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3 Tactics I Used to Develop a PageRank 5 Blog in 5 Months

This guest post is by John Saddington of TentBlogger.

We all know that having a blog can enhance your freelancing business and serve as an effective marketing tool for your products and services—that’s given. And although it’s easy to get a blog started (and to start a freelancing business) it’s much harder to make a dent in search engine rankings so you can win those viewers (and new customers and clients).

And sure, we all know that every blogger starts on day number one, but it seems that some bloggers have a lot more going for them than others, right? There are some bloggers (and freelancers) who seem to hit it out of the park, achieving some phenomenal traffic and financial return very early on.

I didn’t think it was possible for me to grow as fast and as effective as “those” bloggers until I tried it myself—and boy, did it work.

Within a few months, between Google’s PR update in January and the most recent on in June of this year, I was able to achieve a PageRank 5 (from a PR 0) blog that sees 20-35% organic traffic on any given month, and is just inches from clearing 100,000 pageviews per month. It’s not a boring blog, either, with an average of 45 comments per post!

You think I’d killed someone or bought a “sleeping giant” blog with mega keywords, but that’s not the case at all—in fact, I’ve been able to boil down the last few months’ successes into a number of systems and strategies that I’d love to share with you.

I honestly don’t think it’s too hard to achieve a highly trafficked, highly profitable, and attractive freelance blog for marketing. Sure, it’ll take some hard work and serious dedication, but with the right strategies in place, it can be done. Here’s what I did.

1. Have a serious content focus

TentBlogger wasn’t the first blog that I’ve created and it won’t certainly be my last, but it was the first blog that I took very seriously the element of focused content.

I took it to the extreme and used my categories to guide me. In fact, I realized that anything more than eight categories would seriously cramp my efforts to create a compelling array of content around specific and targeted keywords.

A number of my previous blogs had many more categories than this, and never achieved the amount of success that I’ve seen already. I’ll never dilute my efforts again.

Key takeaway: If you’re going to make a serious dent in the blogging universe (and the freelancing world) then you have to create compelling and unique content around a focused set of keywords, instead of expanding your blog into areas that you don’t have unique expertise or even sustainable passion.

Let your categories be your guide and if you’re finding it difficult to concentrate your efforts, you can believe that users (and search engines) are having the same challenge.

2. Become a linking master

One of the things that I’ve never done or really paid much attention to previously was becoming a link architect and a master of my own content architecture.

You see PageRank, one factor of about 200+ that Google considers when they rank and place you in search engine results pages (SERPs), requires that your blog becomes a paradise of links, both inside and outside.

The part that you can control is the internal content areas, and making sure that every blog post that you write has links to other resources and other pieces of content in your blog. Linking to historical resources that haven’t seen much “sun” is always a great strategy—I call this the art of curation.

The part that you can’t necessarily control is the number of links that are coming to your blog from the outside—that is, from other websites and blogs that have decided to link to your site. But what you can do is create content that is so in-demand, and so amazing, that the community at large can’t help but link back to you. Focused content is certainly something you can control.

Key takeaway: Every blog post that you create has the potential to be a link magnet, yet most bloggers simply don’t take the time to curate them and add the necessary link-love that they need.

And it’s okay if you didn’t start with that in mind! You can always go back and re-engineer and edit previous blog posts to add more links. You might as well update them with fresh content, too!

Your users and the search engines will love you for it.

3. Consolidate the Brand

Your blog’s brand (and freelancing business) is whatever you make of it and I never thought much of it until I seriously made a run as a full-time blogger. When I took stock of what I had created previously, I realized how random and unfocused my efforts had been in terms of creating a compelling and memorable brand!

What I had was a Facebook page, multiple Twitter accounts, and more than a few social networking accounts as well as media distribution properties like Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo, and more.

What I needed was to consolidate so that a singular and powerful presence emerged, and it was tough! I had to create a lot of new accounts, letting go of years of historical content so that I could truly consolidate. I even changed my Twitter handle, which had over 10,000 followers!

Was it worth it? Absolutely. I’ve never had a more focused online blogging brand, and it’s really paid off. People recognize my handle and avatar on multiple different properties and it’s still a treat to see people who didn’t know I had an account on one website say, in effect, “Hey, I know you! You’re TentBlogger! I love your blog!”

Key takeaway: If you’re going to be serious about growing your blog’s presence and your freelance efforts online, then you have to also seriously consider your brand presence on secondary websites and corollary social networking properties.

