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Google Blog Search – First Look Review

Google-Blog-SearchMy initial reflections on Google’s Blog Search:

  • the basic bones of the technology seem to be there.
  • basically it seems to be using similar (or the same) technology as Google News.
  • they seem to be indexing new posts very quickly which is great.
  • the pool of blogs that they are indexing seems smaller than I’d have expected. Of course they’ll be adding new feeds to track over time
  • they will have a big challenge of filtering spam – I’ve already seen quite a few spam posts in it both in the ‘related blogs’ and the actual posts that they are indexing
  • I’m disappointed with the ‘related blogs’ results – I’ve seen spam blogs, blogs that havn’t been updated for 6 months and know it’s omitting major blogs in certain niches. It seems from testing that the blogs served here are very related to the title of the blog concerned rather than the content in my initial tests.
  • The ability to subscribe via RSS to search terms is fantastic – top marks Google.
  • Being able to see results both ‘by date’ and ‘by relevance’ is a good thing.
  • The Advanced search functionality seems to offer more options than most other blog search tools that I’ve seen.

Overall – the technology is promising. It is in beta so we can’t expect too much I guess but I hope they make some improvements on some of the above areas.

I’ll also be fascinated to see how this impacts blog’s search result positioning in the main Google index. Will it lead to them being indexed faster and higher? Or is this a step towards downgrading their importance in the main index.

Update: Which indexes posts quicker – Google Blog Search or Technorati? The first one to index this post was Google in 50 minutes. The strange thing is that when I entered the index I entered it way down the page and not as the most recent post. Technorati is yet to index this post – however it has indexed considerably more in the mean time than Google.

Update II: Other reviews and first looks of Google Blog search can be found at:
- Anil’s first look at ProNet
- Paul’s Predictions
- Duncan’s Review
- Chris Pirillo has a massive list of posts from around the web on Google Blog Search

Intereseted to hear your reviews of Google Blog Search in comments below.

Melbourne Geek Dinner

Geek? Melbournian? If you’re both you need to get to the Melbourne Geek Dinner on Friday 26th August. RSVP to Tejas. I’m going to try to get there.

London Explosion

I’m covering some of the news on the London Explosion here as we have family who use the tube in the areas affected and are waiting for word. Phones are down and we’re a touch worried so I thought I’d do something productive.

Update – as I’ve updated on my other blog we’ve had good news from London from family. Despite being close to the explosions they are fine.

I’ve continued to update the page.

Ads: You can show them to guests only!

Posting a follow up to Nicole Simon’s Ads: You can post them later! I thought I would mention a common practice used by membership sites or other types of sites that require registration, such as message boards. You can easily show ads just to those who are not logged in, leaving those who are regular members without any ads at all.

Many publishers running AdSense on phpBB message boards use this technique, since you can use variables or different templates to give one set of users (ie. Guests) AdSense or other affiliate ads. Then you can specify that registered or logged in users (or even a specific group of registered users) do not see any ads at all. Or while guests might see 3 ad units and an Ad Link unit, registered users only see a single ad unit or an Ad Link unit.

You can also set up custom channels and track what registered users and guests are bringing in to your AdSense account. You might find guests are responsible for 85-90% of your AdSense income from that site, so it would make a great “feel good” community gesture to remove AdSense from those who are registered. And you can use an ad free environment as an incentive to encourage users to register, if you are striving for increased numbers of registrations.

Ads: You can show them later!

Many blogs have two audiences, sometimes equally divided, sometimes not: The daily readers and the visitors through links and search engines. But most of us treat those visitors the same – presenting them the same layout, and the same amount advertisement. Why?

If you analyze your earnings, you should see a difference between profit from your daily blog readers and visitors through links and search engines. It is because of their different focus in attention.

Daily readers ‘know’ your layout and will get very blind on advertisement. The other group is searching for something particular, and therefore is very open to contextual advertisement. Daily readers get annoyed by too much advertising (even when it is contextual), and the other group loves them.

But as you would like to earn money, there is no way to please the daily readers … or? There is. Think about it one second. What is the difference between both groups?

It is the amount of time since you published the article.

If your blog is listed good on search engines, it will at least take some hours to fetch your new article and often take a day to rank you. Your rank for an article slowly rises, so it is save to assume, that while your daily readers are through with your blog in a week, search engine and link traffic will start after a week.

So my suggestion is: Start showing advertisement if an article is more than some days old! This will need some programming you might not be able to do of your own, but someone can do for you.

Or: you can use such mechanism to display different ads based on the age of the post or gather more information how your website performs at the different times slots.

With this you get happy daily readers and still profits from your websites!

The Problogger guest blogging experiment: good or bad?

Perhaps my last post before Darren returns this coming week but a very easy question to the many wonderful Problogger readers out there, perhaps as means of feedback for Darren: The Guest Blogging Experiment at Problogger: Good or Bad?

From my perspective I’ve loved the freedom to write in the first person and ponder some interesting questions that I might have otherwise not raised at the Blog Herald, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of the contributions for other guest bloggers as well. Certainly one of the wonderful things Darren has going here at Problogger is the extremely strong “feedback” community if you like, in terms of those willing to leave comments. Whilst I’ve had some great comment threads at the Blog Herald I certainly can’t match the consistent commenting on nearly every post here at Problogger, and from the third party view point I think that’s a major aspect that for me makes this blog a must read..indeed on occasion (even from my own posts) I can learn more from the contribution of readers comments than I did from the initial post.

