Larry Brauner
Like you, I typically visit many blogs and websites each day.

Some websites clearly have it together. They have lots of website traffic and appeal to visitors.

Other websites aren’t bad. They have good potential. With a few tweaks here and there, they could enjoy much more website traffic and appeal much more to their audience.

I promised myself that I’d write up some suggestions for improving blogs and websites. I realize that while much is possible, we can’t hope to do everything. We need to apply the 80/20 rule and focus on strategies and techniques that are easy to implement yet promise substantial benefits:

  1. Make Your Text Easier to Read - Some months ago, I noticed that my blog’s text wasn’t visually sharp enough. It was difficult to read. Upon examination, I noticed that the font wasn’t quite black, and the background wasn’t totally white. The links were grayish. After a few minor theme changes, the color scheme was improved. Low contrast combinations or light text on a dark background always require extra effort to read.
  2. Optimize for Human Eyeballs - A site’s title tells search engines and their users what the site is about. The title is the bold headline in search engine results. Using keywords in your site’s title can help you rank higher for those keywords. Recently, I changed the title of my blog hoping to rank higher on more keywords, and my traffic fell. The new title was unfortunately less relevant and less appealing to my potential readers. I changed my title back, and traffic rebounded. The takeaway: Optimize for humans, not just for search engines.
  3. Use Headings to Break Up Long Articles - Headings break up an article into sections and help make the article easy to scan and read. Limiting paragraph size helps too. Headings, however, like titles, can tell search engines what an article is about and are an excellent place to insert your keywords.
  4. Link Out - I provided a rationale for linking out to other sites in The Blogger’s Guide to Links and Comments: “Use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.” The advice in that article applies equally to blogs and conventional websites. Unless you’re linking to ads, use only dofollow links.
  5. Link Internally - This can be huge. Linking internally increases a site’s circulation, and it increases the perceived relevance of both the linking page and the page linked to. Link to another page or article on your site when you have the opportunity. In a blog, you can even link to a tag, as I often do. A blog site map such as the once generated by the Wordpress plugin Really Simple Sitemap makes it easy for visitors to find a blog’s archived content. I use internal links on my blog nearly everywhere, even in places which aren’t obvious.
  6. Be Social - Adding a social dimension to your web presence makes you real and credible. Join all the major social networking sites, and let visitors know how they can connect with you. Google Friend Connect and Facebook NetworkedBlogs widgets add sociability to your site and enable readers to publicly endorse you. Bloggers can join blog networking sites as well such as Technorati, Entrecard, BlogCatalog and MyBlogLog.
  7. Make Subscription Simple - Make it as easy as possible for readers to subscribe to your blog or newsletter. Blogs should offer subscription by both email (using a service like Aweber) and RSS (using a service like Feedburner). I’m always amazed when I have to hunt for a way to subscribe to a site.
  8. Use Social Bookmarking - Make your content easier to find and, as is the case with some social bookmarking sites, create quality links into your blog or website. Some of the social bookmarking sites I use are Digg, Delicious, Propeller, Reddit, diigo, Jumptags, Google Bookmarks and iZeby.
  9. Encourage Comments - Not only do I generally ask readers to comment, but I comment back as well whenever it’s appropriate.
  10. Extend Your Domain - If your domain will expire with the next twelve months, you might be signaling to search engines and savvy visitors that your site is only temporary.

I’ve omitted other ways that you can improve your website, because they’re harder to implement, and because they’ll give me something to discuss in a subsequent article. ;-)

In any case, we have our work cut out for us. :-)

What do you think?

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Larry Brauner
No aspect of the Internet is more critical to understand than hyperlinks or simply links, as we call them. After all, what is the World Wide Web but countless documents which are interconnected by links?

A web page without links in to it can never be discovered by search engines, nor will people find the page unless directed to it. A page without links out of it is a virtual cul de sac, a dead end street from which visitors must back out in order to exit.