It might be a difficult choice (or near-impossible for some of you) but if you’re going to make a run at becoming a professional blogger, or simply taking your blogging efforts to the next level, then I’d seriously suggest taking it into consideration.

Do you use these approaches on your blog? I’d be interested to hear what’s worked for you in the comments.

This is a guest post by John Saddington. He is a Professional Blogger who loves sharing his blogging tips, tricks, tools, and practical teaching covering SEOWordPress and making money through your blog!

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Comments

  1. Lucy says:

    I didnt even know that was possible. It’s a great motivating post to remind myself to not take shortcuts and do the best I can at all times.

  2. Kevin Rossen says:

    I’m a big fan of the work John has done over the past few years and use his Standard Theme on a couple of my site. Great writer with a wealth of information to share.

    • thanks kevin! appreciate your support!

    • James says:

      I agree, and I have paid more attention to keeping my site centered around one subject. Although I do have multiple categories that do cover multiple types of unique (yet similar) topics, it’s all focused around one center topic.

      It’s also good to mention that when your website is focused around a small set of keywords, Adsense ads will be more targeted to your visitors, and you will make more money because you will be getting more clicks.

      Another great post. I’m going to send this to some of my friends who are interested in starting their own blog.

  3. Jeff Goins says:

    Great article, John. Simple and to the point, with plenty of practical takeaways. I could do better with linking.

  4. Nazmul Alam says:

    Inspiring information for new bloggers. I know it helped me a lot and gave a boost for not quitting. I’m a new blogger and still learning the way of blogging. Thanks for this great inspiration.

    • Im a new blogger too, and I didnt think it was possible to get a PageRank 5 in only 5 months. I started my blog just about 4 months ago, and I Page Rank of 3 and I thought that was good. Hmm..I think I need some backlinks.

      Thanks for the Tips Mr. Tent Blogger. Your website is cool too.

    • quitting is the best way to NOT get any pagerank. ;) don’t quit! go for it!

  5. That is a great article. I am 18 and have been blogging since April. The blog averages around 8,000 hit a month which isn’t really great. My audience is directed at people much like myself who enjoy fashion, music and entertainment which I take from YouTube partners because they have a huge fanbase and I am interested in them. Please have a look at my blog. I would love to hear any direction if you can offer any. At the moment I am still .blogspot which will change soon. Will it make much of a difference?

    • great job! that’s some good traffic!

      i’ve written a lot about changing to wordpress (self-hosted) on my blog. take a look at some of the articles there.

  6. Hey John,
    I really began to focus lately on internal deep linking of my blog posts. Like you said it is a great way to get eyes on posts that haven’t seen as many eyes.

    I Have 118 posts on my blog so far. I am really looking into chunking the focus of my posts so that I don’t spread my content too thin.

  7. Noah's Dad says:

    I’ve been following the information on Tentblogger since May I have gone form a google pr of 0 to 4 in that short amount of time. I seriously owe it all to the info I have found on Tentblogger! ( and my theme! click the link at the bottom of my site to check it out! It’s awesome.)

    I can say with 100% certainly that these techniques work. There is no magic SEO sauce. It just takes hard work (seriously, doing a daily, high quality, post isn’t easy) and following some basic principals.

    If you take the advice on problogger, and tentblogger, I’m sure you’ll see the same results! :)

    • thanks rick.

      you’ve done an amazing job with your blog and i wouldn’t be surprised to see you continue growing in pagerank and traffic easily!

  8. Seriously perfect timing… my blog and host is down right now, been having some difficulties…

    you can chalk that up to one thing that I DIDN’T do to get PR5 in 5 months… blog downtime!

    We’ll be back shortly. Thanks everyone!

  9. Steve Scott says:

    Damn! The value of PR has become a little questionable but 0 to 5 is a serious accomplishment! Of course even better is that it is tied to all the activity. Seems like you got something going.

    Anyhow, I love your points and agree with them all! Seems like great and sound advice to me!

    One note: It is likely just that your server is down or something, but I tried to follow a couple of your links and it gave me a “problem loading” each time.

    Hopefully whatever it is will be resolved soon, but thought you should know.

    -Steve

  10. Chris Neuman says:

    I enjoyed your article and was looking forward to more information at tentblogger.com but, alas, as of 7pm (Eastern Time U.S.), your blog is inaccessible. You may want to add WP Super Cache as #4 to your list.

    • chris,

      working out some kinks. it’s not super cache… it’s my hosting provider doing some serious work… they’ve messed things up pretty badly!

      #sigh!

