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What to Do When Your Search Rankings Drop

“I just lost all my Google traffic – help!”

This request hits my inbox every week or two from a distraught blogger who has logged into the blog’s statistics one morning only to discover that most of their traffic has completely disappeared due to the all powerful Google making some kind of change in their algorithm and how they rank sites which resulted in that particular blog either disappearing from search results or at least being buried many pages down in the rankings.

The feeling associated with this discovery of a loss of traffic can be sickening.

I still remember the first time it happened to me (back in 2004) as if it were yesterday – it was like someone had sucker punched me in the gut – really took the wind out of my sails.

Up until the day it happened traffic had been healthy on my blog – healthy enough to just make a full time living from. Then when the traffic from Google disappeared I was down to 30% of what I’d come to see as ‘normal’ traffic and suddenly my dreams of being a full time blogger seemed over.

What to do when your Google Traffic Disappears

OK – so the question that I’m asked each time this happens to a ProBlogger reader is – what should I do?

It’s a tough question to answer – partly because I’m not Google and don’t have any insight into your particular situation and partly because each time it happens it is different. I’m also not an SEO expert am won’t give you any technical advice – but let me give you some general advice to start with:

1. Don’t Panic

I’ve had this happen to me at least 5 times over the last 7 years of blogging and most successful bloggers I know can recall a similar number of Google fluctuations that have brought decreases (and increases) in traffic in their blogging history. It happens to us all – sometimes in big ways and sometimes in small ways. In chatting with one Google employee recently he told me that they are making daily (and more) changes to the way that they rank sites (mainly small tweaks) so over time we’ll all notice changes.

The key is not to make massive big changes to your site’s SEO too quickly or as a gut reaction to a change in your ranking.

For me the first time that this happened (when I lost 70% of my traffic) I was very tempted to make big changes to my site to try to fix things. I was advised by a few wise and experienced web masters to wait. I did and a few weeks later almost all of the traffic returned. Google fixed itself (phew).

If the traffic doesn’t come back after an extended period you might want to get some expert SEO advice and make some larger changes – but I personally am glad that I’d seen out the dips in traffic rather than doing anything to hurt my long term rankings.

Of course there are times when you might need to make some changes…. such as….

2. Have You Done Anything Black Hat?

Google has guidelines in place for webmasters. If you want to rank well in their search engine you need to play by their rules. Of course there’s a whole industry around ‘bending’ and ‘manipulating’ the rules and many web masters make a living by doing it – however if you are caught breaking the rules by Google you’re likely to be penalized.

If this is the case for you you have two choice:

I know of numerous bloggers who’ve asked for reconsideration and have been reinstated back into the index. It can take a little while (the last one said it took a couple of weeks for them) but in the long run it can be well worthwhile.

3. Build Other Sources of Traffic

The biggest lesson that I learned back in 2004 when I lost most of my traffic as a result of a Google algorithm change was that I needed to diversify my approach to building traffic to my blogs.

Up until that time I was almost exclusively working on driving traffic via Google. It was like a drug that I’d become dependent upon in some ways and much of my day was spent writing content for Google and attempting to ‘get links’ to that content from other sites. I was not really writing for regular readers or trying to build community on my blog – I just wanted traffic that I hoped would click my ads and affiliate programs.

This approach had worked for me – however when my Google traffic disappeared I was left with little and realized how short sighted I’d been. I began to change my focus and started working on other sources of traffic.

I still love the traffic that Google sends me but today if it all disappeared it would hurt – but it wouldn’t be the end for my business. Next week I want to followup this post with another one looking at some of the ways to become less reliant upon Google traffic and to build traffic from other sources – stay tuned for more.

5 Ways to Get Your Blog Indexed by Google in 24 Hours

This is a guest-post from AdesBlog.com. Follow Ades on twitter @ades.

We all know that content is king and that if you keep blogging… if you keep doing what you love… the traffic and the money will follow suit. While that’s partially true, there is also things that you can do to:

  • Index your newly launched blog fast by major Search Engines

  • Increase traffic to your blog
  • Improve your SERPs (Search Engine Result Positions)

Why wait right? Content can be king but waiting around for traffic to come by itself is not a good way to start blogging. So let’s start…

Getting Indexed

Let’s say you launched a blog today and want it on Google’s results tomorrow. Can this be done? Yes.

Easiest way to get indexed by major Search Engines is to get mentioned by established blogs. This usually will get your blog indexed within 24 hours. But since we are new (i.e the newly launched blog of ours) I don’t think any blogger want to mention it. So instead of begging other bloggers to notice your newly launched blog, you just have to figure out other ways of getting indexed by Google fast. Can it be done? Absolutely! (All it takes a little effort on your side).

1. Blog Communities

There are few blog related community portals that have a very good rankings in Google and other Major Search Engines Results, they are: MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, Blogged and NetworkedBlogs, particularly MyBlogLog. This means that if you get your blog on these blog communities, Google will have no other choice but to index your blog. So, go ahead and register for an account on these communities and list your blog on it. Once you are done you will have a page like this, this and this.

