Optimizing HTML Links In The Aftermath Of A Blog Storm

Hopefully if you ever get caught up in the whirlwind of a blog storm, and receive 10s, maybe even hundreds of links to one of your articles, that the topic of both the page being linked to, and the pages being linked from are related to your online business, and the topic of your blog.

It is quite likely that you have been developing other articles on similar topics for months, receiving very little online attention, and even more worrying, if you create follow-on articles providing important updates, they are less likely to be seen.

The majority of traffic will by default enter your site (the landing page) on the page that received the most links, and this traffic might continue for days, weeks, months and even years.

Incoming HTML Links To A Single Article

Ways to highlight other important information:-

  • Create a new post to inform your subscribers

    This has a tendency of alienating at least some of your readers, especially those who were not totally convinced by your “blog storm” article. It is quite possible that further articles will be looked on as “milking it”, trying to take advantage of a situation.
    Whilst this might be partially true, the process of providing updated information when/if you are the centre of attention is vital. This is how CNN catapulted into the mainstream, being on the scene of major news stories and providing “up to the minute” news updates.

  • Related posts

    Useful for the few people who go to the trouble of clicking them though if they are generated automatically, they can be a little hard to control.
    The problem is that very few people tend to use them, and they generally appear after someone has read the “blog storm” article. Initial reaction will be to the first article they read, and not to any updates, unless you can force them to read updates.

  • Update the article with links to newer information

    This is quite a time intensive operation because over the period of a few days you might have to make multiple updates to multiple articles, and when the blogstorm has died down, you might need to optimize the links even further.

    • If all you do is create updates to a single post, whilst new visitors receive a relatively clear picture, your subscribers might only read the original article.
    • It is much easier in the flow of content creation to refer back to previous articles than to update previous articles with links to newer information.
    • If updates are drawn out over weeks or months, it can get very messy

The Simple Solution

One simple solution is to think of any news item as a series of posts, and to use a plugin designed to help you create a series of articles around a particular theme.

The In Series Plugin

The plugin is quite well documented, and will allow you to modify the order in which posts in a series are presented, and you can style the content such that it stands out.

The Advanced Solution

The ideal situation in many cases is to create a specific landing page for a series of articles, that can then be optimized for specific terms, and used to channel both humans and search engines towards the most important articles you want them to see.

Redirect HTML links towards a specific landing page

This is actually fairly easy to achieve in a number of ways, and most of the skills are similar to the various ways you can perform siloing I described in my WordPress SEO Masterclass.

Here are the basic tasks that need to be undertaken:-

  • How to create an optimized landing page

    There are a number of ways to create an optimized landing page. The ideal method will really depend on your existing site structure and the ways you currently highlight content.
    An additional concern is certainly your technical ability. It is much easier to create a round-up post or a page with related links than to create landing pages using more automated methods and get the page looking right.

    • Using a dedicated category with optimized template such as category-6.php in WordPress
    • Creating a dedicated page with manually selected links
    • Using a siloing plugin which presents posts from a particular category on a single page
    • Writing an update post with links to each of the previous articles
  • Planning Content

    Work out which articles to link to from a landing page, keyword strategy, and linking structure both to the existing content on the topic, and to other pages you want to get a lot of link juice and attention.

  • Planning Redirects

    Not all of this can be automated unfortunately. If you have made specific references to any of the articles that you are about to create redirects for, you need to make a note of them, because these might need to be adjusted so that they contain updated URLs.
    It is hard to do this with incoming links from external sources, and not always desired, but I think that internally where you might often have referenced 4 different articles from within an update page, it is best that those links remain pointing to the specific articles referenced, thus will need to be hand edited.

    Create a table of original URLs, and the updated URL which will soon house that article.

  • Create Updated .htaccess

    Create… don’t upload yet

    Here is an example .htaccess entry

    <IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
    RewriteEngine On
    redirect 301 /2007/01/day-job-killer-review.html http://andybeard.eu/2007/02/day-job-killer-review.html
    </IfModule>
    

    In that particular example I was quite lazy and brought a review quickly to my front page by changing the publish date, but I also added a redirect because Google had indexed the old URL.

    I would suggest that these changes should be made right at the end of your .htaccess file.

