Thursday, May 28, 2009

How I got a Page Rank of 4

Today is an important day for The Blogger Guide (TBG).  Its Google Page Rank has gone up to four 4! (It might have been updated a couple of days ago, but I noticed it only today). It took approximately a year and four months to get to this level. Of course, Page Rank will not simply go up as time goes by. One needs to put a significant effort to earn such a rank and, in this post, I will share some tips about how I got there.

Content with Value
In the SEO circles, it is said that content is king. Although good content alone won’t attract much success, it is a vital ingredient. All most all articles on TBG are written after lot of research to ensure accuracy and completeness. Simple copy-and-paste type of articles don’t really add any value to the readers and also don’t give any authority to a blog.

Good content is the key in attracting incoming links, which are vital for a good page rank.

Niche Blogging
This is another advice that bloggers hear very often. It is easier said than done, but staying focus on an adequate size niche increases the value of a blog.  I used the word adequate because, if your niche is too narrow, then you can soon run out of ideas to write content.

TBG’s focus, as the name suggests, has been on Blogger. While being more specific about Blogger, I have also touched upon more general topics that all bloggers are interested, such as monetization and blog promotion.

Use of Illustrations
A picture is worth a thousand words. Being a blog about technical stuff, it is very important that what I write is easily understood by the readers. Explaining technical stuffs in simple, non-technical language, amply supported by illustrations is another reason for the success of TBG. I spend quite a lot of time in developing these illustrations either by drawing from scratch or by annotating screenshots. (See the article series on the Blog widget for example)

Offering Genuine Help
Helping Blogger users in forums such as the official Blogger Help Group, Blogger Forum and Blog Catalog etc to solve their problems was another reason. Staying focused on a niche is advantageous here because most niches have online forums of users who are interested on that topic. You must locate the most active forums for your niche and participate in them. An active forum will drive you more visitors and leaving the URLs of your articles there will count towards your page rank as well. But be careful to not to spam the forum with unrelated URLs.

Respond to Readers
I reply to my readers who leave comments or directly email me, mostly within a day. Fast responses are really appreciated by them as evident from the replies I get back. Most of them really don’t expect me to reply that soon. Responding quickly tells the readers that this is a lively blog and that it is not an old unmaintained one.

Posting Regularly
Google doesn’t like blogs that don’t update frequently. Posting new content at least once a week is also required to run a successful blog. There was a period of 3 months in which I could not write a single article, and I noticed a sharp decline in visitors during that time.

Not Relying on Short Cuts
Last but certainly not the least, I relied on working hard based on the tips listed above and did not resort to short cuts such as spamming forums or other blogs, link exchange etc.  Today’s search engines don’t just look at the link, but they also evaluate the context in which it appears. If the link appears in a meaningful and relevant context, that will score more in their ranking algorithms. In contrast, they are also smart to identify blogs that employ short cuts such as the ones mentioned above.

That's it for now. I hope you will find them useful.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

3 Columns : 565 : Left and Right Sidebars

Article Series: 3 Column Step by Step Guides

This is a tutorial that gives step by step instructions to convert a default 2 column 565 Blogger template in to a three column template with two sidebars on left and right hand sides of the main post area.

(If you really want to understand what's happening here, read the article series Three Column Templates Explained.)

1) Add a new CSS id selector for the 2nd sidebar wrapper.

  • Go to Layout -> Edit HTML
  • Locate the #sidebar-wrapper section (Do a Find using your browser)
  • Copy that full section and paste below the existing sidebar section (it doesn't have to be below) and rename it to #left-sidebar-wrapper
  • Change the float: $endSide to float:$startSide of this newly copied section
  • Change the occurrences of $startSide in the background property to $endSide. (See the code snippet below)
#sidebar-wrapper {
background:$sidebarBgColor url("$startSide.gif") no-repeat $startSide top;
color: $sidebarTextColor;
font-size: 83%;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix ... in IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix ... float */

#left-sidebar-wrapper {
no-repeat $endSide top;

color: $sidebarTextColor;
font-size: 83%;
word-wrap: break-word; /* fix for ... IE */
overflow: hidden; /* fix ... float */

2) Introduce a new div element, as a child of the content-wrapper, to be the placeholder for the 2nd sidebar
  • Locate the <div id='main-wrapper'> element.
  • Copy the code shown in red, above that section (this has to be above)
<div id='crosscol-wrapper' style='text-align:center'>
<b:section class='crosscol' id='crosscol' showaddelement='no'/>

<div id='left-sidebar-wrapper'>
<b:section class='sidebar' id='left-sidebar' preferred='yes'>

<div id='main-wrapper'>
<b:section class='main' id='main' showaddelement='no'>
<b:widget id='Blog1' locked='true' title='Blog Posts' type='Blog'/>

3) Expand the width of the other wrappers to accommodate the new sidebar
  • Locate the CSS section called #outer-wrapper
  • Change its width property to 1006 pixels
#outer-wrapper {
background: #889977;

4) Do necessary adjustments to margins, padding etc
  • Locate the #main-wrapper section
  • Insert a left margin of 12 pixels. (add the line shown in red)
#main-wrapper {
width: 460px;

float: $startSide;

