Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Traffic Counters

Now that your blog is on the search engines and directories, you will no doubt want to see how much traffic your blog is getting and where from. The two free counters I recommend (and personally use for my blogs) are the free service at onestat.com (Onestat basic) and extreme tracking. The reason I recommend both and use both simultaneously is that neither give me all I need. onestat.com's stats service provides better accuracy in the number of hits my blogs receive, but does not report on keywords used in search engines that result in a referral to my site. Extreme Tracking does the vice versa of this, and so is extremely useful for tracking keywords on my blogs. In fact once you start analyzing the keywords used to find your site you may find better keywords to use when doing Search Engine optimization work on your blog.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Make your Blog famous

The last post detailed how to get your blog noticed and indexed by the search engines. Unless you have a very niche blog you may find that your blog is nowhere near the top of the rankings. In order to improve this one needs to understand what increases ranking.
Firstly, the search engines will scan your blog for your keywords, so you need to ensure that you write for the search engines, using your chosen keywords as much as possible in the text of your posts.
The other deciding factor is popularity - search engines will often rank pages higher according to how many sites are linking to them. As part of registering on the blog directories you have made a start on your popularity. However these are often generic sites, you need links relevant to your own content. There are a number of easy ways to do this:

1. Run queries on Google with your chosen keywords. The most highly ranked sites will be the most relevant for you. Send an email to the site owner asking if they can add a link to your site. The worst they can do is say no, but often they agree if you link back to them as well. Some of these sites may have comments sections - add comments to the site with links back to your own blog. Make sure that your comments are relevant and not blatant self promotional pieces. Some of the websites that appear in the search results may be forums - if they are forums that do not require logging in to view (search engines will not be able to index private pages), then write or contribute to threads.

2. Run the searches again, but this time add the word "forum" to your keywords to find forums relating to your blog's topics. Contribute to these forums as in step 1.

3. Try running the queries again but inserting the word "blogger", "weblog" or "blog". Hopefully this should bring up relevant blogs to your topic. Owners of blogs will often be more than happy to add links as it helps their own site promotion. A lot of blogs have comments sections so add comments with links back to your site.

4. Search Engines also take into account your own links to other relevant sites, so add a list of links to your blog and post to blogs and websites of similar content. A useful tool to maintain your list of links is Blogrolling - this handy tool lets you add new links using a button on your browser when you are reading a site you would like to link to.

This process should be repeated often, and you can track your progress by using the popularity tool on ineedhits.com. Do not worry if your site is more popular on Google than the other search engines - Google is the most important search engine for blog promotion as it has the widest reach and supplies listings to many other search portals, including Yahoo and AOL. Google measures popularity by 'Page Rank' - if you have the Google toolbar installed on your browser you can see what your Page rank is when you view your blog. Linking to relevant sites with high Page Rank will help to increase your own ranking.
To understand more about how search engines calculate popularity read this guide to Google's page rank method.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Build it and They Shall Come

Remember that line from the old Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams"? Well, that may hold out for supernatural baseball fields, but all web marketers know its not that easy to get noticed in the great ocean of websites out there. Its even hard to get noticed by the search engines unless you do things right.

So how do you get noticed by the Search Engines? I would recommend the following process:

1. Work out which keywords are relevant for your blog. Make a note of these. You can research popularity of keywords using the tool at Overture, or simply by running queries on Google. I would recommend at least 12 keywords.

2. You need to optimize the code on your blog. Firstly the title of the blog should accurately describe your page with the most important keywords at the beginning. Secondly work on your meta tags; write a description meta tag again using as many keywords as possible. Once this is done, create a keyword meta tag with all your keywords from step 1. Put a self referencing link (like this one) on your blog with your chosen keywords as the name of the link.

3. Now that your blog has keywords, it should be indexed successfully. This may take some time. However you can speed up this process by hand-submitting to as many search engines and directories as possible.

3.a I would highly recommend the submit free service at ineedhits.com. There is a paid version also worth considering as it is so cheap and gives you good exposure - this is the only paid service I have ever used. The major Search Engines will scan these directories and be directed to your blog which will in turn be indexed.

3.b Now comes the laborious part. Hand Submission. Submit your blog to as many directories as possible. when prompted for a description use the one you created in step 2.
The two most important are Yahoo and DMOZ. For both of these you must first find a relevant directory and submit from that page. Yahoo will give you a lot of referrals, and DMOZ is important as this directory is used to form directory listings for Google, and many of the other major search engines. As DMOZ is run by volunteers it can be very slow to get listed. Here is a great guide to getting listed on DMOZ. Please note that these two directories will only list your blog if you have a lot of content so don'T do this before you start writing your posts!
Blogs also have their own dedicated directories. Getting listed on these does not usually bring much traffic but will get your blog noticed by search engines. Here is a list of blog directories to start you off:

Blog Hot or Not
Blog Universe
Blog Search Engine
eatonweb portal
Globe of Blogs

Once you have done this, within a few weeks you will be indexed on at least Google, which is the most important.

Web Fire Escape

Are you scared that readers of your blog will be caught viewing your posts at work and get fired? If so, then you need to install the web fire escape. This handy tool creates a button for blog editors to put onto their page, and when the boss comes along users click on it and up pops up an innocent looking Excel sheet or word doc.

Welcome to Blogopoly

This Blog has been set up to give tips and tricks on improving your blog or increasing its popularity. It is not intended to be a guide to weblogs or to show you how to set up your own weblog. If you are looking for a beginners guide to weblogs, then click here.