Blogging Lessons Learned: My 7 Links

Learning as we go

Bonnie, NapoliUnplugged.com’s owner/operator and bloggess extraordinaire of all things Naples, Italy, recently nominated the Level343 Article Archive to join in a project. The project, started by TripBase, is called “My 7 Links”. It’s an interesting idea; according to the goal posted on the rules page, the aim of My 7 Links is:

To unite bloggers (from all sectors) in a joint endeavor to share lessons learned and create a bank of long but not forgotten blog posts that deserve to see the light of day again.

What a fantastic idea, and a great endeavor. Not to mention the fact that it gives us a chance to blog about and share some of our posts from the past…

The truth of it is, no matter how good a writer you are, you’ll have some lessons to learn on the road to success. You learn how to write posts that people enjoy (and how not to). You learn what kind of humor is acceptable to your audience (and what kind of humor makes them think you need to be locked away). Ultimately, what you learn is that every blog post has to come from the heart or it’s destined to fail.

Using the My 7 Links Project, we’d like to share the 7 blogs we chose for the project, and the lessons learned with each:

1) Our Most Beautiful Post:

Dancing the Google Dance – And a One Algo Change, Two Algo Change, Go!

Why?

The Google Dance Infographic, Google's Updates - Logos copyright by Google

Google Dance

We’ve become famous (or infamous, however you want to look at it) for the images we choose to compliment our blog posts. Most of them are courtesy of talented Flickr friends. However, the image used on Google Danceis an infographic – and our very first infographic to be posted on the blog, at that.

Not only was it initially received exceptionally well, it’s still getting visits. Upon request, we translated it into Italian, and we’re getting more requests to update the infographic to include the Panda update.

The Lesson:

Don’t be afraid to try new ways to get your thought across.

2) Our Most Popular Post

Are Social Media Tools Relevant to SEO?

Are Social Media Tools Relevant to SEO?

Why?

Although it was posted in 2009, Social Media Tools has consistently been a top visit ever since. This post is still bringing in comments, as well as tweets and shares. It was more an “informed opinion” rather than a “how to”, but it continues to be received well.

The Lesson:

At the time, we were writing articles based on trending conversation. Social media was growing as a marketing medium and a lot of people were talking about a choice between SMM and SEO. It was written for the times.

We talk a lot about how rapidly things change in the world of Internet marketing. Yet, if it changed as rapidly as it feels, this article would no longer be relevant. In other words, we got caught up in the circle of “I” and our perception of events.

The moral – don’t assume you know what will be a lasting piece. Write everything with your heart in it and as tight as you can get it.

3) Our Most Controversial Post(s):

Comment Spam vs. Comment Links – What’s the Difference?

Continuing the Conversation – Comment Spam vs. Comment Links

Which one is it?

Why?

Although we’ve written controversial posts in the past, the series on comment spam was a doozy. The question was, “How do you, as a blog owner, define comment spam?”

The answers were surprising. Quite simply, for the majority of people, anything with a link in it is spam. Many owners don’t even look at the comment if it contains a link – even if the person who commented gave a realistic name. No one resorted to calling names, but the comments were enlightening and, at least to us, somewhat disheartening.

The Lesson:

If you want your comment to be seen on someone else’s blog – i.e. not just thrown in the trash – you first need to look over previous comments. If links have been allowed, you’re probably safe sharing something you read or write that you think is relevant. However, if you look through comments and don’t see a link, posting one of your own will likely get yours put into the spam bin.

4) Our Most Helpful Post

Writing Organic SEO Content: How To and Definition Terms

Organic Tree

Why?

When we looked at this category, a few posts came to mind under “most helpful”. Yet, how do you define this? Can you go strictly by the number of visits? No, because a high number of hits doesn’t necessarily mean a post was helpful. This was an interesting exercise, to say the least, especially once we found the answer.

We had to choose a set of criteria for defining our most helpful post. The criteria we chose were:

  • Visits: indicates interest - We’ve received over 800 visits for this post alone
  • Comments: indicates engagement - The post created on-site engagement
  • Trackbacks: indicates enough interest to actually link to the post - Organic SEO Content received several external site trackbacks
  • Shares: indicates enough quality (informative/helpful) to be worth sharing - 27 shares on various networks, 17 shares on FB and over 42 tweets

The Lesson:

To be honest, the results aren’t very scientific; so many factors go into how well a post does. We didn’t really learn a lesson from the post itself, but we did learn a lesson from this exercise. What you think is helpful and what is really helpful may be two totally different things.

What criteria would you use to choose your most helpful post?

5) A Post Whose Success Surprised Us

Google + A Facebook Killer?

 “Google + a Facebook Killer?” Question Answered

Why?

On any given post, we can expect anywhere from 150 – 300 visitors for the first day the post goes out. We got the expected, about 260, and called it a day.

Beautiful Traffic Spike - Ain't It Perty?

This was a news piece – and news pieces (i.e. timely pieces) normally fall off the grid in a very short period. Therefore, we expected occasional visits after the first day, but nothing like what we got. All told, we received over 4,000 visitors, and over 200 repeat visitors on this post – over 2,000 of those visits came on a Saturday, if you can believe that! Okay the fact I (Gabriella) posted this on my Google + that Saturday morning “may” have something to do with this… but that’s still up for discussion.

