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Google and Over Optimisation Penalties

It is good to eat food. If you don’t eat food you will have no energy. However, because it is good to eat food it doesn’t mean you stuff yourself with 10 meals a day.

Similarly, it is good to get inbound links with your preferred keyword anchor text. However, if you get too many in a short space of time, it can be bad for your blog. Google is increasingly viewing “over optimisation tricks” in a bad light. Basically, Google have never liked people who try to artificially inflate their rankings with clever SEO tricks.

Also, what worked in the past doesn’t mean it will work in the future. If you are not careful, overzealous SEO techniques can lead to severe Google penalties, like the 950 penalty. This means your rankings drop 950 places for every keyword on your site. It can and does happen overnight – and it hurts.

Case Study: John Chow

John Chow is a top A List blogger. He made $12,000 dollars in June 2007 alone. John started a scheme where you could trade links. You review his blog with the keyword text “Make money online” and he would link to your blog. Nearly 1,000 people participated giving John’s blog 1,000 inbound links with his target “Make Money Online”.

1,000 inbound links, from a variety of blogs, with his preferred keyword anchor text. Pretty smart SEO? But, how did Google respond?

They kicked him off all search engine rankings. Even searching for his name “John Chow” doesn’t return his blog. And this is an A list blogger, who is in the technorati top 100. Personally I think this makes Google looks stupid, if I search John Chow I want to see johnchow.com as number 1. So I doubt this penalty will last forever. However, it shows that Google want to really try and hit people who are gaming the system.

Does this Mean SEO Is dead?

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Common Mistakes of Blogging: my Top 20

This is a list of mistakes that are easy to make when blogging and building websites. To some extent, I have made all of these mistakes at some time. Hopefully by sharing them, the mistakes may be avoided. But, I think it is worth mentioning that the biggest mistake is not to try, experiment and learn from your mistakes. Even the top bloggers will make mistakes along the way, but these, of course, do not need to hold you back.

1. Pleasing Only Search Engines.

It is a mistake to judge your blog only on the position in search engine rankings, and how much traffic you get. I think it is important to get satisfaction from your blog, even if not many people are reading it. If you feel you are contributing something worthwhile it will inspire you to keep blogging. The strange thing is that quite often when we ignore search engine rankings, we start to do better.

2. Focusing on One aspect of a Blog.

If we spend all our time, trying to get links, the quality of our content will suffer. Also I find, writing content much more enjoyable than the process of promoting your blog.

3. Lack of Focus in Blog.

Most people stumble into blogging, with no clear purpose. My first blog was a personal blog, entries included diverse topics from “Credit Card Debt”, “cycling” “Fawlty Towers” and “the Spirituality of Advaita Vedanta” – If you happen to share these interests, I’d love to hear from you, but it is unlikely people will share your eclectic range of interest. The point is your blog should have a clear focus so people know what to expect. Posting on various topics confuses everybody; search engines, google adsense, and most importantly your readers.
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How to Make Successful Short Blog Posts.

Short posts have many advantages, see: advantages of short posts. But, what makes a successful short post? These are some ideas for quick but meaningful short blog posts.

Invite Comments.

If you have a readership base, who are willing to leave comments, this can be a great technique. For example, in this post on Best RSS Feeds, it is the comments that make the post. Another advantage, of this kind of post, is that it makes the readers feel like they are participating in the blog.

  • The problem is that you can’t do this too often. Also, it is essential that you have a large readership, who are willing to leave comments; otherwise it’s a bit of a non-starter.

Tip of the Day

Never underestimate people’s desire for short pithy quotes. Quotes of the day are always popular. For example, once a week you could give a “top writing tip of the week”. Don’t feel obliged to always have to give a top 10 or top 5.

Link Round up.

Each week you can collect your favourite sites and pages you have visited. It makes a relatively easy post. It is also very useful, for both yourself and your readers. Quite often I regret not bookmarking my favourite links, and then waste time trying to find them again. My favourite posts at Problogger are often the speedlinking.

  • (An additional benefit, is of course, other webmasters will love the linkage)

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Growing your Blog Organically

Increasing Traffic to Your Blog – Part 2

In a previous post, I looked at how to increase traffic from an SEO point of view: Increasing traffic through search engines. However, this is only one aspect of creating a successful blog, if we are focused only on search engines we may struggle to develop the blog in other ways.

Growing your blog organically doesn’t mean using lots of horse manure (apologies for feeble play on words). Organic growth comes through attracting a regular and loyal readership. This is visitors who come to see your latest posts, because they expect good quality content. In many ways, this kind of traffic is preferable to a search engine visitor. Visitors from a search engine often leave quite soon, because it is not what they were looking for. Regular readers, however, are coming because (hopefully) they like your content.

Ways to Attract a loyal readership

1. Good content.

The most important thing is that the content has to be good enough. If your blog is informative or interesting people will keep coming back. If the content is poor or recycled, there is not much you will be able to do.

2. Focus on a certain Niche.

If you blog on everything under the sun, you will lose readers. People don’t want to have to wade through several articles on cycling gear ratios if you blog is about writing and seo. Regular readers will expect a certain type of post, if they start getting different topics they are likely to unsubscribe.

3. Interact with your Readers.

One of the main attractions of a blog is that it enables a two way communication. Successful blogs are ones that engage with their readership, rather than just blogs that talk to readers. This means, if people leave comments, take time to respond; this is especially important if it is their first comment. In this regard, I should do this more often. John, for example, is a top commenter on blogs. I admire his enthusiasm for leaving comments, and responding to others.

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How to Write a Good Article for the Web

1. Articles should be informative.

Offering a review of a film / book / product is a good idea. Articles that explain how to do something are also valued. If you give meditation classes, why not write about different types of meditation exercises. If you organise races you could write an article on “Things to remember for organising a running race.”

2. Have Reasonable Expectations:

Don’t feel you have to attain perfection in your writing. If you have the idea the article must be perfect, it becomes difficult to write and it will take longer than it should. In some respects, quantity has its own perfection. I have found that as you write more, writing becomes more fluent. See your first 10 articles as “warm up” articles. When you get into the rhythm of writing you will find that you can write 500 words in 20-30 minute.

3. Short Attention Span of Readers

Always bear in mind people’s attention span is often short. Therefore it is important to:

a) Write with clarity and simplicity
b) Breaking up an article into different sections is helpful
c) I often like to write an article by numbers. Top 7 tips for.. are always popular.

4. Write on What you Know.

Concentrate on writing articles on subjects where you have some specialized knowledge. A reader can tell whether you are re-hashing ideas from others, or whether you have something new to offer.
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