Note: This article contains references to Advanced Web Ranking Desktop, a version that is no longer under active development.
With over 100 million blogs created by the end of 2011 and an estimation of more than 160 million for the first trimester of 2012, blogs qualify as an important part of the online community.
Although they are made of web pages just like any other, blogs are nevertheless unique through their type of content, composition and the methods that prove effective for measuring and improving their performance.
As an SEO it’s vital to understand these differences and be able to develop techniques tailored specifically for each type of website you optimize.
So I thought I should make this article about how to shape Advanced Web Ranking onto the particularities of blogs and highlight some of the contrasts between landing pages and blog articles, to make your blog monitoring easier and more efficient.
Here they are:
The frequency of new pages
The first particularity on the issues list is that blog posts are created much more frequently than landing pages. While on a medium size website there are created tens of landing pages per year, on a medium size blog the same amount of articles is published in a month.
For you, this means a lot more pages to monitor but more important than that, a lot more keywords to manage the usage and performance for.
Although Advanced Web Ranking is able to manage enormous amounts of data, it’s best to organize your projects as to make an optimal use of your resources and also get all the necessary data.
As you know, the bigger each project gets, the longer it will take to get updated. Therefore, depending on the size of the blog you wish to monitor, you need to organize your Advanced Web Ranking projects accordingly.
If on your blog are published several articles per day, 7 days/week on various topics, then one single project will not be enough for you. It’s useless to crowd into a single project lots of articles from completely different areas of interest, making the project’s update a pain in the neck. In this case, you need to create a new project for each topic category you have on your blog.
For example, if your blog has the following topics: SEO, Link Building, Analytics and Social Media, then you would create corresponding Advanced Web Ranking projects. Thus, you would have within the same project all the blog posts covering related topics and you would be able to compare their performance for the also related keywords they target without loading the update with irrelevant keywords.
The next issue is to manage the even more increasing number of keywords in your blog-project. With each article you add to the project you implicitly also add at least a few new targeted keywords. The best solution for not getting lost into this enormous list of terms is to organize them in categories.
For each article added to the project, you would create a corresponding new keyword category with its targeted terms. Thus you will be able to quickly select only the groups of keywords that are relevant for each analyzed URL.
For comparing the performance of articles targeting similar topics, you can also define categories at a superior level. For example, to track and compare all the articles you’ve published on the topic of “competitive link analysis” you can create a separate keyword category that will include all the previously defined categories corresponding to each article.
No stable competition
Characteristic for blog articles is that the competition is extremely volatile. For an article is quite hard to define and add to your AWR project a set of stable competitors as you would for your landing pages, in order to monitor them on a long term.
You might sometimes feel the need to add to your blog-project an article from another blog that is targeting the same keywords as you do and see how its rankings fluctuate over time.
But when you do, you soon find it to be crowding your list of project websites for nothing because there are other articles coming in and out of the SERP that prove to be a more dangerous competition than this one.
So how could you know who is in and who is out? Who you’re competing with exactly?
The Top Sites report is ideal for this. Regardless of your website’s competition, you can see the ranking changes in the SERPs that you are targeting and evaluate your progress among the others, without adding any of the competitors to the project.
There are three ranking reports that I find to be most valuable for blog monitoring:
- The Keyword Rankings report with both its views:
This is the ideal report for checking the evolution of your articles one by one. You can select the targeted keyword category for each blog post and comfortably monitor its evolution.
- The Overview report detailed on the “Keyword categories on rows” and “Websites on columns”:
This report gives you an amazing overview of your entire blog allowing you to grasp with a single view the overall evolution of each one of your articles.
- The Visibility report drill down to [Date Comparison] -> [Compare Metrics]:
This report helps you aggregate even more your blog’s progress and performance. If you select your entire list of keywords and your blog domain, you can see how many appearances your articles have in Top 3, 10, 20 and so on, how many have gained or lost rankings and how visible is your blog in search engine rankings.
Blog posts are the most share-able pages of any website which makes social monitoring a top priority task when managing a “Blog” project.
Right after an article gets published, social reactions start to emerge and depending on the social boost that your articles get, more or less traffic will flow to your blog pages.
This means that you should keep a close eye on your posts’ social exposure continuously, starting right from the moment they get published.
In the Social Shares report you are able to see simultaneously for all your published articles, social shares on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ with their variation in time.
More than that, through the Update button available right in the Social menu, you can quickly update only the social metrics for your project, as often as you wish, without worrying about the update duration.
Next, to correlate social shares with the ranking fluctuations, you should use the Overview -> Evolution in Time reports. It allows you to evaluate simultaneously the evolution of your article’s social shares and rankings. For that matter you could also add on this chart other metrics such as the number of visits or page views for a wider analysis.
And you can also get one step further and also add to these charts metrics from Google Analytics. You will be able to see exactly the visits your blog posts received either from organic searches or other sources, and ultimately measure the success of your articles.
Blog posts are as share-able content sources as they are link-able. But for links also, there are some particular aspects that you must consider.
First of all is that articles usually get their links from other articles or from resource pages. It rarely happens for a website’s Index page or other highly authoritative page to link to blog articles. This means that the links your articles will get are from deep pages, with relatively low authority or rank.
Although Google probably sees these links, it’s harder for you to monitor them because crawlers such as SEOmoz’s don’t go that deep on a website to provide you with data for analysis. Therefore, some time after a post goes live there will be no link data available for its URL and you will need to be patient waiting for the link data to start showing into your link reports.
But there is also a bright side of the story. When linking to an article from an article, it’s more likely to use exact or partial match anchor texts rather than terms with no relevancy for your topic. Therefore having a higher affinity for exact and partial match links, blog posts also have a better chance of ranking faster for certain terms (hurray!)
..I’m hoping that I have given you some thinking ideas about monitoring blogs in particular and that you will join me in further discussions on the topic, via comments or tweets if you prefer 🙂