Backlinks are the lifeblood of SEO and Ping.fm can help you get them. This system is (as far as I know), exclusive to this blog for now (If I ever start my own blog about blogging I’ll probably discuss it there as well) since I created it myself. This is a way to build as many as 30 backlinks to your blog or website each and every time you post an update.
What is Ping.fm?
Okay, let’s start with the basics here. Ping.fm is a site which allows you to automatically update a large number of social networks and bookmarking sites all at one time. Some of the more popular ones are Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Buzz, Plurk, MySpace, WordPress and Blogger. There are actually around 30 networks in total that they support.
Now before you go rushing off to sign up for Ping.fm, stick around for a bit as there are a few additional things you should know.
Different Types of Sites
Ping.fm supports a large number of types of sites. These include everything from micro blogging services like Twitter and Plurk to standard blogging services such as Blogger and WordPress.com. They do this by offering you three options for the kind of material that goes out to each of these places.
You can choose “micro blogs,” “status updates” and “blogs.” Each one posts something different, though I’m not really clear why there is a difference between micro blogs and status updates, except for the fact that you may want to actually choose updates or statuses
I.e. you may want to post an update to your facebook account saying that you’re excited because it’s your anniversary, but you don’t want that being published on Twitter, where you tweet only for your professional audience.
For our purposes, you can just stick with status updates and blogs.
Now, the cool thing with Ping.fm is that you can group your services into various sections. You can create a group called “microblogs” for example and add in Twitter, Plurk, Facebook status updates, Jaiku, etc. Another group which might be called “blogs” could include Facebook notes, Blogger, WordPress.com and Tumblr.
Creating groups lets you choose what kind of content each one gets. This is very important as I’ll explain in a moment when I offer you my twist on using Ping.fm for maximum backlink advantage.
I actually use four of them in order to customize my content depending on where it’s going.
How I Came Up With This Idea
I had been looking at a WordPress plugin called WP Syndicator which sends out an excerpt from your blog every time you post to around 10 networks or so. The thing is, the price seemed expensive to me (I ended up getting a copy anyway when it went on sale and I’ll explain why later in this post) so I went looking for a free alternative.
There are two services that do something similar – one is Ping.fm and the other is HelloTXT. I had looked for a plugin that would work with one or the other and came across a plugin originally written for Ping.fm but which had been ported to HelloTXT when Ping.fm changed their system and the plugin was broken.
Sadly, it turned out that the HelloTXT plugin didn’t work properly either and, to make matters worse, HelloTXT itself seems to be really buggy and I had tweets and posts that never went out from there. So, I ended up using Ping.fm. However, I decided to try something different than what WP Syndicator does.
The Easy Way to Extra Backlinks
Okay, basically, what WP Syndicator did for me was to let me send out a post to around 10 or 12 assorted services and then to include a link back to my blog. The post would be an excerpt from my blog post.
Now, if you want to do something similar with Ping.fm, you can do this very easily by a simple copy and paste. Just copy your title and the first 50-100 words of your post, add in “Read more here” and then append your URL. The whole process can be done in around 20 seconds flat when you post a blog post. I don’t do that.
What I do is to spend an extra 2-3 minutes and write a blurb which is around 50-60 words of unique content which explains what my post is about. Then, I append the “Read more here” and the link.
The reason I do this is twofold:
First, when people actually see that blurb, it’s a complete, self contained blurb which doesn’t cut off mid sentence or mid thought. It’s an ad for my blog post which entices people to want to read more.
Second, Google doesn’t particularly like to index duplicate content. I’m after backlinks and as such, I want Google to see my social network blurbs as unique content rather than just an excerpt of my blog.
If I was really ambitious, I’d create multiple groups and send out spun versions of my blurb for maximum backlink value, however I feel as if that’s already too much effort.
Additional Set Up (Unique to Me, But I Think It Works Best)
I do however differentiate between the micro blogging services and the blog services so that the micro blogs get the title with perhaps a few words more and short link while the blogs get the full blurb.
I also have two additional groups, one just for Facebook so that I can send the blurb out without a title (it looks better in the status updates) and another for “tweets” which sends to Facebook as well. I have another called “tweetblog” which send to every other micro blogging service except Facebook so I can send out a blog note to the tweetblog group and a tweet to the tweets group and of course, I have one just for blog posts to places like WordPress.com, Blogger, Tumblr, etc..
Extra Cool Features
A final note about using Ping.fm to build backlinks for yourself: there are some extra cool features you should be aware of which are poorly documented. First, you can specify a title to be used for blogging services. For non blogging services, the title will simply appear first within the text. The way you to do is to add a ^ to the end of your title.
Another feature I love is the ability to selectively add hashtags to your posts. I tweet regularly and have my tweets also appear on my Facebook page and other services which don’t recognize hashtags. By appending your posts with @t and then listing your hashtags, Ping.fm will put up hashtags on Twitter but not elsewhere. This makes for a cleaner look when sending such material.
Finally, within the Ping.fm site, you can also set it to automatically shorten URLs for you using one of several services (I don’t do this – I use my own so that it’s unique to me and I know my short URLs won’t go anywhere if Bit.ly our Ow.ly go belly up as TinyURL did).
For those who are truly lazy and don’t want to be bothered with visiting the Ping.fm website to post an excerpt to your blog post, you can use dlvr.it to send out such posts automatically using your RSS feed. The catch of course is that it just posts whatever is in the feed so you lose out on the cool features above.
Finally, for those who would like to use Ping.fm to schedule when their tweets and comments about their blog appear (I often write blog posts in the middle of the night since it’s quiet, but I want the notice about it to appear midday the next day so that more people will see it), you can use another free service called Hoot Suite to schedule your updates.
Now, I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about WP Syndicator. I think it’s an awesome plugin because it automates this more than anything else. Plus, it offers some additional services which Ping.fm doesn’t support such as Xanga, so, when it went on sale a week or two ago, I bought a copy and use that as well as my Ping.fm system for maximum backlinking potential.