What to pay attention: Your blog’s description (have a proper write-up), keywords & tags (add related keywords and tags to your listing, this will be used by other members to find your blog), branding (put your logo, avatars, screenshots etc. have a consistent branding everywhere), and list your blog in the correct category.

2. Site Valuation & Stats Sites

Some of those How Much Your Site Worth? sites have a good ranking in Search Engines. All you need to do is to go there and check how much your site worth. This would create a special page for your blog (like this) and consecutively it would be indexed by Google. Here is a list of worthy sites: WebsiteOutlook, StatBrain, CubeStat, WebTrafficAgents, BuiltWith, WhoIs, QuarkBase, URLfan and AboutTheDomain.

3. Feed Aggregators

List your blog’s feed in these feed aggregators Feed-Squirrel, OctoFinder, FeedAdage. Once you have submitted your feed to these sites, they will keep track of your newly published posts and index them in their site. Whenever someone clicks on the blog post title, he/she will be redirected to your original blog post sending you free traffic and getting your latest posts indexed by Google.

4. Social Sites

Registering account on Social Sites with the same username as your blog’s URL is very effective in getting your blog indexed by Search Engines. Especially for those targeted keywords.

For example, if your blog’s name is WhiteElephant, it’s a good practice to register the same username at twitter as @WhiteElephant, and to create a page in Facebook at www.facebook.com/WhiteElephant. Having a consistent keyword-username on all major Social Sites will help get your blog indexed faster, and at a later stage it will also help build a “brand” for your blog.

So, get account on major Social Sites for your newly launched blog, namely: Twitter, Facebook (create a page for your blog), Digg, StumbleUpon, Delicious etc. By the way, it’s a good pratice to create a separate Social Sites account for each of your projects. This way you can stay focused and post messages that are related to your project. In the long run, this will help build a community that are like-minded around your project.

Note from Darren: it’s worth nothing that many social media sites (like Twitter) use no follow tags on links which means the links don’t really help with SEO. Having said this – it’s still worth getting pages for your keywords/brand as these pages can rank in and of themselves in Google and can help you to have control over numerous search results for the same keyword.

5. Misc Sites

Squidoo is a community website that allows people to create pages (called “lenses”) on various topics. Creating a topic that is related to your blog and then including your feed in that page would help your blog get indexed by Search Engines. Squidoo used to have a really good ranking in Google results, but not so much today. But it’s still ranks well and it shouldn’t be neglected.

ChangeDetection is a website that monitors sites for changes. When you monitor a particular site using ChangeDetection, it will ask you whether you want the notices to be public or private. If you say public, it will be published in their news section. For example; AdesBlog.com got an update today, type of update: text additions etc. This of course will get picked up by Search Engines and Search Engines in return will index your blog.

Technorati is a search engine for searching blogs. According to Wikipedia, as of June 2008, Technorati was indexing 112.8 million blogs and over 250 million pieces of tagged social media. It’s a dying breed, but not just dead yet. You have to definitely register for an account and get your blog listed on Technorati.

That’s it. Once you are done with creating accounts and submitting your newly launched blog in the above mentioned sites, you should see your blog in Google’s Search Results within 24 hours. Most of the time it will appear within the next few hours only.

Lastly, getting indexed is one thing but sustaining that traffic is another. And this is where the Content is King phrase should truly be emphasized. Because, without a good and valuable content, all your effort will be just wasted.

I hope you have found this post useful.

Abdylas Tynyshov (Ades) is a full-time blogger based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He blogs at http://www.adesblog.com and is the creator of a great freeware color picker tool. You can follow him on twitter at @ades.

Outbound Links – An Endangered Species? [And Why I Still Link Up]

Yesterday on Twitter I made this remark:

“A change I’ve noticed from the ‘old days’ of blogging – people don’t link when they quote you as much as they used to.”

The replies to my tweet were quite varied – some agreed while some disagreed – some argued that a link was not necessary while others argued that it was essential. The replies highlighted just how much diversity of opinion there was on the topic so I thought I’d put together a few thoughts on the topic.

But before I share why I DO link to others from my blogs when quoting or borrowing ideas directly from others I thought it might be worthwhile sharing some of the reasons people gave yesterday for why they thought links were becoming LESS used in this way.

1. Competition

The most common remark to my tweet was that people thought it was mainly to do with a change in the way that bloggers viewed other blogs in their niche.

The theory is that in ‘the old days’ of blogging the blogosphere was more about sharing ideas, networking, communal learning etc – but that these days it’s more about ‘getting ahead’ or ‘empire building’ in some way. As a result other blogs are less seen as an opportunity to network or have mutually beneficial opportunities – but that they’re more seen as ‘the competition’.

Of course there are plenty of examples where this is not the case – but I suspect it’s one of the reasons that some bloggers don’t link out to others.

