Ever since I wrote a post two weeks ago talking about being smacked by Google Panda, I’ve been wondering this one particular question: “What Is An Authority Blog Post?” I think it’s an intriguing question to try to tackle, and I did something I rarely do; lots of research! Let’s see what some other people consider and have to say about the concept of authority posts.


Don Yeager is an authority

I decided to go on Duck Duck Go instead of Big G to do this research for two main reasons. One, because my buddy Holly is boycotting them because of a particular site I refuse to mention that they’re advertising with to her dismay. Two, because I didn’t want the G people telling me who they felt was going to tell me what authority posts are.

Truthfully, the Kahuna doesn’t ever tell us what authority is; that’s an issue that most people have against them. What they in essence tell us is that they’ll know it when they see it; isn’t that helpful?

The first post the Duck put up is titled What Is Authority by Chris Garrett. Written in 2007, Chris says “I see authority as a journey, a continuous process. There is no end point. In fact, if you stop working towards it, or feel like you have “done enough”, that is when you are most likely to lose it.” He also says authority covers 3 aspects: personality; expertise; visibility.

I actually like this article a lot, but since it was written before Panda it begs the question as to whether this article would be considered authoritative. I mean, considering it only comes in at 436 words, and these days people are saying we should be reaching at least 1,000 words, does it pass or fail today’s authority standards? I say… it’s complicated. lol

The next article that came up was titled How To Create Authority Content in Any Niche Even If You Have No Clue About It written by a guy named Jawad Khan in 2016. This post is absolutely epic, coming in at 2,192 words and having 12 infographic images (as opposed to one of those giant infographics) and offering 5 ways to put together authoritative posts.

Once again it’s a wonderful post. However, he never quite gets around to telling us what an authority post is. Instead, he tells us different ways to establish authority, which is pretty cool, but it doesn’t specifically answer the question. The one time it’s kind of addressed is when he begins point #5, Write in a Conversational, But Authoritative Tone to Position Yourself Higher, where he states 3 specific short sentences:

The so-called “expert status” is a relative term.

Nobody is going to crown you as an expert.

You need to crown yourself.

Who can be mad at that? Check out the post because it’s a wonderful job, and it’ll give you a lot of tips. Still, it didn’t answer the question; oh well… onward we go.

Next we have an article titled What Is An Authority Blog? on a site that, well, isn’t really all that authoritative (it’s a site in Singapore that’s a street directory; isn’t that was G Maps is all about?), but it came up in the search.


Me being authoritative

The first thing we get is a definition of an authority site: “An authority blog or an authority site is one of the main places people go to for information on a particular niche or topic.” The follow up is this: “One of the main characteristics of an authority site is it has more content or pages than any other site in that niche.” Actually, I don’t think that’s true. I have nearly 500 articles on blogging on this site and 462 on my business site on leadership (I’ve linked to a post highlighting the 12th anniversary of that blog lol) and, as much as I think I’m somewhat authoritative on these subjects it seems the search engines don’t agree with me on this point. Then again, they’re not quite niched specifically enough are they? What about my finance blog where each of 975 posts is on financial topics? Nope, that’s not getting the job done either… heck!

Hey, what about a post on Copyblogger? They’re a pretty big name, right? I’ve got just the article, titled How to Become an Authority Blogger that might be pretty good… even though it was written in 2007 (amazing; two of the articles I found were from the same year, way before anyone started talking about authority and content and Panda penalties). The author doesn’t quite answer the question of independent articles; instead, he gives 3 tips on how to become an authority: check your thoughts regularly; speak with authority; study other authorities.

One again, those are great points and I’m glad to share a link to the article. However, these are more about each of us than the concept of authority blog posts isn’t it? How can this be so hard a question to answer? Maybe the question is too direct; what do you think?

Let’s try one more. This article is titled 5 Lessons Learned from My Failed Authority Blog Project; there’s trouble on the horizon. Written in 2013, Tom Ewer actually talks about authority blog posts and how, for whatever reason, Gesus decided his quality couldn’t top other “quality” that weren’t actually quality at all. He did everything right, but as he shows in what is a very well written and researched post, he just couldn’t break through on his niche even though he was actually talking about it specifically.

