Expert: Scott Jangro, BUMPzee

#10 of 30

  

About the Expert

Scott Jangro has been in online marketing for more than ten years spending time at at Open Market, Inc., and then Be Free and Commission Junction before going on his own as a full time online marketer. He writes occasionally about affiliate marketing at Jangro.com. His latest effort is a community platform for bloggers, BUMPzee.com

2007 has been called the Year of the Widget. Visitor stats, news headlines, weather, cartoons, and video all pulled in from various sources on the Net are dressing up the sidebars of blogs everywhere like rock posters on the walls of a teenager’s bedroom in a web 2.0 world of user-generated content.

What is a Widget? In the web context, a widget is a small bit of code, usually JavaScript, that a non-technical blog owner can paste into a the template of a blog. This code serves up fresh content delivered from other servers, such as news headlines or product information. Widgets can serve up virtually anything, but what they have in common is that what they display can be controlled and changed at any time by the service that provides the widget. Why would a blog owner give up this control? Because the information provided through that widget is fun, interesting, or useful to their readers. There are many types of widgets:

Fun – You can put a sudoku or a crossword puzzle on your blog, pictures from Flickr, even a retro game of Pong. There are dozens of frivolous widgets you can include in your blog just for the fun of it.

Relevant Content and Information – One of the most popular uses for widgets is to pull in timely and relevant information, such as news headlines or related blogs. You can serve up google news headlines related to any topic, or related blogs from a service like Technorati.

Monetization: Widgets like Chitika’s eMiniMalls display product information to your readers, based on relevance or keywords chosen by the blog owner. Google Adsense, BlogKits, and AuctionAds are essentially widgets that display advertisements. The idea is that these will display information that is useful to the blog reader while providing some revenue to the blog owner.

Community: Widgets that display information and visitors related to a specific interest group can add a social aspect to a website. If you have a widget that displays the most recent visitors, that shows that other people find your blog interesting, lending credibility. And being part of a community can bring extra traffic from related blogs through links served up in widgets. Some examples of community widgets are MyBlogLog and BUMPzee.com.

Where do you find widgets? If you’re looking for widgets for the sake of widgets (for fun or dressing up your website), check out resource sites like WidgetBox.com and Snipperoo.com. Yahoo and Google have their own widget directories as well. Even better, discover widgets through the services that you use or feel that your readers will be interested in. Finally, read up on widgets. Blogs like CostPerNews love widgets and love talking about them.

Test, Test, Test Nothing belongs on your website that doesn’t benefit you and your readers. Try out some widgets and evaluate whether your users are interacting with them. Try out some page tracking tools like CrazyEgg to see if your visitors are clicking on them. Or if your widget is community-related and you’re sending traffic to other related blogs, watch your website stats to see some extra traffic coming your way as well. Finally, keep an eye on performance. Remember, widgets are loaded in real time from other websites which can be overloaded if they become popular. A slow loading widget can cause your page to stop loading while it catches up. This may send your visitors away dissatisfied by the slow load times of your blog. Widgets can be fun, but make sure they’re worth the valuable space that they consume on your website. Go get some widgets, but make them work for you.