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April 18, 2007

Optimizing your Blog for Google Blogsearch

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This is arguably old news considering Bill Slawski did a detailed rundown on it a month ago but the impact really didn’t hit me until I read Alister Cameron’s post on Problogger this morning covering the same topic – How Google Blogsearch ranks your posts. I’m hoping I’m not alone in my delayed intelligence and perhaps you missed the significance of Google Blogsearch patent application the first time around too. If so, let’s bond together in our obliviousness (wow; that is a real word!).

I haven’t spent much time using Google Blog Search. I’ve signed up for several of the alerts and I’ll do some vanity searching reputation monitoring from time to time but I’m typically Technorati-loyal. It seems to fit all my needs and it’s doing that great giving-me-all-forms-of-media on a specific topic thing that I really love. However, if blog optimization (it’s the new form of search engine optimization!) is important to you, instead of keyword vomiting your blog to death, it’d be wise to look at what factors Google deems important to ranking blogs to keep your company’s voice ranking above that of your competitors. You want readers to hear you, not them.

In reading through both Bill and Alister’s interpretation of the patent filed in 2005, it’s interesting to me how Google Reader plays into all this. Reader accounts for 30 percent of the newsreader market these days, which puts an enormous amount of data in Google’s hands. They’re able to use their subscription numbers to see which blogs are the most popular (at least on paper), they can tell which blogs readers are clicking through to, they can arguably determine how long users spend interacting with that blog and whether they read one entry or read through the history and probably lots more stuff I don’t even realize because I don’t use Google Reader. Then, they can take all that data and use it to rate the popularity of your blog. It’s kind of crazy, and it’s probably not far off from how Google’s judging that search engine optimization campaign you’ve got going.

I wonder how accurate that really is in determining the popularity of any one blog though. What if Blog A has more clickthroughs than Blog B because it only publishes snippets whereas Blog B is full feed? Are snippet feeds better optimized than full feeds? What about people like Rand Fishkin who don’t use feed readers and instead actually go and visit each blog individually? Is Rand ruining all of our Google Blog Search rankings because he’s not a blog subscriber? If so, torch the Mozzerplex!

But even if Rand is secretly out to get us, does it matter? Do people actually use Google Blog Search to find information or is it all vanity searching? I’ve never once used Google Blog Search to locate information and I don’t think I know anyone else who has either.

Regardless, the patent is worth a read because it signals ranking factors I otherwise wouldn’t have thought of – like appearing in a quality blog’s blogroll, or having your blog tagged using certain terms on sites like del.icio.us. You mean that actually matters? If you haven’t made your blog social and developed relationships with others in your industry, your antisocial tendencies may come back to haunt you. To rank well, Google needs to see that your blog can play well with others.

I also find it amusing that I could perhaps be considered a spammer because my blog posts and are typically around the same size. I don’t do this purposely, it just kinda happens. I rant and then when I hit a certain point on a page my brain tells me it’s okay to stop now and start summing things up and pretending I had a point. It seems this is a bad thing. I should write shorts posts. And long posts. And medium posts. And then I should find the bed that’s "just right" and fall asleep only to be awaken by bears.

On a personal note, I’ve always wondered if my Friday Recaps are hurting the blog. If Google or the blog engines see the link-heavy post and think I’m trying to spam them. It does seem to go against trusted optimization principles. However, they’re hilarious. There’s no way I’m ending the Friday Recap. Rankings be damned! (Uh, I mean, is that okay, Bruce?)

Alister highlights another way Google may judging blog popularity that I hadn’t thought of:

[0044] References to the blog document by other sources may be a positive indication of the quality of the blog document. For example, content of emails or chat transcripts can contain URLs of blog documents. Email or chat discussions that include references to the blog document is a positive indicator of the quality of the blog document.

That’s just weird. I know Google uses the keywords I type in Gmail to provide me with targeted advertising but it’s odd to think they’re looking at that content to view blog popularity as well. If they’re doing it for blogs, I wonder if they’re doing it for Web sites in their main engine. If so, I think you should all start writing more about that kickass search engine optimization and Internet marketing blog that girl Lisa writes at Bruce Clay. In fact, why don’t you go ahead and make it the subject of your email. Maybe subject lines are the new Meta tags. Or something.

Anyway, just some food for thought. Bruce would probably hit me with a ruler but I haven’t given much thought to blog optimization in the past. This blog has been more about news and conversation than trying to rank well for our site’s keywords. I wouldn’t want to see that premise change in a way that would sacrifice value, but it is interesting to see what Google deems important when deciding topic relevancy. Even if I do opt to ignore them and spam you guys like crazy with the Friday Recap.

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3 responses to “Optimizing your Blog for Google Blogsearch”

  1. Nathania Johnson writes:

    You can’t do away with Friday Recap. B/c I look forward to it. I must have the crazy links.

    And I’ll bet I’m not the only one. If you cancel it, you might lower your RSS subscriber number and then you’ll really be screwed!

    But no, I don’t think it hurts you. It’s one post out of many, and there’s plenty of links that are relevant to the SEO theme of this blog. I have read that linking out to relevant blogs helps Google establish theme. Don’t know how true that is. But as the only person who uses Blogsearch, I like to think I know what I’m talking about.

  2. Trogdor writes:

    I echo about Friday Recaps. I look forward to ‘em, too. If you get rid of ‘em, I’ll … well, I’ll … um … Well, borrowing from Monty Python, I’ll burninate in your general direction! Yeah!

  3. Bill writes:

    I can’t do without the kickass search engine optimization and Internet marketing Friday recaps either, Lisa.

    With the patent application, I think that one way to think about it, regardless of the ranking factors that it specifically mentions, is that they are trying to rank blogs highly that show evidence of being high quality. And you have that going for you.



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