  11. Great tips, I can’t wait to start implementing some of these strategies. Link building seem to be my biggest challenge, thanks again

  12. Adam Watkins says:

    I never realized how important consolidating your online presence was until I picked up blotting for the FOURTH time. I really wish I would have done that in the first place!! Great post!

  13. Adam Watkins says:

    by “blotting” I obviously mean blogging :)

  14. become a linking master is one great idea actually. to get external link from higher page rank from other blogs or pages would jump you pagerank faster.

  15. Belinda Hutchinson says:

    Just a quick question. Are you saying that it is best to use the business name as opposed to personal name for Twitter, YouTube etc?

    • no, i’m not saying that you have to do that but perhaps it might work well with your overall strategy for name recognition and brand awareness.

  16. neo says:

    Informative post for newbie bloggers. Great explanation on how to develop page rank. Developing page rank is easier said than done for someone starting out. PR is not the be all end all for seo but it is one of the factors that can make a difference.

    Whatever may change in blogging industry, content is always king. Thanks for your tips.

  17. Chris Price says:

    I had a previous blog that got zero search traffic. I started out a new blog in a fairly narrow niche field, but one that has 5400 people a month searching for the name of my site. I started links to my previous posts, and within about 3 months had gone from google not finding me to #6 on page one of the google search. While I’ve been on a couple of carnivals, I would guess that this had more to do with it. I’m starting to get some hits for the term, so that’s a positive.

    • chris,

      that’s great! linking is one of the most important parts of creating a powerful blogging presence. sure, you can go overboard but most bloggers don’t do it enough!

  18. rakesh says:

    Well after loosing my page rank, I am always look each and every article trying to suggest how you can gain your lost page rank. This is one of the best one , i have found. Good Luck and keep writing such articles.

  19. Rakesh Kumar says:

    This is really a great achievement. I got only pageRank 2 within 6 months of hard working.

  20. James Greg says:

    I like the idea of re-decorating the previous posts and make it fresh again. You never know there might be something in a previous blog that might create more waves than it did in the past, but I think it should not be made a habit of doing it again and again or it would make a negative impact.

    The idea of becoming a link hub is also great we both love it, the readers and Google, so there’s nothing to lose here. Thanks for the great 3 points they are simple but great and effective.

  21. Blog Rehab says:

    Hi John. Thanks for the tip on going back to older posts to make adjustments. I always get tons of good ideas from you at Tentblogger. Cheers!

  22. suraj says:

    you are right focus on contents and linking website is most important factor to get good PR and get success in blogging word.

  23. Russell says:

    If you’re promoting PR as an indicator of quality content and sound SEO strategy then you know jack shit my friend

  24. jezza101 says:

    My first blog hit 100k hits in its first month. It’s tempting to think that my success was down to me getting things “just right” but if I’m honest it was just luck. I was in the right place at the right time and there was no competition!!

    The really interesting part is whether that rapid success can be reproduced. Let us know… :)

    PS. Haven’t we all moved past page rank?!
    http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/06/beyond-pagerank-graduating-to.html

  25. sid says:

    Great suggestions, have just blogging seriously and would be helpful.

  26. Eddie Gear says:

    Now thats a Stunner John. Lovely read. I just focus on my SEO and believe that they are the root to your PageRank. Thanks for the wonderful write up.

  27. Hi John,

    Super insightful post here.

    Concentration gives us power. Focus on developing 1 brand. Create content consistent with the brand, always. Never stray from your brand; this confusers followers, and more so, potential followers.

    Content creation is a cornerstone of a successful SEO campaign. Your stuff must be helpful, usable content readers can digest and put into use immediately.

    I noted the importance of backlinks to quality, relevant sites recently. My blog reached the first page of google for a pretty darn competitive keyword. I post daily. I focus on making my content usable, relevant, how to stuff benefiting my readers. What put me over the top? Linking up to sites like this, and copyblogger. I intend to leave insightful comments and my link juice is on the rise.

    Thanks for sharing your insight John!

    RB

    • rb,

      yes! for sure linking to other top quality sites has an impact on your pagerank valuation. how long did it take you to reach the first page in google for your keywords (and what were they)?

  28. rosemary says:

    I have been growing my blog pretty well but having trouble getting to the 300 follower mark. I have had some great giveaways with great companies and hoping that it will start to increase. I had my first decline by 1 in google followers which made me nervous! I do link often in my posts but link more I am thinking. Any thoughts would be appreciated…..Thank you and Great Article !!

