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Reclaiming Your Traffic And Monetization After The Panda Update

Author:

Speakers: Shane Ketterman
Session: How To Build, Grow, and Monetize Your Own Blogging Empire
Date: Thursday, May 26
Time: 2:30PM
Location: Jacob Javits Center 1A14

Was your blog or site affected by the latest roll-out of Google’s Panda algorithm update? Mine was. And I want to share this story with you so you can understand a little of what I am doing right now. Additionally I want to share this with you if you are a site who lost revenue due to the lower traffic numbers.

On April 11, 2011, I was blissfully going through the day excited that the night before I had taken in my largest adsense day and my weekly Amazon affiliate sales were skyrocketing.

I was able to take a recent event, write a bunch of articles, and drive traffic. A lot of it.

After about 2 weeks of this, I felt good. I felt like I was really getting somewhere and I felt like Google was my new BFF (best friend forever), because it was bringing me traffic and that traffic clicked ads. And those clicked ads gave me money.

But at 4pm on April 11th, that friendship took a detour. Google and I had different ideas about the quality of my recent traffic-driving posts. And as I learned, Google wins.

Each day I would check my “impressions” on my site and it was just amazing to me at how it was going up and up. Come to think of it – it felt like 2006 when real estate values were increasing in the double-digits.

Lesson #1: When something is increasing at a rapid rate, be very aware.

So at around 4pm, I was checking my impressions and I nearly choked on my sandwich. It wasn’t the peppers. It was the traffic. “Where had it gone?” I surmised that it must just be a Monday dip.

But it wasn’t. I had been affected by the latest Google Algorithm change called Panda, or the Farmer update.

But I wasn’t an article farm. I was just blogging. I was…..well it doesn’t matter what I was or wasn’t, the fact is Google decided to get me off that pedestal a bit and show me how much power they have with their algorithms.

So I could have got angry. I could have quit and deleted the mysql database of all my posts. I could have just been complacent and ignore it.

But if you are one that blogs and depends on Adsense or other affiliate sales that are all driven by organic search traffic then you see that money literally disappear before your eyes.

Lesson #2: Do not depend purely on organic search as your sole sense of income.

So now you know what happened but now I want to help you understand what I’m doing about it because this is about not giving up and it’s about an income from a blog.

First things first. Do not panic. Do not get angry (it won’t help). Don’t do anything irrational and feel like a failure. An algorithm update hits millions of sites. So you are not the only one.

Now it’s time to get practical. When and if this happens to you, head over to the Google Webmaster forum to see what kind of messages they are posting. Read with care. Watch for articles from trusted SEO resources like the following:

SEOMoz
Search Engine Land

Step 1. Try to see what the veterans in SEO are finding and do not follow everyone’s advice until the dust has settled. I know you will feel an urgent need to fix this but you have to be careful and make sure you are doing it right.

Step 2. Read the Google Webmaster Quality Guidelines. Believe it or not, they really do tell you exactly what Google considers quality.

Step 3.
Read what the update affected (from Google) and try to understand how this might have applied to ANY page on your blog/site. One low quality page can bring down your domain’s standing in the SERPS. Panda in particular targeted:

  • Sites and pages plastered with ads “above the fold” or ones that have a high ad to content ratio.
  • Shallow, or thin content pages that generally do not add any value
  • Pages with poorly written (grammar, spelling) content
  • Duplicate content (copying from other sites intentionally or unintentionally)
  • Add value and something unique to your articles if it is one that is covered elsewhere
  • Sites with low-quality backlinks

There are more issues that Panda targeted but you get the idea. It’s about the quality and uniqueness and in Google’s eyes, they are trying to deliver the absolute best experience that they can for searchers.

Step 4. Get into your Analytics and use the great comparison feature. When you are looking at your dashboard, you can select the dates you want to view and there is a checkbox for “compare to past” which allows you to do a great comparison.

Compare your traffic for one week prior to your loss in traffic to a week after and take note which pages took the most hits.