2. PageRank Sculpting

The other main theory that people shared (and a few admitted it was why they didn’t link out) was that they saw links on their blogs as valuable and wanted to use them in ways that benefited themselves by ‘sculpting’ the link juice on their sites.

This is an SEO (search engine optimisation) approach to linking – the theory is that the more links you have on a page the less weight each one of them carries in passing on page rank to the sites you’re linking to.

The idea is that you link to fewer sites so that the few that you do link to (your own internal links, links to your other sites, links to partners sites or those paying for links) have maximum benefit. The practice is to limit links and/or use nofollow tags on any link that you don’t want to pass page rank so that those that do pass it pass the maximum.

I know that most bloggers probably don’t page sculpting in mind when they’re linking to other blogs – but it was the 2nd most mentioned explanation that people mentioned to me on Twitter yesterday.

3. Laziness and/or Forgetfulness

The third theory shared on why people don’t link is that they either forget to or that they’re just too lazy to do it.

I suspect that most bloggers at one time or another have inadvertently forgotten to link to another page when quoting them or bouncing off something they’ve written. I know I’ve done this a number of times over the years (I fix them when they’re brought to my attention).

4. Ignorance

The last theory that some of my followers shared is that they thought that some people simply where not aware of the etiquette when it comes to quoting others (or that they simply didn’t believe in it).

This was highlighted to me in a couple of the DMs that I received after my tweet from people who admitted that they didn’t link to other sites that they quoted because they’d never heard of the practice. They did not do it maliciously, they had no ulterior motives – they’d just never thought to do it or been taught that that was what should happen.

5. Or Have Things Just Changed?

As I pondered the topic yesterday it struck me that perhaps things had simply changed and that I was ‘old fashioned’ in my approach.

Perhaps this ‘ignorance’ could also be explained by a change that is happening in the unspoken etiquette of the web? Perhaps there’s a transition in belief and behaviour happening here and I just need to get with the times?

After all times are changing – people of my parents generation are always telling me how things that they used to think were unacceptable are now common place…. social interactions change don’t they?

I really hope that this last theory is not the case – you see in my experience linking to other sites from your blog is actually something that is very powerful. In my experience it improves your blog to do it but also makes the web a better place.

Which leads me to an exploration of why I link out to other blogs and websites from my blog.

Why I DO Link to Other Sites

Let me start by saying that when I say I link to other blogs and websites that I’m talking about doing so as a way of giving credit to those sites. For example when I’m quoting someone or when I’m directly taking an idea that someone’s written about on their site and am extending it, reacting to it or bouncing off it some way on my own blog.

As I said above – I’m sure there are times when I’ve inadvertently not done this (you’re welcome to point them out to help me rectify this). Enough disclaimers – here’s some reasons that I do link:

1. Etiquette/Manners/Courtesy

At a base level I think it’s important to acknowledge the work of someone else when you use it.

When someone has written something that you’re quoting – that person has taken time to craft those words, they’ve gone to some effort to make the impression that they have on you. You in turn are using their words (and the effort that they went to to craft them) to improve your own blog in some way – as a result I think it’s important to acknowledge that.

You could of course do this without a link – but I think a link shows a little extra spirit of generosity and appreciation that is simply good courtesy in my mind.

2. Usefulness

Linking to your sources makes your content more useful to your readers.

Good content is useful content. I’m constantly talking about how to build a successful blog you need to be producing something that is useful in some way to those reading it. By linking to the page where you take a quote or idea you’re providing your readers with the opportunity to read more on the topic or see the quote in it’s original context.

Your reader may or may not click the link – but it does give them the opportunity to explore further or learn more.

I know that as a blog reader when I’m reading a quote that I find particularly interesting that I want to learn more about who said it. If there’s no easy way to do this I think have to go to the effort of researching myself. I actually find this annoying and it creates the impression to me that the author of the content is too lazy or stingy to go to the effort themselves.

Giving readers other things to read around the web adds depth to your blog. Yes it sends people away from your site to read someone else’s – but if it’s a link to something good they’re more likely to come back because you become a trusted source of information.

3. It Makes the Web Better

Links are what makes the internet what it is.

I still remember the first day I got online. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I connected on my brand new dialup modem but I do remember looking at my watch later that day and realising that 7 hours had passed and that I’d barely moved much more than the index finger on my mouse as I surfed from one page to another.

I was caught in the ‘web’. One site led to another which lead to another which led to another – the web inspired me.

I had a similar feeling the first day I visited the first blog that I had ever read – it linked out generously to other blogs in its niche which in turn linked to others. I was immediately hooked into this community of websites – but particularly to that first one which got me going.

Perhaps this is a little naive – but for me the internet has always been built on the ‘link’. It’s what makes it so great and as someone wanting to be a good citizen of the web I think it’s important to continue the tradition of what has made it great.

