July 24, 2007
By Jill Whalen
These past few weeks I’ve watched how things played out in the blogosphere after breaking the story of Google’s new “unavailable_after” tag. I have to say that what I learned was extremely interesting and educational to me! I have been writing articles for the High Rankings Advisor newsletter and other publications for many years and have seen bits and pieces of my work get picked up in various places; however, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame when you break an important news story.
Sharing What I Learned
As with most of my more popular newsletter articles, requests for republishing started coming in soon after it was published. What made this one different was that many of the more popular bloggers in the search marketing space picked up the news quickly — and then things really went crazy.
A Google search this past weekend for “unavailable_after” brought up 93,000 results! I don’t know for sure, but I imagine there weren’t any results for this phrase previously, or at least very few. 93,000 pages all mentioning unavailable_after and, presumably, my original article. Pretty cool, eh? Unfortunately, it’s not as cool as it appears at first glance.
The Rankings Letdown
For one thing, I kind of expected that my original article would be showing at the top of the search results, but it wasn’t even close! Although, when I looked at it with my SEO eye, I had to smack myself because there were good reasons why it wasn’t in the top. For one, the unavailable_after tag wasn’t the focus of my article since it was a synopsis of everything Dan Crow had discussed at the SEMNE event. For another, “unavailable_after” wasn’t even in my article’s Title tag, again, because it wasn’t the focus.
But What About the Links?
I did think that all the links pointing to the original article should have given it more “oomph” to rank for that phrase despite the fact that the article wasn’t optimized for it, but apparently they didn’t. The good news is that the article does rank #1 for “getting into Google” as one would expect, which in the long run is probably much more important!
My SEO Efforts
I was still intrigued (and slightly annoyed) about not ranking for “unavailable_after,” so I added it to my Title tag and the top headline to see if that would have any effect. As of today, Google hasn’t re-indexed the page, so the jury is still out on that one. I also began reviewing the pages that were showing up before mine in the search results. What I found was an enlightening look at the SEO blogosphere. Unfortunately, it wasn’t always pretty, and at the end of my review I was pretty disgusted with some bloggers.
The 10 Types of Bloggers
Here are the results of my review and the 10 types of bloggers I found. You’ll notice that they range from good to bad to sleazy.
1. Good: People who ask permission to reprint your article and add a bio with links back as requested.
These are people who are generally looking to add some content to
their own sites. They usually republish the article in full, and are
happy to add whatever bio and links you specify.
I don’t really have a problem with the folks who haven’t asked
permission if they at least have the courtesy of linking back to the
original article. Sure, it’s not as great as controlling what the
links say in a bio, but it’s generally fine.
This is the best type of blog post as it isn’t a complete dupe of
yours, and it gives credit where credit is due. Watch out, however, as
sometimes these types of blog posts are critical of what you’re
written. Personally, I have no problem whether people agree or
disagree as that’s the foundation for blogging.
I probably should put this one in the “good” category — as it really is fine — but it still is irksome when the secondary blogger’s post seems to get more credit than the original piece.
5. Bad: People who blog about what some other blogger blogged about it (as in #4 above), but who link back only to the blogger and not the original.
I was surprised at how prevalent this one was. I don’t think that
most people intend to snub the original author, but it happens a lot!
Sure, you could say it’s okay because the post they DO link to posts
that link back to the original, but that’s just not good enough. I
strongly believe that the original writer should get credit where
credit is due in a more direct manner.
I almost put this in the “sleazy” category, but I guess it’s sort of borderline. It seems to me if the topic is Digg-worthy, it should be the original article or post that gets Digged. Unfortunately, that’s often not the case.
7. Sleazy: People who don’t ask to republish but do it anyway, and don’t even link back!
When they don’t even put the original author’s name on it, I believe it’s copyright infringement. If they do mention the author’s name, but never link back to them in some manner, it’s pretty sleazy in my book.
8. Sleazy: Scrapers who link or don’t link, but add contextual link ads and other crap to the content.
Unfortunately, this is extremely prevalent these days. I would guess that a good portion of those 93,000 results in Google fall into this category. I can’t imagine those pages actually get any traffic, so I’m not sure what the point is.
The next 2 don’t quite fit into the good, bad, or sleazy categories, but were additional types I noted:
9. Strange: People who blog but somehow get their facts wrong.
One post got the name of the organization (SEMNE) wrong and called it SEMPO. I’m not sure why or how, as it was right there in black and white. I don’t believe there was any malicious intent going on, but it was strange nonetheless. (It was corrected immediately upon notification, so that was good!)
10. Dumbasses: People who just blog it cuz everyone else is.
Good blog posts are good for a reason. Simply writing about something because everyone else has is not a good blog post. ‘Nuff said!
And on that note, I implore you to look at your own blogging practices to see if you fit in any of the categories above. If so, here’s hoping it’s one of the good ones!