When you stray off the beaten path you can either get hopelessly lost in the bramble or you can discover hidden wonders. In this article I hope to serve as a compass as we veer off the road less traveled in search of some lesser known treasures for SEO, marketing, networking, optimizing and monetizing your blog.
How To Stay Out of Bad Neighborhoods
Text links have always been recognized as an important factor in search engine ranking, be they inbound or reciprocal links.
But an overzealous linking strategy can also backfire; sites known to be linkfarms or that link indiscriminately to content of which some or many advertisers steer clear (porn, gambling, hate speech, splogs) can drastically decrease the number of higher quality ads that show up in your Adsense or similar displays. What’s more the search engines will recognize these follow-through destinations and penalize you in their rankings.
Michael VanDeMar’s free Bad Neighborhood Link Exchange Tool will scan the links on your website and where they lead, and flag problematic destinations.Â Understanding this relationships between so-called “bad neighborhoods” and your own empowers you to make choices about to how to reorganize your linking strategies.
How To Be Everywhere At Once – Build a Consistent Brand
From the “why didn’t I think of that” category comes this deceptively simple yet powerful tool for checking where a given username has already been claimed and where it remains available. CheckUserNames.com runs this search across some forty online social networking destinations from BallHype to Zoomr and everything in between. It is a great way to safely identify and build your brand across the web.
Turn Yourself into A Search Engine
claims to increase searches from your site by up to 5x what it is now by unify your content across all your social web and blogging accounts and making it searchable. It also offers statistics on user searches so that you can better understand your readers’ interest and refocus content to this end.
As a search line on your site, Lijit shows visitors other recent searches as well. It an easy to install widget that can help keep people focused on your content and promote interactivity while giving you a clearer perspective on what is working and what is not.
Protect Your Content and Build Good Habits With Copyscape
The benefits of using Copyspace are twofold – first it protects your hard work by checking its appearance across the web to ensure that your materials are not being republished without your permission. Second it demonstrates to you that you can’t simply copy and paste other people’s work without being caught which ideally builds better habits and prevents sloppiness on your part. Copyscape is a valuable resource that is being used by ever growing numbers of content creators to self-police the internet for plagiarism and unsanctioned use of their precious commodities.
What Are You Worth
It is important to check your inventory every so often and assess that value of that in which you are investing your precious time. In my early days as a blogger I frequently saw the Blogerati talk about their “failed blogs.” I now understand this to mean either a domain, niche or site that requires far too much effort for the amount of traffic, interest or ROI it is generating. Some of my blog experiments do well regardless of whether or not I update them frequently likely because I have discovered a strong niche and the content I am offering therein is serving the interest of that audience. Others I am simply not interested in and ultimately neither is anyone else.`Acknowledging a failed blog means cutting your losses on such expenses as domain renewals and hosting, but more importantly on your precious time.
If you have ever wondered what your blog is actually worth, the answer is, as Yaro Starack put it: “Whatever someone is willing to pay.” But there are a couple of admittedly inexact tools that can give you a better sense of what your blog might be worth in relative terms. These take into account factors like “top level domains” which could mean the number of non-abstract words in the domain name, whether it is a .com vs a .tv, whether it is a developed property and thus its Google Page Rank, Alexa rank, how many inbound vs . outbound links it has and so on.
I tapped in one of my domains and both of these spit out that the sixth month old .com site about video games was worth roughly $12,000! Another of my sites, which I once felt was a virtual gold mine showed as having a value of exactly $0. They are not hard science nor are they a crystal ball, but they are an interesting way to get a sense of what is up with your respective properties.
Cubestat is a free tool where you simply enter the domain so that it can project its worth based on daily pageviews and daily ads revenues among other factors.
Sootle works in a similar fashion to Cubestat but also spits out some code you can embed in order to place a widget that displays your site’s current value to prospective advertisers and buyers.
You will likely find a discrepancy between the values each of these calculators returns but at least you will have a place to start.
Understand Google Page Rank and then Stop Obsessing
Google Page Rank is one of those dark arts that often consume too much “mindshare” for people interested in SEO, especially because it is, necessarily, a moving target.
Ian Rogers breaks down the Google Page Rank algorithm white paper (of course this is just someone who knows a lot about it attempting to reverse engineer the methodology so take it with a grain of salt.) that is not so much a tool, as a sobering analysis of what you are up against.
Into the Woods
You will need every tool available to survive out there in the wild. I hope some of these help you on on your journey.
Photo “Yumi Lost in the Forest” courtesy David Light Orchard used under Creative Commons License
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