You’ve got your blog set up, ready to go, and all you need now is for your customers to start walking through that front door.
Well, my friend, you’re gonna need all the help you can get, and that’s why I’m here. 😉
You’ve been told a million different things you need to do in order to get your blog ranked on Google, so let me add to that freakin’ ridiculously long list with some little tidbits that just might push your blog a few notches higher.
Google offers a bunch of little utilities and tools for us webmasters to use, and the coolest thing about them all is they’re completely FREE.
I’m a big believer in FREE, so I’ve adopted these services for my own blog. They’re all pretty handy, and even though Google doesn’t come right out and say it, common sense tells us that using their tools and giving them deeper access to your blog’s content may actually help your rankings (Go figure!).
The VERY first tool you should set up after your blog is up and running is Google Webmaster Tools.
Google Webmaster Tools
If you’re interested in setting up your own self-hosted blog (highly recommended!), take a peek at my series on How to Start a Blog.
Start by visiting http://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/
You’ll be required to sign in with a Google ID, if you don’t already have one, go ahead and create one before we move on.?
After you’ve signed in, you’ll get to a screen similar to the one below. Type in the URL of your website in the text box next to the “Add a Site” button. This should be the “root” URL, not a link to a particular page.
- http://www.mysite.com/index.html – WRONG
- http://www.mysite.com – CORRECT
After you’ve added your site, Google will ask you to verify ownership. You’ll see a page similar to below. It’ll look a little different when you first see it–I’ve jumped ahead a little and clicked on the “Alternate Methods” tab.
Since I use a local installation of WordPress for all my blogs, I already know that I’ll be using the “HTML Tag” option to verify my site. What you’ll need to finish the verification is a way to add a “meta” tag to your site’s HTML headers. The quickest way to do this is by using a WordPress plugin, or using a WordPress theme that already has the Google site verification function built in. There’s a free plugin available to take care of this, and you can download it from the WordPress.org site. It’s called, appropriately enough, “Verify Google Webmaster Tools.” Installation is super simple, just follow the directions on the “Installation” tab of the plugin’s download page.
Once you’ve installed the plugin, go to your WordPress admin page, click on “Settings” and then “Verify Google Webmaster Tools.” Here, take the code (meta tag) from the Google Webmaster Tools verification screen and paste it into the corresponding field on your plugin settings page, and “Save.”
Once you’ve saved the code on WordPress, go back to the Google Webmaster Tools window and click the red “Verify” button. You should receive a success message telling you that your site was successfully verified. (woohoo!)
Now you have access to Google Webmaster Tools! The first thing you want to do is set up a sitemap for your site. You can install another plugin that maintains a sitemap for you -or- if your current theme doesn’t give you a cool array of SEO (search engine optimization) options, you can install a larger package that maintains a sitemap and does a whole buncha other cool and VERY necessary stuff for your blog. Personally, I’m running with the Thesis 1.8.5 WordPress theme, and a free sitemap plugin “XML Sitemap Generator for WordPress 4.0.” The Thesis 1.8.5 theme, however, isn’t free. 🙁 But it ROCKS, and is totally worth its price.
If you don’t want to spring for Thesis, you can install Yoast. It’s a free SEO plugin that’ll handle your sitemap needs and other critical SEO tasks. You can find it by searching WordPress.org.
Stay tuned for the rest…
I ran outta time tonight, but I promise I’ll finish up soon. So check back!