SEO of blog feeds powerful, easy: SES panel

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NEW YORK - As more companies add blogs to their marketing mix to get greater traction in the search engines and more traffic to their Web sites, it seems only natural that the search engine optimization pros would soon focus more closely on optimizing these blogs.

While not a new technology, RSS feeds have increasingly become subject to extensive optimization, according to panelists in a session titled "SEO Through Blogs and Feeds" here at the Search Engine Strategies Conference & Expo at the Hilton New York.

Many companies have adopted blogs to generate excitement about a product or service or to add clout or authority to their reputation or brands. Whether companies are looking start a new blog or to enhance an existing blog, optimizing them does not have to be an expensive or difficult endeavor.

"How easy is it?" asked Stephan Spencer, founder and president of interactive agency Netconcepts LLC, Madison, WI . "It's pretty darn easy. My 15-year-old daughter, within two weeks, got her blog in the No. 10 position [on Google] and now she's No. 3."

There are many things bloggers can do to boost their prominence, the most important of which has to do with the way RSS feeds are customized.

To do that effectively, Mr. Spencer explained the importance on focusing on title tags and specifically mentioning the blog name at the end of the title and not at the beginning.

He said it also helps to put the tag name in the title on a tag page and to customize it with additional keywords for display on a home page. Overriding title tags with custom tags, also known as a title tag plugins, is also beneficial.

"There are things you can do to control how the search engines do or don't access your feeds," said Rick Klau, vice president of publisher services at FeedBurner, who spoke about the benefits of optimizing blog feeds.

"Redirects [from feeds] are increasingly important because search engines are paying more and more attention to feeds specifically," Mr. Klau said. "Anecdotally, we're hearing from a lot of publishers who are saying that their content is being discovered more quickly because of RSS feeds."

Another important technical consideration has to do with URLs, according to Mr. Spencer, who told bloggers to rewrite URLs so they contain keywords, to use hyphens, not underscores, and maintain "legacy URLs" even after switching blog platforms to add traction to blogs in the search engines.

Beyond these optimization techniques, blogs can be enhanced with anchor text optimization. For instance, making the post's title a link to a permalink page and looking for opportunities to request revisions to anchor texts on inbound links create greater prominence for a blog.

Mr. Spencer also suggested internally linking back to old, relevant posts within the body of a blog post and to avoid using the nondescript terms "here" or "previously" as the anchor text.

Additionally, heading tags were subject to optimization. Adding specific category names on category pages for post titles - not for dates - would improve a blog's performance as well.

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