Blogging Genealogy: Blog Awards & SEO via BloggingGenealogy.com.
Blog awards are nice and flattering. They're even better when they are awarded to you for your blogging. It's nice to be appreciated and complimented.

Back in 2009-2010 many blog awards were all the rage, and believe me. They made their rounds several times over in the genealogy blogosphere, not to mention in many, many other blogging niches. Everyone was complimenting everyone, linking to everyone, and proudly posting their blog awards on their sites with links back to the creator of the blog award. Everyone was feeling pretty good... 

However, what everyone failed to realize {or at least most folks} was that this was a SEO {Search Engine Optimization} strategy, or tactic, designed to mostly benefit the creator of the blog award. I say "mostly" because every blog award encourages each recipient to give it to 3, 7, or 10 {or any other random number} recipients. Thus, making the award and the link go viral. And I say it's an SEO strategy, or tactic, because it was designed to increase the inbound links to the creator of the blog award, which was kind of gaming the Google Search Results because Google's algorithm favored those blogs or sites who had many inbound links. Many inbound links to a blog or site can indicate that blog or site is an authority or influential about a particular topic.

Which is all fine and dandy if this was still 2009-2010 and Google hadn't introduced their Panda and Penguin updates to their algorithms. Google wants to make sure that every time you search for something in Google that it returns back to you results that are of a good quality and that are what you are looking for. And a site or blog that has created a blog award and thus received a higher ranking not by legitimate means but by gaming the system should not be up at the top of the search engine results list {SERPS}. Therefore, Google tweaked their algorithms so that these sites get penalized in search results.

Not only does the original site get penalized in search results, but the blogs who contributed to the original blog's linking tactics may get penalized as well in search results. I say 'may' because the process could be construed as a blog network, which is also penalized by Google in search results. Loosely defined, a blog network is a group of blogs with a common interest that promotes itself as well each other's blogs. {And that could cover a lot of things. Note my usage of the word 'loosely'. I'm trying not to get too technical here.}

And there are other SEO linking strategies and tactics that are both acceptable to Google as well as no-no's. A very good blog post that explains all the ins and outs of SEO linking strategies is from the company CMS Buffet, Linking Strategies: The Complete Guide. It's written for businesses {their potential clients} so that businesses can understand what's acceptable and what's not regarding SEO linking strategies in our new Panda and Penguin Google World. It's quite lengthy, but it does touch upon blog awards and their accompanying badges. Basically, it says you can still hand out legitimate awards, but the trouble comes when it starts to grow, or go viral. {That whole now-you-give-it-to-3-7-10-blogs-you-think-deserve-this-award-virality thing}. Blog awards, according to this blog post, are not "Black Hat Linking Strategies," but they are iffy when it comes to how Google treats them when deciding how to rank your blog or site in their search results.

But? What do family history bloggers {the ones who are not trying to monetize their sites, but research and find cousins, that is} need to know about Search Engine Optimization {SEO}?

Just keep blogging about your ancestors. If you want to show appreciation of someone's blog, visit their blog, read their posts, and comment on them. Tell them you like what they wrote, how they wrote it, that it touched you deeply, that y'all are related, understand and laugh at their sarcasm, etc. Be natural about it. And when folks take the time to comment on your blog posts, acknowledge them. Converse with folks in your blog comments.

Then on your favorite social media network, tell your friends about their blog. Share it.

In other words, network.

And if you do get nominated for a blog award? Thank the person who nominated you. Do it profusely for they've given it with a pure heart out of appreciation for your writing and sharing, and five will get you ten that's the only reason they gave it to you. So thank them. However, be cautious about placing links back to other sites with blog award badges, or at least the viral aspect of it.

~Caroline

Other related blog posts you might be interested in:
Blogging Genealogy: SEO
Want More Cousins to Visit Your Genealogy Blog?
3 Ways to Increase Traffic to Your Genealogy Blog
 


Comments

01/11/2013 16:31

Wow Caroline, thank you for this. Some of my blogging buddies were nominated and I simply thought 'good for them, well deserved'. Had no idea there might be an underside to such things. So much to learn!

