Guest Posting and Link Building: My Warning

Warnings of who is asking to guest post

On Thursday 25th May 2017 Matt G Southern a well-known and respected writer at the Search Engine Journal published the article “Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links“.

I began to read the article hoping that an issue that happened to me recently would be mentioned, but it wasn’t.  This article is also a warning, but of a different kind when accepting guests posts onto your website for the purpose of forming genuine, respectful links.

However, as already stated in the published post by Matt Southern, the posts can be misleading and the links are in fact spammy.  This was what was quoted yesterday directly from Google.

Google has issued a warning to remind site owners about the dangers of publishing content on other sites for the purpose of building inbound links.

The company doesn’t frown on guest posts or syndicated posts in general, but lately there has been an increase in spammy links stuffed into these types of posts. That’s the reason behind this sudden warning from Google.

Distributing content on a large scale when the main intention is to build links back to your own site is strictly prohibited under Google’s guidelines on link schemes.

But what if there is another reason that people are approaching small businesses to guest post?  I, from experience, can tell you there is.

Is Guest Posting What it Seems?

I have been approached by email on several occasions over the years I have had my website asking if I accept guest posts.  Surprised at this as Virtuadmin.uk to be perfectly honest doesn’t have a tremendous amount of traffic, so together with other SEO (search engine optimisation) publishing guests posts is an ideal way to gain genuine backlinks to improve my SERPs results myself.

The person that contacted me introduced themselves to me as a “Content Writer & Editor” full of praise for my website and to quote in their opening statement “I am a business content writer and I chanced upon virtuadmin.uk“.

I am no website designer, personally, I feel that my website is somewhat amateurish but enjoy the challenges of attempting to improve it to what I consider a professional standard (not there yet but trying!); I am not a website designer but an experienced touch typist and transcriptionist!

Emails were sent back and forth, not very frequently, once every two weeks or so.  They would send an email to say they were working on my article and would email once it was ready for review and any edits I would like.

When the final article came back, I read through it very impressed, suggested some edits to the post, which were duly done.

In the meantime of waiting for the finished article to come back and then be published on this website, I decided to do a bit of research into the person that had contacted me.  I usually do this when I get requests to accept guest posts or infographics.

My Shock

I was horrified to discover the person that had initially contacted, maintained communications with me so professionally, written such a brilliant post I couldn’t wait to publish it, was my biggest competitor. 

Just to be sure of my facts, I looked for information on the person on the professional alternative to Facebook, LinkedIn and Tweeted the company directly to ask if they had a content writer of that name, to which they replied they had and gave me their email address!

This company did not just provide the service in the niche area that I am working solo as a transcriptionist and typist, but many other types of administration duties that can be outsourced and carried out online.  They are very established, very large.  In my mind, if someone chanced upon the article upon my website, I always reference guest post at the beginning, therefore technically I would have been sending business to them.

Personally, I just can’t help wondering for a company so large why are they trying to take out small-time work-from-home Mums like myself?  It’s not just that, why the underhanded way in which they approached me, not even volunteering the information of who they worked for as a Content Writer and Editor!

My Warning and Advice

My warning to anyone that is trying to genuine improve their website rankings without the budget of hiring SEO experts or other tactical ways of achieving page one on Google SERPs, if you are approached out of the blue, just like I was, be polite, the might be genuine but check them out.

How?  Firstly, Google or Bing is a great start.  If it is a common name like the person I was researching, narrow the results down with the details you have.  Location, their job, email address, alternatively LinkedIn.

Even with minimal information, I only had a name, email address and job title, for example, but believe me, you can research the person concerned, you can find out who they are that has contacted you to make this request it.

Hopefully, unlike my unfortunate experience, they are equally a small-time business or stay-at-home Mum or Entrepreneur looking to make genuine backlinks because you share a common niche area.

 

 

 

 

Closed captions: Transcripts Aid Learning for Almost all Students

Transcripts for Students from Video Aid Learning

Most college and university students who use closed captions and transcripts on video and multimedia find them helpful as a learning tool, despite them not regularly being made available, according to new research from Oregon State University.