Step 5. Determine if you are going to get rid of those pages, update them or just put a noindex, nofollow on them. Either way, dig through and make a decision on what you are going to do with low-quality pages.

Step 6. Open Google and take the title of one of your articles within quotes and simply search for it. What do you see? Do you see your exact article on the top of the results or do you see other sites copying your content?

I was not even aware but there were 8 sites copying all my posts. Thanks to Derek Halpern of Social Triggers for giving me some pointers on this. This is all duplicate content and it can harm you. File DMCA requests with the site owners or hosting providers and get this removed right now.

There are also plugins you can get for WordPress to help with scrapers as well but it’s my belief that getting it removed entirely is best at first. RSS Footer is one such plugin that you might want to check out.

Step 7. Look at your pages from the perspective of a user. How does it feel? Does it feel spammy? Too many ads in the content? Ask others. Above all, ask the hard questions and be willing to consider some house cleaning to present a higher quality experience. This might mean taking ads out of those areas that get a ton of clicks. It might mean reducing your ads. Or it might be just fine.

Also, look for pages with more internal links than content. I had a few pages where I referenced other content but the links outweighed the actual writing so I added a lot to those pages.

Step 8. Go over to your Google Webmaster Tools page and dig in. Do you have errors? Get them corrected. Do you have duplicates meta tags or title tags? Webmaster Tools will tell you. Get that corrected also. Basically, make sure you square up with Google.

Step 9. Take a break and plan out how you will get rid of your low quality content. I have over 650 articles so It’s not like I am going to sit down and just do this on one sitting. Take it in chunks but above all, begin doing something.

These are some practical steps you can take. There is advice all over the place but there is no better advice than from those of us dealing with it and trying really hard to improve.

Here is the best advice, however, for a site that you are monetizing. Do not depend solely on organic search traffic. Do not get complacent and lazy and start posting anything less than quality and original material. Try to get other forms of traffic such as from YouTube, social media participation, RSS Syndication partners, relevant blog directories in your niche, and the occasional guest post where it fits your audience.

The best news about his is that it will really cause you do grow as a blogger and as one that is monetizing for a living. Now if you want to hear all about how to get the blog started and growing in the first place then you can see my talk at Blog World East on Thursday, May 24th at 2:30 pm. Here I will be showing you in my own unique way how to build, grow and monetize a branded affiliate blog just like I have done – even in a post-panda world.

If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask and please share your own story especially if you were hit by Panda.

What Google’s Crackdown on Content Farms Means for Bloggers

Author:

Recently, Google announced major changes to their algorithm, which will mostly cut down on how often certain written content will appear in search results. This is being seen as a crackdown on content farms, notorious companies that fill their websites with as much content as possible aimed at pulling in search engine users. Most of the time, this content is low-quality or rewritten content optimized to beat out the same content found on original sites. These changes will affect nearly 12% of search queries, so its definitely not an insignificant change. As usual, Google didn’t go into tons of details about their search engine changes.

What does this mean to you as a blogger?

The hope is that it will only help you, as long as you’re dedicated to providing original, thoughtful content. Amit Singhal and Matt Cutts, from Google, have explained that this algorithm change will reward people who have high-quality content, since they will no longer be beat out by people who are copying their work or providing low-quality content to scam the system. So that’s a good thing, right?

Yes, in theory.

But, I could see some problems with the changes as well. For example, if your website is new-orientated, you might see your search engine traffic drop a bit. Take this post, for instance. The news that Google is changing their algorithm certainly isn’t original – I read about it on multiple websites. I rewrote the story for you all (in case you haven’t read it yet), as well as interjected my own opinion and thoughts (i.e. what I’m doing now), but the story itself can be found other places. So, will my search engine rankings be hurt because of that?

