Friday, June 1, 2012

Day 18 - Spreading the Content Around

Secret Sauce Series on earning extra income online
(Secret Sauce sub-series 04)
As much as people (myself included) deride the idiosyncrasies of the free blogs, they do serve a valuable purpose - besides making money for their hosts. They allow you to republish content to different communities.

The weirdest thing, perhaps, is how useful I've found these since I published The Online Sunshine Plan. Yet nothing about them particularly shows up in that book, except as parenthetical examples.

So - no pre-reading assignment, again.

Let's get right into these...

The reason you want a lot of free blogs re-publishing your content...


This seems illogical on the outset. If Google is penalizing duplicate content and giving special tags to show who authored it first, why would you want to re-publish your content to someone else's site?

Two reasons:
  • backlinks
  • out-creating your competitors
We have to lay one old urban legend to rest here: duplicate content penalties.

The old-school SEO boys wrap themselves around a pole on this one. Duplicate content isn't "removed" from the rankings, it's just moved down to the "omitted results" section. I gave you at least one link where Charles Heflin shows how there really isn't any competition. And if you look up any long-tail phrase, you'll see that for exact phrases, the links Google shows usually fall apart after the 2nd page (20 rankings).

So Google is really trying to produce the best possible page results. Stuff that has the exact same content is just shuffled lower (below 750-800, as linked above.) It doesn't take them out of the standings entirely, if they still have your backlinks, then they are still contributing to your site staying on top.

Duplicate content mostly hit the free sites like blogs and article directories, which suddenly found themselves with not very many pages ranking - because they weren't policing their own content. (And so now they do, with a vengeance.) However, it doesn't mean that you can't also rank for several different sites with the same content.

How blogs do this is rather interesting. You see, they sort by date, tag, and perhaps feature new material as it's released. Tumblr.com is one which pretty routinely shows up on page 2 or 3 according to their tag pages, which sorts in a different order, so has "different content" than sites which just present them according to last first. Wordpress.com has a nice feature page, which will get a lot of new posts on their front page (handy for search engines to find new content), and if people visit it, it will stay there for awhile, as this is all a popularity contest and entertainment.

Another point is that these freebie blogs all have different templates and have different content showing up. (We'll go into this later about how you can help this with sidebar widgets) So it's mostly, but not exactly, the same content. If there isn't much content around with these keywords, then your re-published content has a good chance of showing up.

Now, yes, if they all had completely different (or at least 40-70% different content) then they'd all rank for the keywords. However, it's a different scene when you are spinning several versions of that material with all that time invested. (We will go over spinning content toward the end of this 30-day program, however. In theory it could be useful - and would help out article directories.)

What we've seen by utilizing these freebie/remote blogs and tracking their ranks from week to week, is that the free blogs will show up and maybe even outrank your main site for a few days or weeks, then slowly drop down the rankings, while your main site (which they link to) starts to increase it's rank. Even though they were posted the same day, within minutes of each other (and I'll tell you how to do this on a later day.)

The top remote blogs

We'll refer to them as remote blogs from here on out, as they have your content in remote locations. ("Free" describes a lot of things these days...except perhaps beer, meals, and money.) If you visit http://knowem.com and do a search, you'll find the top blogs on their main page of social sites. They are listed below.

Blogger.com
This was bought by Google a long time ago. And this year has been getting overdue updates which allow it to rank better. Main point of use is that they don't care if you heavily push affiliate sites and you can have dozens (one lady has hundreds, per report) of different blogs to separate out your content.

Wordpress.com
Finicky about anything that sells anything - unless you have a paid hosting with them. So you can get banned and never figure out why. This ranges from dropping your site to dropping your login. I've even experienced accidentally violating their rules and having my login dropped, but leaving my blogs up - orphaned. So two things you have to do with them: 1) only link to an innocuous "review" page and not to direct affiliate links, 2) have multiple administrators for every page - you can sign up several times with different emails to make additional accounts. You're also allowed almost unlimited number of extra blogs, but once you give it up, neither you nor anyone else can get it again. Wordpress.com blogs tend to show up and sink like July rockets, settling down at the lower pages of rankings.

Tumblr.com
Quite a popular blog site. And while they have a few "bad words" which they ban almost automatically (like "work from home" and "make money online"), otherwise they pretty much leave you alone. Also lets you have numerous extra blogs. Noted as above for ranking well according to its tag pages.

Posterous.com
Almost a newbie on the scene. It was first known for allowing you to post by email. (Now all of the above, and most others, allow you do do this.) However, it's becoming more popular as a blogging platform on its own and the guess is that mainly because it allows you to post to other blogs and social platforms with a copy of your post - which will link back to that posterous blog for any default. So yes, it's giving itself all the backlinks it can find.

