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37 Tips for Optimizing Blogs and Feeds – SES New York

Posted on Mar 14th, 2009
Written by Lee Odden
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     SES New York AudienceAs a preview to one of the 3 sessions I’m speaking on at SES New York next week (March 23-27) I bring you this interview with my co-panelists Michael Gray of Atlas Web Services, Sally Falkow of Expansion Plus, Michel Leconte of SEO Samba and moderator Rebecca Lieb Lieb, VP of U.S. operations for Econsultancy, for the Blog and Feed SEO session.

    These are specific, practical questions and answers about optimizing both blogs and feeds for better search performance from some of the smartest blog and Feed SEO experts on the web. 

    If you’re a Twitter fan, please ReTweet: 37 Tips for optimizing blogs and feeds:

    Please share 3 practical SEO tips business blogs should implement:

    Rebecca Lieb: 

    • Have a content strategy, and arrange it around your topic/focus. A blog isn’t a one-off, it’s an ongoing project and you need to populate it with relevant content on an ongoing basis. 
    • Don’t forget to optimize images, video and audio files with relevant, keyword-rich metadata. They’re content, too! 
    • Don’t forget to link – outbound links beget inbound links!

    Michel Leconte:  Here are three things I’d consider for you to help build traffic and ranking:  

    • Add automatically deep links to your RSS feed footer by using RSS Footer
    • Set your feedburner options to optimize click tracking for SE rankings / Use Mybrand services  or  Pingshot.
    • Invite contributors to participate in your blog, and play the news game; set the right folder/article url/xml newsmap structure, and submit your articles to Google News.

    Sally Falkow:

    • Keep your overall SEO strategy in mind – put keywords in your blog posts. 
    • Make sure your feed is operational and that you have the autodiscover code for the feed in place.
    • Create original content that engages your audience – content they can’t get anywhere else.

    Michael Gray:

    • Write clear KWD rich titles like “How to Plan a Las Vegas Vacation” not clever ones like “My Top 10 Must Sees When Descending into Sin City”. 
    • Be timely and go with current events, write about tax issues in March and April not September and October. 
    • Engage the community with open ended posts or questions.

    What are a few of the most common mistakes you see bloggers make when it comes to SEO?

    Sally Falkow:  Not following an SEO strategy – just blogging without a plan

    Michael Gray:

    • Category and URL structure most people make it much more complicated than it needs to be with years, months, days, and categories all in the URL, stick with one, I happen to prefer categories. 
    • Don’t abuse and stuff categories and tags, try to set it up so posts are only in one category and have a few tags.

    Rebecca Lieb: 

    • Not paying attention to relevant keywords. I mean, don’t go overboard and write in all keywords, all the time. But have  an idea what keywords people user to find your area of coverage and use them not only in body copy, but in headlines, too. 
    • Business blogs must allow comments. There are plenty of unidirectional communications channels, but your blog shouldn’t be one of them.

    Michel Leconte:

    • Not having your own domain 
    • Using theme templates that subordinates content to navigation making it difficult to index 
    • URL not aligned with the blog post’s title

    What are some of the best link building tactics for blogs?

    Michael Gray:

    • Detailed “How to” or problem solving posts. Not everyone will ever need a well thought out and written “how to hang wallpaper” post with pictures and videos, but lots of people will like it, bookmark it and link to it. 
    • Be exceptional, exceptionally funny, exceptionally insightful, exceptionally opionated, exceptionally anything works. You’ll never stand out in the crowd if you’re afraid to stand up, be noticed and rock the boat a little.

    Michel Leconte:  In my opinion, creating compelling, timely content is the best “catalyst” for link building. 

    • Be passionate and opinionated
    • Follow the news cycle 
    • Network with other bloggers to attain a critical mass of readers interested in your subject matter

    Rebecca Lieb: 

    • Don’t be stingy. Link, and you will be linked back to – eventually.  
    • Don’t forget to link relevant text. Don’t say “you can read more about it here,” but rather “this interview with John Doe is useful.” Adding context to a link helps readers and search engines alike. 
    • Create a good old-fashioned blog roll. 
    • Don’t forget to build your own links – link between your Web site and your blog in both directions.

    Sally Falkow:  Great content!  Find other bloggers who cover the subject and offer them exclusive, interesting content.

    Please explain how RSS plays into improving search engine rankings & visibility

    Michel Leconte:  As David Gilbraith puts it, Search Engines seek to answer three questions; how relevant, how fresh and how much. RSS helps answer the how fresh question by design; it is therefore well-adapted to dialogue with search engines. RSS also helps gain link currency and traffic from deep links. It takes some time to monitor and makes sure everyone plays along when syndicating your content, but it’s worth it. Finally, work on distribution and usability, with one click subscriptions/auto-discovery/RSS directories/Email subscription, full text and snippet format, and a limited set of meaningful content options.

    Rebecca Lieb: RSS is an SEO dream – links, syndication, feeds into news and Web sites. IF SEO is about getting your content “out there,” RSS is like getting it out there on the bullet train.

    Michael Gray:  By publishing full feeds you will keep your users happier and grow faster. By embeding links in your posts and RSS feeds you build links back to your site from the people who like to scrape full feeds.

    Sally Falkow:  RSS is like the blood vessels of the Internet.  They carry the content and make it easily seen and read by others

    Search engines like RSS Feeds.  So your content gets seen and indexed faster.  Also when you syndicate content with links in it, the RSS Feed makes it available to other sites.  When your content appears on those  sites the links point back to you.

    Bonus Blog SEO Question and Tip: 

    Michael Gray:  There isn’t a magic number of posts you need to make per day, week or month, but there is a magic number of quality posts you have to make and that’s at least one. Quality over quantity will always keep the readers of your blog engaged and coming back for more.

    Michel Leconte:  Will RSS replace Web crawling by search engines one day?  

    Web crawling is very inefficient. Crawling with the hope of finding something new is kind of a depressing idea to me. It makes me think of the last time I was looking for a specific shirt in my closet.  One of the reasons why that WordPress and other blogging platforms took off was their ability to ping search engines to quickly make it into the index. RSS delivers only fresh content/data at the time of publishing, which makes a lot of sense from a scalability stand point. With improved standards, RSS will have a bigger say in the future of search engine, rankings, and obviously optimizing these rankings.

    Sally Falkow:  How can RSS feeds ‘socialize’ your content?

    If you content remains on your site it is static and gets seen by only your visitors. Once it is in a feed it is seen by bloggers, other sites, search engines, news and feed aggregators.  These other websites all have their own visitors.  They see your content on other sites and many of them will save and share your content into sites like digg, stumbleupon, twitter etc.  This gives more visibility and build more links.

    Rebecca Lieb:  I’m going to lob that question back to the readers. If you’ve got something to say, and you want it to be found online, why wouldn’t you incorporate blogs and feeds into an SEO strategy?

    Thank you Rebecca, Michaeal, Sally and Michel, great info! 

    You’ll get a lot more information on Blog and feed optimization than this at the upcoming Search Engine Strategies conference in New York.  If you’re not registered for SES New York, get on it here. 

    Special SES New York Discount!!!

    For Online Marketing Blog Readers, SES has graciously extended a 15% discount for conference attendance. Just use this code when registering: NY15TRR