    It is possible to manage 301 redirects with plugins, and WordPress 2.3+ is also meant to handle some things automatically, but I haven’t experimented with that yet and I don’t like being locked into using particular plugins for my site to function.

  • Create Landing Page

    Depending on the method you will be using this may or may not include updated URLs automatically. If you are crafting the links by hand, you may need to refer to your previously prepared table of changes.
    Until the redirects take place, the new landing page will get very little attention from Search Engines or visitors, and whilst it is not ideal to have currently broken links on a page, it is probably better to have a few links that are broken than have lots of visitors get redirected to a page that doesn’t exist.

  • Upload .htaccess or Modify Existing URLs

    This stage speed is of the essence, as it is a bit like a chicken and the egg scenario. If you are working with a large site you might need to work out some way to automate this process.

    If you upload the .htaccess first, then visitors will arrive at your landing page, and either click on links that return a 404 page not found error, or in the case of using categories or silo plugins, they will click on links that redirect to where they currently are on the landing page.
    However this is probably better than changing URLs before the .htaccess is in place.

    Once you have uploaded the .htaccess, it is time to modify existing URLs to those you have planned to use.

    I would suggest that “time is of the essence” at this stage, it is not something you can undertake at the end of a working day, though “more haste, less speed” should also be taken into consideration.

    Even with extensive planning, it is fairly easy to mess something up in your linking structure and 301 redirects.

This isn’t an article for SEO beginners, I leave those for the “experts” to write.

Your mileage may vary – I have written this article mainly as part of my own planning stage to make similar changes on this blog.
I have a number of topics that could benefit from using this method, including WordPress SEO, PageRank, Dofollow, Technorati, and even my “about page” which could take advantage of many of the blogging memes.

How much benefit you might gain from this may be marginal from an SEO point of view, or could make a substantial difference.

Fortunately the primary reason for doing this in many cases is to improve the browsing experience for users, so that they arrive at a landing page that provides them with a current overview of a topic, with possibly additional background articles that you feel are important.

There is a lot more to linking structure on a website or blog than just sticking nofollow on a few links to pages of less importance, or installing a wonder “do everything” SEO plugin.

Power Tip – once you get comfortable with this, you can actually plan your content with this strategy in mind, choosing your page titles and URLs carefully to maximise the benefit of redirects in the future.

In many ways this technique is the opposite to 3rd level push, though the concepts are not mutually exclusive, as whilst you are diverting link juice from a 3rd level document to one on the second tier, that juice then flows evenly (if you want) to your 3rd level.

Optimize your site for users not search engines ;) [cough]

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Comments

  1. says

    I’ll be saving this for future use. I’m a neophyte blogger and I don’t have the platform in place to take advantage of this idea. However, I look forward to the day that I can because this is a great tutorial.

  2. says

    Yes Andy I really look forward to the day I have this problem. I will download the plugin so I am ready for it when it comes:)
    Thanks for a very useful insight and tutorial

    • says

      The plugin is really only to highlight a series of posts, so I could probably highlight all the posts I recently wrote about PageRank updates with a special box on the page.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean that people will use it

      The redirect method, whilst a little more complicated, effectively forces incoming visitors onto a specific landing page.

      This strategy could be used even if all you are doing is “tag and ping” bookmarking, though that isn’t my preferred method for authority sites, it might be good for smaller niche sites.

  3. says

    As usual Andy Beard, your fine writing and well thought out strategies have given me a head ache!

    Seriously, as I move forward with other business concepts and beginning the development of two startups, I am always grateful for the time I take to read your posts. I get so much from them and not always as specifically as you may intend them.

    Thanks for the great work. Glad to call you a friend and business associate.

  4. says

    Thanks Andy, this is really great information. This is an obstacle that I’ve faced recently. I’ll have to look into trying some of your suggestions.

    • says

      I am not sure of sensible limits but I have never hit major problems.

      Frequently sites also use database calls for redirects for large changes. In the situations I would use it, the number of links are not an issue.

  5. says

    I suppose I would consider myself lucky to get caught up in such a thing. The viral aspect of blogging can be mind blowing sometimes. Having a prepared landing page is an interesting idea though…keep prepared for such a situation.

  6. says

    Thanks for the detailed information, I never thought of the repercussions of one good article and this seems like a such a strategic way to go about it.

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