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Caroline POinter
01/21/2013 10:54

Rorey,

The best thing I can recommend is for you to know why you're blogging {goals}, and blog towards those goals. If one is a family history blogger and using their blog as a way to connect and collaborate with their ancestors, then that should be the driving force for their blog posts.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate it! =)

~C

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01/11/2013 18:05

Thanks for posting Caroline. I think I lost you in some of the techno speak though. So basically, what I am getting out of this, every time you put a link to another person's blog in your blog, google penalizes you for this with their search engine. And the more times you do it, the greater the penalty. I still don't understand how putting the image of a blog award on your page affects this though.

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01/11/2013 21:53

Deborah, having a link to someone's blog is not a bad thing nor is it "punished." What Caroline was pointing out about these badge awards is that Google doesn't like it when these badges become numerous and point back and forth to a bunch of the same blogs. Say you get an award and part of the "deal" is that you have to name 10 other blogs. By naming them you would have 10 links in your blog. Then they have a badge and have to link back to you and name 10 other blogs. All these badge links may be interpreted by Google as a blog ring or a blog network where everyone's links point back and forth to one another. This would be something that Google would likely confer a lower score upon.

Hope that helps. But a few judicious links here and there are good to do. Its just that a number of blogs with links primarily between the same blogs may receive a lower score for search results.

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01/11/2013 22:55

Kenneth, thank you. I was just curious because I was given the Liebster award this week. I'm still working on increasing my followers so I don't really want to do anything that would minimize my odds of increasing readership.

01/21/2013 09:30

How long would this lower score last?

Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:56

Deborah,

Kenneth is correct. Linking is very good for your blog as well as the blog you are linking to. Google just wants to make sure that you're naturally linking and that your blog content is helpful.

I've previously written a blog post that covers more about here:

http://www.blogginggenealogy.com/1/post/2012/11/blogging-genealogy-seo.html

I hope this helps! And thank you for stopping by and reading. =)

~C

01/11/2013 18:47

Caroline, estoy totalmente de acuerdo con tus comentarios acerca de las insignias y códigos de premios para blogs. Últimamente hay demasiados premios y muchos blogs, pero siguen siendo premios que simplemente premian que les guste lo que escribes o que premian aparecer de una forma barata en tu blog/web.
Saludos y gracias :)

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 11:08

Sonia,

Muchas gracías. Estoy completamente de acuerdo contigo.

Y muchas gracías por su visíta en BloggingGenealogy.com! =)

~C

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01/11/2013 19:23

I enjoyed reading your post. I was unaware of the change in algorithm, but it makes sense. It's too bad that, like many things, some folks found a way to scam the system. At least Google made some changes. I guess it just depends on what is important to you (quantity vs. quality) and what your goals are.

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:58

Wendy,

Well, successful blogging does depend on goals. Thus, it's important to know why you are blogging. Those goals should drove every blog post. {Or most of them.}

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate it. =)

~C

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01/11/2013 20:31

Wow, live and learn! So somebody back there at the origin of any blog award may be gaming the SEO system but then getting penalized in turn by the updated Google algorithm(s). Geez. How often does Google update their algorithms? This could become quite a chase of updating and gaming, updating more and gaming more . . .

To quote Rosanne Rosannadanna, "It's always somethin.'" In the face of all this, you give good, solid advice about visiting blogs, commenting, and appreciating each other. Creating a community. That's the real value.

Huh. I guess there will always be hustlers. Thanks for your wise experience!

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:52

Mariann, I think the best advice for family history bloggers is to just keep blogging about your ancestors. That's how one is successful in 'catching cousins'.

And you're right. Creating a community on your blog is the best thing.

And I thank you for joining my community here with your insight. I appreciate it. =)

~C

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01/11/2013 22:08

I actually don't like the Blog Awards where you are supposed to nominate ten, or so, other blogs publicly. It's too much like a chain letter. I've often ignored these things. I like when people receive 'awards' for their work but aren't required to pass on the praise. That means picking winners, and unintended losers. Who wants to do that? Seriously, when someone doesn't something worthwhile, praise that person with specific reasons and tell your blog readers to visit that website.

I might be getting off topic, but the point is, I appreciate your post. Your post just added more fuel to my fire keeping me far from the blog award system. Thanks.

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:50

Devon,

Well, the blog awards are given to a person in order to show how much they like your blog, and that's an awesome thing. Writers who write publicly really, really appreciate the feedback.

Personally, I have 3 main blogs with big readerships, and when I get nominated, it's impossible for me to participate with the blog award rules without hurting someone's feelings. And that's the last thing I want to do. Ever.

