Indie Virus: 14 Days of Link Love

On its 13th birthday (that’s days, not years), The Indie Virus achieved its third significant milestone – 100+ results in Technorati’s search. Let’s take a look at some of the other stats and issues that have come about during week two of the very-contagious Indie Virus experiment.

Exponential Growth on the Horizon?

Although it pains me to do so, I have to open up with a rant about Technorati. When I launched The Indie Virus, Technorati said that I had 91 links from 35 sites. Today, after two weeks of coughing, linking, and spreading blerms (that’s blog germs), I have…drumroll please…91 links from 35 sites.

*cough*

Okay, so somebody needs to go slap the rankings guy for me. In 4 months of Technorati slummin’, I don’t recall this long of a period without a rank update, but I’m sure some of you more experienced users out there will be able to set me straight on that. Regardless, I’m a metrics whore, and I really don’t see why this isn’t a higher priority at Technorati. You know, especially since it’s what I want, and well, it’s all about me.

Alright, so at the end of week one, a search for the phrase “Indie Virus” indicated 38 results. Today, that same search returns 111 results, and I’m thinking that this could be indicative of exponential growth. I’ve seen an awful lot more outbound links from people who’ve received the virus this week than I did in week one, and unless the new virus recipients react differently than everyone else who’s gotten infected, then I have no doubts that week 3 will probably push us to amazing new heights. The accompanying graph shows the number of posts mentioning “The Indie Virus” over the past couple of weeks, so you can use that to gauge next week’s progress.

What I’m Seeing

After week one, I reported that I had received 19 links from 11 sites (specifically re: the virus) since launching The Indie Virus. After week two, those numbers have ballooned to an estimated 43 links from 32 sites, and I know for a fact that Technorati has been slow on reporting some inbound linkage (read: that’s a lowball).

The linkage has been good; the commentary has been good; and I’ve gotten 6 trackbacks in the last week alone. Of course, I’ve also gotten the traffic boost that you might expect from this sort of thing, but there’s been a bit of a twist. The growth here at Pearsonified has been sustained instead of being just a flukish spike, and I oughta know, because I’ve had a couple of those since January. I am confident that I’ve gained some readers throughout the course of the experiment, and from a personal standpoint, that’s the most rewarding thing that’s happened thus far.

Hell, a Technorati search for “Chris Pearson” even turns up 189 posts at this point. I have no idea what it was before The Indie Virus, but I’m betting it was sub 50 fa sho’.

Indie Virus: Making a Difference

While I’ve championed the merits of The Indie Virus over the past two weeks, I still felt as though it would be a fleeting phenomenon thanks to the fact that it’s only based on communication and transference between blogs. Happily, I may have been wrong about that :)

Cesar Gonzalez, who contracted the virus from Yaro Starak, has really been smitten with The Indie Virus, and yesterday, he put up a priceless entry on the DoFollow plugin for WordPress. For those of you who aren’t as well-versed in the world of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and linking, I’ll try and give you a brief overview of what this is and why it’s important.

The default configurations for both WordPress and MovableType contain the phrase rel="nofollow" in the commenters’ links. That phrase “hides” links from search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and as a result, your 5000 comments across the blogosphere aren’t doing a damn thing for your site’s rankings or overall SEO. Unless, of course, you could somehow coerce all those people into removing the rel="nofollow" tag from their templates…

Now, if we take a step back for a minute and remember what The Indie Virus is about, then this should all start to make a heck of a lotta sense:

To bring exposure to lesser known blogs (especially those outside of Technorati’s top 100)

Well, how do we do that? We link the bejeezuz out of one another by passing around the Indie Virus like a doobie at Woodstock, and as a concomitant bit of goodness, we do whatever we can to help out our collective status in the search engine rankings. Page rank and linkage are two HUGE components of power in the blogosphere, and now we have the ability to significantly affect both.

Alright, so back to the WordPress DoFollow plugin, which removes the rel="nofollow" tag from your comments. By removing that tag, you are basically giving your commenters some “Google juice” just by virtue of their contribution to your site – a fair deal by anyone’s estimation, much less my own.

Nofollows began out of necessity for fighting off spam. Obviously, if phishers and spammers knew that they could kick SEO butt just by commenting relentlessly, they’d have half of India plugging away on every blog from here to cyber-Tahiti. I realize the potential negative here, and I understand perfectly that it would probably be bad for the blogosphere if everyone turned off their nofollows. Then again, I’m not really asking everyone to do it…

I’m just asking you. :)

This weekend, I’m going to remove the nofollows from my comment links, and that way you’ll get the Google juice you deserve when you visit my site. I’m sure I’ll have to fight off some spam here and there, but screw it – the ends justify the means. You should do it, too. It’ll be the first big tangible to come out of the Indie Virus. Think of it as burning your bra, weblog style.

If you have WordPress, just go and download the DoFollow plugin.

If you have MovableType, you’ll have to pull up your “Individual Archive Template” and manually remove the tag rel="nofollow" from the comments portion of that template.

Ah, and if you toss your nofollows into the circular file, send a trackback to this post and let the world know that you’ve done so!

Oh yeah, I made a boo boo

So yeah, when I changed my design, I also changed my file structure from HTML to PHP. Oops. That little number screwed up a lot of the inbound links to the introductory post of The Indie Virus. If you can change your links from ___post_name_here___.html to ___post_name_here___.php, that’d be huge, but if not – no worries. I’ll add a link at the top of all affected posts to direct people to the new files.

Happy linking! Ya gotta love where this is goin!