2 Ways to Automatically get your Content "Out There"
One of the great blogging challenges is getting your content out there for people to see. For the most part, this involves manually promoting your site and spending lots of time (and money!) finding places to post links and just generally doing the promotion thing. Luckily, there are a few easy, free and automatic ways to get your content out there in front of your potential audience. I’ll cover two such methods in this post and how to automatically set them up in everyone’s favourite blogging tool, WordPress.
Google Sitemaps – For better or for worse, Google is still the search engine king. While there are many “Search Engine Optimisation” facilities out there, the very first thing you should do is make sure Google knows about your site. For many people, this means just submitting it to Google. However, if you do this there’s no telling when Google will get round to indexing your site, and then when any further content you create gets indexed. So why not tell Google about your site in a format it understands, why not tell it to index specific pages and give it the structure of your site. Better still, why not also tell Google when your site is updated, so it knows to come and have a look again? Luckily, there’s a way to do this through sitemaps. A sitemap is an XML file that you put on your server, and point Google at. The XML file contains the structure of your site, and all the pages contained within. Creating a sitemap yourself is not recommended. Not only is it incredibly tedious, but oyu’ll have to update it everytime you post new content. It’s also quite likely you’ll make some mistakes. There are some excellent tools out there, such as XML Sitemaps, that generate sitemaps automatically, which is a bonus. Better still, if you’re a WordPress user you can use the previously mentioned Google Sitemaps Plugin.
Ping Services – With the introduction of XML services, and specifically RSS, a whole bunch of services sprang up that grab all this content to make it available to users. Visitors can then visit these services and see the recently updated sites and all sorts of other information. When you let one of these sites know you’ve updated your site, this is known as “pinging”. Technorati is an example of one of these services, and the functionality that can be built around services like this. Not all are the size of Technorati, and not all provide the amount of functionality, but they all provide benefit, even if it’s just a handfull of visitors every day. The old fashioned way of letting these services know you had updated your site was to go to a page, paste in the URL of your site’s feed, and submit it. This worked, but pinging more than a handfull of services was time consuming. Fortunately, WordPress lets you automatically ping as many of these services as you want whenever you post. The image to the left (click to enlarge) shows you where you can add the list of these services in WordPress. If you’re wondering how you find out about services to use, there’s a handy list to be found in the WordPress Documentation.
By combining these two tips, you are guaranteeing two important traffic sources know about your latest and greatest content, and can start sending visitors your way.
I’ve posted a number of tips to do with blogging over the past couple of weeks, if you enjoyed this tip, why not have a look at One Week to a Better Blog, How to Scientifically Identify Content that’s Great for your Blog and 5 Simple Steps to a Better Blog.