One of the first surveys of its type, of 2,124 students across 15 public and private universities nationwide, found that 98.6 percent of students say captions are helpful, with 75 percent of them noting that they use captions as a learning aid in face-to-face and online classrooms. For video transcripts, students referenced the tool as a learning aid 85 percent of the time.

More than half of students surveyed said captions help by improving comprehension. The most common reasons students use captions are to help them focus, retain information and overcome the poor audio quality of the videos, while transcripts are often used as study guides and to find and retain information.

The national study, conducted by the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit in collaboration with 3Play Media, also shows that among the students surveyed, only 13 percent had registered with an office of disability services and less than 12 percent require academic accommodations. Of all respondents, 19 percent cited having difficulty with hearing and 37 percent have difficulty with vision.

"Many people associate the use of closed captions and transcripts only with disability accommodation, and that can mean they are not made widely available," said Katie Linder, director of the Oregon State University Ecampus Research Unit and author of the study. "One hope for this study was to help educate university administrators about how a range of students are using these tools, and that making them more available could help more learners."

According to Linder, closed captions and transcripts are now a legal obligation for universities that receive federal funding when they create videos for courses and for institutional purposes, to ensure that students with disabilities have equal access.
"Despite this, many institutions do not understand the legal obligation, or they only associate these tools with disability accommodation and do not consider how they could be helpful to all students," Linder said.

The study found that almost 100 percent of survey respondents had at least one course, either face-to-face or online, that included some video content. However, more than one-quarter of respondents were unsure about the availability of closed captions and almost one in five were not sure about the availability of transcripts of the videos in their courses.

"Not only is captioning often necessary for accessibility compliance, but, as the study shows, 75 percent of students use captions as a learning aid to improve their focus, retention, engagement, and comprehension when watching videos for class," said Lily Bond, director of marketing at 3Play Media, a company that provides closed captioning, transcription and subtitling solutions.

"As the use of video in higher education becomes more commonplace, making captions and transcripts more widely available should be a priority for institutions."

The survey was voluntary, conducted online and contained 46 questions. All study participants were college and university undergraduate and graduate students, mainly undergraduate, over the age of 18, and the majority of them came from the public, four-year institutions.

"In many ways, this study is just scratching the surface of what we know about how students use and perceive closed captions and transcripts in the college and university classroom," Linder said. "Additional research related to student use and perceptions of closed captions and transcripts is welcomed and encouraged."

A summary of the findings is available online at http://bit.ly/2eKmswJ, as well as a downloadable version of the full report.

* This report first appeared on http://phys.org/news on the 1st November 2016.
** Header image designed by Virtuadmin

Freelancing – Two Popular Freelance Sites Analysed

Freelancing and procuring work on a regular basis to keep the cash-flow circulating in on the context of submitting proposals, quotes, or setting up gigs or services is hard to do. I’ve been freelancing as Virtuadmin on a variety of sites for the past few years but work has suddenly come to a halt and wondering why.  I’ve been marketing Virtuadmin regularly the best way I know how; posting to our website by sharing great tools and information and generally being active on Social Media platforms such as Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Google+ to name a few.

The most success I had was on Fiverr.com, unfortunately, the exchange rate of ‘$’ to ‘£’ doesn’t make working in a professional niche viable sometimes. To explain further, my success was transcription and was getting regular orders. It takes the average transcriptionist with touch typing speeds in excess of 70 words per minute 4 hours to transcribe one hour of good quality clear audio. To transcribe say 30 minutes for ‘$5’ would give the freelancer, me, ‘$4’. At the time of writing the exchange rate would convert that $4 into approximately £2.82. Break that down even further and it works out to £2.82 divided by the 30 minutes of audio is 0.09 per audio minute.

After discovering Fivesquid.com and the British equivalent to Fiverr.com in as much that it is working in £’s and not $’s suited me better. This would make £4 and not $4 for 30 minutes of audio to be transcribed (An example for ease of explaining and this would then make the audio 0.13p per audio minute. Other freelance sites offer multiple currencies to pay or receive payment in.