If I’m doing a good job, and I think I am, I shouldn’t have anything to worry about. I’m not just rehashing a story – I’m adding a lot of original content that isn’t found in other places. Google is pretty smart. I think their algorithm will likely take into account whether or not original content is added. But then, I do expect that some bloggers will have to change how they do things, at least a little, if they want to maintain search engine traffic. I also expect some mistakes to be made. No algorithm is perfect.

In any case, it will be interesting to see how this content farm crackdown will affect bloggers and the web in general. As a freelance writer, I’ve worked for writing companies in the past (some even being accused of being content farms, though I stand behind the work I did as original and high-quality). I also have friends who work for such companies, and the writers forums are buzzing. Overall, I think that Google’s changes are going to be an extremely positive thing for bloggers, but I guess only time will tell.

What do you think of Google’s algorithm changes?

Google Launches New ‘Realtime Search’ URL

Author:

Google announced yesterday that they are ramping up their Realtime Search functionality.

They first introduced the real-time search features last December, with a goal to provide real-time content from a comprehensive set of sources, integrated right into your usual search results. Yesterday they made significant enhancements, giving real-time information its own URL for easier viewing and manipulation.

On this new homepage you’ll find a variety of tools to help you refine and understand your results, including:

  • Geographic refinements to find updates and news near you, or in a region you specify.
  • Conversations view, making it easy to follow a discussion on the real-time web. Browse the entire conversation in a single glance from newest to oldest.
  • Updated content to Google Alerts, making it easy to stay informed about a topic of your choosing. You can create an alert if your topic appears on Twitter or other services.

Google even put together a demo video with tips on how to use the new features:

Do you think you’ll be using Google Realtime?

Monetization Monday: Google Reveals AdSense Revenue Share

Author:

If you have a blog, there’s a good chance you’ve got a Google AdSense block somewhere on your site. AdSense has long been a way to help monetize your site with contextual ads. But it’s always been vague as to how your income is determined.

This morning, Google revealed exactly how much they take as their share from AdSense sales “in the spirit of greater transparency.” According to the release placed on their blog, they take:

  • 32% of content ads (the publisher gets the remaining 68%)
  • 49% of search ads (the publisher gets the remaining 51%)

The content ads are those placed alongside web content, while AdSense for search allows publishers to place a custom Google search engine on their site and obtain revenue from ads shown in the results.

And what does Google do with their cut? They use the money for “continued investment in AdSense — including the development of new technologies, products and features that help maximize the earnings you generate from these ads.

Do you think this is a fair share? Do you use any other contextual ad services?

Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni

Tag You’re It! – Why Tagging Your Content Is Important

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Tag You're It

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “We live in a Google world.”  It is true, we don’t order Chinese food, find directions to the store, or stalk old girlfriends without using Google.  Being findable in this world is important if you are trying to be found.  Businesses especially must pay attention to how their customers can find them.  Keywords and key phrases are how that is accomplished through the use of meta tags or just tags.

Tags are a keyword associated with content attached to it.  If you want people to read your latest blog post on how to wash a cat, you have to determine how they would look for that content and attach that key word or phrase to it.

The same rule applies to your content as a publisher whether it be a blog, a podcast, video or even your photos.  We often put pictures into our posts that we find which we feel are relevant to our content, the title or completely off the wall for that matter.  We find those pictures at places like flickr, istockphoto, and yes, Google image search.  We enter a keyword into the search function of those sites to find a picture for the content.

In addition to being searchable or findable, it also has the effect of increasing traffic to your content and makes the content watched, seen and readable.  One of the things that I do on a regular basis is to search out and find anyone that mentions BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  You can imagine all the different variations of that and the number of tags used to describe our event.  This is also why we like people that use a common tag.  The most used tag last year was of course “BWE09” and this year we are urging everyone to use “BWE10”.  This allows us a quick reference to your blog post, your picture on your photo sharing site, your podcast and your YouTube (owned of course by Google) or other videos. A YouTube search with “blog world” returns 234,000 results.  We all know it may be difficult for me to look at that many videos.  Using a tag like BWE10 focuses the searcher into your content. A similar search with BWE09 allows me the benefit of watching less that 150 videos.

