Recently, I bought “Signal Pigeon” (or, “Google’s 7 Ranking Signals”) from Chris Munch (MunchWeb). I found it intriguing, and I wanted to discuss it here.
Part of this signal is fairly obvious and well known, part of it is really a new way of looking at and existing factor, and part of it is (IMHO) questionable. Although Chris did very extensive research to determine the groupings of the “7 Signals”, it is still obvious that Google keeps a lot of their “secrets” under wraps.
The most obvious Age factor is the age of a website or domain. I see this time and again with my own websites. All of my websites over a certain age have a PR of 1 or greater. This means that Google has some measure of “trust” in the sites, and doesn’t believe they are spam or scam sites. It does NOT mean the websites will automatically get high rankings or increased traffic, regardless of what some domain sellers would have you believe.
One area where this is extremely valuable, however, is when you decide to sign up with PostLinks as a publisher. Their program ONLY allows blogs with a PR of 1 or greater (and pays advertising shares according to PR). Older domains will fare better in the PostLinks network for that reason. (Click here to sign up as a Postlinks publisher and get paid for receiving content automatically posted to your blog).
Link Age and Link Growth
Links (back links) can work in a similar fashion: old links are valued very highly, new links (even from high PR pages) not so much. This is why I tend to ignore repeated requests from webmaster to engage in “link exchanges“. It’s not that link exchanges – especially the multi-directional kind – are necessarily bad; it’s just that the link from the partner website could disappear at any time without you being aware of it.
Link growth rate is also important. Too fast looks spammy, too slow looks like your site is uninteresting.
At this point in time, I only trust one linking network – Jonathan Leger’s 3-Way Links. It has been safe so far from Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, and does provide a variety of links from a number of different page ranks in a slow, controlled fashion. It has been around for years, and is tightly controlled to make sure it continues to work. As stated, at this point in time, I still trust it. (For more info on the network, just click on this link).
Content Age and Growth Rate
Here’s where I might differ with Chris a bit – not necessarily in principle, but more along the lines of practical application.
Chris maintains that content should be updated fairly frequently, and that old content is not necessarily good. This makes perfect sense if your site is based around continually changing topics (gadgets, cell phones, cars, etc). Obviously, a several year old article about laptops would not be good if your site is about tablet computing. Pretty obvious.
But, some subjects (wine, arts, historical figures, religious topics) are not going to change frequently, and it makes no sense to continually change articles just for the sake of “freshness”. One “old” article about garage storage on my woodworking blog is still one of my most visited posts — I guess it’s just pretty much timeless.
Once again, though, moderation is a key in all of this. Adding content too fast looks spammy, too slow looks like you’re not an interesting webmaster. But again, it really depends on your topic. If you are posting about social media or fashion, you’d better be posting fairly often. If you’re posting about 1940′s car style, there probably isn’t a whole lot of “fresh” info available, so occasional posts should do the trick.
- Be patient. If you have a domain you like, keep it even though it is still not getting the best traffic or conversions. A domain at least a year old will start developing that all important trust factor Google likes. If it gets to the point where it’s 3 or 4 years old and is still a flop, but it has good page rank, consider selling it to someone who is shopping for page rank (or consider using it for PostLinks).
- If you are using pre-written articles (article directories or PLR), it’s a good idea to add some content to them to make sure they look “new”. Article directory articles should NOT be re-written. But, adding text or pictures above and below the article keeps it looking fresh. Go ahead and re-write PLR if possible, or use the same technique just mentioned.
- Keep a posting schedule. I know, I know – it’s not easy to do. I’m guilty of procrastinating as much as everyone else (perhaps more so). But, if you set up a schedule (like Monday is news, Tuesday is tips, Wednesday is a video, etc), you will more likely keep up something of a schedule. And, keep in mind, a blog is made up of a variety of content – not all posts have to be exactly a certain number of words with a keyword density of “x” %. Vary your posts and it will look “natural”.
- Use Zemanta or the Insights plugin to help inspire you and find fresh content. Zemanta offers the Blogspire service to provide blogging suggestions in your email inbox.
- The Death of Link Building and the Rebirth of Link Earning – Whiteboard Friday(seomoz.org)
- 6 Months Later: Google Penguin Reactions, Predictions, Tools and Tips(distilled.net)
- The Benefits of Building Deep Links(zemanta.com)