This post is about the day when I received the notification from Google that every blogger dreads, and what I found when I completed a total blog audit of Mum’s the Boss.

So a few months ago, I received the fateful email from Google Search Console Team

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In a nutshell they believe that there are unnatural dofollow links on Mum’s the Boss, and my site is now being penalised on Google because of it. The remedy proposed is for me to complete a full blog audit, remove all the offending links and then resubmit the site for consideration.

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Auditing my blog – photos by Shutterstock

I’m going to be honest – I wasn’t entirely surprised.  maybe a bit surprised that they found me as I naively considered that I was a bit small to be noticed on the Google radar.  But yes, honestly, I did know what they were talking about.

Dofollow links are frowned upon

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When I started blogging (years ago), the whole dofollow/nofollow links thing wasn’t so big, and yes, like so many other bloggers I made some money by promoting links to other sites in blog posts and elsewhere. And then of course I purchased Mum’s the Boss, which came to me with three years of prewritten blogs, which of course I didn’t go through and edit with a fine tooth comb….

Even after Google became quite clear on what their expectations were, I still carried on a bit, partly out of laziness, and partly because I didn’t like the fact that some big corporation could tell me what to do with my blog.  Once or twice, or maybe a bit more than that, I may have stuck two fingers up to Google and their ‘stupid rules’….

But now they have spotted me and so the mammoth blog audit had to be done.  I needed to look through 700+ posts and weed out the grotty links to make my site pure and wholesome again.  And once it was done, I need to promise to be a good girl in future.

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Once I made up my mind to do that audit I decided to do it properly.  I took my trusty Yoast SEO plugin, and decided that as I visited each post I would give it a complete SEO makeover.  I decided to chuck away posts that were no longer relevant, add and edit images and tags as necessary, decide on a keyword for each post and check on its density and so on.

Auditing your blog – the bad and the ugly

The blog audit has been a bit of a chore I have to say.  I set myself the target of 10 posts a day, and generally did a bit more than that.

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I’d love to say I spent thelast five weeks sitting in a coffee shop idly reading, but it wasn’t quite like that.

And do you know what, I made some really interesting discoveries, and I think my blog is now better as a result.

  • First of all I found quite a few posts that were completely outdated, or just a bit naff, and I threw them in the dustbin.
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  • Sadly, but inevitably when you write about small business, I found quite a few posts where the person linked to was no longer in business, so for the most part those posts went in the bin too and/or I removed the link.
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  • I found quite a lot of pictures which weren’t showing properly on the blog, so I removed them, updated them and added in a whole lot of new pictures in some cases.
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  • And then of course, I found a whole lot of what I was looking for – unnatural dofollow links, the vast majority of which I weeded out

Some unexpected good stuff

I wasn’t looking forward to the blog audit at all – it seemed like a horrible chore picking through everything and changing so many blooming links. But over the course of several weeks, reading and paying attention to every little post on my blog, I slowly started to realise a few things.

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First and most important of all , I realised that there is a lot of really good content on my blog, written by me and a whole lot of other talented people.  When I finished tinkering with some posts I sent them round on social media, and they are still worth a read even now. Others I unpublished and moved them into drafts because I am going to add to them and send them round again in the future.

Some posts gave me a smile, some gave me a lift, some contained really good advice.  Before long I started to look forward to my daily 10 posts.

 

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As things progressed I realised a bit more.  I started to get much more of a flavour of what this blog is actually about, what I am about, the message I am trying to get across to people, and a bit more of an idea of my brand voice.  I realised that over the last couple of years I had lost my way a bit – posted a whole load of stuff which doesn’t really fit with my core mission and purpose. Suddenly the auditing job became so much easier, because I could spot the rubbish a mile off and it was easier to dump it because I knew much more what I was looking for.

 

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By the end of my blog audit I am down from 750 published posts to about 430, and I am really pleased with the posts that are left.  I have huge numbers of drafts and ideas for where I am going with this blog next, and lots of plans for topics to write about, updating information that was great when it was written, but just needs to be brought up to date.  I’m going to bring in some more experts and profile some more wonderful mumpreneurs because their perspectives are amazing too.

Collaboration is the name of the game

Collaboration is the name of the game

I don’t feel a need to add unnatural links any more – I know exactly what this site is about now, and will only be linking (and mainly nofollow) to genuine, on topic sites.

As I write this I have resubmitted my site to Google and I hope that I have done enough to be reconsidered. But whatever happens I feel that Google have done me a really big favour.  By forcing me to take stock of my blog, they have allowed me to rediscover my purpose and to fall in love with my business all over again.

 

Have you ever considered doing an audit of your blog?  I’d love to hear your experiences below.  And if yours needs doing but you need some help with it, then please get in touch.