Search-engine changes present a challenge for indie bloggers
Published: October 18, 2011
If you have a stand-alone blog, you’ve probably spent some time wondering about page rank for sites returned in search results from engines like Google. I have, and despite researching this topic in depth for a column almost three years ago, I remain confused.
Kay B. Day
I know links are important to the rankings—not just sites that link to me but sites I link to. When I’m writing a column, I try to be very careful because I don’t want to send my reader to a site that could compromise a computer’s security or to a site that has content of questionable quality.
For that reason, I always try to locate the owner or webmaster of the site, and I also like to see brief biographical information about the writer. I confess a tendency to try to link to other independent blogs, because we face an uphill battle in a cyber world dominated by content aggregators and blog directories.
After Google changed its algorithms again, I was somewhat amused to see the information posted at the search titan’s Webmaster Central, where it attempted to explain what makes a “high-quality” site.
Google now implies that editing does count, among other things. Here are a few criteria Google included in the roundup:
- Was the article edited well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced?
- Does the article describe both sides of a story?
- Does this article have spelling, stylistic or factual errors?
- Would you be comfortable giving your credit card information to this site?
- Would users complain when they see pages from this site?
Those criteria and some of the others made me want to say to Google: Get real.I say that because I spend a great deal of time searching for information, and increasingly I turn to other search engines because I am not satisfied with the top engine’s results any longer. As a matter of fact, I have found Facebook to be more useful for finding people.
I know the sites I link to and the quality of my content are important. However, if I compare what Google told me in 2008 to the information posted this year at Webmaster Central, I conclude there have been significant changes in the algorithm and suspect those changes will negatively affect indie blogs and websites.
Just as media moved from weekly and daily newspapers with a local slant, and TV networks followed a similar path, the Web appears to be moving towards a larger corporate model for content.
Backlinks still count, and few small sites or blogs can compete with the thousands of readers who link to a post at a large media outlet.
I had to smile when I read this at Webmaster Central:
Are the topics driven by genuine interests of readers of the site, or does the site generate content by attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines?
Is there a webmaster or blogger alive who doesn’t attempt to guess what might rank well in search engines? Isn’t that the point Google is trying to make by posting the information on high-quality sites?
A commenter at Webmaster Central pointed out the amount of low-quality content at YouTube, noting that site certainly enjoys a high rank.
What’s an indie blogger to do?
Keep the content quality high, and focus on building direct traffic to your website. You may be able to earn rank for individual pages as I’ve done. However, it is not likely that the current search algorithm is going to show much love to an indie blogger even if your site has content that is leagues above the quality of content published within a topic at a large site.
Update to my Sept. 20th column about advertising your blog:
I took the big leap and set a budget at Facebook. I spent $11.60. Total number of impressions on pages where my ad appeared: 40,895. Total number of click-throughs: 11. I'll be doing those ads again.
Florida journalist Kay B. Day has won awards for poetry, nonfiction and fiction. The author of two books, she has written for The Christian Science Monitor, United Press International, The Florida Times-Union and Sky News. To learn more about Kay Day, see kayday.com. To read Kay's other Web Savvy columns about writing for the Web, click here.||