The exact date of Google’s birthday has changed and been debated a bit through the years. Google filed for incorporation on September 4, 1998, was established three days later on September 7, and the Google.com domain was registered September 15. All have been considered Google’s “birthday” at one point, but Google has officially chosen September 27 as their day. – Search Engine Watch
In honour of the day, I’d like to present the many ways Google can be used by bloggers including research, SEO, traffic and more.
As you should know, when you are searching Google, it auto completes some ideas of what you might be searching. You can use these completes to form new post ideas. Start typing in words or phrases related to your niche or that are generic such as How To and see what shows up. Try different forms of HOW TO, WHY DO, WHY IS, WHY YOU MUST, REASONS TO, GOOD REASONS, DON’T DO, WATCH OUT FOR, WHAT IS, HOW DOES and ones like that.
Google has its own social network in the form of Google+. Even if you don’t feel you have time for another network or don’t plan to use Google+ for more than sharing your latest posts and some from your friends, its worth it. If you have a Google account you already have a Google+ account anyways. Google+ posts show up in the search results unlike Facebook posts. I’ve searched for things many times and I have seen a fellow blogger’s G+ share show up in the results, often page 1.
This is a MUST as far as I’m concerned. It’s the best and most accurate way to measure site traffic. It can tell you how people got to your site (such as Google search, a social media site or a link from another blog), where in the world your traffic is from and where they went next.
SEO or Search Engine Optimization has to do with helping a search engine to find your blog and your posts. Since Google is one of the main search engines, if not the main search engine you want to pay attention to Google. Learn a bit about SEO and make sure you are optimizing your posts. Did you know that what you put in the ALT section of an image’s HTML is how an image is found in Google image search? Make sure you make the ALT of an image the keyword you want to be found for. As mentioned above, with Google Analytics you can see how much of your traffic is from Google. If it’s not very high, work on your SEO to increase your search traffic.
The Google keyword tool can be helpful to see what keywords you might want to use. It’s designed for those who are buying ads so it’s not perfect but it can still tell you what keywords from your post are being searched for a lot.
For example, in the below photo I added the following keywords: games, gaming, gamer
These are their ideas under those keywords. For each keyword, it tells me the average monthly searches and it’s competition rate. High monthly searches means it is searched for a lot and that is what you are aiming for. HOWEVER, if you also have high competition, that means there are tons of sites that show up every time that keyword is searched so your site probably won’t rank very high. If you can find high monthly searches with a low competition rate that’s the best. It means its searched for a lot but there are only a few sites that show up so you have a chance to rank.
For more information on how to use the Keyword planner check out this post by Midwestern Moms.
There are of course other ways to use Google including PageRank, Google Calendar, GMail etc but most of those have been covered a lot more.
After your first few weeks or months of blogging, you probably started hearing people talk about their PageRank or Alexa Ranking or Klout Score. It can seem a bit overwhelming trying to figure out what they all mean, if low or high numbers are good, if you REALLY need to worry about the numbers and what if anything you can do to improve them.
This post will cover the basics of each so you can figure out if its a statistic you need to worry about or not.
Google PageRank (aka PageRank, PR or Google PR)
What Is it?
Google uses mathematical algorithms to determine how to rank different websites in the search results. PageRank or the score given to websites to show the value or importance of the website. Google does not publish the specific rankings of each site which may have decimal points or use a larger scale but they do allow us to see a round number between 0-10 which lets us see how we are doing. Google changes how it ranks sites regularly so your PR will not always be the same. The point of it is to try to return more accurate and trustworthy sites when you search for something instead of a bunch of spammy, low-quality sites.
How Do I Find It? Is it Important?
You can check your PageRank at http://prchecker.info . Enter your main url and the security code and submit. New websites and blogs are given no ranking at first. Once it’s been around long enough to determine a ranking, a ranking between 0-10 will be given. The higher your PR, the better. Most blogs tend to be between 2-4 from what I’ve seen. It’s very hard to get a ranking higher than 4.
How important PR is to you depends on what your blog is for. If it’s an online diary meant for friends and family, then it doesn’t matter how well you rank in the search engines. However if you want to reach a larger crowd, have new visitors to your site and/or monetize, it’s pretty important. You can still rank in other search engines regardless of your PageRank but Google is the most widely used search engine in the world.
How Can I Improve It?
The main consideration that goes into your ranking is the number of sites linking in. However it’s more complex than that as the quality of the sites linking in is looked at as well as how well you link to yourself through your pages. For example a link to your site from a site with a PR 4 looks better than a link from a site PR 1.
