Using Google's FeedBurner for SEO
The preferred choice for burning your feed was www.feedburner.com, and they were so good at it that Google bought FeedBurner. So now if you want to Burn your Feed you have to login to Google with your Gmail account. Once logged in, look for the service FeedBurner and click on it. You will find a small screen in the middle of the page that says:
Here you can paste the link that you got after clicking on Feed Entries on your Joomla! site. That is the public RSS Feed link that is shown by your syndication module. Once you click on the Next button you have a lot of options to improve your blog feed. The first thing you have to do is to make sure you have a nice feed URL.
I wanted it to be TheGardenBlog, but it was already taken so I settled for TheCrazyBeezGardenBlog, which is also good. You can also adjust your Feed Title, if you think it will be better, this title will be shown in a RSS reader to identify your feed. Click on Next and there you are:
Are you done? No way, now we get to the best part of the FeedBurner by Google service.
Choosing your FeedBurner options for optimal results
The Google service has a lot of options in store that will improve our RSS visibility and provide us with some blogging features that Joomla! doesn't have. One of the most important services is the PingShot that we will be looking at later. Let's take small steps and see what we can configure to get the best of the best.
First we will go through the option tabs and check what you should really use:
- Analyze: This is where you will see how well you are doing looking at your feed reader's stats
- Optimize: Here are two services you need to activate, BrowserFriendly and SmartFeed
- Publicize: Most of your work will be done here with Email Subscriptions, PingShot, FeedCount, and NoIndex
- Monetize: Only if you want AdSense advertisements into your Feeds
- Troubleshootize: A great place to start if your feed doesn't work the way it should
From the tabs mentioned, we will be looking more closely at some of the settings in the Optimize and Publicize tabs.
Let's take a look at the Optimize tab settings:
- BrowserFriendly: This makes your RSS Feed that comes out of Joomla! a lot better, because it turns the not-so-nice looking feeds into human viewable HTML pages. For this, compare the following two screenshots.
And all you have to do is activate the service!
- SmartFeed is all for your visitors, it will give them the choice of viewing your feed into their favorite feed reader. There are a lot of feed readers out there. If you activate this service you give your visitors an easy choice to import your feed with a single click. If they click on your RSS Feed button, they get a list of services to which, they can add your feed with just a click on the button.
Now, let's take a look at the Publicize tab settings:
- Email Subscriptions makes it really easy to offer an email subscription to your RSS Feed.
After activation of this service, copy the code from the Subscription Form Code field, and paste it on your site in a HTML module. To create such a module, go to your administrator panel. Choose Extensions from the top menu, then choose Module Manager. Then click on New and choose Custom HTML, give it a Title, Position, and publish it after you paste the code. The subscription form and fields are now ready for use.
You can also configure the time when you want those emails to be sent to your visitors using the Delivery Options setting.
- PingShot: PingShot does something that Joomla! cannot, but is essential for a blog.
It sends a ping after you publish your post to several services such as Technorati, My Yahoo, and Bloglines.
Make sure you activate the other two and add up to five extra options. For example, Ping-o-matic which will ping several other services for you, and Newsgator, which is another good service.
From the drop-down list you can add a few extra services of which Google Blog Search Pinging Service is one.
The other choice of services is dependent on the niche you work in, but for me the following ones work great:
- FeedCount: This is a well-known counter. You can show it on your site to let people know how many subscribers are there on your feed. Don't show the feed count until you have over a minimum of 100 subscribers. There is a psychological effect behind this tip.
Nobody will subscribe to your feed if it shows that there are only 3 subscribers. The thought behind this is that it is probably not that interesting because there are few subscribers.
If you get over 100 subscribers, start showing the count! With over 100 subscribers there must be value in that feed! If you reach that limit and show it you will see that the number of subscribers will soon start to grow faster than before.
- NoIndex: This option makes sure that your own feed is not indexed and ranking higher than your pages. This means the feed from burner.com will not be indexed, because of that it is not possible to have it outrank your pages. If you don't use that option the feed itself has the possibility to outperform your pages (this is not likely, but I have seen it happen on some sites, although that was before Google bought FeedBurner).
Replacing your RSS Feed with the FeedBurner feed
If you are done with the configuration of your feed we are going to replace that nice Joomla! feed button and link.
To do so, go to your administration panel and create a new Custom HTML module. Open the FeedBurner configuration page in your browser, navigate to the Publicize tab and choose Chicklet Chooser. Use the standard feed icon and copy the code that is way down at the bottom of the screen and paste it into your new module. If you want the email subscription field as well, copy the code and paste it below the previous code. Publish the module to be shown on the site.
