Sam Charles from Float Digital sheds light on the confusing world of blogging and SEO.
*This is a guest post contributed by Sam Charles*
Whether you're just starting out or have been blogging for a while and are looking to boost your 'Google Game', you've probably found that the blogging world is surrounded by SEO myths and unfounded rules.
Below are some questions I'm frequently asked about when working with bloggers and businesses trying to boost their search ranking by blogging...
Q: How long will it take for my blog to rank on Google?
How long it will take for your website to rank in Google depends on a number of factors. Gaining first position in the search results heavily depends on how competitive your industry is, how well your website is optimised and your overall SEO activity.
Generally, websites take between three to six months to start ranking in Google. Initially it’s a slow process appearing in the search results, however as your website gains both authority and trust from search engines, visibility will increase.
Q: Do social media posts with links count towards my search ranking?
This is a heavily debated topic, but social media activity has zero or a minor impact on search engine rankings, and the links themselves do not provide any value.
The process of increasing a website’s visibility in Google and increasing organic traffic is based on a number of factors. Firstly, a keyphrase strategy must be devised to ensure that the correct terms are being targeted. Secondly, the website must be search engine ‘friendly’, as well as optimised with key terms. Thirdly, lots of high-quality content is crucial for appearing in the search results. Last but not least, links from other trusted websites (acting as endorsements) increase your authority, thus increase rankings.
With this in mind, people presume spamming social channels with links will have a positive impact on their rankings. This is a myth, and sadly it won't impact your rankings whatsoever.
Q: What is the best practice for declaring sponsored posts and links?
The Advertising Standards Agency reminds bloggers and marketers that paid-for or incentivised posts must be declared clearly on your website. Not to mention, it’s worth being honest with your readers too, right?
With regards to links, ‘link schemes’ are against Google’s guidelines. The search engine can actually kick you off their results if they feel you’re manipulating the system.
- WHAT IS A LINK SCHEME?
"Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site's ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site."
There are a large number of link schemes, such as 'excessive link exchanges', however there is one that is highly relevant to bloggers - buying and selling of links.
Q: What is the difference between a nofollow link and a dofollow link?
When a PR company or brand asks you to add a 'dofollow' link to your blog in exchange for something, they are asking for a link that passes PageRank. As defined in the Google Quality Guidelines:
"Buying or selling links that pass PageRank: This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link."
By default every link is dofollow, and passes equity from one website to another. It is a type of link which has a potential to improve the ranking and credibility of a website in Google.
You can prevent PageRank from passing in several ways, such as adding a rel="nofollow" attribute to the <a> tag to the link that has been paid for. Want to learn more about nofollow links? This guide on nofollow links outlines when and how to use them.
The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community.
Q: If I get something sent to review for free, do I still have to declare it and use a nofollow link?
Yes, if you’ve been paid or incentivised (for example, you've been given a freebie or complimentary item/service in exchange for a review or link), you should declare it and the link should be nofollow.
Q: Is reposting blog posts on other websites and blogs bad for my SEO?
If somebody has asked for you to write a piece of content for their website or to re-post your content from your website, tread carefully. If Google crawls two pieces of content that are duplicated, it will consider it spam and it can have a negative impact of your website.
To avoid this happening, you can ask the webmaster to include a canonical tag to their page. This tells Google where the original article was posted, and will pass on the SEO benefits to the original site. If you’re not familiar with a canonical tag, I’ve included an example below:
<link rel="canonical" href="YOUR-URL" />
If the webmaster isn’t willing to include a canonical tag, then don’t allow them to post your content on their website. Instead you can rewrite the content so it isn't duplicated, or post the content on the other site only, instead of on your own website.
Q: If I leave a comment on a blog with a link back to my site, is that good or bad for my SEO?
Leaving comments on other people's blog has a low impact on your SEO. In the past mass commenting on blog posts was quick way to gain links quickly. Google were savvy to this and introduced the ‘nofollow’ attribute to combat comment spam. That said, it is still believed that some blogs can continue to provide SEO value.
When done right, comments on some website may potentially increase trust and credibility, thus increase a website’s visibility in Google. That said, comments should never be used to spam other websites, as this can have a detrimental affect on a website. Leave the spammy comments at the door and you won’t have any issues.
Remember, improving your blog's SEO shouldn't be about trying to 'cheat the system'. You should always focus on creating great quality content that people want to read and will come looking for; Google AND your readers appreciate authenticity and good quality content.
Need help with your SEO? Get in touch with Sam and get 10% off her services if you mention byRosanna!
About the Author
UK Search Awards 'Young Professional' nominee, speaker at Europe's largest search marketing event BrightonSEO and featured in The Drum's '50 Under 30', Sam is a Google certified SEO expert with 6+ years experience. Complimenting her evolving knowledge of search trends and algorithms, she is also an established content writer, published in high-end magazines such as Vogue.