A good start would be to guest post on other people’s blogs as they usually let you include an author bio with a link to your blog. Some bloggers do round up posts or other posts where they ask the bloggers they know a question or if they have a post on a certain topic. Then in their post they post your answer with a link to your blog, or a link to your related post. Participating in blogger groups will up your chances of seeing when requests for these come in. What you don’t want to do is mass email bloggers asking if they will put a link to your blog in their blog roll or leaving a link to your blog in every comment you make.
Dofollow VS. Nofollow
Okay I have to cover this with a talk about Google PageRank. A link that is set to dofollow counts towards PageRank. If I link to your blog and it’s a dofollow link, I pass a little bit of my PageRank to you and it counts as a link to your site for PageRank. If I make it nofollow (by adding a little code to the html) it will not count towards your PageRank. Google does not want people to pay others money to link to their sites so they can up their PageRank as this defeats the purpose of it. So if you receive money for a post (sponsored post) or get a review item in return for a post, when you link to the company it should be nofollow so you are not passing your PageRank to their site when they sent you money or a product. You can find out more in this past mini challenge from Life as Leels.
What Is It?
Alexa gives a ranking to sites compared to other sites over a 3 month period. The rank is calculated from estimated average daily unique visitors and estimated number of pageviews over the past 3 months. The site with the highest combo is #1. Alexa rankings change daily. In the case of Alexa, lower is better. Alexa tracks this information from users who use the Alexa toolbar. Using the toolbar allows Alexa to give “points” to each site you visit, helping to lower their Alexa.
What Is My Alexa Ranking?
You can check your Alexa ranking by visiting Alexa and typing in your url. You will notice you are given a global rating (the first number) followed by a country specific rating (the country the website resides in.) In the case of this website, as of the day I checked, my Alexa ranking was 84,947 and in Canada it was 5,936
For most blogs, it’s generally considered than anything below 500,000 is good and anything below 100,000 is GREAT! Of course not everyone can have a low ranking because it’s all relative to all the other websites and blogs. So every time someone gets below 100,000, someone else had to go above it.
Note that if you are on Blogger and don’t have your own domain, because of the way they change the end of the url depending on the country you are in, you have more than on Alexa ranking. For example If I visit myblog.blogspot.com here in Canada, it shows myblog.blogspot.ca If someone in Australia visits it, it would look like myblog.blogspot.com.au. Each ending has a different Alexa ranking.
Should I Care About My Alexa?
That depends. For bloggers who work with companies on reviews and giveaways or sponsored posts and advertising, SOME of the companies and PR care about your Alexa. However many do not. Most people are realizing that while it can give you a basic idea of a site’s traffic rating, it’s not a truly accurate representation as it only measures those who HAVE a toolbar installed.
I would take note of it every once in a while and if it’s high, work on promoting your blog to bring in new readers but I wouldn’t worry about it too much. If you install the toolbar on all your computers, you can help yours and any other blogger’s site you visit without any extra work on your part. Don’t obsess on the number though. If a company asks for a specific Alexa and you don’t meet that minimum, contact them back anyways and stress your other stats and what you can do for the company. If they choose to stick by their rules, don’t worry about it. More and more companies are figuring out that Alexa isn’t everything.
Klout was designed as a way to measure influence of a specific person, as opposed to a specific website. It looks at the number of followers you have on some of your social media platforms as well as the interaction you get (retweets, likes, shares etc.) The result is a score from 0-100 that is supposed to show how influential you are.
The average of all Klout profiles is 20 while most bloggers seem to be between 30-60. It is much harder to move from a 50 to a 60 than it is to move from a 20 to a 30. (It’s not just increments of 10, your score can be 42 or 23 or 55 for example.) Your Klout score is actually a number with 2 decimal points (like 42.80) and that number changes daily. Klout takes that number and gives you a rounded number with no decimal points for your score.
What is My Klout Score?
Unlike with Alexa and PageRank, to find our Klout Score you will need to signup or login to Klout. You can signup/login with Facebook or Twitter so you must have one of those accounts to have a Klout score. It is possible to see your Klout score without signing up. You would have to download a plugin for your browser that allows you to see Klout scores when you visit Twitter. Then you could look at your own tweets to see the score. But if you want to see more than just the number, you will have to sign in to Klout.
Is My Klout Score Important?