If your content is well done and is something we need to share with our community, we find and share it.  This in turn increases the readers, listeners, or viewers of your content.  We are still pouring over the content generated as a result of the 2009 event in October, I am finding new content daily and still trying to read all of it.  As we grow and get bigger and have more content generated it is going to be tougher to find your content and thereby making it even more important for you to tag appropriately.

For the upcoming show in 2010 we are asking everyone to tag your content “BWE10”  If you Tweet that hashtag, put that in your post, attach it to your videos, photos and podcasts, I’ll be there to say hello.  If it is something that needs to be shared with the thousands of people in our community, we’ll do so and increase your traffic and readership.  If I miss something because I couldn’t find it, your content may never get discovered and broadcast further.  We are listening and we are paying attention to what is being said. Tag your content!

Photo Via SD_Kirk

Tag You're It! – Why Tagging Your Content Is Important

Author:

Tag You're It

If I have said it once I have said it a thousand times, “We live in a Google world.”  It is true, we don’t order Chinese food, find directions to the store, or stalk old girlfriends without using Google.  Being findable in this world is important if you are trying to be found.  Businesses especially must pay attention to how their customers can find them.  Keywords and key phrases are how that is accomplished through the use of meta tags or just tags.

Tags are a keyword associated with content attached to it.  If you want people to read your latest blog post on how to wash a cat, you have to determine how they would look for that content and attach that key word or phrase to it.

The same rule applies to your content as a publisher whether it be a blog, a podcast, video or even your photos.  We often put pictures into our posts that we find which we feel are relevant to our content, the title or completely off the wall for that matter.  We find those pictures at places like flickr, istockphoto, and yes, Google image search.  We enter a keyword into the search function of those sites to find a picture for the content.

In addition to being searchable or findable, it also has the effect of increasing traffic to your content and makes the content watched, seen and readable.  One of the things that I do on a regular basis is to search out and find anyone that mentions BlogWorld & New Media Expo.  You can imagine all the different variations of that and the number of tags used to describe our event.  This is also why we like people that use a common tag.  The most used tag last year was of course “BWE09” and this year we are urging everyone to use “BWE10”.  This allows us a quick reference to your blog post, your picture on your photo sharing site, your podcast and your YouTube (owned of course by Google) or other videos. A YouTube search with “blog world” returns 234,000 results.  We all know it may be difficult for me to look at that many videos.  Using a tag like BWE10 focuses the searcher into your content. A similar search with BWE09 allows me the benefit of watching less that 150 videos.

If your content is well done and is something we need to share with our community, we find and share it.  This in turn increases the readers, listeners, or viewers of your content.  We are still pouring over the content generated as a result of the 2009 event in October, I am finding new content daily and still trying to read all of it.  As we grow and get bigger and have more content generated it is going to be tougher to find your content and thereby making it even more important for you to tag appropriately.

For the upcoming show in 2010 we are asking everyone to tag your content “BWE10”  If you Tweet that hashtag, put that in your post, attach it to your videos, photos and podcasts, I’ll be there to say hello.  If it is something that needs to be shared with the thousands of people in our community, we’ll do so and increase your traffic and readership.  If I miss something because I couldn’t find it, your content may never get discovered and broadcast further.  We are listening and we are paying attention to what is being said. Tag your content!

Photo Via SD_Kirk

Is Your Blog Fast Enough For Google?

Author:

For a long time all of us have been worried about our page rank and how we fair in the eyes of Google.  Yes, I have always said it, “We Live In A Google World.”  Google holds all the search cards, or at least about 60% of it last time I checked, and they make most of the rules we all follow in order to get on page 1. Apparently, as Michael Gray reports, Google wants your site to be fast to get better rank in their eyes.