I actually agree with what he’s talking about, and I have my own proof. In a post I wrote titled 9 Ways Blogging Can Help You And Your Business, I mentioned that for my main business search term I’m actually listed in the top 5 by the 100 zeros people. What I didn’t mention is that out of the other sites in the top 10 only 2 of them actually do consulting at all. The other sites are all job sites, and when I checked them out they’re not even listing the actual position for the search terms. How are those sites showing authority if they don’t even fit the search term requirements? No idea…

We’re in kind of a quandary aren’t we? Well, I guess that, just like I was the first person to specifically answer the question as to what high quality content was many years ago, it’s going to be up to me to answer this question about authority blog posts. Let’s see how this one works.

1. You have to address something that no one else has and then hammer the point with more consistent content on the same topic.


Dr Emad Rahim is an authority

My main search term for my business is “charge master consultant. When you go to the Duck, you’ll see that I’m listed in position #1 because I have a page that specifically talks about doing that sort of work. However, it’s what’s in the 3rd position where I seal the deal when I wrote a blog post titled What Is A Charge Master?.

Out of the top 20 listings there are only 2 articles on the subject. However, out of all the articles I’ve written on my business blog, 45 of them are on this specific topic, along with adding the “consultant” and “consulting” works in a few of them. This makes me an authority in that particular area; now all I need are more people searching for the information.

2. You have to have “facts”, even if they’re opinion “facts”.

You know that link above about the high quality content? The mallard has me listed at #7 on the topic, which is pretty cool. Do you know where the Seattle owners have me? I certainly don’t, as I’m not in the top 100 (I had to look Holly…), and it’s an article specifically written on the topic! Once again, Tom was onto something; maybe we should follow his very first recommendation: Forget Google! Well… I don’t want to go there to that degree, but it shows that the normal person doesn’t quite have a shot at figuring all these things out doesn’t it? By the way, now there are a lot of articles highlighting the same topic, but back in 2011 when I wrote it I was the only one.

This subject of opinion “facts” is an intriguing one. For instance, when I wrote about 9 ways to identify spam on blogs back in November, every one of those items was a fact… just more apocryphal than researched based. Well, it was my research, but I didn’t go out on the web looking for anyone to corroborate what I had to say on the subject. With nearly 1,750 blog posts here and lots more on my other blogs, couldn’t I be considered as an authority on identifying spam without having to research it? BTW, Quackers has this article listed in the #2 spot, whereas G… not in the top 150 (I’m liking Duck Duck more and more…)

3. Others will identify your posts as authoritative; it could come from anywhere.

This one isn’t all that comforting and yet it’s pretty true. I wrote a post back in September titled 30 Mistakes You’re Making With Your Blog. I promoted it the same way I usually do and it got a lot of attention and comments. Go Duck ranks it #1; you-know-who doesn’t list it at all unless you put it within quotation marks.

You know what? That article had all the earmarks of an authority post… at least what’s recommended by the “experts”. It had almost 5,800 words. It had a lot of images. It had the bolded subcategories. It had internal and external links. It offered a lot of advice. Give it a look if you have time; if that’s not authority then I’m a mongoose.

That’s all I’ve got on what’s considered an authority post. I’ve done my bit of research and I’ve offered my thoughts. Now it’s your turn; what do you consider an authority post to be? Also, do you think this one qualifies, and if not what do you think is missing?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

No matter what it is you do, you get to consider yourself a professional at it if you’ve ever been paid to do it. For 14 years I was a professional wedding singer, even though I didn’t charge a lot most of the time because I was doing it for friends of mine. I was a professional songwriter because one person along the way paid me for the rights to use some of my music in a one-woman show… which turned out to be bad. lol I’m also a professional speaker because I’ve been paid to do that on a variety of topics; that’s pretty cool. And many of you know that I’m a professional consultant in leadership and health care, as well as social media here and there.

CA2M TALLER DE ESCRITURA
CA2M via Compfight

I’m also a professional writer. I’ve been getting paid to write for other people since 2009. When I started out I was getting paid a penny a word; that didn’t last long. At some point I started getting paid better, but it’s a tough game to play sometimes. It can also be rewarding and intriguing. The best part of it is that you can do it from wherever you want to; home, in a store or coffee shop, while on vacation… with pen and paper or a tablet or laptop, it’s all on you.

In 2015 I talked about the process of writing my 2nd book on leadership titled Leadership Is/Isn’t Easy, and I admitted that it didn’t turn out to be as easy as I thought it would be, yet it felt good when I was finished. This time around I’m going to talk about pros and cons of being a professional writer. Let me know if any of these pertain to you.

