I caught an interesting seminar today called “SEO Through Blogs and Feeds” with Stephen Spencer, Rick Klau, Doug Hay and Greg Jarboe on the panel. The following are my point by point notes that stood out as noteworthy. Some of these tips are mirrored in my 3 part tutorial on blogging called Blogs 101 but as always some great new tips popped up.

Key Tips
For those in a rush or who have already read my blogs 101 article the following tips are very worthwhile reading – if just for their importance as reminders:

  • It is extremely important that RSS auto-discovery tags be placed in the header of every page within a website that has feeds available. By doing so you will provide users and search engines alike with a simple method of being notified that you have RSS feed(s) and it will allow immediate subscription without fuss. In contrast simply having a RSS logo hyperlinked with a feed provides little or no benefit and does not provide auto-notification that a feed is available.

    Furthermore it is recommended to create a unique auto-discovery tag for each available RSS feed and place them all in the header. If you think you have too many then I would recommend choosing the feeds that are most relevant to the page content.

  • A WordPress plugin was noted called the “SEO Title Tag Plugin“. This plugin really impressed me because it allows WordPress users to see and individually customize the title tags of every post within the associated blog; without a doubt a powerful capability since title tags play a significant role in rankings.
  • If you use paid Press Release services to disseminate your latest company news then it also works to your advantage to create a separate blog specifically used for your press releases. In this regard you can use the associated RSS feed to get some free publicity by submitting it to blog directories and other blog-syndicating properties.
  • If you are finding it difficult to get the word out about a particular piece of news then Greg Jarboe has a great idea for you: track down the key bloggers that appear to be driving the news in your industry and contact them with your story.If your story interests even one of the bloggers and gets published then you could get a massive amount of publicity for zero dollars.

    During the presentation of this concept Greg Jarboe utilized a powerful online tool called BuzzLogic to identify which people drove the latest news in key topics. Unfortunately BuzzLogic appears to be priced well out of the capabilities of many small businesses (at $12,000/yr minimum) so I will provide a very basic free alternative to determining the leaders of a particular topic.

    Step 1) Search in your favorite search engine for the particular topic. Within the results separate the blogs from the other content. If you do not find at least 10 bloggers then try search again with different wording for the same topic.

    Step 2) Look at each blog individually and look for indications of readership or popularity. For example perhaps one of the website has a Feedburner subscription counter with the blog’s current readership OR take the URL of the blog and conduct a backlink check on Yahoo using “linkdomain:www..com” (without the quotes) to see which blogs have the most inbound links. Sort these blogs according to their popularity.

    Step 3) Find contact information on each site and then contact the writer(s) starting with the most trafficked blogs and pitch your news/idea/story.

    Note: I am not saying the steps above have anywhere near the quality of results that a full-fledge program like BuzzLogic has but it is certainly a great place to start.

  • Promote your latest blog posting by taking advantage of a popular blogger’s vanity. Compliment them within your key article (somehow) using their full name and perhaps provide a link back to their website. Chances are that the blogger often keeps an eye on blog postings or sites that utilize their name. When they visit your posting there is a good chance they will read it.

General Blog and Feed Optimization Tips:

  1. Providing full text feeds was noted regularly throughout the presentation as a far superior method for creating backlinks and getting found online.
  2. Your blog feed should have 20 or more items never the minimum 10.
  3. Provide a feed for every category your site/blog offers.
  4. Ensure that you create keyword rich blog posts and ensure that your brand is well represented within the text.
  5. Ensure the most important keyword/phrase is listed in the blog title.

Optimize Your Blog’s Linking Structure For Best Results

  1. Provide a listing of the top 10 posts within your site so the stories do not get buried in archives or category pages. If the articles are performing well it is just logical to keep them in plain view to get more mileage from them.
  2. Use Tag Clouds and Tag Pages to increase the possible routes to your valuable past content.
  3. If you are using WordPress as your blogging tool it is a great idea to install the “Sticky Posts” plugin which allows you to ‘stick’ an introduction or key post at the top of each category page.

Addressing Blog Duplication Concerns
By opening up categories (a.k.a. ‘labels’ on Blogger) to the search engines you increase the likelihood of having a great deal of duplicated content. Fortunately the search engines have, so far, been quite clear that duplicate content in blogs is not a concern because it is a natural consequence of labeling. That said, there was a WordPress plugin noted that would allow you to create controlled article excerpts (or teasers) within the category pages. It is called “Optional Excerpts” and by using it you can maintain the authority of the core posting since the label pages will only provide a teaser versus the full text of the article.

by Ross Dunn, CEO, StepForth Web Marketing Inc.
Celebrating 10 Years of Web Marketing Excellence