Woe to the web page that has neither inbound nor outbound links! :-(

Links Can Transfer Some of Their Authority

When a web page, especially an important one, links to your page, it serves as a recommendation and conveys, i.e. transfers, to your web page some amount of its authority both with search engines and with Internet users. The authority of your page increases, while the authority of the page linking in to you decreases.

When you link to others’ pages you transfer authority to their pages. Their authority of their pages increases, while the authority of yours decreases.

Links play an key role in search engine optimization. They help search engines to gauge the validity and the authority of each page or document on the web.

Why Relinquish Your Authority?

Why should you give away any of the authority that you’ve worked so hard to earn?

Authority isn’t all that matters. Relevance matters. Participation in the web and in your niche’s online community matter too. Generous use of outbound links enhances your pages in ways that both search engines and people can easily appreciate.

The Internet and search engines are mainly research tools, and outbound links help researchers to find and to verify the information they seek.

Linking Without Transferring Authority

There are two cases in which you need to link out but prefer not to give up any of your authority and don’t even want the search engines to follow your link to see where it leads.

When linking to something you’re advertising, it’s common practice to have search engines ignore your link. Why convey authority upon an ad?

There is another case which I discuss in the next section.

To request that a link be ignored by search engines, rel=nofollow is used in the HTML code. (Don’t worry if HTML is too technical for you.) Therefore this type of link is commonly referred to in SEO jargon as a nofollow link. A normal link is referred to as a dofollow link.

Comments on Blogs and Forums

Blogs and forums need comments to thrive. They help to build community and add valuable content which search engines like.

Comment often require links to be meaningful or to identify the commenter. Comments which are completely devoid of links have a sterile quality, so some degree of linking is necessary and desirable.

Unfortunately, links create an opportunity for SPAM.

As I explain in Anti-Social Media Marketing, spammers submit stupid or even obscene comments hoping to build inbound links to their sites.

Why transfer even one iota of your authority to a spammer?

Filtering out these comments is a pain, especially when they’re written to look plausible. For this reason, blogs and forums are programmed to use nofollow links in comments as a disincentive for spammers.

Dofollow Blogs and Forums

Just as nofollow is a disincentive for spammers, it’s a disincentive for real blog commenters and forum posters as well. I know that I prefer (and I’m not alone in my preference) to visit dofollow blogs and get a dofollow link back to my blog when I comment.

Many blogs and forums deal with potential SPAM without resorting to the use of nofollow links. Quite a few forums and some blogs subject their un-vetted commenters to moderation and other restrictions.

How I Make Dofollow Work for Me

Online Social Networking is a dofollow freestanding Wordpress blog. These are eight steps I take to make dofollow work for me:

  1. I use the Askimet plugin to pre-screen comments for SPAM.
  2. I moderate all comments and screen them for SPAM, (as well as inappropriate content, bad spelling and very bad grammar).
  3. I reject SPAM and undesirable comments. (I also correct spelling and grammar when necessary.)
  4. I use the Nofollow Case by Case plugin to override the Wordpress nofollow default.
  5. If a comment is borderline SPAM, I let the comment through, but I tell Nofollow Case by Case to make its links nofollow.
  6. If I want particular links in the body of a comment to be nofollow, I edit the HTML and insert rel=nofollow in the code.
  7. I let regular commenters (whom I like) get away completely with borderline SPAM (with or without a lecture), because I care a lot about their friendship and good will.
  8. I display a You Comment I Follow banner at the bottom of each post to let readers know that my blog is dofollow. Over time my blog has been added to a number of dofollow search engines.

Linking and Dofollow Takeaways

Linking is vital to the Internet. All websites ought to use ample links on their pages, just as I have in this article.

If you blog, consider a dofollow approach. Don’t be afraid to relinquish some of your authority to commenters, because in balance, you can expect to gain.

Now please, leave a great comment below and collect your dofollow link back to your blog or website. ;-)

Did you enjoy this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed or by e-mail. Visit my About, Services, Media Buzz and Connect pages to learn about Building Your Audience and Brand on the Web. See also my Disclosure Policy regarding affiliations and compensation.

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