Pro – You learn about a lot of things

When I first started writing, most people wanted relatively short posts. You’d think that would be really easy but most of the time it was time consuming. There’s a lot of different topics I took on that sometimes I cared almost nothing about, and others that ended up fascinating me.

I learned about turkey hunting; epilators; weddings and wedding dresses; green products and the ecology; law; personal health; financial things; and lots of other stuff. I still remember a lot of it; that was pretty cool.

However, it took a lot of time to research some of these things. For instance, turkey hunting took a long time because the guy who commissioned the articles wanted 25 of them and wanted the areas to be covered to be in the southeastern part of the country. I spent 5 or 6 hours researching it in the library because there was almost nothing about it online, and it turns out some of those states don’t actually have turkeys, but there are places that ship them in for hunters who want the experience. I mean, who’s ever heard of such a thing?

Actually… I did, since I researched it! lol It’s an interesting way to break out of your comfort zone when you agree to write about something you know little about initially, but you do it if the price is right.

Con – Pay isn’t always commiserate with what’s requested

We might as well tackle this one now, since it’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Over my years as a consultant, I’ve learned that people who want your services have no idea what you should be paid, so they low ball you from the beginning. Then they get incredulous when you tell them what you want, or should, be getting paid.

365.021
Michael Verhoef via Compfight

This definitely applies to writing. It’s one of the most devalued services in content marketing, yet most of the people who request writing services hate doing it themselves. I’ve had people want me to write something between 1,500 and 2,000 words and say they’ll pay $50 for it… if they believe it’s up to their standard. That comes to just over 3 cents a word; they’re out of their minds!

Early on I took less just to get in the game and to see what it was all about. Within 6 months, I was asking for at least 10 cents a word for a thousand words or more. That’s when the overall market for my services started to tank to a small degree. Even with Google and their Panda warnings, some people still want to pay you as though you were writing 500 words or less, and they’re finding people who’ll accept it. It’s tough to be in the market when you’re competing with those folks but I figure that the only person who knows my worth is me.

Pro – You get to decide who to write for

Even in a tight market, nothing says you have to write for just anybody. If you’re less picky than me, there are a host of folks out there looking for someone to write their content for them. Some of them are nice; some will get on your nerves. Some topics are interesting even if you know little about them; some will be hard to research or write about.

I’m one of those people who has learned by now that it’s better to be happy than to worry only about money. I’d rather write in my style with few limitations, write more about topics I already know or find interesting enough to put a lot of time into, and of course write about something I have a fair chance at doing a great job for.

I get asked to write a lot of articles for finance companies that aren’t in the United States, and I often have to turn them down because their terminology and the types of services they have aren’t the same as here. Yet I know a lot of writers from other countries will write articles about things that pertain to the United States… and should know that they’re out of their element (I can tell you that from experience). The best thing to do it write about something you absolutely know you can get correct, even if you have to do a lot of research, and that you’ll end up caring about knowing yourself.

Con – Too many formulaic writing requests

I loved you
Jo Andy via Compfight

Last year I wrote 4 articles for this one company. Two of them were over 2,000 words, one was around 1,500 and the last was barely under 900. I got paid $300 for each of them, and I got to write them in my own style. The only caveat I had was the topic I wrote on, which initially was elder care, and later solar power for homes and buildings.

Then… the company decided they wanted to change things up. What they wanted were articles specifically between 750 and 1,000 words, 3 to 5 subheaders with H2 tags, specific keywords, at least 3 links to outside sources, and I had to find them free images that matched up with the content. They wanted to reduce the pay to $35 per article also; sigh…

Many of the requests I see for writing that people like me are expected to bid on ask for things like this. My issue isn’t that I feel above the request; it’s that it makes for horrible writing, and ends up with the kind of content that got sites like About.com and a host of others getting penalized for content that was deemed generic and not all that authoritative.

Some people love writing like this because it doesn’t take a lot of thought to do. Frankly, I find it confining and irritating. I don’t mind things like keyword and keyword phrases; I do mind writing something that reads like pablum.

Pro – You have better control of your output and income

There are real “working” writers, people who have found a way to write 4 or 5 articles a day, at least 5 days a week, and make a pretty good living at it, even if it’s physically and mentally tiring. There are also people like me who can make money in other ways and thus gets to be a bit more selective in what they’ll write about and how often.

Like every other industry, the more you can produce the more money you can make. At least in writing, even if you don’t get to control all aspects of the process, you’re personally in control of what you decide to apply for and how much you’re willing to put out. Try doing that at a regular job.