As this is HTML code you can change it to make it even better:
- Use the alt tag, which is now empty and write something like Subscribe to The Crazy Beez Garden Blog.
- Change the RSS Feed button to a larger one by uploading it to your site and change the src value with a link to your button. The src value is the HTML value for an image output. For example, src="http://www.cblandscapegardening.com/images/stories/gardening-blog-rssfeed.png".
In the following screenshot you will see a subscribe module on top of the menu sidebar for my example:
How to claim your blog on Technorati
Technorati is the leading site when it comes to blogs and having your link on Technorati helps you to get more visitors to your blog. Technorati also has a blog search engine and it is used by a lot of people. The more people that subscribe and link to your blog the higher your Technorati ranking will be. To get a ranking you have to claim your blog. You need to get a free account and register with Technorati before you can start claiming your blog. Once logged in, go to Blogs | My Blogs.
At the right hand side of that screen you will see a link that says Claim a new blog, click on it to start the process. First, fill in your Blog's URL, and then click on Start Claim. Technorati will then check that it can find your URL, which should not be a problem. After the check you will get a link that you have to copy and paste into your site. If you follow the instructions on the screen you cannot go wrong.
I have copied the link into the RSS Feed module, since that is already Custom HTML. If you look at your site now you will see a small line that says Technorati profile. Once you see that (you might need to clear your cache first) you can click on the Complete Claim button on the Technorati screen.
If the claim is successful, you can fill in the screen that follows and add some extra information about your blog. Also make sure that you add some of your keywords in the Tags listing. You can now remove the claim line from your site and put a Technorati favorite link into the RSS Feed module if you like. As this is the first time that Technorati is looking at your site, it might be a good idea to use the ping service that you will see if you go back to the My Blogs page.
After the initial ping you don't have to do that anymore as FeedBurner will ping it for you when you write a new post. If you missed something or did not get your description and tags in place, you can edit this later. Just go to your Technorati account and choose the Claimed Blogs tab. There you will find a listing of all your blogs and you can choose the Edit Settings option.
Once you click on that button a new screen will open. You can then correct, change, and add information and Tags.
Using separate blog components
In this chapter you have seen that you can create a blog with a basic Joomla! site and some help from third-party services. So why use a blogging component such as MyBlog along with JomComment, or a combination of XBlog, IDoBlog, and a commenting component like yvComments? The answer is very simple. It will be good if you start a blog and have different authors for your blog.
However, there are also some downsides to the use of a blogging component.
The drawbacks are:
- You have to learn how to use it the right way
- It can slow down your web site
- It adds a lot of bulk to your database since all the comments and posts are stored in extra tables
- With commercial components it will cost you money
- You have to update them separately from your Joomla! core updates
- If you want to use a blogging component look at what the Big Boys are using
By the Big Boys I mean the well-known Joomla! ambassadors such as Steve Burge from www.alledia.com and Barry North from www.compassdesigns.net. They blog with a basic Joomla! system, enhanced with commercial JomComment to handle the comments on their articles. And I must admit that I have rarely seen any spam comments on either of these sites. As for the Joomla! site, they use JXtended Comment from http://jxtended.com which is also a commercial commenting component.
MyBlog—a commercial blogging component
This article wouldn't be complete if there was no mention of the most widely used blog component MyBlog from www.azrul.com. Therefore, I bought and installed it on one of my sites, just to make sure that you can get an insight of what is incorporated into this component. First there is an admin panel for the component, where you can work through the component:
What you need to know after installation is, how to configure the general settings.
If you look at the settings, all the things you have read about will come back:
- The Blog Title
- The Blog section which MyBlog will use to handle to content
- Enabling the RSS Feeds
- Use of FeedBurner service with the feedburner URL
If you start writing an article it is done in the same way a normal article would be done, but you have extra options such as Tags and trackbacks in a place that you can use. You can write metadata into the article by using a small link to your options screen called Meta Info. You can choose your publishing date just like you can in Joomla! articles.
As for the use of SEF URLs for this component, there is a separate section in sh404SEF that creates nice URLs to each post.
I think the best additions that this component gives you for blogging are:
- The ability to use more than one section for your blog
- The Tags feature that is tightly integrated into the component
- Permission to handle more authors that can blog on your web site
Purchase and installation of this component is simple and it does the job well.
It is up to you to decide whether you want to pay for the extra functionality it brings. At the time of writing the standard version costs 35 USD, and the professional version without the backlink, and with more templates costs 45 USD.
In this article we dealt with using Google's FeedBurner for SEO, how to claim your blog on Technorati, and using separate blog components like MyBlog. These features would not only help you improve your RSS visibility, but also assist your visitors to subscribe to your site conveniently, and help your site to be increasingly visible in the results of any major search engine.
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