4. The Power of Links to Build Relationships

A simple link to another site can get you on their radar and be the beginning of a fruitful and mutually beneficial relationship.

Here’s a quick illustration as to the power of a link:

Every month or two on my photography blog I run a post that is simply a list of interesting links from other photography sites around the web from the last month. I sometimes throw a few internal links into these posts but they’re largely just a list of links with short descriptions to other photography sites.

There are many benefits of these posts, for example:

  • they’ve been on the front page of Digg and can be spread virally around the web
  • they’re useful to readers and I get a lot of thank you comments and emails from readers as a result

But the biggest benefit to me from these types of posts is the impact that they have on the sites I’m linking to. Last time I did one of these posts I linked to 15 or so other photography sites.

  • The next day I had 5 emails from owners of these sites. All thanked me for the link.
  • 2 of those who wrote offered to write guest posts for my blog.
  • Over the coming week 6 of the sites I linked to linked back to my blog
  • Others tweeted about the post
  • 2 of the other bloggers and I have been exploring ways we can work more together

All of this started simply with some linking to other quality content in my niche.

While my blog has a fairly big readership and the traffic I sent out was substantial – the same principle is true for sites of all sizes – links have the potential to get you on the radar of other bloggers and web masters – where this can lead you is anyone’s guess.

5. Outbound Links and SEO

Outbound links can help your blog’s search engine optimisation (directly perhaps but indirectly definitely).

I’ve heard it argued that relevant outbound links can actually help your own site’s ranking in search engines (ie search engines look at the sites you’re linking to as part of their algorithm).

I have heard this debated and in my own limited testing have not seen it as a major factor (it may be a minor one but other factors like your title tags have a much bigger impact) – HOWEVER I do think that linking out can definitely indirectly help your SEO – based upon reasons we’ve already covered:

  • Linking can stimulate reciprocal links – as a result of building relationships with other websites you increase the chance of being linked to yourself. It doesn’t happen every time but sometimes when you link to another blog you’ll find that blogger starts to subscribe to yours and in time will link back. This helps your search ranking.
  • Useful content ranks high – Google’s main purpose with it’s algorithm is to find the best content it can and rank it highly. If links increase your site’s usefulness (point #2 above) in time you’ll see this reflected in your Google ranking as your site gets passed around by readers and Google does its thing in finding it.

I can’t guarantee that you’ll rank high in Google by linking to other sites – but indirectly I think it can certainly be helpful. I guess this really comes down to my main philosophy about SEO – set your blog up well and be aware of the principles of SEO but then concentrate on producing the kind of content that the search engines are looking for and build relationships/network. Search rankings tend to have a way of looking after themselves.

Quick Tips on Linking Out

Let me conclude with a few last thoughts:

Don’t link out for the sake of it – I’ve seen some bloggers link out to other blogs in large quantities with the belief that it’ll help them build relationships with loads of other bloggers. Link out when it’s relevant to do so, when you’re giving credit and when you think it makes your content more useful.

Don’t get caught up in linking schemes – one thing I do know is that Google is always on the look out for ‘link farms’ or schemes designed to manipulate their rankings. I won’t pretend to know where Google draws the line but simple reciprocal links seem to carry less weight than normal organic links and when search engines spot you involved in a bad neighbourhood of the web engaging in lots of interlinking you’re probably going to do yourself more harm than good.

I don’t get into it at all these days but IF you’re going to get into reciprocal links keep them relevant to your content, do it in moderation and make sure that the sites you’re linking to are of a high standard and quality.

PS: a quote from Google’s Matt Cutts:

Let me finish with a quote (and a link of course) from Google’s Matt Cutts:

“I would recommend the first-order things to pay attention to are 1) making great content that will attract links in the first place, and 2) choosing a site architecture that makes your site usable/crawlable for humans and search engines alike.”

I’m interested to hear your thoughts (and practices) when it comes to linking out from your blog. Do you do it? Why/Why Not?

Does Search Engine Optimization Make a Difference?

Earlier today I had a debate via instant messaging with another blogger who told me that Search Engine Optimization doesn’t make any difference any more. They argued that you just need to provide good content and search engine rankings look after themselves.

While I see where the blogger comes from and I agree to a point that search rankings look after themselves when you build a useful blog – I’m also convinced that knowing some basic SEO and implementing it on a site can have a significant impact.

Want proof?

Check out this chart:

search-engine-optimization-makes-a-difference.png

What you’re looking at above is the search engine referred traffic over the last two months on my digital photography forum. The blue line is the last month and the green line is the month before that.

You can see quite clearly that around 25th June something happened to change the amount of search engine traffic arriving on the forum.

What happened? I simply installed a plugin called VBSEO. It’s a plugin for VBulletin (the platform I use to run the forum) that simply makes the forum more search engine friendly. It does quite a few things including changing the url structure of the forum to include keywords rather than numbers.