By the same token, I do not want to hurt my own blog's search engine results. My personal family history blog, Family Stories, has been awesome cousin bait since 2009. Cousins find me there through Google.

And my blog 4YourFamilyStory.com is my business site with a blog. I certainly do not want to jeopardize it in Google Search Results. And this blog, BloggingGenealogy.com is, well, I don't know what it is. I get email all the time that ask me questions about blogging family history specifically, and this is where I answer them as well as where I try to help folks out. It does have some ads on it. {Very little, tho, and I don't make hardly anything off the ads.} But it's meant to be helpful, and at the same time I have some blogging presentations for speaking engagements. SO. It's a business-related blog that contributes to the genealogy community that - I hope - is helpful to the community.

Thanks for joining the conversation, Devon. I appreciate it! =)

~C

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01/11/2013 23:06

The first time I saw these awards, I thought "Oh, how nice!"... but the third time I saw them, I immediately thought... "Whoops - silly chain letter system!" Sigh. Takes away from you getting an award when you're told to send the award on to others. Like Devon Lee above, they feel like a teenager chain letter system. Naivety abounds on the internet. Let's just give specific thanks to specific blog posts.

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:40

Agreed, Celia. Giving a blog award at a certain time only gives some very fleeting traffic to a blog at the time it's given, but visiting someone's blog consistently and interacting with the blog author repeatedly and then also sharing what they write with others on our social networks can really be more helpful to a blogger, new or otherwise.

I appreciate you stopping by, Celia, and chiming in with your insight. As always, it's brilliant. =)

~C

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01/14/2013 15:45

Thanks for this information, Caroline. I wondered why all those awards were showing up in posts and, like Celia, I thought it sounded like a chain letter thing. Good to know what the system is.

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:37

You're welcome, Kathleen. Those who pass it on mean well. And like I mentioned before the Google updates, it didn't really matter why it was being done in the first place.

The best way to help another blogger out is to visit their site and tell them how much you like their blog in their comments and/or share their blog with others.

Thanks for stopping by Kathleen! =)

~C

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01/15/2013 18:17

great blog, as a relatively new blogger, quite an eye opener. thank you

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 11:00

You're welcome, Diane! And welcome to family history blogging! I wish you all the luck and satisfaction that can be obtained from writing about your ancestors. =)

And thank you for stopping by and joining the conversation. =)

~C

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01/16/2013 08:41

Caroline ~ Thank you for this information! It's good to know and I'll certainly remember it in the future! This falls into my live and learn in life lessons!
As you said in the post - awards are given "with a pure heart out of appreciation for your writing and sharing" and we need to remember that, along with your excellent suggestion in handling an award. Great post! THX!

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:35

You're welcome, Cindy. And thank you for stopping by! I appreciate it. =)

~C

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Brenda Leyndyke
01/20/2013 10:08

Wow, never thought of it this way. With all the negativity in the genealogy world these days, negative comments on posts, calling out others in blog posts, etc.; I think a warm fuzzy now and then is nice. Does this same SEO principle apply to 'best of' posts that seem to becoming more prevalent on blogs? I feel some of those are just drawing traffic to their site.

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:25

A compliment is always nice, Brenda. I agree with you. And that's why I suggested some ideas on how to do that without participating in blog awards that have the viral effect to them {where there are 'rules' on passing it on}.

I cannot tell you exactly what the motivations are behind those who do 'best of' lists. I can only guess. If the blogger who does them is not a genealogy business blogger and only is a hobbyist blogger {meaning there is no monetization to their site and/or they do not advertise on their blogs, which is a business model in and of itself}, then I would be led to believe that they do it to pass on the kindness and to be helpful.

If they are a genealogy-related business in some form or fashion, they may be doing it for several reasons at once - to draw traffic to their site as well as to recognize other bloggers. For example, on my blog 4YourFamilyStory.com, I give away helpful information for researchers. {And I give it away here as well.} I do that to be helpful to the community as well as to draw traffic to my site in hopes of increasing business for my research and coaching services. Does that make me a bad person? I hope not. Because I really do want to help people, but I'd like to pay my bills as well. Otherwise, I'd get a job away from my home which wouldn't leave me much time to blog at all.

There is, really, a myriad of reasons why people do what they do on their blogs, and I cannot speak for them.