There are a few others like Livejournal and Xanga which we won't cover here. Mainly because you can't auto-post to them, which is a hint of what we'll cover later. Sad, really, because they have active communities. Xanga did this in response to spammers, which IMHO was a shot in their own foot. LJ does it by neglect - it's supposed so, but is wonky that way.

Other remote blogs of interest

Anything that can be remote-posted to is useful. However, if it's hosted on someone else's dime, then you can get quite a community built up.

I've already covered how you can build Wordpress blogs on your own site. But that can give you server issues, which (twice-burnt) I don't recommend as a platform. Other free blogs can be set up. And you can also set them up as subdomains, so practically you can build up as many as you have space and bandwidth for. Main problem: they are on the same IP address, so they can appear to be spam-blogs (or splogs). And is why the free/remote blogs are nice - you can have other IP's backlinking to your main site.

There uses to be several free blog hosting sites. (And you can look up free hosting and set up blogs there, but most require a lot of attention in order to retain the free status. Leave one alone for awhile and your account gets cancelled. Content means traffic means ad sales - no content means canceled account.) However, most weren't able to keep sufficient profit to survive, so they've mostly gone by the buy. Wordpress-based free blogs were the rage once...

Blog.com
One of the survivors. Wordpress based and ranks well overall. You do have to turn on remote posting, however.

Blogetery.com
Another Wordpress survivor. Went through some wierd hosting problems a couple years ago - some terrorist-related individuals were hosting with them, and their host shut all their blogs down. But they're back and other than being a bit slow at times, it's a great little community of bloggers.

Typepad.com
They are finicky about getting set up and only allow you one free blog per login/email address. And make it hard to find how to set up a free blog (I've lost that page more than once.) Otherwise, a nice little remote blog. They are their own scene and have built up a nice non-WP platform as a standard.

Again, there might be a handful of others which would fit in this. I've literally spent days searching for WP-based blogs and "free blog hosting", but keep dropping back to these few above. There are still some around, but mostly they have closed off free sign-ups, or are based in a foreign language (non-English), which gives you problems.

Tricks and Details on setting remote blogs up

Generally, these just run as a few:
  • Fill out your profile so it looks like a real person. Photo, some interests and definitely your main site as a backlink.
  • Unless you like a lot of email (another reason to get a[n additional] gmail account), ensure that you simply have to approve every comment. Most of these long tail blogs, in my experience, only attract fools trying to backlink to their site with comments. It's not that you can't do this, or that it doesn't work. But it's labor intensive and most of these guys are rank amateurs - they don't really contribute to any ongoing conversation.
  • On some (blog.com, blogetery.com) make sure that you can remote post to them.
  • Put your main site RSS feed in the sidebar to get more backlinks. When you update your main site, it will auto-update (and auto-backlink) on the remote blogs.
  • A news feed sidebar with your keyword as a search term is a nice touch. Gives another hint of authority.
  • Vary the theme and put a different one up than given. Takes a few minutes, but you generally wan them all to look different.
  • Follow some other blogs, especially if you have others of your own on that platform.
Some (tumblr, typepad) don't have customizable sidebars. Their loss. And they might have changed things since I wrote this or last visited their site to set one up.

Isn't this a bit, well, callous?

Well, no. The reasoning goes like this: You are one of a handful who are providing new and fresh content for the Internet. Posting to remote blogs is simply a way of reaching more people with that content. These sites are mostly (-ahem-) content pimps. They (especially Wordpress.com) don't want you to earn income from your content, they just want you to post your content to their site so they can.

So you help them, and they help you.

If you keep your sales/landing pages, review pages, and infotainment pages separate (infotainment goes on the remote blogs, review pages go on your site, and sales pages are either separate pages on your own, or hosted by that affiliate product you are pushing) - then you and the remote blogs can have an amicable, cross-beneficial publishing arrangement.

There's also the point that this doesn't mean you quit contributing to your communities that you've found, just because one of them exists on one of these platforms. You keep contributing - but no one said you couldn't also have an additional blog or two to host your additional content, did they? Especially if the profile is different from your personal one... (Someone recently told me that they'd seen I hadn't been blogging much - but they don't know all the "alternate identities" I use in order to get my research done... Rest assured, I'm as over-prolific as usual - "don't try this at home", and "use only under adult supervision") ;)

- - - -

OK, another couple of freebies. But I'm not apologizing for these guys' lack of taste or professionalism. They will give you some additional pointers we haven't gone over. But it's up to you to test them. Some are dated, some never worked. But the common sense ones you should be able to spot right off.

Blogger's Guide to Profits
Building a Blog Empire for Profit

And your assignment is to check out these free platforms above and see what you find there.