Monday, June 27, 2005

Scraper blogs

Everybody knows that Google loves blogs, and church websites with high-quality blogs associated with them bear this out with their generally higher search engine rankings.

This love of blogs has resulted in an explosion of spam blogs ("splogs"?) -- blogs that are created specifically to draw traffic for PPC or affiliate programs. The content is automatically generated by scraping content from newsfeeds, selecting articles with keywords important to the site, snipping content from the feed with those keywords and posting these snippets as a blog article. RSS feed aggregators such as Technorati then pick up these articles as original content and give it immediate distribution.

When I search Technorati for recent blog entries about my city, eight of the top fourteen blogs returned are these RSS scraper sites. This is amazingly annoying.

Because this greatly reduces the utility of Technorati, I hope Technorati implements some intelligence in their software to detect and ban these scraper blogs.

What do you think? Is scraped or random content a legitimate way to create links to your website? Leave your comments here.

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Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Legalities of blogging

The "unprofessional journalism" of blogging is a big thing and it's having an impact on the traditional news media. Bloggers have broken stories that the traditional news outlets have picked up. Some bloggers have press credentials while many others complain in online forums that their credentials were denied.

A Christian group will (hopefully) excercise some restraint in publishing private and personal information. Whatever the case, when you blog, you are a publisher. What you publish can open yourself up to some liability. It's a good idea to study your rights and look at the legalities of blogging.

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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Two way street

Blogs are a powerful tool for spontaneous communication and can be used to help provide the two-way relationship building that I've talked about on this blog. The primary ways feedback comes is through commenting and trackbacks. Some bloggers are better than others at watching the comments. I urge bloggers to provide feedback to the commenters to make the communication two-way. Doing this will naturally result in more reader loyalty.

Some people are talking about ways to change blogging to produce real conversations. My opinion on opening up blogs to all comers: you'll end up with Yet Another Discussion Forum.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Popularity contest

Who's on first?

When you enter a search for "church in new york city" Google claims to find about 14 million results. How do the search engines decide which church to list first?


One of the criteria that Google has historically used is PageRank. PageRank is a value from 0 to 10 that Google assigns to your page to give an indication of how important it thinks your page is. PageRank is computed based on several different factors, but one of them is the number of inbound links to your website. Your website's popularity is an indication to Google of how "good" your website is.

Content is king

The Number One method of growing these inbound links is to have excellent content on your website. This is an area where 'zine types of websites such as 90&9 and Endtime Magazine really shine. Blogs are another way to generate content. Google puts a lot of importance on blogs, and I encourage you to consider a blog on or linking to your church website. Blog software provides an easy way to upload sermon notes and syndicate your content for wider distribution. When you have good content (and when people can find it), others will automatically start linking to the content.

Get the free links

Make sure that community directories all have links to your church website. Do a search for "YourCity directory" or "YourCity church" and find all of the websites that provide links to churches and community resources in your city. Ask the webmasters for a link to your church. Real Estate websites often have church directories.


The final and fastest way to get links is advertising. Participation in free advertising networks work extremely well for certains kinds of websites, but you must agree to placing outbound links on your website, and you don't always have much control on where those links go. Websites with high PageRank will often sell outbound links. This is paid advertising, but it doesn't "look" like advertising to search engine software. These arrangements work best when the links are from websites with content somehow related to your website.


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