Con – You don’t own most of what you end up writing

For someone like me, who has a lot of copyrighted material, this is the toughest thing I have to deal with. I have more than 5,000 articles on the internet, but most of them you’d never know that I wrote them. Heck, these days there’s a lot of them I don’t even remember writing.

You have to be ready for others to get credit for your creativity. I’ve done that for the most part. I write for a few blogs now and my name isn’t on almost any of it. Trust me, most of the time that’s a good thing. lol

There’s the other side… which may seem unethical to some but I believe it’s perfectly okay to do. Two years ago I took content from a discontinued blog that was about me and posted it here. That wasn’t the first time I did it either, and I talked about it in the article I just linked to. I’ve taken articles that I remembered that I wrote after doing a Google search on my name (y’all should get into the habit of doing that occasionally to see what’s being associated with your name) that was on a discontinued blog or website and reposted it on one of my blogs… and I have no shame in doing it.

Something else I’ve done is kept some of the articles I’ve written for others that I got paid for. Every once in a while, I’ll open one of those articles that I think might be pertinent to a subject I write about, do a Google search and see if it’s still out there somewhere. If not… it’s mine! 🙂

I will slightly rewrite those articles though, because many of them were fairly short based on today’s model, which of course makes it newer and more relevant to today’s standards. That’s another lesson all of us need to do; keep copies of everything you write, even if it was for someone else.

I could go on with this but now it’s your turn. If you’re a professional writer, what types of things do you come across, and what benefits do you see in writing for others?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

Most of the time when I’m writing about blogging I’m usually addressing people who have been blogging for longer than a year or so. I don’t often write things that are for new bloggers because I figure that there’s so many other things out there for them already.

blogging tips
On to the tips!

I have touched upon the subject here and there, especially when I wrote my pillar post about better blogging and then decided to break it into two parts. Since blogging is my thing, and I like to both share my opinion and hopefully educate and teach some ideas that both new and long time bloggers might not have thought about, I decided it was time to go to the beginning with a few of my ideas and beliefs.

This isn’t overly comprehensive though; that’s why I’m only covering 6 items. Still, I think you’re going to get your money’s worth from these blogging tips; let’s see where it goes.

Self Hosting

In November 2011 I spoke at a local social media conference on the topic of business blogging. It went over really well, and I had more than 50 people crammed into a small space, as well as another 20 or so standing outside the door, to hear me talk. That felt pretty cool I must admit, but it proved to me that blogging is a pretty strong topic for a lot of people.

I was asked whether it’s better to use a free service or to self host. I always promote self hosting whenever I can, but I gave pros and cons of each during the presentation. Since this is my blog and my space, instead of giving both sides of this issue I’m going to talk only about the benefits of self hosting:

1. If you don’t own it, then it’s never really yours. Free sites get your stuff, which means you’re supporting and helping them more than you are yourself. I’ve heard from a lot of people how hard it is to move their content to their new space when they decide they want to go the self hosting route. If you’re unsure if you can blog and want to test yourself then going the free way is a good way to test yourself. After 3 or 4 posts, if you’ve got the bug, paying for a domain and hosting is the way to go.

2. Do you want to take a chance on being censored? I’ve said this here often; there’s no such thing as free speech. There’s definitely no such thing as free speech if you use a free service. You can be blocked and dropped if either too many people complain or the right person complains. You could be dropped if no one complains but the owners don’t like what you have to say. Once they shut you down it’ll be hard for you to get any of your content back; why take the risk?

3. Why let another site get the benefit of your words? With self hosting, you get all benefits from what you write. If you attach it to your website by popping it into a subdomain you help your website grow as well.

Great Horned Owl
Jon Nelson via Compfight

An argument one of my friends uses is that you’ll get more eyes on a site like Huffington Post or Niume (I almost said Medium, but I’m not sure how much longer they’ll be around). I said that’s a 90-10 proposition against the writers because those sites have so much content that most of the time only well known writers get a big bounce from it. If you have a strategy of using those sites to drive people to your own site, that’s one thing. You still need to have your own space so you can benefit from it if it works out for you.

4. You can’t always market or sell anything on free sites. Most of those sites don’t like it if you want to sell stuff in sidebars of pop affiliate images in the middle of your posts; not that many of your blog visitors will either. lol Adding affiliate links to your posts or having banner ads might get you tossed off free sites like WordPress.com. If you’re looking to pitch a new product or service to someone, it’s better to do it in your own space and promote it via social media.

