Thursday, January 16, 2014

Finding Blogs for Ad Swaps with Google Advanced Search

If you're a new blogger, then I can bet that you're probably looking to increase your blog traffic. There are many ways to accomplish this, but one of the best ways to benefit your blog and build a network is through advertising.

For some of us, advertising on other blogs may not be an affordable option. Luckily, there's a simple solution! You can easily swap ads with other blogs, oftentimes those of the same niche, with a similar number of followers. By doing this you create a mutually beneficial relationship: their readers see your ad on their blog, your readers see their ad on yours, and you both increase your potential for blog traffic. It's not a difficult concept.

What can prove to be quite difficult, if you're DIYing it or even using a free advertising service, is finding a blog that's willing to swap ads with you. Luckily, I have a solution for this, too. (I'm such a problem-solver, I know...) All you really need is access to Google and a little bit of patience.

Go to Google and perform an advanced search. You can do this by clicking on the "Options" button, a little gear icon to the far right of the screen (under your Google+ info), and selecting "Advanced Search" from the drop-down menu. Of course, Google doesn't make this easy for you. You'll have to run a search in order for this menu to make itself available.

This is Google Advanced Search. This is where the magic happens.

If this menu is intimidating to you, relax. I'll explain. The menu is broken into two parts. We'll start with the first: "Find pages with..."

But first, let's discuss this step. You'll often see that blogs have a whole page dedicated to advertising, whether it be selling ads, swapping them, or both. This is often labeled as the "Sponsor" page. What we are searching for, essentially, are various bloggers' sponsor-related pages. Therefore, we are going to search for pages that contain either the word "sponsor" or the words "ad swap" by filling in the "any of these words:" section with the following:

Because "ad swap" is two words, you'll have to put them in quotation marks. This way Google knows that you're only looking for pages with those two words together in that specific order. In this case, it will return pages with those two words, OR pages that contain the word "sponsor".

You're halfway done now, but these search terms aren't going to pinpoint you directly to other blogs. This is where the second part of the search menu comes in handy - the narrowing of results.

To narrow your results to only search for blogs, scroll down to the text field labeled "site or domain:". This is where it may get a bit tricky...

It would be beneficial to start by searching for blogs within your own domain or blog host, to increase chances of finding a blog that is using compatible ad options. For me, that would mean entering "" into the box, but there are many other popular blog domains that you might want to search within, such as Wordpress or LiveJournal. I highly recommend associating with blogs on other platforms as well, in order to broaden your horizons as much as possible. So, once you've completed this search and exhausted all of your options, try it again, but with a different blog domain each time.

You might narrow your search results further by selecting the "terms appearing:" drop-down menu and selecting "in the title of the page" rather than "anywhere on the page". This will result in pages or posts that specifically mention the words "sponsor" or "ad swap" in the title.

The best way to widen the number of blogs you'll find is to try out different combinations of search terms and see the results for yourself.

But wait! There's more!

Perhaps you use a specific ad service for your blog, and you're looking for other blogs that use the same advertising service, because it's just frickin' easier that way. AdProval, for example, gives each user a snippet of code to add to your blog's advertisement sales page, and each code includes a link back to the AdProval site that reads "Powered by AdProval". Therefore, if you want to return only sponsor-related pages that are also utilizing AdProval, all you have to do is enter "Powered by AdProval" into the Find pages with... "all these words:" section, as seen below.

To skip the Advanced Search steps in the future, you could easily just type "Powered by Adproval" (quotation marks included) in the search bar on the Google search page and return the same results.

Speaking of which, to the right of the text entry areas you'll see that Google has laid out the shortcuts to perform all of these searches without accessing the Advanced menu. Take note of these; they'll make searches like these even easier once you learn to utilize them!

From here, it's up to you! It may take a bit of browsing to find blogs that fall into your niche and also use your advertising platform. When you find them, you'll be able to use those blogs' ads to find more and more blogs, until you've built your network.

Feel free to comment if you have any questions regarding this tutorial! Thanks for reading and best of luck to you in your blogging journey!

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