Fiverr.com and Fivesquid.com are two very similar sites with the same objectives of providing quality low-cost freelance services. This got me thinking why I’m not getting the views of my services on Fivesquid as I was getting on Fiverr.com (my account is closed on Fiverr). My ‘gigs’ are active on Fivesqid.com but even after cross promotion on various platforms, Twitter, Google+, Facebook, Linkedin, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Digg, Flipboard some days I am just not getting the views or orders.

A quick search on Google to see if there was a website out there that would show traffic rates and comparisons of traffic; hey presto I found www.similarweb.com. These two graphs have been generated by this wonderful website and show the difference in volumes in traffic and their sources.These two graphs are a comparison of estimated monthly visits website traffic between fivesquid.com and fiverr.com. To clarify this is the estimated number of internet users who visited fivesquid.com compared to its American competitor fiverr.com.

Estimated Monthly Visits

The reason for my comparison is to ascertain if Fivesquid as a freelancing website is actually growing in popularity or are regular users maintaining it? Are more people actually looking for and hiring freelance services via Fivesquid?

To look at the graph above for the last 3 months looking at the first two indicators, ‘Direct’ and ‘Referrals’ the answer would seem to be no. However looking at the results of ‘Search’ which is Search engine traffic is that traffic that comes from visitors clicking on links on a search results page this would change my opinion a little. There is a significant number of more clicks from search results for Fivesquid as opposed to Fiverr.

Engagement

Fiverr has a much higher engagement rate to that of Fivesquid, it would appear that Fivesquid is remaining steady in popularity and Fiverr is decreasing in popularity. Certainly, over October, November and December their visits have fallen by approximately 10 million. In referrals, they are much pretty neck and neck but with the decrease in visits and referrals staying the same Fiversquid is getting a more trustworthy site to hire freelancers on. Their rate of conversion at roughly 9.58% compared to Fiverr shows that Fivesquid has a much stronger email marketing strategy and therefore better conversion rates.

 

Conclusion

This is only my opinion as an experienced Professional offering digital services as Virtuadmin Services working with years of experience working in an office and freelancing.  Our conclusion and belief are that Fivesquid has a lot to offer small businesses and organisations or businesses or anyone looking for cost-effective digital solutions.  Fivesquid has an awful lot to offer where benefits are to be gained outsourcing in the currency Great British Pound but unfortunately are not promoting.

It is encouraging that ‘Search’ results and ‘Mail’ initiatives provide much higher traffic sources and conversions hoping that one day they will increase their hundreds of thousands of visitors to millions like Fiverr.

Entrepreneurs, Solopreneurs, Small and medium sized businesses, organisations, self-employed are turning more using the professional services offered by freelancers that ever before.  Outsourcing to a freelancer is a cost-effective solution and hiring freelancers via freelance websites ensure security for both parties in the buying and selling of a service, flexible that you can hire them to do a one-off job or long-term pretty much hassle free. The only drawback to a site like Fiverr for freelancers where the exchange rate is not favourable to their native country’s currency they cannot work for any decent amount of money without severely dropping their working rates of what they are willing to accept for a certain task. Many, many freelance professionals produce high-quality work and this alternative of compromising working rates does not seem at all fair.

I hope in the future that contractors using freelance sites will consider the currency aspect and appreciate that the digital world operates in different types of currency values and unfortunately, therefore, some parts of the world can outsource their quality services cheaply and work happily on sites like Fiverr whereas others like myself have to remain on less popular websites like Fivesquid.com that haven’t got anywhere near the same volume of visitors or traffic but the buying and selling of services are conducted in the native country’s currency.  The quality of services is not to be doubted in any way, they are absolutely top quality and professional.  It needs is recognition in countries that can operate on a sensible valuable level to the contractor and freelancer operating from their habitual residence.  What would you want for £5?  What would you do for £5?  Visit www.fivesquid.com or visit fiverr.com for the alternative and see for yourself what works best for you, your wallet and your business!

If you are interested in hiring our professional freelance services please feel free to drop me an email or visit our profile on https://www.fivesquid.com/freelancer/Virtuadmin. Quality low-cost transcription service and Construction (CnDM Manual compilation.

What’s your experience of working on Fiverr.com or Fivesquid.com?  Let us know your experiences as a buyer of freelance services or seller of skills and knowledge, we’d love to hear from you.  Thanks for reading. – Virtuadmin