5. Design, design, design. With WordPress, the self hosted version, there are literally thousands of different themes out there, free or paid, that you can use and modify for your purposes. With free you don’t get as many choices. If you go beyond WordPress you can probably find lots of themes developed for other blogging platforms. No matter what, you have a better chance of creating or having someone create something for you that doesn’t look like a site everyone else has.

Niche Blogging

You’re probably read many articles where people will recommend that you select a niche to write on to get targeted traffic to your blog. This is both a good and bad thing; let’s talk about the good first.

Niche blogging means you write posts on a specific topic to target people to come to your blog that are looking for the information you’re writing about. With niche blogging you have the potential of making more money, either by selling products or providing services geared towards that audience. You can pretty much figure these people came because they want what you have to deliver without much deviation. There’s no guarantee that you’ll make money, but at least you have a pretty good shot at it.

Here’s the bad. You can define your niche so finely that you’ll quickly run out of things to say. I was once asked to consider writing a blog for a company that specialized in forensic loan analysis. I realized after 2 articles that there was nothing left to talk about so I moved on. I looked at that blog a few months later and saw that they had no more content after my two articles. I felt bad but it was a tough topic to write about.

Comment blogging button
Creative Commons License sergio santos via Compfight

Next, it’s possible that the niche you’re writing about leaves little for people to comment on. For many people, comments are the life blood of a blog and if people come and don’t see comments, they usually don’t stay long, even if you’re offering them something good. This probably hurts me on my business blog when I write on the topic of diversity. Those articles are fairly deep and detailed, and all people can often do is write a one line comment (which I won’t keep) or not comment at all.

The best way to write a niche blog is to select a topic that offers you many things to talk about and allows people to give their opinion on. I once wrote a blog for a chiropractor who also allowed me to write about alternative medicine and practices. That gave me a world of things I could write about, and it turned out to be a lot of fun. It also generated some comments from people who hadn’t heard of some of those things. If you can be creative with your blog, niche or not, you’ll have fun and your visitors will feel the fun you’re having and contribute to the process.

Post Length

One of the major conversations all of us who talk about blogging concerns the proper length of blog posts. Over the years I’ve often said that there’s no magic number of words for blog posts. I’m partially going to walk back on that one, but I do have some caveats.

You as the writer do have to consider what’s long for you and your particular audience. For instance, if you’re telling a story, then length doesn’t matter because a story is a story; people love stories, and stories are done when you get to your conclusion.

If you’re instructing someone on how to do something they might find important, length doesn’t matter. What matters most is that you give all the information others might need without any shortcuts that leave out specifics they might need.

However… things have changed over the past few years. As I mentioned in last week’s post about the Panda hit I took from Google, these days length has indeed become an issue. Whereas years ago we could get away with posts that hit at least 350 to 400 words, these days you risk the big G penalizing you if you’re not closer to 800 – 1,000 words at a minimum. Some folks like Neil Patel are recommending you not put out anything less than 2,000.


Me at 55

This negates what I used to say about writing multiple posts surrounding a topic and spacing them out than trying to get it all into one post. These days, it’s all about having longer posts and, when you can, adding what’s called pillar posts here and there. For instance, I wrote a post titled 55 Tips And Ideas About Blogging just after my 55th birthday that ended up being close to 3,600 words. Google loved that post, even though it didn’t get tons of comments. Because Google loved it the article got a lot of traffic and it got a lot of shares from Twitter. It seems that authority does have a number of words these days, as long as you’re not rambling.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin. Does one line make a blog post? What about two paragraphs as a full article all the time? Very short posts makes it seem like either you have no idea what you want to write about or you don’t know enough about your topic to be able to convey whatever your topic is. They feel incomplete if they’re too short.

Yet, it’s possible that for your niche that’s what your audience wants. At a seminar I went to last week, the speaker was saying that if you’re good at generating traffic on your own via social media or live networking that it’s possible for you to have a successful blog even without the blessing of search engines. It’ll take a lot of work and probably great visuals (see images below), but it can be done.

Editing And Grammar

There’s always this interesting discussion about how well a blog post needs to be edited before it goes out. I’ve read different theories on how it does or doesn’t matter, and how what’s most important is the message the writer is trying to get across.

Editing is very important, but it doesn’t have to be perfect. I come across many blog posts that are written so horribly that I leave before I even get to the meat of what it’s all about. The human brain has been proven capable of muddling through badly written text to figure out what the writer is trying to say but who wants to work that hard all the time? Bad spelling, punctuation, and skipping words doesn’t make for an easy read, and if truth be told, missing words will drastically change the meaning of some posts.