5) Modify the CSS rules for the wire frame layouts editor.
  • Locate the end of the skin denoted by "]]>"
  • Add the following code shown in red, above that line.
/** Page structure tweaks for layout editor wireframe */

body#layout #outer-wrapper {
padding-top: 0;
body#layout #header-wrapper,
body#layout #content-wrapper,
body#layout #footer-wrapper {
padding: 0;

body#layout #main-wrapper {

body#layout #sidebar-wrapper,
body#layout #left-sidebar-wrapper {


Save the template. Switch to Page Elements view and enjoy your 3 column template! (The new sidebar may not be visible until some widgets are added to it)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Technorati Authority

In a previous post, we looked at the Alexa Traffic Rank and its importance. This one will take a peek at another popular blog ranking method called the Technorati Authority.

Technorati is a blog search engine that indexes millions of blogs around the world. Because of its massive index, it can instantly identify which blog is linking to which other blogs in the blogosphere. This data is used by Technorati to calculate a metric which they refer to as authority.

Stated simply, Technorati Authority is the number of blogs linking to a website in the last six months. Higher the blogs that link to a given blog, higher the authority it has. A blog will get more incoming links if it is writing quality, authoritative content that is accepted by others.

Because only the links that are made during the last six months are counted towards authority, one needs to keep producing better content to be able to get new links. But even old articles which are discovered by new visitors to a site may attract new links. Multiple links from the same site are counted only once. But a recent link from such a site will refresh its vote for another six months.

One problem though is that only blogs which are on Technorati, or in other words, which are indexed by Technorati will add to your authority. If a blog which is not listed on Technorati links to your blog, Technorati is not able to count it.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Alexa Traffic Rank

There are many ranking systems that measure the popularity and the quality of websites and blogs. Google Page Rank, Alexa Traffic Rank, Compete and mozRank are some examples of such systems. There are some other ranks such as the Technorati Authority and BlogCatalog Rank, which are more focused towards blogs. This post will take a look at the Alexa Rank which has established itself as a popular and reliable website ranking system.

The Alexa Traffic Rank is derived from the website traffic data collected from millions of Internet users who have installed the Alexa Toolbar and also from other traffic sources. These data are analyzed over a moving three month period and therefore, the rank on any given date is based on the traffic data during the past three months.

The traffic rank is a combined measure of a website’s reach and page views. The reach is the percentage of all Internet users who visits a given site. If a website has a reach of 1%, it means that out of all users who browsed the Internet, 1% has visited that site. Page views are the total number of pages viewed by the visitors to a given site during the period of statistics calculation (i.e. three months).

The popularity of a site is inversely related to the rank number. A site with a lower rank number ranks better than a one with a higher rank number. In other words, the closer a rank gets to #1, the better that site is. Alexa considers the top 100,000 sites as the special ones out of the zillions of sites on the Internet and getting included in that list is quite an achievement.

The Alexa rank has gained a reputation as an important yard stick in measuring the value/worthiness of a website or a blog. This is especially important when it comes to website advertising. A site with a higher rank can enjoy better ad pricing among the advertisers and ad networks. If you are concerned about monetizing your site, then keeping an eye on, and working towards improving, your Alexa rank is a prudent thing.

Like most measurements, the Alexa rank is not a perfect gauge of the quality/popularity of a site. The sample size used by Alexa (which is several millions according to them), may not be representative of the entire Internet population. The Internet World Stats sites reports that, as of March 31st 2009, the total Internet users have gone beyond 1.5 billion! A sample of even 1% of such a massive population amounts to more than 15 million users. But, in the absence of perfect data, Alexa rank works as a formidable measure.

The rank of The Blogger Guide as of today is 430,987 and is nothing much to write home about. However, the three month change (i.e. the difference between the rank three months ago and that of today) shows a gain of over hundred thousand, which is a positive sign. This gain is in accordance with the growth in traffic seen over the same period.

For more information, see this FAQ page on the Alexa website and this good article on

Monday, May 4, 2009

Monetization - A Reality Check

Blogging for Money is not as easy as the hype that goes around. It is certainly not a matter of simply starting a blog, putting some ads on it and waiting for the monthly checks to arrive at your post box.

This recent post on the Alexa Blog presents an estimated calculation on possible earnings from blog monetization, serving as a reality check on money blogging. It is estimated that, despite the economic setbacks, the online ad spending in US alone will expand to an impressive $24.5 billion in 2009. The figure worldwide will be much more and a portion of that money can be grabbed by all the bloggers out there. The problem, however, is that it needs lot of hard work from the part of the bloggers, to be of any success. The above mentioned calculation is somewhat narrowly scoped in that it only considers CPM (Cost per Thousand Impressions) ads, but the overall message it conveys is still true.

So remember, if you want to monetize your blog, don't expect anything soon. Be prepared to invest lot of time and effort to build up your visitors by offering quality content and being responsive to their questions etc. It may require a year or two for you to be successful. (The time period will, of course, vary depending on your blogging niche and the amount of effort put)