Tuesday, 22 May 2012


(c) FreeFoto.comBeing the cheeky blogger I am, when I got wind of Google's Juice Bar coming to Merthyr, I thought it sounded just the kind of event I'd like to try and muscle my way in to.  The Juice Bars are designed to help small businesses get online & make the most of digital media to grow and support their enterprise, but when has that stopped me?

A cheeky email to the nice lady from the council's Business Development unit (or words to that effect), and I was the proud owner of an invite to an 8 a.m. (yes! That early) Juice Bar session, just next door to the Welsh Assembly building.  Eyes on matchsticks, I turned up, raring to go, or at least raring to get at the coffee!

I didn't really know what to expect, to be honest. I was sort of thinking it would be a classroom type seminar, maybe a dozen or so people, a bit of a presentation & a chance to ask a few questions if you're the "stand up in front of a room" type (I'm not!)  So I was quite shocked to find that there were just 3 of us there, each with our own personal advisor, to ask questions as dumb or complicated as we liked.  Phew!  That said, for all I didn't know what to expect, my personal Google-dude certainly didn't expect little old blogging me first thing in the morning asking him questions about no-follow links & self-hosting!

I'll be fair, he did explain the no-follow link business to me in words I understand.  Pages appear higher in google searches the more times other pages link to them. As businesses figured this out, other people set up websites that were basically link farms, page after page of links & no content, and charged businesses for including their links, in order to increase their google ranking.  Google didn't like this much, and changed their super-secret logarithms to try and exclude these results.  In doing so, they also manage to pick up sites, such as blogs, where there are large numbers of links per page, often where the links have little or no connection to the site's main content.  They also try to identify "paid-for" links, i.e. paid content, one of the main ways is by identifying link text that appears across a number of blogs in a short space of time, as this is just another way of businesses buying page ranking.  Both the business "buying" their ranking, and the site where the links are found can have their ranking reduced.

For a blogger, the effect is twofold.  Firstly your blog appears lower on a search results page, if at all.  And secondly, to a PR company, your blog appears less influential due to your new reduced ranking.  Which means less PR approaches, less review opportunities, less prizes to give away, and in all essence, less readers.

However it's not all bad news.  He did say that if your link content is relevant to your blog content, it's less likely to set alarm bells ringing.  And blogger does now have that nice no-follow link button if you are hopelessly html-illiterate like me & need a widget to do everything for you.  If you're the kind of techie bod who uses the html editor instead, you're smart enough to know what you need to include in a link text to make it do no-follow anyway.  Or google can tell you.

I came away with my head full of no-follow links, a load of suggestions for monetizing my blog (which to me always sounds as though it's a way of making it into an impressionist painting of some waterlilies), the answers I really wanted to hear about self-hosting, and a goodies bag with a google stress-ball!

And if you're still wondering, yes, there actually was juice at the juice bar!

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