Yet, I had lunch with a marketing expert who told me that sometimes a way to disrupt people and actually keep them reading your articles is to throw in a mistake here and there… on purpose. His point was that these days more people tend to skim an article that actually read it, and an error here and there will interrupt their skimming and make them pay more attention at the points where the errors have been made. It’s probably a good marketing ploy but I just can’t do it intentionally. 🙂

Readers tend to make allowances for people who aren’t from the same country as the writer when reading their posts, but we’ll only accept it to a point. If all you’re doing it telling your story, it’s acceptable. If you’re writing a tutorial or, even worse, trying to market something, we’re not sticking around.

Most blog software or browsers automatically highlights misspelled words, so there’s no excuse for that sort of thing, even though there are lots of words I tend to use that I have to add to the dictionary of the browsers or Word… even after all these years. Try reading your post out loud after it’s completed to see how it sounds to you. It’s easier to pick out mistakes when you hear it.

No one expects perfection, so if a word here and there is off, no biggie. But if your entire text is wonky, people are going to hate reading it and you’ll find it hard to keep a following.

To Image Or Imagine


Blog posts should have images; that’s cut and dry now, though some years ago it wasn’t a big deal. Some people believe that every single blog post should have an image, and longer posts should have multiple images (like this one). Some people believe that there shouldn’t be an image on a blog post that doesn’t go with whatever the post is about.

My response to all of this? It depends; I’ll explain myself.

Over the past year I’ve started using a lot of my own images for my posts for a couple of different reasons.

One is because not everything I write about has images that actually pertain to the topic. For instance, there aren’t a lot of images concerning blogging. This mean I either have to look for images on writing or do off the radar and put up an image that has nothing to do with the topic. If I’m going rogue, I might as well use my own image and add my own words to it.

Two, because last year I got a couple of letters from photo copyright companies saying I had some images on old blog posts that I thought I had a legal right to use. One I’d gotten from Flickr, which was before Flickr had tightened up its rules for what people could add to their accounts. The other was an image I’d seen in multiple places and thought it would fit a post I was writing. Even though I still use Flickr via my Compfight plugin, I mix in a lot of my own images because no one can accuse me of stealing their stuff if I’m in them. lol

One last thing about images not being used is if you’re using something else in its place. Last month when I was writing a blog post a day on my local Syracuse blog, one of the posts had 9 short videos highlighting things in central New York, and those in essence became the images. Of course that post violated the word count rule but it turned out to be popular with the local crowd. 🙂

Will People Like Your Blog?

Well now, we’ve finally come down to this. Will people like your blog? Is it worth the time to start or continue?


At least she liked me 🙂

Have you ever wondered what makes a movie good? There’s no real formula that applies to everyone. That’s because every person has their own ideas of what makes a movie good or not. For instance, I went to see the movie John Carter with a friend of mine some years ago and we both liked it, but the reviews ended up coming in close to 50-50 as far as who liked it and who didn’t, and the movie tanked at the box office.

Many people say that they’re not sure whether or not people will like what they have to say. I’ve always said that it doesn’t matter who likes it as long as the person writing it likes it, and I stick with that. None of us can please everyone, and the topics we select aren’t going to be for everyone. Do you believe that the entire world is interested in the topic of blogging, whether or not they blog?

There’s nothing wrong with being liked, but when did that become the criteria for whether we do something or not? I can’t believe how many parents I see who don’t really parent their kids because they’re afraid of not being liked. I can’t believe how many teachers won’t do their job and fail a kid that deserves it because they’re afraid that neither the school or the parents will like them.

Blogging and writing are supposed to be about truth, education and entertainment, perceived or real. If you have something to say, say it. The majority of us try to be honest and relatively kind, even when we’re griping about something.

If you let the question of whether or not people will like your blog or what you have to say hold you back too much, then you’re not worth anything to anyone. It’s never the opinions one has that makes people upset so much as how they say what they have to say. Think about that if you’re worried about being liked or not.

Every person needs to have their own voice on their blogs. Authenticity is the only thing that really counts in blogging. If you’re authentic, even people who might not share your interests might still read what you have to say because they feel your passion. Those who don’t care what you have to say or aren’t interested in your passion… those people aren’t your audience. You will find your audience if you write, and of course if you cultivate them. If you can get to 50-50 you still get to call your blog a success.