It depends on who you ask but no, not really. A few companies have asked for my Klout score but not many. If your score is below 40, you may want to work on increasing engagement on Twitter and Facebook at least but don’t obsessively check your score or spend all of your time trying to increase it. If you don’t work with companies, then it matters even less.
The MAIN perk of your Klout score is called just that, Perks. Whether you have a blog or not, if you have a good Klout score, you can be eligible for perks. Klout will send you an email when one is available to you (unless you have notifications for them turned off.) It might say for example that Canadians with a score over 30 can get a free bottle of shampoo. Or US users with a score over 50 can get some other new product. If you are interested, they send you the product in the hopes that you will try it out and talk about what you think on Facebook and Twitter. You don’t HAVE to but that’s the hope. I enjoy my Klout Perks.
This post (Google Plus Guide for Bloggers) was a mini challenge for the Biannual Blogathon Bash (Jan 25-28/13). However anyone is welcome to use this information or even do the challenge at any time.
NOTE: I cover a LOT of ground in this post. Some of it is for beginners, some for intermediates and some for advanced users of Google+. Read through it and just skip the parts that either you already know/do or are over your head for now. The challenge at the end will not require you to implement EVERYTHING you read about, don’t worry!
What IS Google+?
“Google+ (pronounced and sometimes written as Google Plus, sometimes abbreviated as G+) is a multilingual social networking and identity service owned and operated by Google Inc. It was launched on June 28, 2011. As of December 2012, it has a total of 500 million registered users of whom 235 million are active on a monthly basis” – source: wikipedia
Do I Need Another Social Network?
No not necessarily. Not every business (and if you want to make money on your blog or sell something, its a business) needs to use every social network. The reason there are so many is that every person is different and we do not like all the same things. Do not jump on every new social network BUT also don’t just ignore it.
In the Why Social Network Promotion Is Important for Blogs mini challenge, I cover how to decide which social networks you should be focusing your efforts on. I suggest reading that section first and deciding if Google+ is one you would like to investigate. There is another reason to consider Google+ though.
You can also use different social networks for different reasons and in different ways. I use my Facebook profile for real life family/friends, my fan pages for blog fans, twitter to make new friends and generate leads and Google+ to connect with other bloggers. I also use LinkedIn to connect with bloggers, PR and Companies I work with.
Signing Up for Google+
Sign up for an account on Google+ if you haven’t already. Make sure you upload an actual photo of your face unless you blog anonymously. People connect much better with a face. Edit your about section, include relevant links to your websites/blogs and social media.
You can also start a page for your blog, similar to Facebook’s fan pages. I recommend this. When you +1 content it will go on your personal profile but you will also want to post updates on on your blog posts on your blog’s Google+ page.
How is Google+ Different From Facebook?
On Facebook as you probably know, in order to connect with someone, they have to agree. I can’t be friends with you unless you accept my friend request. It’s generally encouraged that you use Facebook to connect with people you already know. When I share something on Facebook, potentially all my friends can see it. On Google+, not only can I connect with you but I can put you in separate circles that I create to separate those I connect with into groups such as coworkers, friends, family or even competition to keep an eye on, those I admire etc. In addition, when I share content, I can choose whether to share it with everyone I connected with or just those in a certain circle. So I can share news about my job with only my coworkers or even my coworkers and family. I can share news about my baby with my family and friends but not my coworkers.
Another thing that sets it apart from Facebook is that while it does have social games, there are much less, they are in a separate section and the notifications for those are separate and unobtrusive.
Using Google Plus
Creating an account is not enough if you don’t actually USE Google+. If you are using it to connect, that won’t work if you aren’t on it. If your focus is SEO, an inactive page won’t help and possibly might hurt. You need to be posting to your Google+ profile and page for it to count towards SEO.
Set aside some time to explore Google+ and learn how to use it. After you’ve clicked around and tried a bunch of things, if you still need help or have questions, then research Google+ and learn more about how to use it
Organize your circles early on before you are following lots of people or it will be a lot harder. Decide what categories you think might be relevant to your life. You can create circles even without someone to put in them. Remember you can put someone in more than one circle as well (perhaps your brother is also your coworker so… Family and Coworkers.)
Check out the Explore tab to find interesting updates from people you don’t follow and perhaps make some new connections. You can follow the people right from there by hovering over their name and then hovering over follow.
