Blog & Feeds Search SEO
So a little change of plans, hope you don’t mind. I was planning on attending today’s Usability & SEO session, but at the last minute I found myself being mysteriously drawn into the Blog & Feed Search SEO panel instead. Maybe it’s because I’m a blogger by trade.
Detlev Johnson is acting as moderator for speakers Amanda Watlington (Searching for Profit), Stephan Spencer (Netconcepts) and Rick Klau (Feedburner).
Amanda says 2007 will be the year of RSS. She attributes this to the launch of IE7 (I quietly chuckled), which she says will make RSS accessible to everyone, not just the tech savvy. She notes that people will not even realizing they are using an RSS feed, something we’ve mentioned before.
RSS distributes content and drives traffic to Web sites. Amanda calls it the plumbing of the Web. That’s hot.
She notes that before you start building your feeds, you should ask yourself several important questions:
- How many feeds are appropriate for your company?
- How much content is needed to keep the feed fresh and attractive?
- How much of each content piece should be included in the feed?
- Will the feed include multi-media content, audio and video?
- How to propagate the feeds both initially and on update? (Prepare the ping!)
- How to measure the performance of the feeds?
- How can you monetize it?
Once you can answer these questions, it’s time to optimize.
One part of blog optimization is optimizing content. This includes building keyword lists to identify the terms you want to include in your posts. Keywords can be used to focus categories, in blogrolls, in anchor text, in headlines, etc.
Amanda outlined five steps to creating powerful keyword rich content:
- Write the post.
- Review your keyword research list for keywords applicable to the content you have just written. Narrow your focus on just a few keywords per post.
- Include a keyword in your headline.
- Review the body of your post. Look for places where you can include other keywords.
- Check the anchor text to make sure you’re targeting terms there as well.
I want to stress the importance of NOT stuffing your blog post with keywords. The purpose of a blog post is to start or add to a conversation. If you get overly concerned with keywords, your friendly, informative blog post will start to sound like a press release. Would you subscribe to read a press release?
Blogging is about the free giving of links (unless you’re a Scoble) and sharing information. As someone who loves blogs and blogging, I’d ask you not to taint that.
If you want to bring traffic to your blog, the best thing you can do is to join the discussion and let people know you’re out there. Notify other blogs of your existence by commenting on their blogs or dropping them an email. Better yet, get yourself to a conference and say hello. I’ve met so many great people this week and discovered blogs I never knew existed (and hopefully some people found us too!). People are far more likely to link to you if they know you.
Amanda also suggests hosting your blog on a separate domain and linking between your site and the blog. I don’t necessarily agree with her on that, but I’ll leave that to you.
Other ways to ramp up traffic include getting your content or feeds syndicated in other publications (SiteProNews does this quite a bit), use full text feeds instead of snippets, increase the items in your feeds from 10 to 20, highlight the popular posts and chestnuts on your blog, publish your feed as an HTML page or as a podcast, and, if all else fails, publish headlines from your blog on your MySpace page. I know, I know, but it might work.
Once your blog is optimized, you have to make sure your RSS feed is optimized as well. Make sure you’re using keywords in the feed title. Write your descriptions as if you’re writing for a directory. Use full paths on links and unique URLs for each item. Include images to help brand recognition. Build a keyword theme for your feed.
Once these things are done, be sure to measure your blogs traffic. Sites like Technorati (which I get intravenously at this point), FeedBurner and FeedCraft can help you stay on top of this.
If you’re interested in monetizing your blog, you need to make sure you’re ad-ready. Know your readership, make sure your template is ready, clean up your content, sharpen your editorial focus, and join an ad network.
Stephan Spencer discussed the various blog search engines.
Like with traditional search, there are only a handful of blog search engines worth noting: Yahoo! News & Blog Search, Google Blog Search, Technorati, Feedster, and PubSub.
There are several things you can do to better your chances at getting your blog listed in these engines.
First, consider tweaking internal hierarchical linking structure. Use tag clouds & tag pages to make it easier for the engines to find your content. Include links to related posts. Start a Top 10 posts section (Friday Recap section, anyone?). And include links to next & previous posts (using keywords in your title!) to help the engines find their way through your blog.
Work at building inbound links. Going back to the joining the conversation thing, try to get on other bloggers blogrolls.
Don’t forget to optimize your Title tags. Your blog name should be at END of the title, not the beginning. Overwrite title tags with custom ones.
Some other tips to keep in mind:
- Rewrite URLs to contain keywords.
- Use hyphens, not underscores.
- If necessary, 301 redirect from yourblog.com to www.yourblog.com.
- Maintain legacy URLs even after switching blog platforms.
- Always use keyword-rich anchor text.
- Create sticky posts to serve as a keyword-rich introduction to all your category pages.
- Make it easy for users to subscribe to your blog.
- Include 1-click buttons that allow users to easily add your feed to their favorite aggregator.
- Get in the habit of pinging the blog engines when you have fresh content.
The most importance thing to take away from this panel is that feeds aren’t just coming from blogs. They’re being used for podcasts, video blogs, Web services, retail outlets and in areas you haven’t yet even realized.