Here’s when the plugin was installed:

search-engine-optimization-makes-a-difference-1.png

Within a day or two we noticed search engine traffic increasing. In the period you see above search traffic is 35.98% higher than in the last month than the proceeding one (that includes the first half of the month when the difference wasn’t massive). In fact over the last week search traffic has been up by 69.66%!

Now it is worth saying that Vbulletin is not well set up for SEO in its default form (in fact it’s pretty bad) and that most blogging platforms are better optimized in their default form – however I think it’s pretty clear from the above graph that SEO does have an impact.

Further Reading: check out our Search Engine Optimization Tips for Bloggers for more specific details on how to optimize a blog for search engines.

8 First Step SEO Tips for Bloggers

“What are the first steps to optimizing my blog for searches?” – question submitted by @monedays using the #pbquestions hashtag on Twitter.

Much has been written on the topic of search engine optimization for bloggers – but let me give you a few basic first steps:

1. Content is King

The quality of the posts you write is the single most important factor when it comes to Search Optimization on a Blog. I suspect others will argue differently but as I look at my own blogs success in the search engines I’d say that this has been the number one factor.

Quality content that helps people will quite often draw a reader to want to share what they’ve written – of course they do this by passing on the link to your post and often they’ll do it in a way that helps your search rankings (on their own blog for example).

2. Anticipate What People Will be Searching For

Every time you write a post you should be automatically be considering what words people might be putting into search engines to find that type of information. Once you know what kinds of words they’re using you’re in a great position to position yourself for that search.

3. Titles Titles Titles

There are a number of things to keep in mind when it comes to titles. Google pays particular attention to titles – so make sure you get them right:

  • first make sure that the way you set your blog up puts the title of your post in the ‘title tags’ on the back end of your blog. This is really important.
  • if you’re just looking from an SEO perspective don’t include your blog name in the title tags of single posts. This dilutes your keywords. Of course if you’re looking more at branding including your blog’s name in the title tags might be worth doing.
  • next – include the keywords that you identified in point #2 in your post title
  • also, keep in mind that the words you use at the start of a title tend to carry more weight than words you use later in your title

4. Keywords in other parts of your post

Use the keywords you identified in point #2 within your post also. If you want Google to rank you for a term or phrase you need to use that term or phrase. Use it in sub headings in your post (use h tags where you can), use it in the content itself, use the words in the alt tags of images etc. Don’t go over the topic but do use the words where you can naturally in the post.

5. Link to Your Own Posts

Don’t over do this one but while links from other sites are a great way to increase your blog’s rankings so are links from your blog. Interlink your posts to share where readers can find more information on your topic (where relevant) but also consider linking to key posts on your blog from other places on the blog (sidebar, front page etc).

6. Links from Outside Your Blog

Links from other sites to yours are key in SEO but they can be hard to get. Start to linking to your blog from other sites that you have or are active on. Some (like on Twitter) won’t count for anything much as they have no-follow tags but they are all potential ways for people to access your site and some will help with SEO.

Don’t become obsessed with getting links – rather become obsessed about writing great content and the links will generally come in time. However if you’ve written a great post that you think will be relevant to another blog don’t be afraid to let that blogger or website owner know about it – they could just link up.

Also – take note of the type of posts that you write that do well at getting other sites to link to you. You can learn a lot about generating linkable content by doing so and might just develop a technique that will work again and again.

7. Plugins

I don’t tend to do much to the back end of my blog to alter things like meta tags – but there are some good plugins around if you’re using WordPress that can help with some of this and that may give you a small edge. Check out 9 SEO plugins that every WordPress Blog Should have for some suggestions on this.

8. Readers Begat Readers

This isn’t an SEO technique as such but it plays a part. The more readers you have the more likely your blog is to be found by other readers. There’s a certain ‘snowballing’ thing that happens on a site over time – as you get readers quite often momentum grows as those readers pass on your site to others in their network. They link to you, they bookmark you, they tweet about you, they email friends about you, they blog about you, they suggest your site in recommendation engines….

Not all of this counts with SEO but some does and the accumulation of it over time all certainly helps to grow both organic and search traffic. I guess what I’m saying is to get readers any way you can – don’t just focus upon ‘SEO’ as such. It all counts.

My Hunch with SEO

Before I share my hunch…. let me say that I’m not an SEO and this could be completely wrong…. but it’s a hunch that I’ve had for a while now.

I’ve been doing this blogging thing for almost 7 years now and from what I can see the tweaks that many bloggers do on their blogs to optimize it seem to be having less and less impact on the rankings of blogs. Don’t get me wrong – I stand by the above tips completely and would do them as a common sense bare minimum – but from where I sit Google seem to be in the business of finding the best information that they can for their users. They don’t always get it right but I think they do a pretty good job.

As a blogger your job should be to provide the best information that you can.

It strikes me that Google have an ever increasing way of working out if your information is good. It’s not just about what keywords you have or how many links that you get – but these days they own Feedburner (know how many people subscribe to your blog and what links people are clicking on), they own Google Reader (again giving them all kinds of great data), they own Gmail, Google Analytics, YouTube etc…..