On top of that, we gathered over 152 tweets, 62 shares and 151 shares to various networks, 15 comments and 127 trackbacks. We hit the SERPs on page one and stayed there, above places such as Mashable, Business Insider, Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land and other strong sites.

The Lesson:

There’s a sweet spot in blog posting. If you’re lucky enough to hit it, good things happens. When you do hit it, you have to go digging and find out why… so you can do it again!

6) A Post That Didn’t Get the Attention it Deserved

Digital Culture: The Freedom to Use Reason

Power to the Digitial Evolution

Why?

Sure, it was an opinion piece. Yet, Digital Culture had some strong points that we thought needed to be said, such as the responsibility that comes with being able to make a difference with 140 characters of text.

The digital culture we have today has revolutionized the way we communicate, in good and bad ways. The way we communicate and collaborate has increased exponentially. In fact, the Internet is the largest collaboration project… ever.

The Lesson:

We had a lot of shares on the post, and high average traffic. However, we post opinion pieces, for the most part, to increase engagement and gain feedback. What did we learn? We learned that opinion pieces are a fine line to walk – and you can never be sure of the reception.

7) The Post We’re Most Proud Of

5 Must-Dos for Effective Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging Campaigns

Make The Time

Why?

We’re proud of all the posts we put up here. Whether they were received well, poorly or barely seen, every post has our heart and experience written into it. We love getting comments like, “great post, it really helped me…” and give high fives when they come. That’s what we write for.

With that said, we chose 5 Must-Dos because, although it was a “back to the basics” post, we got the kind of comments we love. Between the tweets, shares, comments and trackbacks, we know that it was successful, in terms of giving our visitors something they can use.

The Lesson:

Not every post is going to get rave reviews or tons of comments. Not every post will be shared, tweeted or tons of hits. However, as long as you’re receiving a positive reaction in some way, don’t sweat the small stuff. You’re still on the right track.

And a final addition, not included in the My 7 Links Project, which we included “just because”:

8) Our Funniest Post

What Kind of SEO Are You?

What Kind of SEO are You?

Why?

It had no purpose but to be fun and light. Not only was this a joy to write, but the comments were great! This post definitely got some conversation started; it’s one of our top reads.

The Lesson:

A little humor goes a long way!

Our Nominees for the My 7 Links Project:

Valeria Maltoni, Strategist – Conversation Agent

Shelly Kramer, Veteran Brand Strategist – V3 Integrated Marketing

Heather Lloyd, Copywriter – Success Works

Liz Strauss, International Business Strategist – Successful Blog

Erika Napoletano, Online Strategies Consultant – Redhead Writing

About Level 343

This account is where everyone involved with Level343 content marketing efforts show up. You can say there is no "I" in this team. Sometimes we will chat about a certain topic with a variation of ideas, suggestions, even opinions. Then one of us will start writing the post, hand it over to someone else who will continue the diatribe. Eventually it ends up on our editors desk who either chops the hell out of it, or you're reading it right now.

Comments

  1. Hi Eren!
    Thank you so much for sharing the “history” behind the My & Links campaign. Who knew? I must say, I for one have enjoyed reading these posts because they do indeed offer both the visitor and hostess (host) a blast from the past.

    Thanks again…

    P.S. I wasn’t aware that including a link in a comment was considered spam. Guilty! (I only do it when I have something constructive to share but I will now be more aware of it:)

  2. Well written, I like visiting your blog for the quality information it offers to the readers. As a reader I’ve read each of these posts and I should say that you’ve categorized the posts correctly. The controversial post is one effective method to increase traffic. Many bloggers write controversial posts but it should not turn out too complicated that it severe relations.

  3. Looking back on success, and repeating it (as you have done applying lesson 1 to this post) just makes good sense, despite how infrequently it is done. But I wonder if you have more reflection opportunities. What did you do across multiple posts that helped success, but might not be measured so precisely? Have you learnt anything from other people’s posts, particularly those that are very different to you? But perhaps most importantly, what did you learn from failure? You only need to do a couple of win-loss analysis to learn that nothing, but nothing, teaches a lesson more strongly than another persons mistake. I think that is about the extent of other ways of looking at your rich post data, unless others have additional insights …

  4. It is common for blogs to feature advertisements either to financially benefit the blogger or to promote the blogger’s favorite causes. The popularity of blogs has also given rise to “fake blogs” in which a company will create a fictional blog as a marketing tool to promote a product.

  5. Hello Mary, yes believe it or not that’s what a lot of companies did, and some still do. It’s not something we recommend, unless they can actually build a community within each. But for the purpose of links building… not so much! Thanks for your input!

  6. Thanks for commenting, Jeriea, and you’re spot on as far as having more reflection opportunities. Every time we look through our posts or go digging in other sites, we learn something new. One of the big things that always catch us is how radically different the thought processes can be about a topic that seems so clear cut to us.

    This just turns into more of a reminder that everyone has a somewhat unique view of things, and gives us more confidence to post our own. We see continual growth, as well as how much our skills have improved. When a post bombs, it bombs radically, and we dig through it to figure out why.

    Everyone says the past is behind us, and that’s true. However, you can learn a lot from studying history, and the history of your content is no exception.

    Thanks again for commenting; your insights and questions were great!

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  2. Mark Ennis says:

    Blogging Lessons Learned: My 7 Links – http://ow.ly/6S3x0

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