Thursday, August 13th, 2009

Blogging Outside The Box

Blogging is a tricky business. Most up-and-comers such as myself find motivation not too hard to come by in the first few months. We write, and write, and write. After a short time, we start realizing that results aren’t going to start piling in right away, so we start crawling the internet for traffic-building tips and strategies.

Most of the resources out there say the same things, and so we conclude that they must be right. After all, if the sites that pop up high in google search result pages (SERPs) all recommend the same things, these tips must actually be working for them. Of course, there is also the fact that so many start-up bloggers are reading the same articles, and since success is measured logarithmically, it also can’t work for everyone who practices.

So, we have to think outside of the box. One interesting omission from any tips pages is the idea of using web-spiders or web-bots to collect data. For instance we all know that getting linked from high-ranking sites increases our own ranking (I’m talking about Google’s PageRank primarily). It’s also recommended that new bloggers join the blog-o-sphere by commenting on other bloggers’ sites, and leaving links to our blogs in our comment.

Here’s the thing: I’ve noticed by looking at the html source of each of these pages that the high-ranking sites have the “nofollow” attribute set in their links. Essentially this tells Google’s bots that the PageRank of the linked site (our blogs) shouldn’t be impacted by the link. This was developed to hinder spam bots from linking back to spam and easily gaining PageRank with Google.

So my idea is to write a spider that crawls relevant pages with comments available, and checks for the absence of this attribute. Now it’s possible that spam agencies are already doing this to find out where they can most effectively spam, but it’s also possible for me to crop the list of all relevant web pages down to a sub-list that allows linked sites to benefit from the linker site.

I really don’t see this being a malicious way to gain popularity, largely because my spider will simply be collecting a different set of resources than what I can effectively filter with search engines. It’s simply a better library of resources. I’ll still have to leave relevant and meaningful comments by hand.

Of course I will release my spider to the fellow blogger community if I see a positive impact.

And the experiment continues…

Chris Gerber is 33 and lives in Vancouver, Canada.

After graduating from a B.Sc (Physics major) program in 2007, he spent seventy days in Southeast Asia with the goal of discovery, on both personal and cultural levels.

Since his return, he has resisted automatic entry into the work-force, spending his time instead wondering how best to serve the world.