Now they may or may not use all the data in their ranking of sites but they certainly could know a lot about your blog and the posts you write. There’s also been increasing talk over the last 6 months or so about how easy it’d be for search engines to start generating data on what content is being shared in social networks and bookmarking sites.

My hunch is that many traditional SEO methods are less important (NOT irrelevant though) and that other factors are increasingly going to come into play. I’m sure that some will work out ways to manipulate this (SEO 2.0?) but increasingly the way to get ranked high in Google will be that you just need to keep producing great content and making sure that it’s sneezed out to your network.

Help this process along by giving your readers way to share your content (and seed it to social networks) as well as to become subscribers.

Interlink Your Old Blog Posts [Day 8 31DBBB]

This post is an excerpt from the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook

Today I’m presenting you with a task that is perhaps a little less involved than some of the days so far. I wanted to give you something that would both help improve your blog but that wouldn’t take too long to either learn or implement (although it is something that you could dedicate a lot of time to if you have time on your hands).

Your task today is to spend 10 minutes interlinking previously written posts in your archives.

Why is Interlinking Posts Powerful?

There are three main reasons why I regularly dedicate time to go back over old posts on my blog and find ways to update those posts with links to other posts on my blog.

1. Usefulness to Readers – my primary motivation for interlinking posts is to provide a better experience for those people who are reading those posts and to make my blog more useful. If a reader comes to my blog and finds a post that not only answers a question that they have but that also provides further reading and suggestions on where they can explore related topics – they’re more likely to go away from my site satisfied. A satisfied reader is what I’m aiming for – they are more likely to return (it makes your blog ‘sticky‘) and tell their network about their experience.

2. SEO – another great reason to interlink the posts on your blog is that search engines look at the links within a blog to both find content to index but also to work out how to index and rank content. Links from other blogs to your blog are the ultimate way to start ranking highly in Google – but internal links also count.

3. Increase Page Views – inserting links into old posts increases the chances of a visitor to your blog viewing more than just the one page. This has a couple of benefits – the first being that it can help you earn more from that visitor if you’re running some kind of CPM (cost per impression) advertising. The second reason is that you’re creating a bigger impression upon the person visiting your blog. I find that when someone views more than a single page on your blog that they’re more likely to remember it, subscribe to it, comment upon it and become a regular and loyal reader.

While these three benefits all seem fairly small when you think about the benefits that a single link might bring – if you start building the interlinking of posts into your daily blogging experience the accumulative impact that it can have on your blog will be significant.

How to Add Links to Old Posts

There are a variety of methods of interlinking posts from your archives. Here are three main ones that I use:

1. In post links – I find that this is the most natural way to add links to an old post. All it involves is making a keyword (or words) in your post into a link that points to another post on the topic of that keyword.

2. Updates – sometimes post in your archives become ‘dated’ and are in need of an update. There are a variety of ways to update an old post but one simple one is to write a new post on the same topic and then leave a link in your old one to the new post.

For example: One popular post here at ProBlogger is How to Market Your Blog in 2007. While the post still contains useful information on marketing a blog it was obviously written over two years ago. As a result I’ve added a link at this top of this post to a page on How to Find Readers for Your Blog that points people to a variety of resources on that topic.

3. Further Reading - many blogs have a ‘further reading’ section that appears at the bottom of each post. In most cases this is a list of ‘related’ posts that are automatically generated using a plugin. While this can sometimes provide readers with relevant results I find that adding manually chosen links for further reading can produce a more relevant experience. You can add these suggested links both at the end of the post and throughout the post itself.

Quick Tip: When linking between posts always try to make the words that you use in the link relevant keywords to the article you’re linking to. This will maximize the SEO benefits of the link and help you rank higher for those words in Google.

Make Interlinking Posts a Regular Task

While I’m suggesting that you set aside some time today to interlink some of your old posts – I’d also highly recommend that you build this practice into your blogging on a regular basis. I personally spend 10-15 minutes a week hunting for opportunities to do this but also find myself doing it in my daily blogging rhythm as I’m writing new posts.

As you write a new post train yourself to be thinking about what you’re written previously that relates to your new post. As you identify related content start to interlink your posts (you can add links in your new post to old content and/or add links in your old ones to your new content). If you force yourself to do this you’ll start to find that it becomes a more natural part of your daily posting.

Go Do It!

Take 10 minutes now to start identifying old posts that relate to one another and get going on adding a few links between them.

Update – Share your thoughts and progress with others over at the forum: Day 8 – Interlink Posts

Want More?

This task is a sample of one of the tasks in the 31 Days to Build a Better Blog Workbook – a downloadable resource designed to reinvigorate and revitalize blogs.

Join over 14,000 other bloggers and Get your Copy Today.