Now I’ve had my say, and I’m around 3,000 words. I hope I’ve helped some of you with these blogging tips. Let me know your thoughts or ask your questions, and I’ll see what I can do to address them.
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

This used to be a very popular blog. It’s hard to get people to believe that unless they were a part of this blog years ago, but it was actually ranked in the top 100K blogs in the United States at some point. I was flying pretty high.

Google Panda Slaughter

Then came the Google updates of both Penguin and Panda, which were supposed to do… something nasty to sites that it determined weren’t up to snuff, or had links that weren’t organic, or sites that they determined didn’t have content that it considered worthless to a degree.

I have to admit that I felt immune to both of these. After all, my blog was about blogging and writing and social media, and my articles were about the same thing. I’ve never conducted a link building scheme; all I did was comment on a lot of other blogs. Sounds pretty good so far, right?

You see that graph above? You can ignore all the straight blue lines, which represents Penguin. It seems that Penguin had nothing to do with my dropping in what they call the SERPs (search engine results page). It’s those straight red lines you want to pay attention to.

As you see, for a while there it looks like Panda was my friend. My blog started shooting up and all seemed right with the world. I figured I’d been doing all the right things with it, as well as my other blogs, so I stopped paying attention and got on with life.

And then… something bad happened in July of 2012; that’s when I was at the top of my popularity; I was flying high and loving life. But time wasn’t on my side. Google said “This update “noticeably affects only 1% of queries worldwide”; it was the beginning of my downfall.

By September it had fallen, then adjusted a little bit. They’d come out with another update that said they pushed out a Panda refresh that impacted fewer than 0.7% of queries. Yet I took a major hit; guess I was “special” in some way. I fell some more until February 2013, when it was barely above the zero line; yeow! After that point it didn’t matter what Google did; except for a brief uptick I was done with true organic traffic… with no real reason why.

we all want content that is gay, tired, and hungry
Creative Commons License Topher McCulloch via Compfight

You know why I say that? I went back and took a look at the content I was putting out between July 2012 and September 2012. I was writing a lot more then than I do now. If that 3-month period I wrote 37 articles. Fourteen of those articles were specifically on blogging; 8 were on social media, and 3 were on writing. The rest were a mixed bag, but 2 of the articles resulted in the two of the 3 most commented posts I’ve ever had on this blog, both of those in August. Only 6 of those posts had fewer than 30 comments; that shows how well IJS was doing… even as I was losing ground in the SERPs.

There is one possible thing though. It’s possible that what got me is that for a short period of time I was writing a few articles that were shorter than my norm. For instance, in July 2012 I wrote a series of blog posts on blogging tips, 8 in all. Yet, only one of those posts was more than 500 words. That could have been considered as “thin content”, which is one of the things Google was looking at during this time period. Yet, even if that was the case, I also had a bunch of posts in August that were over 1,000 words, including one that was over 2,000.

Maybe the die was cast by that point; I have no real idea. At this juncture I’m thinking that most of my posts end up being close to or more than 1,000 words, and that’s not with me keyword stuffing.

It’s time to stop whining. Truthfully, I just discovered this issue last week after my friend Chuck shared a link to an article titled Penguin Recovery Case Study –How we stopped the bleeding and Increased Organic Search Traffic for an Ecommerce Client by 125.66%, which was a pretty interesting read. In the header there’s a tool his company is sponsoring that allows you to pop your domain name into to see if you were affected by either Panda or Penguin updates. That’s when I realized I’d been smacked in the head by Panda; sigh…

It seems all is not lost, but to do it right will take a while… if I decide to do it.

The first step is to go back and look through all the content that I believe could be considered weak and either punch it up or eliminate it. As I looked at my blogging series from that period, I realize that each article really needs to be beefed up. I also know that some of my earliest articles are pretty weak, but at this juncture going back to 2007 isn’t in the cards. Still, if I look at a lot of that older content, I know I can do some good stuff with it if I want to.

The second step is something I’ve talked about in the past, that being to look at links on your blog to see if any are either broken or going to sites you don’t want being shown on your blog. This one I do about every 3 or 4 months, but mainly to see what’s broken. It might be a labor of love that will take a bit of time but I might have to go back to see if there are any links I’d rather not be associated with, which I wasn’t as careful to check back then.

If you have a lot of ads, you might want to work on that. If you have paid for links… well, you might be in bigger trouble than you can fix.