I always try to see what the latest news is and what the latest tricks are to make sure we don’t cross the line and get in trouble with the almighty Google.  I am trying to put a hint of sarcasm in there, but don’t tell Google they might penalize my site, but I digress. Michael Gray’s blog, something I try to read often and wrote about “How To Speed Up WordPress.” Since we use WordPress as our application of choice here, for the time being, I decided I better check it out.

I try to listen to experts like Michael and follow what he has as advice.  In this particular instance I might not be able to and keep the site with all the bells and whistles we have become accustomed to here.  Things like Tweetmeme and other social metworking buttons and such are things Michael advises we get rid of to help the load speed.

I don’t want to hear about the site problems we already have we are actively trying to remedy that as we speak.  Our load time is really long since are site never truly stops loading.  I guess you could say we are in perpetual load.  Thanks for the post Michael.

How does your site do after testing? Is it fast? Is it Google fast? I am not sure any of us will ever know that secret.

Photo Via Whole Wheat Toast

Facebook and Everyone Else

Author:

facebook I have been trying to figure out how to keep up with the social networks I have for BlogWorld & New Media Expo and my own personal networks.  I have always touted that I can drink from the social media firehose as well as anyone but I have been noticing recently that I am having a hard time with it.  I was going through my own networks and found that my Facebook friends are now joining me on my other networks and vice versa.  Meaning that the hose is getting bigger but at least the water amount stays the same to some extent.

It appears that event within  the back stage scenes that the networks themselves are getting smeared and merged with one another.  I was commenting to my wife that Plaxo’s interface looked somewhat like Facebook’s interface and I am not sure if I am commenting on a Facebook wall or to an email from Plaxo.  Now I see on TechCrunch that the CTO of Plaxo has ended up working with Facebook.  It is hard to keep not only the networks in focus but the lines have blurred with relation to the developers and the people behind the scenes.

In a world of networks everyone is clamoring for market share and it appears that the talent goes with the winner (or is it that the talent goes with the money?  It is a free agent type market these days).  With Facebook talking about an IPO and getting its latest round of funding they are making it difficult for the rest of the players to keep up.  We are seeing a situation of living in a Google World as I always say to living in a Facebook World.  It’s Facebook and then the rest.

Google Wants Twitter…Is Twitter King?

Author:

141010-googlelogo_180 Unless you’re hiding under some sort of stone in the past few days and weeks, you’ve most likely heard the rumors circulating and floating around that Google has officially expressed some interest in acquiring the wildly popular microblogging site, Twitter.  Wow.

Given the fact that newer rumors are now circulating that Twitter wouldn’t sell to Google, not even for $1 Billion, it’s so far looking highly unlikely that Twitter would ever take the bait, take the check and relinquish control, but nevertheless, the simple fact that Google is expressing the interest they are says a great deal more than whether or not they sell or not.  Let’s face it, right now, Twitter just might be king.

The question that remains is, WHY does Google want Twitter?  Are they in the habit and pattern of just buying what is hot and what is popular while they are still on top, as they did with YouTube, or do they see something of a threat in Twitter?  It’s clear that Twitter’s “real-time search” is a big deal and something that Google as of now doesn’t have, but is it enough to threaten Google?  No.  So why?  That question remains to be answered and given the fact that in today’s economic climate, many companies are actually trying to shave costs, the acquisition of a company that so far has shown it’s a bit difficulty generating revenue, it doesn’t make much sense.

According to an article in PCWorld recently, many are speculating as to why and what Twitter represents to Google.  In an interview in the article:

“Twitter is clearly hot. The phenomenon of real time search and the ability to capture this stream of ‘tweet’ discussions is an important development in social media and search because people are trying to mine data for information that might otherwise be sought in a search engine…This whole phenomenon Twitter represents is here to stay and needs to be addressed by search engines.”

My best guess, Google wants Twitter so no one ELSE can have it.  The age old story, I want you, so no one else can.  What do you think…why is Google even entering the rumor mill about wanting Twitter?  Sound off…

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