How Feeds Make You Findable
Freelance Switch offered great search visibility advice — for about five years ago.

The blog Freelance Switch just published an intriguing post, Getting Exposure On Search Engines, which addresses one of the most common questions freelance writers or other content producers have. Namely, how can I make myself easy to find online?” For freelancers especially this can be an issue of professional life and death.

The author, Shaun Crowley, offered great advice — for about five years ago.

His column overlooked entirely one key tool — feeds — that can easily outpace the results of everything else he recommended (SEO keywords, search-engine-friendly presentation, browser compatibility, inbound links, directory listings, etc.).

While Crowley did recommend that freelancers start blogging, he only addressed that in terms of a publication, not in terms of what they should do with their feed.

I’ve said it before: Learning to use feeds is a cornerstone skill for today’s online media. And that’s not just about learning to subscribe to feeds in a feed reader (although that’s a great starting point). It’s also about learning how to get your feed well connected so that it’s delivering you the most value by increasing your exposure and search engine positioning.

Here’s what everyone who wants to improve their search visibility should be doing with their feeds, and why…

  1. Start using a blogging tool to deliver your content. Blogging tools are simple to use and they all generate one or more feeds automatically. So if you’re not a geek, and you want a feed so you can get better connected and more findable, start a blog. It’s the easiest solution, and ultimately it’ll do so much more for you than your fancy Dreamweaver of Flash-based site — or a brochure-style static HTML site.
  2. Submit your feed to every major feed aggregator, such as Technorati, Google Blog Search, Icerocket, etc. What you want is for your feed to “ping” (automatically notify) these aggregators whenever you add new content to your site. That way,whenever you post new content it’ll immediately and automatically get indexed in those services — which means it’ll immediately start showing up in search results there, and you’ll start getting traffic. And then guess what? The search engines (Google, Yahoo) will start indexing you more frequently and ranking you more prominently!
  3. Consider running your feed through Feedburner, a popular free service that adds a lot of bells and whistles to your feed to enhance its distribution and versatility.
  4. Post about your publications on other sites. If your work is getting published on another site, blog that every time it happens, with a direct link. That way your blog becomes a central index of the body of your work.

…I’m not knocking Shaun’s advice. It is indeed good advice. However, you’ll save yourself a lot of work and get better results if you implement those steps above for your feed first. Then go ahead and implement whatever Shaun suggested that makes sense for your site.

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