Friday, September 20, 2013

How to Fail at Blogging

Why Do Blogs Fail?

While almost of the other posts in Pro Blogging Journal deal with how to succeed at blogging and make money with your blog, today's post describes the top reasons that blogs fail.  They say you can learn more from failure than from success.  Study these reasons that blogs fail to improve your chances of having a successful blog or website.

Why do blogs fail to make any money?
Image Source:

1. The blogger burns out after about 1-3 months
You have probably seen this type of failure when reading blogs.  A new blog is started and the blogger posts frequently for a short time and then stops, never to post again.  Why does this happen?  This is a classic case of an author getting burned out.  The blogger is excited to have a platform to address the world and pours a lot of time and energy into the blog, at first.  Then the blogger runs out of ideas and is perhaps discouraged by the anemic traffic to the blog.

How to avoid failure:  Start new blogs, keep reading to get fresh ideas, be patient while your traffic ramps up- it takes Google some time to trust new sites with high rank in search engine results.

2. Google updates kill search engine traffic

Here's another blog failure scenario.  A blog gets up and running with good content and gets AdSense and affiliate marketing monetization going.  Traffic starts to pick up and then... traffic falls 30 to 50% all of the sudden.  What happened?  All of the sudden, Google doesn't like your blog anymore.  This can occur when Google updates their algorithms by giving more weight to certain types of pages and penalizing others with lower ranking in search engine results.  If a blog has pages ranking on the 1st page of search engine results and then slips to 2nd page or further back, this significantly impacts traffic.  

How to avoid failure: Google algorithm updates seem random, all you can do is try to figure out what characteristics pages that rank well have and try to mimic these in ways that make sense for your blog.  For example, keep an eye on keyword density- Google has been changing the preferred keyword density downward recently.

3. Blog is not approved for AdSense or Affiliate Programs

AdSense is one of the best advertising programs for blogs.  You have to apply to get your blog approved to have AdSense ads shown.  Some blogs apply repeatedly and do not get approved.  Or sometimes a blog is approved and then receives notice that AdSense approval has been withdrawn due to Terms of Service violations.

How to avoid failure:  Don't click on your own ads!  This will get you banned from AdSense.  Don't have any content on topics that are not allowed.  Watch out for user generated content- text and links in comments on your blog left by users can bring you crashing down if the comments or links are related to topics that are not allowed for AdSense approval.  When applying to AdSense make sure you have plenty of good content and have a Privacy Policy.  Also, there are other advertising programs- check out Chitika and other advertising programs for your blog.  Depending on your blog topic, you could make money with your blog using only affiliate marketing opportunities.

4.  The competition is better, you just don't get any traffic

Some topics are crowded with lots of high quality content.  Even if you can produce high quality content, Google likes sites that have aged, so you may never get to that first page of search engine results.  No matter how hard you try, you just can't get much traffic to your blog.  Without traffic, you might as well write your blog content on scraps of paper and put it in your closet.  A blog is useless without traffic...

How to avoid failure:  Choose a topic with less competition.  You are much better off with 10% of the traffic on a mediocre keyword than 0% of traffic on a really high volume keyword!  Start a niche blog on a topic that you know something about.

5.  You end up in the Google Sandbox...

There is debate on whether or not the Google Sandbox is real or not.  I suppose it is a matter of definition, but sites can end up in the situation where they have been crawled by Google, but are not listed in search results.  For some reason, Google is not ready to trust the site.  I have experienced this myself, and have heard accounts of this going on for a long time, for example a year!

How to avoid failure:  You can leave your blog up and running in the sandbox, but move on to work on another one for awhile.  Make sure you don't have too many 'spammy' links to or from you blog.  Spammy links are links that are not related to the topic of your blog post- for example if your post is about buying a car and you link to a post on repairing shoes,this looks like spam to a search engine. Also make sure you don't have an excessive amount of affiliate ads, this can be an issue particularly when affiliate ads are bunched together on a page.  Otherwise, there is not much you can do if you're in the Google Sandbox.  Move on, and come back to work on the blog when it gets out of the sandbox.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Pro Blogging Journal

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Keyword Density: How Much Should You Use Your Keywords?

Keyword Density- How much to use keywords?

