Write comments for (and create links to) blogs that appreciate them

Link love from Flickr by Sister72 licensed under Creative CommonsIf you are a blogger just starting out, there is a bright shiny world of poor blogging advice to be discovered.  It covers the full spectrum:

  • how (not to) build an audience for your blog,
  • how (not to) to monetize your blog, and last but not least 
  • how (not to) choose your blog topics…

At times it may look like the most successful blogs are themselves about blogging and are mainly read (and monetized) by other up and coming bloggers (yep I can see the hypocrisy warning light flashing a bright orange  on the Drivelry editorial floor).

The number of blogs is growing globally at 50% a year

It is also a highly competitive world. 

When Drivelry.com started in August 2008, WordPress.com maintained a count of the number of blogs they hosted on their home page and it stood at 3.9 million (bear in mind that WordPress is only one of several free hosting platforms that include Blogger and many others).

In January 2009 (6 months later) Wordpress stopped revealing this information, perhaps because they thought it would discourage newbie bloggers, or because it was information they didn’t want to make available to their competitors.  However January’s (last published) WordPress figure of 5.2 million blogs hosted  implies a growth rate of over 2 million new blogs a year – or to put it another way that the blogging community (as represented by WordPress.com) is growing at an annual rate of 50% … 

Although not every blog is active that is still a truckload of text being generated every day to be chewed through by search engines which typically account for 60-70% of most website’s traffic. 

Links to your blog are important: so how do you acquire them?

What makes your blog more important to the mother of all search engines (Google) apart from the text you use? 

Links to your blog, which Google regards as a proxy for your blog’s  importance, aka ‘PageRank’.

It’s at this point that we come back to the conventional wisdom about links.  

Essentially it says ‘give the A-list bloggers links and comments and they will reciprocate’ (it’s kind of like the trickle-down theory of economics).  Well it could be that Drivelry frequently verges on the obnoxious but …. we haven’t seen much trickling down yet.  This might have worked as a technique in the days when people were not so ‘link-aware’  but seems not to be the case in 2009.

The community out there is generally aware that links are valuable and that even leaving comments helps generate indexable text.  And frankly most A-list bloggers have enough of both.

If you think you can get around this by leaving a link on someone else’s blog you need to be aware that nearly all blogs implement the “no follow” directive on their comment links which tells Google to ignore the link in calculating PageRank (and this is also implemented on authoritative sites like Wikipedia).

So what’s the alternative?

From small seeds larger things grow - photo from Flickr by iChaz licensed under Creative CommonsLink to (and comment on) blogs who appreciate links and comments!

They are likely to be smaller blogs and they need to be ‘link aware’ so that ideally they will a) notice your link to them and b) allow you to make a ‘followable’ link in your comments on their blogs (it is possible to turn off the standard ‘NoFollow’ that is generated in WordPress on links in comments).

Sounds pretty logical – so how do you find these sorts of blogs?

Well it’s actually not as hard as you might think.  Bloggers who implement ’DoFollow’ functionality on their blogs are:

  1. Obviously aware by their use of ‘DoFollow’ of the value of links
  2. Likely to be smaller as the very popular (higher PageRank) blogs tend to get targeted by spammers in comments – eventually causing these blogs to revert back to ‘NoFollow’
  3. Often advertise the fact that they are ‘DoFollow’ so that you can find them in ‘DoFollow’ directories or Google Custom Search engine instances which only return search results from Blogs that are DoFollow

Drivelry.com is itself a DoFollow blog.

DoFollow blog search engines

For example here are a couple of search engines that find text contained in ‘DoFollow’ blogs if you want to add these to your browser toolbar as additional search providers:

http://w3ec.com/dofollow/

http://atniz.com/dofollow-search-engine/

http://www.commenthunt.com/

Health warnings about the use of DoFollow blog search engines

It is worth noting three things in relation to DoFollow search engines:

  1. these search engines are not necessarily maintained by the providers out of their goodness of their hearts (in many cases they only maintain these engines so that they can use them as a data source to run search engine optimisation link generation campaigns by inserting spammy comments of their own) and,
  2. due to the abuse of  ‘DoFollow’ blogs as they become more popular, sites listed in DoFollow search engines may ‘revert’ back to NoFollow so it is often worth checking whether the blog still remains ‘DoFollow’ by doing a ‘View Source’ on their comment page
  3. blogs listed in DoFollow search engines typically moderate their comments to avoid becoming a target for spammers – if your comment says something like ‘Great post. Here’s a link to my blog ….’ it is typically going to be rejected by the blog owner as they are looking for you to add comment value with your link.

Despite the pitfalls above it is worth focusing your interactions on smaller DoFollow blogs rather than the A-listers.  Most of these people will value you linking to them and may reciprocate by doing the same, and will reward you for interacting with their posts in comments by enabling links you leave to count towards your blog’s PageRank.

If enough blogs do this it may help all of us find a way out of the cul-de-sac  that PageRank has led to where bloggers are sometimes unwilling to link to good information sources out there. A quick look at Google Trends for ‘DoFollow’ suggests there is hope here.

You may even want to think about making your own blog DoFollow!

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Article posted by @Drivelry on August 5, 2009

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