Today I’m going to show you how to increase blog traffic across all 3 search engines – MSN, Yahoo!, and Google!

tracking blog progress This is installment #4 in the “Tracking Your Blog’s Progress” article series. Too many bloggers wonder why they aren’t getting any traffic without doing something about. If you’re not actively working to increase your traffic, then your results are going to be “hit and miss”. If you get dugg or stumbled you’ll get a “spike” and then your traffic will return to normal. There are specific things you need to do behind the scenes to ensure that you are getting the most exposure possible AT ALL TIMES! Why waste your blogging efforts – work smarter not harder! I don’t care how much “blogging” or “webmaster” experience you have – I GUARANTEE you will learn something in this article!

Often times bloggers worry about their posting schedule, but I find that they don’t worry enough about what goes on behind the scenes in their blog. I wrote a post last fall called “I am the most successful blogger in the world” and I stick by the blog success plan I set forth in that article. My blogging plan is simple – it’s 20% setup, 30% content, and 50% promotion. Many people think that I’m nuts for spending time this way, but I find that the people saying this don’t do the same things as me. If you are writing original quality content all the time, then spending 30% of your time on it is more than adequate. It’s all the things behind the scenes nobody sees that bring visitor’s to that content! Is your WordPress install up to date and all your plugins working and up to date? Do you review your stats and incoming keyword searches? Do you do keyword research? Are you monetizing your blog? Do you track what monetizations work and scrap them to try new strategies? Do you network with other bloggers? Are you involved in bumpzee, myBlogLog, entrecard, stumbleupon, or digg? Have you checked your SERP’s? Did you leave comments on other blogs today? Have you guest posted for someone else? Have you reviewed your older content? Checked your sitemap and robots.txt file? How many pages do you own that have pagerank? Have you done any linkbuilding or traffic building today? All these things are what YOU should be doing the 70% of the time your’re not writing content!

Why it’s important to set YOUR blog up for ALL 3 search engines

Today I’m going to focus you on what you should be doing to make sure you have listings in MSN Live Search, Yahoo!, and Google! In some regards you need to be treating your blog(s) more like a business. A brick and mortar business knows their competition and they know their customers. Do you know your customers? Most blogs receive the majority of their traffic from google. Over time you might get more from the other search engines if you’re lucky.

What you need to understand is that while google dominates the search engines, at the end of 2007 google only had a 56% market share! That’s right, just under half of all searches on the Internet are somewhere other than google. Yahoo was 17.7%, and MSN Live Search was 13.8% (up 5% from 2006). So you need to be equally as worried about tracking your SERP’s (search engine result pages) in google, Yahoo!, AND MSN search engines!

Assuming that Your’re Ready…

I’m going to assume that you’ve already read yesterday’s post “Tracking Sitemap Changes for SERP Pages, which would mean that you already have an XML sitemap setup for your site. Also, I lot of my pointers will be for WordPress and those using the XML Sitemap Generator Plugin for WordPress, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t benefit from this aritcle if you’re using another blogging platform like Drupal, Mambo, Jooma, Blogger, etc.

It’s not like the old days of “submitting your site” to the search engines at all. Now most sites are based on a blogging or content management platform, and you update a “sitemap” file when you post or make changes and “ping” both blogging and search crawlers that you have new content for their spiders to feed on. It’s easy to notify all three major search engines every time you post or modify content – and in some cases your can be indexed in in search results in under a few hours.

MSN Live Search Webmaster Tools

You probably had no idea that this even existed, but MSN Live Search know has their own “webmaster tools” console! It’s setup for you to register your web site or blog, and it’s URL and sitemap URL. Your verify you are the actual site owner by playing an xml file in your site or a meta tag in your homepage file. This is great news – especially if your site was not in the MSN search index before at all! MSN is playing catchup since both google and Yahoo! have had webmaster consoles for quite awhile. The guidelines for indexing at MSN Live Search are pretty much the same as the other 2 search engines. There aren’t a lot of tools at the MSN webmaster console (yet), I’m sure that will improve in the future. For now, it’s important that you get all your sites and blogs registered with MSN today!

Yahoo! Site Explorer Tools

If you’re a Yahooligan, you may already know of the Yahoo Search Site Explorer Tools. The Yahoo! Site Explorer works the same was as MSN Live Search you “add sites” in with your URL and sitemap URL so the Yahoo search crawler knows to index them. The difference with Site Explorer is that you can add in multiple feeds, so if you have a post and a comments RSS feed, you can add them both in. This is also handy if you happen to have a site with say a “blog”, and a “forum” in another directory. You can add as many RSS feeds as you want into the Yahoo Site Explorer. If you click on “explore” for any of your URL’s you can see how many pages you have indexed and how many backlinks you have. Click on “show details” while hovering over any URL in the explore results and you can see the last time your site was indexed. Not a lot of tools here either, but it’s better than what MSN Search has for webmasters, and the important thing is to register all your sites and feeds with Yahoo! so that you know the Yahoo! search crawler is visiting your site.

Google Webmaster Tools

Google is probably already indexing your site, it knows about your site or blog within 30 minutes of registering and paying for the domain name (or sooner!). Even so, make sure that you visit google Webmaster Tools and register all your domains. Google has the most extensive set of webmaster tools and support of all 3 major search engines. Register all your sites and their respective sitemaps. The most handy thing google has the other’s don’t is in your dashboard you have a “status” for every entry. If there was a problem with the googlebot reading your sitemap you get an error message. It tells you how long ago the error occured and what it actually was. I have one large site that occasionally gets “HTTP Error: 408 (Request timeout)”. Google also has other tools, like the ability to analyze your robots.txt file, you can set a “geographic target”, set a “crawl rate”, remove URL’s, and set a “preferred domain” (with or without the ‘www.’). In your site overview you can also find the last time googlebot crawled your site, and any errors that it encountered. Since google is the “dominant” one of the 3 search engines I will go into webmaster tools just to make sure there are no errors with my sites or sitemaps and that the googlebot search crawler has been to all my sites within a reasonable amount of time.

WordPress XML Sitemap Search Notification

If you use WordPress and the XML Sitemap plugin, in the latest version there are checkboxes in the Options page that allow you to “notify” (ping) google, MSN Live Search, Yahoo!, and when you post new content and the sitemap is rebuilt. Make sure you enable all these options, and in addition there is a new feature where you can notifiy Yahoo! now by using their API “application ID” – make sure that you signup and get one today to ensure you can directly communicate with the Yahoo! crawler!

Follow Up Search Engine Checks

Of course you can go to each individual search engine and query for site to make sure your blog is indexed, but that’s a really tedious (and sometimes forgettable) task. Wouldn’t it be better if you could automate it? I thinks so. In my next post I’m going to tell you how to automatically track your blog or web site for search index and SERP changes automatically (for free)! Don’t you think now would be a good time to subscribe via RSS or email?? On the top right corner of this page are the links my friend…