11 Ways to Increase Your Chances of Being Linked to By a Blogger

Today I received what seemed like a fairly generic email from the website Dummies.com. I won’t republish the email (I’m not into that) but it was a fairly generic ‘could you link to our website’ type email asking for a link because they’ve redesigned their site. It even included a suggested link/code.

My reaction was not positive – in fact within a few moments I’d tweeted that I’d had the request and wasn’t overly impressed.

This post is not about Dummies.com – it’s about asking for links.

I have no beef with Dummies – they produce some great books by some amazing authors. This post isn’t about them. It’s about asking for links.

You see I get quite a few emails asking for links like the one from Dummies but they’re not always from big well known brands, they’re more often than not emails from bloggers. In 99% of cases the email ends up in my trash folder in Gmail but occasionally I not only read the emails but I link to the persons site.

Why do some emails generate links and others don’t?

Following are 11 suggestions for those wanting to email a blogger to ask for a link (whether they be big brands or bloggers):

  1. Write something worth linking to – this is a no brainer but so many people don’t get it. In the same way you wouldn’t successfully pitch a TV news service or newspaper a story like ‘I’ve got a newly designed website – it’s got videos’ you’re not likely to get much success with a blogger. The best way to get the attention of a blogger is to write something useful, entertaining, controversial, helpful, informative, intriguing…. etc. Check out my series on LinkBaiting for more ideas on this (particularly the post 20 Link Baiting Techniques).
  2. Suggest a Link to a post not your site – don’t ask for a link to your site – suggest that they check out a link to an individual page or post that you’ve written. A blogger is much more likely to run with a story linking to a post about a specific topic relevant to their topic than adding a link to your site.
  3. Develop a Relationship – cold calling a blogger that you’ve never interacted with before asking for a link is not the best way to start off a relationship. It’s like in real life – would you walk up to a stranger and immediately start asking them for favors? Get to know the blogger, their blog and let the ‘favors’ emerge out of that.
  4. Demonstrate Knowledge of the Blog and Blogger – building upon the ‘relational’ aspect – use the blogger’s name, show that you know what their blog is about. You don’t need to write an epic introduction that proves your knowledge – but a polite and not overly familiar approach can do you wonders. Also – introduce yourself to the blogger you are pitching to. You might feel like you know them but they could be in contact with many people – a quick reminder of who you are and what you do could help.
  5. Research – sometimes it can be worthwhile doing 5 minutes of research before you email another blogger. Look back over their last few months of blogging. What is their topic? Do they link to other blogs? What kinds of sites/posts/topics do they link to? Do they interact in other mediums (ie perhaps Twitter could be a better place to contact them)? The more information you gather the more able you are to tailor your pitch to them appropriately.
  6. Add Value – a blogger is unlikely to link to you unless there’s something in it for them or their blog. I’m not talking exchanging of money or even reciprocal links when I talk about value (although for some bloggers those will be motivating factors) – I mean the page you’re asking for a link for should be something of value that will actually enhance their blog. I can only speak for myself but I know that if someone pitches me a link that I’ll link to it or at least tweet the link in a heart beat if I think it adds value to the lives of my readers or followers.
  7. Stay on topic – this really is an extension of a couple of the points above but it always amazes me how many emails I get for people asking me to link to their ‘golf’, ‘stock market’, ‘book review’ and ‘kids fashion’ sites (they were just 4 requests that I got today alone). If you’re pitching a blogger to link to something you wrote make sure that the blog you want to appear on has relevancy to your topic. For starters it increases the chances of a link, it increases the chances of a reader clicking the link and it increases the power of the search engine juice that you’ll get from the link.
  8. Be selective in what you promote – we all like to think that every post we write is worthy of links from thousands of other blogs but the reality is that some are more likely to be linked to than others. Pick your very best posts to promote in this way and keep your requests to a minimum.
  9. Reciprocate – I want to be clear here that I’m not talking about reciprocal links. ‘Link to me and I’ll link to you’ doesn’t really hold a lot of value in SEO any more from what I can see. What I am talking about here is being willing to be generous TO the blogger and not just expecting them to be generous to you. Shane Gibson described these emails on Twitter yesterday as “we Win you Lose invitations” – I think that sums it up nicely. See the relationship as being like a bank. You’ve got to put in to get something out. If you take too much out the relationship will be bankrupt. I’m not just talking about giving the blogger links – you can reciprocate in many ways including by writing them guest posts, sending them small gifts, sponsoring a project that they’re running, promoting them to your own network…. etc
  10. Build on the Experience – no matter what the bloggers response is – you can learn from and build upon the experience. If they do link then there may be opportunity to deepen the relationship in some way. If they respond angrily, you probably don’t want to send them links again. If you get silence, don’t take it personally and continue to find ways to build relationships with the blogger.
  11. Be Link Worthy – let me emphasize this again. The best way to get linked to by a blogger is to produce a page or post that is link worthy of the link.

Learn How to Rank Highly in Search Engines – SEO Secrets

seo-secrets-glenn.gifWant to learn how to make your blog rank well in Google? SEO Secrets is a resource worth considering.