Update your Cover Photo. Just like Facebook, you can customize the long image at the top of your profile. The dimensions are 940×180 but keep in mind that your profile photo will cover some of the right. Upload part of a photo or create your own image using an image editor (you can do it for free using ipiccy or Picmonkey). Simply insert a background colour or pattern and add text with your name and who you are. It is my understanding that there aren’t currently rules for the cover photo like there are with Facebook but that may change.
Use Events to organize an event an invite your Google+ connections. When your guests RSVP, they can say how many guests they will be bringing too.
Communities are a fairly new feature and are like Facebook’s groups. These are a good way to find new people to connect with that are interested in what you are interested in.
Make a point to check Google+ at least once a week at first, then work up to once a day if you can, depending on your schedule. You don’t have to spend hours on it, but spend some time updating, following a new person or two and interacting on other’s posts.
If you are having trouble figuring out the direct link to your Google+ profile or page, you are not alone. That’s one thing they need to improve upon. See the one that says profile in the navigation on the left (a picture of what it looks like is right above this section.) Click on it and copy that link in your address bar or just right click on the word profile and copy link location. You can also get a short url that directs to your google plus page by going to gplus.to. You’ll still need to find your profile url first though.
For pages, in that same navigation bar, where it says more, if you hover over that, there is an option at the end for pages. Click on that and it will show all the pages you have created. Switch to using the page you want a link from. See that really long url in the address bar? Yep that’s it. You can use gplus.to for your page too.
So you have your profile and maybe even a page, you’ve filled in your information, changed your images and looked around to see how it works. Perhaps you joined a community and edited your circles and found a few people to add to your circles. Now what? How do you get people to add YOU to their circles? How do you get Interaction on your posts (+1s, Comments and Shares.)
Adding others to your circles can result in some of them adding you since they receive a notification for each add. So for starters, keep exploring Google+ to find people you might be interested in. You should also be interacting with other people on Google+. There are those that say they don’t want to use Google+ because they don’t get interaction on it. I ask them, do you visit Google+ regularly and interact? No? If you and all your blogger friends are posting updates but not interacting with anyone else, how can you expect interaction? If your blogging buddies interact with you, other people will see that some people have interacted and join in.
By the same token, some groups for bloggers now have Google+ interaction threads. You post a update you made on Google+ and then you +1/share/comment on the posts other people leave and they do the same for you. If you participate in these, just make sure you actually read their posts and you leave meaningful comments that might inspire more conversation. The purpose is to start the conversation so others will join in. Some groups have a thread for G+ interaction but I would also like to recommend a Facebook Group dedicated to Google+ Interaction (I know that sounds weird.)
Let your followers on your other networks know you are now on Google+ and leave a way they can follow you. Don’t forget to do up a post on your blog with the announcement too! Add it to your email signature as well. You can also add a Google+ widget in your blog’s sidebar that will allow people to follow you directly from your blog.
Is Your Blog on Blogspot?
If the answer is no, skip to the next section.
Unless for some reason you have two Google accounts, when you create a Google+ account it should be on the same Google account as you use Blogger/Blogspot. Once you’ve created an account, go to your Blogger Dashboard and look for the little wheel on the top right. That’s the options menu. Click on that and choose ‘Connect to Google+’.Follow the instructions to connect your Blogger account with your Google+ account. If there is anything on your Blogger Profile you want to save, do so first. By doing this, when someone clicks on your name in a comment or in the generic about section, it will go to your Google+ page instead of your profile.
Google+ Is Imperative for Increasing Search Engine Rankings
Backtracking a bit for those new to SEO and SERPs, let me give a quick background. When you search for something (whether you use Google or not), there are certain algorithms that determine what results you see. They are supposed to make it so you see what is relevant to your search. All search engines use them but Google is constantly revising how they do search to try to eliminate the spam sites or low quality sites from your results.
If you want people to find your site via search, then you need to have some basic knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) which is a way of formatting your blog to increase the chance your site comes up for certain search terms (keywords.) SERPs stands for Search Engine Results Page and is the page you get after you perform a search. Learn More: Blogger SEO Basics , SEO Blogathon Pinterest Board
How Does Google+ Affect SEO and SERPs?
Google crawls Google+ pages. Crawling a site just means that Google looks at the information on that site and uses it to help it’s search engine rankings. The more places your website and keywords are together, the higher you rank. So creating a Google+ page for your blog or business, assuming it’s optimized for SEO, will help you get closer to page 1 of the search results.
Also the +1 button which is similar to a Facebook like but more in-depth helps with SEO. Google assumes that if people +1 your content, they must like it. Many +1s show Google that your content is good and therefore it ranks a bit higher. While a Facebook like just makes YOU feel good. A Google +1 means a lot more. Learn More: Is Google Imperative for SEO?, Google’s +1 Button and How It May Change SEO.
