In the first installment of this series (How Come I Have No Readers? Part 1 – Feeds) I described how to provide your readers a way to subscribe to your blog. Now that you have that all set up correctly it is time to help people find your blog.
Great, you told your family and friends about you blog. Gotta start promoting it some how. But lets face it, not all of your friends and family care about your cat so they are unlikely to turn into subscribers. Time to move beyond your small sphere of influence and help other cat lovers find your blog. Don’t sit idle and wait for Google and others to come along and find your stuff. You need to help them out a little.
Tip #1: Create a Sitemap
A site map is what it sounds like, a map to the pages on your site. If you already have an established web site you can use an online tool to help you create a site map. The one I use is the Google Sitemap Generator. I recommend reading all the information available on that page. It’s a bit technical but will help you understand all about site maps.
Once you have generated the sitemap, save it as map.xml and put it in the root directory of your web site.
Tip #2: Even your RSS feed can be a sitemap
So you’ve generated a sitemap with that nifty tool. Now you’ve made some new posts. Do you have to edit the site map? Syndication feeds to the rescue! Thanks to the forward thinking authors of the sitemap spec. you can use your RSS 2.0 or Atom 0.3 or 1.0 feed as a sitemap. Note if you use Feedburner you’ll want to point this at your original feed, not the Feedburner feed.
Tip #3: Create a Sitemap index
This one takes a bit of editing. You’ll want to create a text file called sitemap.xml that contains lines that look like the following:
<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
In between the first <loc> tags put the URL to your map.xml file that you created in Tip #1 above.
In between the second <loc> tags put the URL to your syndication feed. This may be rss.xml or so other address.
If you have another sitemap you can create another set of <sitemap> tags and insert them before </sitemapindex>. You can create as many as you like.
Tip #4: Modify your Robots.txt
One fairly new development is the ability to help search engines find your sitemaps by specifying them in your robots.txt file. You may not even have one of these. No matter, simply create one in a text editor such as Notepad and add a line like this:
If you created a sitemap index in tip #3 then all you have to do here is specify the index rather than all the separate sitemap files. In that case your robots.txt will read:
Tip #5: Submit your Sitemap
Google has a nice tool for webmasters. Start by adding your blog:
- Sign into Google webmaster tools with your Google Account.
- On the Dashboard, type the site URL in the "Add site" field. Make sure you type the entire URL, such as "http://www.example.com/"
- Click "OK."
Now to add your sitemap:
- Click the "Add a Sitemap" link beside the site in the Dashboard.
- Choose the "General Web Sitemap" option.
- Type the URL to your Sitemap location in the provided field. Make sure you include the entire URL, such as http://www.example.com/sitemap.xml. (NOTE: This is the sitemap index you made in tip #3 above)
- Click "Add Web Sitemap."
If you have a blog on a service such a Blogspot where you have no control of the robots.txt or any of the files in the directory, you can still add your feed as a sitemap.
You’ll find tons of details on sitemaps at sitemaps.org
Hopefully these tips will get your site on it’s way to being indexed. Don’t panic if you don’t see results right away. Just stick with it and know that with your feed in your sitemap index you can get back to what matters most, creating content that will keep your readers coming back.