If you think you’re good at some point, you’re going to want to test your domain name to see if there’s a manual action against your website or blog. If you don’t see it on their list, they’ll tell you how to add a code to the header of your site so that you can check that out. By the way, once you add that code you’re going to want to leave it there; I’ve removed the code here and there, forgetting what it is, and suddenly finding that they’re not seeing my site there any longer.

If you don’t have any manual actions (which I don’t), then supposedly cleaning up your dodgy posts and links will eventually get your rankings to improve. If you do have manual actions, you’ll see something telling you how to request a reconsideration of your site.

These things are never easy, but they can drastically improve your blog or website. I’m going to work on it slowly since I don’t have a manual action against me. What about you?
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was doing an experiment on one of my other blogs by writing a blog post a day for a month. Tomorrow ends that month and, though it’s been harder than any other challenge I’ve ever given myself, I’ll close out the month by accomplishing that feat; yay for me! lol

alex logo 1
Creative Commons License brar_j via Compfight

Yet, something happened that I thought was really strange. Usually having a lot of content helps your traffic ranking go up; at least via Alexa, which is the only easily visible tool I have to go by. Instead, every day my ranking went down until, with a week to go, I was suddenly unranked. What the hey?

Last year I wrote an article talking about how writing a blog post a day didn’t work for one of my other blogs for December 2015. However, I figured that one out, realizing it had more to do with mobile speed than anything regarding the actual content. Yet, even then my ranking didn’t drop, but pretty much stayed the same.

This time though… well, I was a bit dismayed by what I was seeing. I figured it was time to do take a look at my traffic via Google Analytics, which is always recommended, as the first step towards a traffic audit.

You can imagine my surprise when I saw that, instead of my traffic falling, it had actually increased over 300% from the previous 30 days. A couple of the posts actually got some pretty nice traffic, which is rare for that blog since most of the content is about local stuff. So then… if my traffic actually increased, why did Alexa drop me into the void?

I don’t have anything definitive; truthfully, I’ve always seen Alexa as kind of a global barometer of website health and nothing overly specific. I’ve never added the toolbar because the way I saw it, I’d be ranking myself against only other sites that used it instead of everyone. It sounded good on paper.

I decided to do what I do; research it. I came across this post titled Alexa Rank Dropping Fast in April 2016 – [Case Study], which looked at a lot of very popular and large sites and tracked how their traffic had decreased drastically… at least via Alexa. One of the funny stats is that Alexa’s own site lost ground as well.

The article alluded to a blog post by Alexa themselves talking about an increase in the size of Alexa’s Global Traffic Panel… whatever that is. Supposedly by doing this particular thing, more websites would see their rankings increase; nope didn’t happen. Actually, it was intriguing to find out that Alexa even had a blog.

After that… there were very few articles about it that were recent. Most of the discussion traffic was on forums… and that was fruitless, with most of the responders saying “why are you concerned with Alexa anyway?” A couple stated something about it being related to something in our .htaccess files. I did notice that a couple months after changing those on all my sites when I was working on my mobile speed that Alexa stopped showing my traffic growing and all of them started going in the other direction. The timing was close but a bit imprecise so that doesn’t seem like a viable conclusion in my case.

I get that. I’ve heard that one for years, and while I’ve always taken a slightly different view about it’s importance, I also recognized that those same traffic numbers didn’t quite match what I was seeing in my Analytics panel, let alone matching up to what I was seeing on other blogs whose traffic I knew was less than my own. At the same time, I was usually only doing month by month comparisons, almost never looking at 90-day totals, which Alexa is based on.

Regardless, after all these years I’ve finally come to the conclusion that Alexa isn’t getting the job done any longer. At this juncture, the only site I know that’s giving me accurate traffic numbers… even if I don’t always like them. I’ve removed the app I’ve always used to track Alexa and I’m not replacing it with anything. I realize it’s time to track my traffic using Google and nothing else for the moment… unless one of you responds and tells me of something else that’s worth taking a look at to compare with other sites.

Traffic numbers are important because all of us hopes to get as many people as possible to look at what we’re doing on our blogs, whether we’re trying to make money from it or not. Looking at your traffic and how people are finding you is pretty important stuff. Most of it probably has to do with how you decide to market yourself but content is, in my opinion, as important as the marketing piece. As long as you’re using a credible tool, at least you’ll have an idea of what you might need to do to change things.

Alexa, unfortunately, isn’t it…
 

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2017 Mitch Mitchell
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