A blog is one of the best and easiest ways to generate fresh, up to date content for your site as well as link love. Good, quality content naturally attracts links, but there are ways to optimize your blog to get the biggest bang for your buck.
What is a blog? Short for web log, a blog is a content management system, basically an interactive web site that allows you to create and post content through a web-based control panel. Rather than create a web page and upload it, you just log into your blog control panel and write articles and post them. They are live immediately and readers can post comments so that it is a more interactive experience for the visitor.
For some, a blog can completely replace a traditional web site.
And, one of the great features of a blog is the built-in RSS feed that visitors can subscribe to for keeping up with your new content. An RSS feed is commonly referred to as “Really Simple Syndication” and it does just what the name suggests – it allows your blog articles and news to be automatically retrieved by user feed readers (like Google Reader, MyYahoo, BlogLines, etc.) all over the world as you post them. The distribution potentially drives traffic, deep links and popularity to your blog which can help with your rankings. Pretty cool, huh?
As with your blog, there are also some ways to maximize your RSS feed, too.
Bottom line – if you don’t have a blog, get one now!
So, as a follow-up to my S E O 101 post which recommends a blog as a way to enhance your site’s optimization, here are a few tips to get you going with your blog and feed campaign. The plugins (small prgrams that add features to your blog, usually free) mentioned are specifically for the free self-hosted version of WordPress, probably the most popular blog platform currently used, but the concepts apply to all blogs.
1. Use full text in your RSS feed. It is common to just include the first paragraph or two (a summary) in what goes out in the feed and then insert a “More” link to get the reader to go to your blog. That diminishes your ability to get back links from services like TechMeMe because any links below the “More” won’t appear. Use the full text. Don’t worry about your feed being duplicate content. According to Rick Klau, formerly of Feedburner and now with Google, a feed in itself will never be considered duplicate content.
2. Optimize the text in the RSS feed just like you should with your posts and web pages. Use descriptive, keyword rich text in your title and description.
3. RSS feeds with podcasts and video enclosures will get you into additional RSS directories and engines. Be sure to use show notes for your podcasts and videos, though. Remember, search engines love text and can’t yet pull content from multimedia files.
4. Include tag clouds on pages. Tag clouds are basically keywords from posts on your blog that are linked to a search results page on your blog that include all articles related to the keyword. Let’s say the word that shows up in the “cloud” (basically just a list) is “widgets” and you click on it. You’ll get a page showing all posts on your blog that are tagged with the “widgets” tag. To produce tag clouds, Ultimate Tag Warrior, a free plugin for WordPress, can be used.
5. Use a Related Posts plugin. Crosslinking to related posts on your blog helps with your internal linking, making keyword rich anchor text more prominent on your blog as well as helping your visitors navigate your site. Use a related posts plugin for WordPress like Contextual Related Posts.
6. Top Ten Posts with links. This can be automated with yet another plugin that automates the process of deciding which posts get clicked on the most and placing a list on your blog for visitors (and spiders) to see and follow. Popularity Contest is a good WordPress plugin for this.
7. Add Technorati tags to your posts. Technorati tracks blogs and social media and tagging your posts can help spread the word about your content. Go to Technorati, register for an account (it’s free) and claim your blog as your own. A nice plugin to help automate the placement of Technorati tags on your blog is Simple Tags.
8. Optimize your TITLE. Don’t just let your blog software automatically create the TITLE for your post by pulling the text out of your post heading. Customize and optimize it. The S E O TITLE Tag plugin is perfect for WordPress. And, just like with any web page TITLE, put your company name or the name of the blog at the END (if you must include it at all). Unless you are Coca Cola or Microsoft, NOBODY will be searching for it. Sorry…
9. Make posts sticky. By using a “sticky post” plugin, you can create keyword rich content that will stay at the top of a category page, for instance, rather than moving down as additional content is posted. I am currently using WP Sticky.
10. Create Sitemaps. The search engines can follow your RSS feed sitemap just like they can follow one for a normal web site. Create sitemaps for each category RSS feed and tell the search engines about them, either by pointing to them in your robots.txt file or by submitting them to Yahoo Site Explorer or Google Webmaster Central.
11. Use Feedburner. Feedburner offers a ton of free features that can add to your blog’s optimization and marketing efforts, including stats, post e-mail notifications, the ability to include Flickr photo posts and much more. Recently bought by Google, features that were previously paid services like MyBrand are now free.
12. Use Optional Excerpts. When you make a post, WordPress will grab some text to display on your category page and in your feed (if you aren’t using a full feed as described above). Unfortunately, it doesn’t always grab good text. Using the Optional Excerpts feature in WordPress, you can type in the exact keyword rich, topical text that you want displayed.
13. Domain name – In a nutshell, if you think having your blog on a separate domain from, say, your business, will give you more authority and street credit then go for it. It boils down to a choice of mydomain.com/blogname or blogname.com.
14. Use the Update Service built into WordPress. This is in the Options menu and all you do is place a list of URLs to different services like Feedster, Netgator, Technorati, etc. and whenever you make a post, those services will be notified. You can find a list of the services at WordPress Update Service.
15. CEO blogging – priceless! If you are running a business, particularly a consumer driven business, get your CEO blogging! CEO influence on a blog is incredible as this is the VOICE of the company. And, responding to reader comments will cause your credibility to skyrocket!
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
This should get you started in your blog optimization. This article is intended as a companion piece to S E O 101 and will be updated periodically.
I go into more detail in my S E O 101 workshop, offered to web site owners and small businesses. Check my blog at http://www.weboptimist.com for more information or contact me to set up a custom workshop for your business group of five or more people in the Palm Springs area of Southern California. Travel is possible for large groups.
[tags]blog, WordPress, Technorati, optimize, rss, plugins, seo, beginner[/tags]