  29. Daniel says:

    Awesome post John – nice work. I’ve started putting a lot more focus on identifying appropriate keywords and putting more effort into structuring my articles better and am noticing solid increases in traffic within just a few weeks. Not sure how it’s going to effect pagerank but fingers that with continued hard work it will go up!

    Cheers
    Dan

  30. Rob Benwell says:

    great post .. thanks for the information about page rank.. now i can increase my page rank ..

  31. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your tips and hope everything progresses as easily as it sounds :P! It’s not an easy thing… however it’s like all of you say (and I am now understanding why) it needs passion!!

  32. Simon says:

    Insightful and very practical suggestions. All bloggers should read this!!

  33. Tina says:

    “Become a linking master” is especially useful if you have 100+ posts. Internal linking is often overlooked by many bloggers. If you are really too lazy, you can install some plugins to do it automatically.

  34. Ava Jae says:

    Thanks so much for sharing your tactics with us–what great advice!

    I focus on writing and social media (with a slant for writers) on my blog, so I think I have the focus down. I also have created one handle for various sites. The link thing though, I definitely have to work on, especially getting more outbound links on my blog. At the moment I don’t have nearly as many as I probably should.

    Fantastic insight. Thank you!

    • sure thing ava!

      social media is a broad topic and is covered by many writers. what makes your perspective so unique? how are you attracting readers away from other blogs and competitors?

  35. Melody says:

    Topical focus & brevity is tough for a brain like mine. Rapid-fire ideas hit in all different directions and while they may be related, they don’t necessarily have to be part of the current project. I may just print this and make myself read it every morning ;-). Thanks!

    • melody,

      sure, go for it! print away!

      focus is important and is tough… i think it’s a practiced skill more than just something we can turn on/off.

  36. John,
    Link master is a very much notable point and the quote “Linking to historical resources that haven’t seen much sun” really make sense. Thanks for sharing the article.

  37. Jeff says:

    No doubt about it, great content is the key to expanding natural links. There are ways to expand your links by sharing that content across many platforms. For example, you create a blog post which you then share via Twitter and Facebook (backlinks) and then turn into an article that you use to link back to your site from Ezine Articles (baklink). You could then record a 3-4 minute video and post to Youtube that “talks” your article and link that back to your site (more backlinks). A couple of times a week suggest another blogger link back to your best posts and you will do the same for him (more backlinks). Of course, some will happen naturally, but you can move them along using these techniques and still not use the various “less natural” backlink techniques that seem to run rampant out there today.

    Jeff

  38. jade sitjar says:

    Wow. You’r tactics really made me think that i need to redo my blog.

  39. Daquan Wright says:

    I like your talks of focus and the inner linking, which I really never thought about.

    Concentration/niche is great because it easily makes you more memorable on a particular topic.

  40. Organized put up ! loved the work and yeah concentrating on a particular set of group is the key. Thanks john for this interesting post.

  41. Luke says:

    Wow, looks like I could take some lessons from you here. I’ve been blogging for about 7 months now and I just checked, page rank of 1 and I am only averaging about 800 views per month. I still have a long ways to go…

  42. nick says:

    I am just learning and starting to blog and this is some of the most useful information I’ve found thus far out there on the net. Most of these sites really put on garbage. I will be following your advice to the “t” and will definitely check back in a month or two once I’ve seen how well it worked! I’ll need to make some significant changes to mine, but am looking forward to following your advice and watching it work! Thanks so much.

  43. thuc says:

    thank you for the tips. i just spent the last two hours going through posts and adding internal links. i do have a question: are outbound links bad for pagerank? i link my reference sources in every post and wonder if that’s doing me more harm than good.

  44. AstroGremlin says:

    Even though just beginning, I’ve gotten traffic from curating good resources. One post on how to set up the WordPress editor gets views every day and sends a lot of that traffic to the original tip, and because I commented there, traffic comes in the other direction, too.

  45. kuhlmad says:

    Awesome job on this post. This just goes to show how hard work really does pay off. My blog has been up a month now, I’m still at a PR 0. There hasn’t been an update yet so I am patiently waiting. I have really been churning out a lot of content. I been trying to do a couple of posts a day. I want to have a good amount of quality posts to start the blog out strong.

    Linking is definitely the toughest part. I need to go through and link my blog posts together, and I have been trying to comment on blogs and guest post fairly often. Thanks for the awesome post. I wonder if it is really possible, but then I see a post like this and know it is! Thanks!

  46. Mr. G says:

    I had this post marked for future reading and I was able to catch up today… it was worth the wait.

    Thanks!