What is the best keyword density to rank in search engine results?
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Keyword density is a metric that describes how often your blog post or webpage contains a keyword.  For example if you write a 1000 word blog post about "Old Navy Credit Card" and use this keyword phrase 10 times, your keyword density would be 4%.  The math to calculate keyword density is simple: this keyword phrase contains 4 words, if you use it 10 times, that adds up to 40 words.  This keyword density is 40 words out of 1000 words total, which means you spend 4% of your words on the keyword phrase "Old Navy Credit Card".

How Do Search Engines Use Keyword Density?

Search engines use keyword density as a factor in deciding how to rank pages in search engine results.  If your page has a higher keyword density for the search term, that is an indication to the search engine that your page is highly relevant to the search term.  However, some bloggers and webmasters engage in "keyword stuffing"- using the keyword many times in an attempt to rank higher in the search results.  I have seen pages that have a block of text repeating a keyword phrase dozens of times. Sometimes this was done with the text set to match the background color so that search engines would see the many repetitions of the keyword, but humans would not notice it.  This sort of abuse has resulted in search engines penalizing pages for "keyword stuffing".

Keyword density is an important factor in Search Engine Optimization (SEO).  If fact, some write for hire tasks specify a range of acceptable keyword density.  If keyword density is too low, the page will not rank well in search engine results.  If keyword density is too high, search engines may flag the site as spam and greatly reduce its rank.  If the keyword density is right, the site can rank very high in the search engine results.

How Much Should You Use Your Keywords?

Until recently, the guideline was to use your keyword with a density of about 7% to 8% to maximize your page's placement in the search engine results.  It takes a bit of work to get keyword density up to the 7-8% level.  You can replace some pronouns with your keyword- for example instead of saying "it", you can say "Old Navy Credit Card".  You can also add headings that contain your keyword phrase.

Following some of the latest Google Panda updates, I have seen advice to aim for about 3% keyword density.  Google is really trying to reduce spammy results such as articles that repeat keywords a lot yet provide little information of value.  The 3% keyword density more closely matches the keyword density found in natural writing.  Getting to 3% keyword density in your writing is easy and does not take much special effort.

How Can I Check Keyword Density?

There is a free and easy to use tool to check keyword density on any webpage or blog post.  You enter your URL, and a report is generated within seconds showing keyword density for all combinations of keywords on your page.  This allows you to check the main keywords you are trying to use as well as all other possible keywords.

The tool is Keyword Density Tool from seocentro.  Below are example results from the Keyword Density Tool.  The first is the Tag Cloud which is a graphical representation of keyword use in your page.  The more frequent  keywords are larger.

More frequently used keywords are larger
Keyword Density Tag Cloud from seocentro Keyword Density Tool
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

The second result is a table of keyword density.  In this example, you can see at the top of the center column that I use the keyword "Old Navy" with a keyword density of 4.78%.  You can use these results to fine tune your use of keywords to get them to the desired keyword density.

Table shows keyword density for all keywords on your page
Keyword Density results table from seocentro Keyword Density Tool
Image Source: Dr. Penny Pincher

Running the seocentro Keyword Density Tool can give you ideas for other keywords that you may want to accentuate on your webpage or blog post.  Remember that all words on your page are keywords to a search engine!  You may be attempting to rank for a particular keyword, but the search engine is looking at all of the words on your page as potential keywords. There is no reason not to attempt to rank in multiple keyword searches if it makes sense for your content.  I have pages that rank well for multiple search terms- this is desirable to maximize traffic.

After reviewing the results of the Keyword Density Tool, you may decide to reduce or increase utilization of certain keywords in your writing.  This tool is very easy to use, and you can get detailed information on your keyword density in a few seconds.  If you have some pages that are doing very well in search engine results, you can check the keyword density and attempt to match this keyword density on your other pages to boost your search engine traffic.

Another way to use the Keyword Density Tool is to check the keyword density on successful pages that rank on the 1st page of search results.  For example, I checked one of the top results for the keyword search "Kohl's cash", and found that one of the top results had a keyword density of 3.75% for the keyword "kohl's cash".

Note that there are many factors that go into search rankings in addition to keyword density such as page rank and backlinks.  But keyword density is easy for you to control by simply editing your content to give your pages the best chance to rank high in search results.

Copyright © 2013 Dr. Penny Pincher.  All Rights Reserved.  Pro Blogging Journal