On the flip side I suppose there has been a lack of consistency without Darren’s guiding hand present here at Problogger. Some days have had more posts than others, and the quality or interest has varied for me personally.

Share your thoughts. Darren will be back in Bleak City (Melbourne) this week and I’m sure he’ll be interested in your thoughts. Indeed I have little doubt that he’ll reflect on it as well, but why not get the ball rolling.

Bloggers block

Do you suffer from blogger block? Are there just some days where it’s near impossible to post because there is little or nothing happening on your particular subject or niche? Share your thoughts.

Personally I suffer it at seemingly random times, random in only that I have no control over the timing, and the more niche the topic the more likely it will occur. In the early days the Blog Herald was actually really hard to write for, mainly because 2 years ago there wasn’t a lot of blogging news. Today it’s a fair bit easier, although some days a harder than others. Now that I write for 4 blogs (or 5 if you include my guest spot here) its even more interesting. Being able to fill in here (and I believe Darren will be back here next week) has been a challenge, mainly because sharing advice or linking to others is sometimes related to mood or inspiration, some days I can be inspired with ideas, others I just ain’t. Blogs like PVRSpot which I really enjoy writting have actually proven hard to write for because the topic is such a niche that there’s not a lot of news, where as The Search Engine Herald presents the challenge of what to actually post because there is so much news about. In a different field I’ve guest blogged at The Gadget Blog when Colbert was away and although there is lots of input I’ve struggled to know how to differentiate the content, which is the blogs aim. How do you deal with a lack, or flood of source material?

Blog count commercial contributions

A little bleg to the Pro-blogosphere. I’ve called for contributions for the next Blog Herald blog count for July here, but I need your help. What I also need is user figures for commercial services. Now I’m going to personally ask leading services for their figures, but I don’t think that alone some may give them to me (particularly SixApart). Why are blogging figures important you may well ask? well its important for all of us to know as “Pro” bloggers exactly how large our marketplace is. Only yesterday I read a report in the US Newspaper that quoted the number of blogs out there is 4 million. The more common figure is 10 million. The real truth is that it’s closer to 60 million. Compiling figures based on user numbers based on service and country helps us all to spread the word that blogging is a serious force on the internet, and that’s to the benefit of us all. The bigger we can prove we are the more advertisers will take an interest and the better the blog advertising marketplace will be for us all. The next blog count is so big that I’m probably going to have to put together a PDF with it all because it will be too much for a post, but what I desperately need is up to date commercial figures. So what I need you to do: email SixApart, Blogger, Spaces and other commercial services world wide and ask them for their user numbers, particularly if they can provide them by geographic area, and even if they can’t, the total number. By all means post them on your blog, but let me know in the mean time so I can include them in the next blog count. I know number counting is a bit old fashioned but being able to prove a bigger market place is for the net benifit of us all, and the report will be available to all.

Blogs, Links, and SEO

Blogs and links are the perfect couple. Of course, everyone knows that. You don’t have to be a hopeless romantic or some SEO techie type to figure that one out.

Talk about stating the obvious.

As we all know, almost everyone talks about how powerful blogs and their linking power are for search engine optimization (SEO). The reasons for the strength of blog links in achieving high search engine rankings are discussed much less frequently. It’s time to change all of that.

Let’s talk blogs and links and SEO.

Blog links have search engine power for several reasons. One of which is the different types of linking featured on blogs. All blog links are not the same, and that is part of their secret search engine rankings power. Different types of links provide different rankings boosts, in several different ways. In the end, the links add up to your blog being placed highly, for your most important keywords, in Google, Yahoo, and MSN Search.

Links appear on a blog’s home page as links to other blogs. Other blogs link to your blog from home page link lists and blogrolls as well. As the most powerful page on your blog, the home page passes along quite a bit of search engine power. The problem is that home page mojo is divided among many different blogs. The piece of the pie for each one is not that large.

On the other hand, the age and permanence of that link has some real value. The links also get value from arriving from other blogs sharing similar themes and topics. Interlinked blogs on cooking help one another more than a cooking blog and a welding blog. All links have some value, but theme related ones provide even more.

Links also appear in posts. Those are expecially valuable links. When someone links to one of your posts, they often double link to the home page as well. Because of the strong and obvious theme relevance of the post, the search engines give in post links some real power. As such, writing interesting posts that attract natural inbound links, and trigger discussions on other blogs are especially important. Note the value of providing great information to your readers.

Trackbacks provide a bit of link power, but not as much as some bloggers believe. Being open to spamming has reduced their link strength. Links in comments have little if any link power these days as a result of abuse. Trackback links provide their power more indirectly, in attracting discussion links and finding new potential linkers to your blog.

There is some evidence that linking out to other blogs helps gain search rankings for the generous blogger. Instead of being a drain, linking out can result in a net SEO gain. Now beat that for great karma!

Keep in mind that your goal should not be to game or trick the search engines. On the contrary, those sorts of tactics are counterproductive and fail to provide the desired results.

Instead, think of the needs of your readership first. Provide them with good useful and interesting blog posts. Links will arrive naturally, and as a result of your generous linking habits, your blog can rise to the top of the search engine rankings.