Not yet running a blog? Not syndicating your content through web feeds? Then you're missing out on an important area that can help your overall SEO efforts. Learn more about the unique advantages blogs and feeds offer to search engine optimization. Moderator: Rebecca Lieb, Contributing Editor, ClickZ Speakers: Chris Boggs, Search Engine Watch Expert & Manager, SEO, Brulant, Inc. Lee Odden, CEO, TopRank Online Marketing Amanda Watlington, Owner, Searching for Profit Daron Babin, CEO, Webmaster Radio
First up is Amanda Watlington from Searching for Profit.
Blogs, SEO, and marketing. Blogs should not be just part of an SEO play. They are a real part of the marketing program. They create alternative keyword media. Not just the ones you are chasing, but an opportunity to find new keywords. Allows you to extend the reach of your web communication - its marketing and SEO. Building a community deepens SEO relations. Build business or brand - connect with consumers particularly with products that address a particular issue. Any kind of marketer can enjoy the benefits of Blogs.
Lets get tactical! Things you need to think about "before" you launch. Will it be an official blog? Or a personal blog? Will it sit on a subdomain on the company's website, or sit on its own and take on a new life. The look and feel - will it before personal, or company branded? Will it be a multi-blogger platform or a lone blogger platform? Amanda is very pro multi-person blogs.
Will it sit on Wordpress, Movable Type, or open source Drupal type platform? Arguments on behalf of each.
The optimization process - four key steps:
1- Customize and optimize the CMS 2- Customize and optimize the RSS feeds 3- Conduct and apply keyword / tag research 4- Socialize the blog and create a community
Shows a large slide that will be available to download which keynotes main points. - Tweaking CSS - Title tag optimization - Permalinks that show real titles, not the text "permalink" - Use a robots.txt - Use favicons, - Sitemaps - Widgets - "don't fidget with too many widgets but plan for blidgets". Widgets break - don't slow your blog! "Blidgets" - stands for "blog widgets" - can be helpful and useful. - Validate, tweak, and stay put.
Use the blog plugins! Every blog CMS has plugins for every activity - sitemaps, 301 redirecting, etc. Then - optimize the feeds. Will there be enough content to populate feed? Don't want reader to unsubscribe. Amanda likes full text feeds. Increase items in feed from default 10 to 20 if the blog has frequent posts. Decide how to handle multimedia - if you have audio or video. Manage feeds with Feedburner (personal recommendation).
Tips: 1- Optimize the RSS feed - use keywords in feed in title tag, less than 100 characters. 2- Most readers display feeds alphabetically - helps to be an A or B. 3- Write description as if for a directory 4- Use full paths on links and unique URLs 5- Provide email updates
Process for content production. 1- Write post 2- Review keyword research list 3- include a keyword in the headline 4- Review the body of the post
Make socialization easy for people with buttons. Cross link your blog and website aggressively. Notify other bloggers via comments and emails. Join the blog community.
Keeping the mojo going! -Develop a mindset that this is a long term, continuous effort. -Build a battle plan to maintain quality of blog. -Use analytics to guide editorial choices. -Post original material often. -Weed out comment spam. -Keep blog fresh. -Build blidgets for social media to drive traffic back to blog.
In summary: -Use software as a powerful marketing tool. -Leverage the assets by customizes the templates and feeds. Get the most out of it. -Socialize it. -Build content based on keyword list for SEO benefits. -Plan to keep the mojo going.
Email Amanda for lecture slides.
Next up is Lee Odden from the Top Rank Blog.
Will show us a few case studies. Started a blog in 2003 - Top Rank Blog. Wasn't big until 2007. The growth was outstanding.
According to Technorati, 100,000,000+ blogs have less than 20 in bound links. 400,000 blogs have more than 20,000 links. The top 2,500 bloggers have > 1000 links. Illustrates that its not a monumental task to get to the top.
Blogs on their own do well as a marketing tool. When optimize and socialize, and link out to other blogs - software will see this via trackback or linkback. Will often elicit a response. Optimize content that's great and relevant that you promoted.
Blog Case Study 1: A senior citizens housing developer. Strategy was to create a communication channel to target a market that's less formal than on the corporate website. Tactically - upgraded the blog, optimized it according to Amanda's advice, and reached out to other bloggers in the space. Within a few months, became a top source of traffic to site: rankings went up, visitors increases. Very nominal effort with very tangible results.
Blog Case Study 2: A book and game retailer. Wanted to generate sales. Many are passionate about games and brain teasers. Wanted to create a place for people to play games. Tactic - created an SEO'd blog, created communities on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, and Stumbleupon. Mined Twitter data to find out what people are talking about and to friend people. Result - great top 3 rankings for target keywords. Did a social promotion for an old style carnival game. Created a Flash version and promoted in social media. Many wrote about this game and create a big spike. Then was another spike as a latent effect. People started searching for the game. Traffic, pageviews, quintupled. Now the blog sell ads in addition to products.