Last year at an SEO conference I met a fellow Aussie by the name of Glenn Murray (pictured right). He introduced himself to me as an SEO copywriter and he made quite an impression. In fact he’s pretty much the only person that I met that day that I remember the name of.

The reason that Glenn was one of the few people that I still remember is that in a quiet and genuine way he stood out from the crowd. Many of the SEO types that I met that day were boastful and proud – Glenn was confident but far from cocky. He knew what he was talking about but didn’t seem to feel the need to let everyone know how good he was over and over again.

Glenn and I have kept in touch since that day – mainly via Twitter – and so when he emailed me recently to quietly tell me about his new SEO training ebook I was keen to check it out.

seo-secrets.jpgThe ebook is called SEO Secrets and you can read about it and a little of Glenn’s story here.

Typically Glenn’s sales page for this great e-book makes no outrageous claims. There are no promises to make you rank #1 for highly competitive terms or screenshots of hundred thousand dollar earnings on clickbank – just Glenn’s story and a description of what you get when you buy this resource (as well as a sample chapter and Table of Contents) – that’s the kind of guy Glenn is.

The book (currently in it’s second version) is 213 pages (including bibliography, index and glossary) of SEO wisdom. It has a section on WordPress 2.7, sections on link building (including a good section on linkbaiting), choosing keywords, optimizing web content as well as a fairly extensive bibliography for further reading (it is refreshing to see someone citing sources and providing this).

The teaching in this ebook is good – very good – particularly for those at a beginner to intermediate level who are looking for a comprehensive and all in the one place introduction to SEO. Those who have spent many many hours doing extensive research on the topic on their own will probably not find a lot of new things in this guide – but for those starting out it is well worth considering as a practical investment in your education.

Glenn has a gift at explaining concepts that can at times be quite complex – if you’re like me and not wired with the brain of a technical genius you’ll appreciate the way he talks you through the many areas of SEO covered in this book.

If you’re interested in discovering more about SEO check out the sample chapter and table of contents of SEO Secrets for yourself.

SEO-Secrets-1.jpg

How to Grow Your Blog to the Next Level With SEO

In this series we’re looking at 9 things that bloggers need to work on once their blog moves out of ‘launch phase’ and into maturity.

Today I want to focus upon the topic of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

While SEO is something that is well worth while focusing upon right from the start of your blog – I’ve found that it becomes particularly important once your blog is at least a few months old. In my experience it is not until a blog is 6 to 12 months old that it really begins to grow in its authority in Google.

I will not rehash everything I know about SEO here (I’ll link to some resources at the bottom of this post) but here are just two tasks that I think established bloggers will particularly want to focus upon (I’m assuming that you’ve got some of the basics like getting titles set up right):

1. Optimizing Successful Pages on Your Blog

I mentioned this earlier in this series of posts but one of the first things to do is to identify and analyze the pages that people are arriving to your blog on from Search Engines. If you’re like most blogs you’ll find that a handful of your old posts generate a significant percentage of your search engine traffic. Identify these pages and you can then go about increasing the ranking of those pages even further in Google by doing some of the following:

  • increasing keyword density of these pages – don’t add the keywords that people are searching for too many more times, but it can help to add them 1-2 times more, bold the keywords, add them to heading tags, add them to image tags etc.
  • increase the internal links to these pages – if you find a page that is getting a lot of search traffic, any extra links to the page that you can generate (from both within your blog and outside it) can help its authority. You might want to even highlight some of these pages in your sidebar or navigation – or to link to them within other posts on your blog on a similar topic.

2. Create More Content on Related Search Terms

Once you start getting a handle on what type of information that people are searching for you should begin to make a list of other related topics that you might want to write about. You can get ideas from this by looking at keywords that people use to arrive on your blog and thinking about synonyms for those words but also by looking at online services like Google Trends which maps what people are searching the web for.

Another good tool for analyzing search traffic and coming up with new topics to write about it 103bees which gives some metrics on the questions people are asking to find your blog. These questions are topics your readers are actually asking which shows you what they’re typing into Google. Another great tool to try is Lijit which is a search tool you can use on your blog (see it in my sidebar). This tracks what terms people are searching your blog for. The useful thing about it is that they also show you what terms people searched for that there was no search results on your blog for – very handy information.

There is A LOT more that you can do to increase the search engine authority of your blog. Part of it just comes down to writing great quality content over the long haul (which over time increases the number of doorways into your blog and grows the number of links from other sites to it) but below I’ve listed some other resources from both within ProBlogger and from SEO experts that will hopefully give you plenty of things to work on.

Further Reading:

Also – here are three helpful videos (particularly for WordPress Users) with some great tips from Matt Cutts (Google Engineer), Joost de Valk and Stephan Spencer.


WordPress SEO & Optimisation Strategies a4uexpo London 2008 from existem on Vimeo.

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