Navigational elements on a blog or any website are an important feature, but you should be careful not to take things to extremes which can hurt the progress of your site, both from a SEO perspective and for website conversion.
This post was originally posted Nov 7, 2006 – I have added a screenshot as the original subject site is no longer online – it is still just as relevant today as it was over 3 years ago. In places I have added some additional commentary or expanded on original ideas.
References to PageRank should be looked on as synonymous with Google Juice & overall site authority, and not just green pixels in a toolbar, though that can be a good visual indicator at times.
How a Blogroll can kill your PageRank
I followed a link from Digg a few minutes a go, read the story, and as I frequently do on any site I visit, I snooped around a little.
I actually do exactly the same every time someone writes a blog post referring to me and pings my blog. It is the polite thing to do, and maybe I can add something to the conversation. It also allows me to relate any comment to the person who is writing about me, either positively or negatively. Everyone is entitled to opposing views. What is often important is why they have an opposing view, and it isn’t always obvious.
Now about the site in question:
- I have only read half of one article there, so I don’t know much about the site contents
- The reason I am linking through to the site is purely from an SEO point of view
- This is a very common problem, very easy to make, and honestly not too hard to correct.
With that said, here is the site Kerry Fox Live (Archive.org link – the site seems to have been offline for 2 years.)
Initial Site Analysis
So the first thing I notice is that it is a PR3 site.
The internal categories are mainly PR2
The archives are mainly PR2
The individual post pages are generally PR1 or unranked
A large proportion of the content is duplicate syndicated content from services such as Associated Press, without any wrapping
But the site has been around for 16 months
You can make a splog, chuck duplicate content at it, and get a PR4 or PR5 after a few months.
So what is wrong with the site?
Take a look at the sidebar
At a guess (I am seriously not going to count them all), only 20% of the links on any given page point to an internal page. (yes that sidebar is on every page)
There are 2 blogrolls, one of which seems to be websites and blogs he likes, and the other is a whole load of press related sites… news sources.
Every single one of those links is a live external link leaking PageRank to other sites. Those other sites are not reciprocating in any way.
Now I am sure someone is likely to point out that those links provide a service for visitors, and maybe add a little authenticity to the site.
We are looking at a news site with an Alexa rank of close to 2M – not 2k, but 2M
Now there are times you want to sacrifice a little page rank to other sites, especially if they are reciprocating, sharing visitors, or in the case of my blog, I like visitors commenting and joing my “community”. You might also do it in a carefully controlled way from a mininet to one of your own sites.
Get rid of the blogroll on all internal pages. It is giving away too much traffic to other sites, not to mention PageRank.
Increase internal linking to compensate for all the leakage.
How to Increase Internal Linking
- Recent posts – 10 links
- Top Posts – 10 links
- Recent Comments – 5 – 10 links
- Tagging + Tag Cloud – 50+ links
- There wouldn’t be a need for as much internal ball linking if there wasn’t so many external leaks. The site is gaining very few comments.
- Related posts – 5-10 links
- Related reviews – 5-10 links
- Glossary links
Emphasis should be placed on the links you wish visitors to traverse
The site has 2 visible external links to the front page. I am not sure how many to internal pages, but even if it did have external links, any PR given would immediate leak.
Just syndicating one article will generate loads of backlinks, far in excess of what you can achieve with a single blog post (unless you have 100k+ readers). Based on my analysis of “A” list bloggers, their average blog post might normally generate around 10 backlinks (showing in Google).
(update August 2010: – whilst many of the bloggers I analysed in 2006 have 10x as many subscribers by RSS & email now, the number of links they receive, other than from splogs & social media probably hasn’t increased)
It is not rocket science, just simple maths.
If you have 100 external links on every page of your site, you need lot of internal links to retain some (hopefully most) of your PageRank, and it would certain help if those people you give a link to on your sidebar reciprocate in some manner.
(please note that includes me – don’t put a link in your blogroll to my site – sure I appreciate the links, but I would much prefer just an occasional mention in your blog)
And finally… this site structure plagues a huge proportion of blogs. Other blog owners who do not have this problem, quite likely don’t even realise why.
Update: whilst I am still a fan of article marketing, I no longer recommend any service that doesn’t provide a way to have unique passwords for each distribution site.