Blog Case Study 3: Top Rank Online Marketing Blog. Strategy - increase thought leadership - cover news, and generate leads. Tactic - create unique content on a regular schedule via interviews, agency insights, etc. What happened over time? Became the #31 blog on Technorati. But the he good stuff was the media coverage. In 2008 - as a result of visibility - many top journalists and book publishers contacted Lee. That visibility was priceless. Couldn't have paid for this. Lost mojo in July and traffic slowed down. Got 26k visits from search in that month over 12k keywords - shows the long tail distribution. Result - Rank in top 10 on Google for "online marketing" and "blog optimization". Most important is the many advertising inquiries and business inquiries, as well as press inquiries, that continuously pour in.
Key take aways: Goals drive content. Automate SEO as much as possible. Socialize. Measure. Refine and repeat. Make sure you focus on end objectives.
Email Lee Odden at email@example.com.
Next up is the amazingly awesome Chris Boggs, who also is contributing live conference coverage for the SERountable.com.
One thing to touch upon is to make a fundamental decision where to host the blog - probably the best practice is to host on your own domain - in general, with some exception.
We're going to talk if a blog will work for your industry.
Some tips: Keep links live from the start. Fix any broken links. Choose words that belong in text.
Chris shows us a content rich "Destin Florida Real Estate" blog. Shows the top 10 results for the term "Destin Florida Real Estate" and that particular blog does not rank. The top 30 has few blogs on the SERPs for that result in there. Key take away is not to count on blog - particularly in industry where rankings are not dominated by the blogs such as this one. It's a nice compliment for link generation and to build authority, but for this example would recommend content within the main site vs. the blog.
Moving on - looking at an old Yahoo! blog that links to SEW with a dead link. Who's at fault? Was it Yahoo! or SEW for not redirecting? Many would thing it's SEW's fault - but falls both ways. How do you ensure a link will stay alive? Pay strict attention and take time to identify best links. Look at Yahoo! news. Picked a random topic of Scientology. Went to an older result. Yahoo! news did not archive the old post. Asked PR-Web if press releases stay forever on the site. They said yes. Hopefully the site will house the copy of the press releases. The reason we focus on PR is because typically they are problematic compared to links from static content.
How to keep blog links live? Try for the brand site if linking to press releases. Keep track of links - loves Xenu Link Slueth and w3.org/checklink. Fix your broken links - don't be lazy or sloppy. Be proactive - tell bloggers their links are broken and consider redirecting pages you remove from site that may have inbound links.
Lastly - since Chris writes alot on search, his name is semantically associated with search. His name appears on a lot of spammy sites. Should probably study this even if you are a pure white hat.
Crackpot Theory #317 - people use Chris's name to spam. A great forum post on SEW about it by Dr. Garcia. See the lecture slides for the link to it.
Finally, check out Chris's column every Friday called Crossfire on SEW with Frank the Tank Watson.
Next up is Daron Babin, our gracious host for Search Bash tonight.
Approaches this topic from a different angle. Hates blogs, the technology around it, hates open source. Has to trust what others know. When started in the mid nighties, was black hat all the way. They are testing this all day, and kicking butt. Take a risk - build something on your own - build it - test it.
Will give examples of how WMR uses feeds. Has a new site with 122 top level categories which every feed needs to be optimized. Has a customize CMS that is organically supercharged. When publishes a page, goes to the website and writes it to the sitemap.xml and robots.txt. Try to control how the engines ingest content off the feeds as well as spider bait and link bait off the homepage.
Be careful what you put in print, because it may rank. Term "rock stars" ranks top 10 in Google because RSS feeds are highly optimize on the "SEO Rock Stars" show. They are Feedburner whores at WMR! Write content in Feedburner fields very carefully.
Another hidden secret - MeFeedia.com. Drives more traffic to WMR than Yahoo!
Shows slides where WMR kicks ass on the SERPs for many high quality terms. Many top 10 rankings for ultra competitive terms. Rate of growth of 2k - 3k traffic driving new terms per month because of feeds.
Article promotions- another way to syndicate content through feeds. Very important how articles are written and inserted into the feed. A bit about automation. Years back we said - automation would kill SEO. Today, we build automation to make it idiot proof. Anyone that can fill out a form field to optimize content.
Feed analytics - best way to do this is via Feedburner. When shoving lots of content through feeds, need to measure effectiveness. With typical web stat packages today its difficult.
Use the auto-discovery tag which is very important. Engines are looking for this tag and will help improve TrustRank inside site over time. Doesn't happen overnight.
Curve ball about doing things on one domain - if you have a huge media database. The WMR article site is 5x the size and it's just text. Imagine passing the PR through those two databases. Cross pollinate between the two. Very powerful.
That's all, thanks everyone!
Contributed by Avi Wilensky of Promediacorp.