The Power Of Search: Making Your Blog Content Discoverable
Search engines can’t list your site in results if they don’t know about it. So how can you let them know your site is out there, among the millions of others? Links! Search engines access pages on the web and follow links to other pages. This actually makes things really easy for you, because you want links anyway so that visitors on other sites can learn about your site.
Basic rules for links from other sites
- Join communities you’re interested in, comment on other blogs, jump into conversations and let others know your site is out there. If they’re interested in what you have to say, they’ll check out your site and link to you if it’s relevant to their readers.
- Get your site noticed on social media sites such as Digg, Netscape, and StumbleUpon. I learned about a new site like this at BlogHer called sk*rt that you might want to check out. How do you get your site submitted to sites like this? Well, this isn’t an easy answer, but the best way is to write compelling content.
- Don’t get caught up in crazy link exchange schemes. Links should be relevant to visitors. If you get an email from a plumbing site saying that he’ll link to your knitting site if you’ll link to him and you’re pretty sure his plumbing clients are more looking for information on clogged drains than yarn, back away slowly.Why? Well, links are important to search engines for several reasons. One is that they let search engines know your pages exist. But they also help search engines know how popular your pages are. Some sites try to exploit this and figure that if they can get a whole bunch of links, search engines will think they’ve got popular pages. But search engines obviously want to know a page is actually popular. That other sites are linking to it naturally because it’s valuable and relevant, not because some deal has been made to artificially send links around. So, be very wary of offers to exchange links or to sell you a bunch. Search engines are on to that..
Basic rules for internal links
Once a search engine knows about your site’s home page, you can provide an internal link structure to the rest of the pages of your site. You don’t need other sites to link in to every page for you. So, what’s the best way to make sure you’ve got a good internal structure?
- Provide clear top-level navigation. This is generally easy with blogging software. For instance, provide links to major categories and archives. If your site includes pages other than blog posts, provide a link to an HTML site map that then links to the other sections of your site.
- Use absolute rather than relative links. For instance, when I link to previous blog posts, I link to http://www.ninebyblue.com/olderblogpost.php rather than olderblogpost.php.
- Use descriptive anchor text. Anchor text is the underlined text in a link. Help search engines know what the page you’re linking to is about. For instance, I wrote this post about Buffy and duplicate content is better than I wrote this post about Buffy and duplicate content.
Submtting an XML Sitemap
Another way to let search engines know about the pages of your site is to submit an XML Sitemap. Sound complicated? It’s not. You can simply submit your RSS feed!
If you can edit your site’s robots.txt file, you can simply add the path to your RSS feed, like this:
EDIT-Sebastian reminded me that your RSS feed should reside under your root domain in order to submit it as a Sitemap, so if you use Feedburner, you’ll need to use Feedburner’s MyBrand. If you use Blogger, Sitemaps integration is now built in, I believe. And if you use WordPress, you can use this Sitemap generator plug in to create your Sitemap.
Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft Live Search, and Ask will all pick this up.
Once the search engines know your site exists, they’ve got to be able to get to your content. Which means it’s time for part three: crawlability.