Introducing AuthorRank (rel=author)
If you are brand new to Google+, you may want to just get used to using it for now. However sometime soon you will want to take notice of AuthorRank and learn what it is.
Currently Google ranks websites, blogs and webpages using PageRank (PR). Your Pagerank goes up by getting other sites to link to you (if their PR is good it’s better for you than a link from a low PR site but they are all helpful.) Site with a higher PR get higher spots in the SERPs (search results.) However black hat practices (raising your SERPs unethically) have resulted in some sites managing to get higher rankings and sometimes high PR without really earning it.
AuthorRank is designed to rank the author of the content, not the sites the content is on. AuthorRank does NOT replace PageRank, but does complement it. AuthorRank connects the content you write with your Google+ account. So any guest posts I do or articles I submit to other websites or blogs will be connected with my content on my own sites (all of them) and connected to my Google+ account.
If you are still a bit confused, that’s okay. AuthorRank is new and not fully realized yet. However you do want to use the rel=author tag to connect your content to your Google+ page. You can find out How to Set up Google Authorship from Constant Contact. Learn More: Google Authorship Google Community
Google+ Is Constantly Evolving
Like any good social network, Google+ is always working on getting better at meeting our needs. Don’t let that be an excuse why you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon. Changes are usually small and easy to adjust to. The more you use Google+, the more you might find you PREFER it. You never know.
You’ve absorbed a lot of information, especially if you read every part.
If you are not already on Google+ create an account. Make at least a personal profile for now. I encourage you to make a page for your blog too. If you are new to Google+, look around and find out how to use it. Try out something you learned above. If you already had a good grasp of Google+ before you read this, explore a part of Google+ you have not yet. Add Google Authorship or join a community and interact in it or go through the explore tab. Something you haven’t done yet.
*Most of the images were screenshots or logos. The Social Network Icons image from Flickr Creative Commons user webtreatsetc. Some images are from Kozzi.com. If you signup via this link we both receive 10 Premium Credits for FREE!
Most people consider the amount of visitors their blogs gets to be an indicator of success. Unless you are blogging for yourself or for family, you probably want people to read what you are writing and to increase the amount of people who do so.
People can’t read your blog if they can’t find it. Some people find your blog because you share the address with them directly (direct traffic). Often they are friends or family. Some might come upon it in a web search (search traffic). Some might come because of blog ads or because you did a guest post (referral traffic). Finally, some come because they saw your blog or your post on a social network. (also referral traffic) I get a large amount of my blog traffic from social networks.
How Social Network Promotion Can Bring in New Readers
If you are not active on Facebook or twitter at least, you are missing out on valuable traffic. Promoting specific posts has advantages. If I hear the name of your blog, or even a description of your blog, it may not interest me or I may think it won’t anyways. But if I see a blog post advertised on a topic I’m currently interested in, I will click over to read the post. While I’m there, I may see other posts on your blog or categories that I may find interesting and next thing I know, I’ve spent 30 minutes on your blog and/or subscribed to it.
That has happened to me many times, where I suddenly find myself subscribing or at least regularly reading a blog that I had seen mentioned around before but never sounded interesting. That was all because I had clicked through on a specific post on Facebook or twitter.
Even if you are not interested in keeping up with blogs or your family and friends on social networks, you should still be utilizing them to promote your blog if you are serious about increasing your readership.
Which Social Networks?
There are tons of social networks around now and you certainly do not need to use them all although in general, I would say you should focus your interests on the most popular ones. One thing to consider is where your readers or your potential readers are. Pinterest for example is full of crafts, DIY, fashion and quotes/humour. If your ideal reader is interested in those topics, you should be concentrating on Pinterest.
Also you can search the social networks to see if people are talking about the subjects you blog about. Do a twitter search on your blog topic and see if people are tweeting about your subject. If there are lots of tweets on your subjects, then your potential readers are on twitter. Facebook is a bit harder to search but if you find fan pages or groups related to your subjects, that’s a good indicator. Talk to your current readers and see what social networks they use as well.
Research that social network and learn how to use it. If your readers use more than one, pick one to concentrate on first. It’s easier to learn one new site at a time. If you are already using some and don’t wish to use more, than improve how you are using them to bring in more traffic.
There are hundreds of choices for social media, no one is going to use them all. (click image to enlarge)