must wonder if these reasons suffice to bring in the Eco revolution into the mainstream. Are these well recognized pros of living green grounds enough to call for a global shift in our way of life?

Albeit that environmental friendliness is a commendable concept, it comes with its share of pitfalls. The financial strain of converting to an entirely divergent lifestyle is tremendous as is the need for adjustment at the individual level. Also the rewards of green living will not pay off until it comes about in a bug way and it may still take decades before any substantial effect is witnessed. Reason enough to dampen the spirits of many an ardent go-green advocate, who might never reap the benefits of their sacrifices.

The pros may well triumph over the cons of environmental friendly living, yet going green calls for great change and now. Perhaps it will still be years before the debate is truly resolved.

Points To Ponder When Opting For Term Insurance

Perhaps the one question people are wont to answer is whether they really need life insurance. Life insurance is a must-have if you are a parent or the primary provider for your family, or have significant debt that need to be taken care of in the event of death. Life insurance can mean a great sense of relief and peace of mind, and a guarantee that your loved ones will be cared for even when you are gone. However, the baffling array of life insurance coverage is likely to leave any consumer in a muddle. What is right for you – permanent or term life insurance?

The Benefits of Term Coverage
The average salaried professional with limited commitments, has a clear choice. Term insurance offers the right mix of benefits with short term coverage on low premiums. Going for temporary insurance is often the right choice for the typical buyer looking for affordable coverage. Custom insurance packages over a set duration of 10, 20 and 30 year periods can also be good deals to consider depending on the final disbursement amount.

Is Term Insurance for You
Term insurance does not bring the pros that come with permanent coverage, such as tax benefits and investment options. Yet, it is great value for money and provides sizable returns in the event of death, and comes with the option to convert to permanent coverage if required.

Term insurance offers the death benefit during the policy period ensuring your family is protected and relieved of other financial obligations such as mortgage debt, which may be honored using the predetermined sum released via an insurance claim. Term insurance can be a good option if you have restricted funds that will make permanent insurance unfeasible.