RSS – Blogs – And Pings – Oh My

Understanding the nature of Search Engines is critical to online success. Because people turn to the search engines to find things online, it behooves you to make sure that you do everything you can to be easy to find when people go looking for you. Understanding how Blogs fit into that process is critical to the whole Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Process.Your Job is to make sure that the search engines:

  1. Know that your site exists.
  2. Understand what your site is about.
  3. Rank your site appropriately by relevance.

A search engine’s job is very simple: to deliver the most relevant results to a user’s query. If a user wants to find a site about free web conferencing software, they will turn to a search engine and type in keywords or phrases to find sites that are about those keywords. In this case, the user might type in “free web conference” or “free web conferencing software” or even “free online conferencing.” Now the search engine should scan its vast index and return the “best” results that fit what the user is looking for. That is their job. If they don’t do that job, the user will go search for what they are looking for somewhere else.

The real challenge for search engines is to match their “best” with what the user really wants to see. In an ongoing effort to improve that process, search engines are constantly revamping the algorithms they use, re-indexing sites, purging sites that are indexed incorrectly, re-evaluating a site’s popularity.

Your job is to make the search engine’s job as easy as possible. Here are some brief tips on how to do that. To get more training on how to optimize your sites for the search engines, you should join Veretekk at projectnetsafe.veretekk.com by getting a free Silver account and begin attending as many of the free training classes as possible. Let’s start by looking over those three things above in closer detail:

1) Get your site indexed.

Attracting the attention of the search engines in the first place might seem a little tricky. Actually, there are a few tried and true ways to do it…and Blogging is one of them. Search engines love blogs because the content is typically updated frequently. When a search engine visits your blog, it will evaluate all the links on it, and follow them to wherever they lead…right to the other sites you want them to find and index. Perfect. Busy, optimized blogs will often see frequent visits from the search engines…but only if they know your blog is there in the first place, and typically they will only come if they believe your site will actually have something new on it. This is where Pinging comes into play.

There are many Blog index sites on the Internet that can help you get your blog noticed quickly. The biggest ones are: Technorati.com, Blo.gs, Weblogs.com, and Ping-O-Matic. If you add new content to your blog, you should update at least these 4 indexes. The term for updating these indexes is called Pinging. When you ping these indexes, they quickly come to your blog and take a quick look, and index your new content.

Most blogs have the ability for RSS (Really Simple Syndication) which means that they can pack your blog posts into a “news feed” that can be picked up by these indexes as well. Most of the time, when you ping an index, they simply grab the RSS Feed from your site, and index it.

The search engines practically live at these index sites because it is constantly updated with new RSS Feeds from hundreds of thousands of blogs all throughout that day. The search engines will follow the links in your feed back to your blog, and in turn follow the links on your blog back to wherever you are linking to from your blog.

2) Provide Good Content

Making sure that the search engines are particularly clear on what your site is about is vitally important. Writing your blog posts well is important to giving the search engines what they need to index you properly, and will also give value to the links they follow to the other sites you are linking to by providing important context to those links. The content on your site gives the search engine a pool of words to grab phrases and keywords from to match user search strings.

3) Get Ranked higher

Search engines will rank your site by popularity as much or more than by your content. One of the criteria they use to determine how important your site is, and hence how important it might be to a searching user, is the number of links from other sites to yours. And of those links to your site, the search engine continues to evaluate the value of those incoming links. How many are from sites with similar subject matter? How many are using content from your site (quoted or “borrowed”) and how old are the links back to your site. How many of these sites are already ranked by the search engine and how high are they ranked? Are they from “good neighborhoods” or “bad neighborhoods”? Are they related to the original site in any other ways? Same owner? Same IP Address? Same Class C? These factors and many more are part of the algorithms these search engines use to evaluate your site and it’s popularity with other sites. Building a network of backlinks from other sites is a positive move toward increasing your site’s rankings.

Another good SEO Strategy is to get links back to your site or blog from other sites. There are Blog Directories, Business Directories, etc., that you can often get free backlinks from, or at least reciprocal linking from. A reciprocal link means that you are providing a link back to them from your site or blog for the link that they are providing for you. Sometimes it is worth it to actually pay for a link on a site. It depends on the site, and the cost of the link. If the site is relevant to your content and ranked highly, it might be worth a lot of money to get a link from there to your site. If you find a high-value link for a low price I recommend you snatch it up immediately.

By sticking to these three basics you will go a long way toward improving traffic to your sites. And this traffic will be more and more the people that were actually looking for it in the first place.

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