In other blogging niches, you have only a few hobbyists with blogs while the remainder of blogs are business-oriented {either their blog is their business because they've monetized it with ads, OR it's a blog for their business, which makes it a marketing tool.} In our niche, there are many, many hobbyist blogs out there. Many just blog their family history stories and research {and this blog BloggingGenealogy.com caters to that audience only}. But there are many other genealogy bloggers who turn their blogs into how-to's and tips, news, and there are many who mix all of it together. Then you have those who have a genealogy-related business and they blog on their site. And then you have those who have turned their tips and how-tos blogs into a business by monetizing their site by placing ads onto their sites. And some just mix it all together -personal and business.

I hope I answered your question. I appreciate you stopping by and reading. =)

~C

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:31

Also, Brenda, I wanted to add that linking to other blogs is just fine. In fact, when you do it, it's helpful to you and the person/site that you are linking to. Google wants encourages it when you do it naturally and not when you 'force' it in order to 'game the system'.

To help explain it, I previously wrote a blog post covering linking for family history bloggers:

http://www.blogginggenealogy.com/1/post/2012/11/blogging-genealogy-seo.html

Hope this helps. =)

~C

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01/20/2013 10:16

Caroline: I just started my genealogy blog on December 31, 2012 and I was nominated for an award a week or so ago by a very sincere blogger who inspired me to start my own blog and who invited me to do a guest post on her blog early last year. In fact, she is the one who provided me with the link to your post on awards and SEO! Your post is excellent and I wish I had seen it earlier before I posted my response to my nomination here:

http://filiopietismprism.blogspot.com/2013/01/gobsmacked.html

I very much appreciate having been nominated and took the opportunity to pass on some blogs I have begun following, but I think I would approach participation a bit differently having now read your post. I have no idea if the award originator meant the award as an SEO for her blog, but now that I understand the repercussions (intended or not) I probably will avoid any link backs in the future. Thank you again for you very informative and useful post!!

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:28

John,

Congratulations on the positive feedback on your blog. It's always refreshing and reassuring to get such high praise on your blog, especially when you're just starting out. Keep up the good work.

Thanks for stopping by and reading. I appreciate it. =)

~C

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Caroline Pointer
01/21/2013 10:06

Luane,

If Google penalizes a blog or website, you'll notice by the lower search rankings, and they continue to penalize the site until it changes its problems that are causing Google to penalize it. They don't tell you what you are doing specifically. That's why I linked to the blog post that discusses the dos and don'ts of search engine optimization for mainly businesses and organizations.

If you are a family history blogger blogging about your research, you really don't need to worry about search engine optimization. However, the blog awards with the viral aspect {the 'rules' where you need to pass it on} could negatively affect your search engine rankings. But? If you are not blogging in order to find other researchers of your family lines {possible cousins} and you're not a business or organization, then you really do not need to worry about SEO. At all.

Hope this helps. =)

~C

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03/30/2013 18:44

I blog infrequently at my personal blog, but frequently at my professional blog. I got recommends on my personal blog a couple times a while back, but didn't reciprocate, mainly because I didn't like the idea of leaving people out. So many great bloggers out there, and I learn such alot from them all.

My professional blog has won a couple of awards from magazines, which did seem legit.

I think the "award" thing sounds alot like the #FollowFriday on Twitter that got way out of hand a while back, when people suddenly realised it was "spam" and was being used indiscriminately.

Sx

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04/23/2014 08:22

Thank you very much for this. I really didn't know about it, but i have some knowledge about Blog Awards because of you. Thank you very much for that.

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05/21/2014 04:06

Thanks a lot for this amazing stuff. I really like the way you posted this informative blog.

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06/23/2014 07:36

Blogging is the best form of internet money making methods, All blogger must be aware of the points you shared. Its really awesome and useful one for all bloggers.

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07/18/2014 08:37

Yes very true! Before blogging was really an awesome way of exploring the web with authority. But nowadays the name of bloggers has become an easy crown for anyone who owns a domain! Sad but true!!

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07/25/2014 05:38

Stuff is really true,it creates awareness to many bloggers.

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08/11/2014 03:58

Really impressive points, all bloggers must be aware of this points to make some great money from their blog.

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09/02/2014 02:54

The materialistic is additionally tutored on the most past factors on Google's senior. Analyzing rivalry is additionally among the abilities tutored.

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