Step Three: Setting Up RSS Feed, Analytics, Webmaster Tools

Now that I have a layout of sorts, it’s time to make this site ready for the public (and Google).

In order to get some additional functionality – for example, knowing how many people, if any, subscribe to it – I am running the RSS feed for this site through Feedburner. Feedburner not only gives you statistics, but also the ability to embed ads in your feeds. I use the FD Feedburner plugin to redirect WordPress Feed URLs to Feedburner. I also added the Jetpack RSS Button widget to the sidebar since the WordPress theme Twenty Eleven doesn’t have “built in” links for that.

I’ve also added Analytics to this site. For this, I like the Google Analyticator plugin. As an aside, I also use the Google Ad Wrap plugin – even though FromTheOfficeToTheBeach does not contain any advertisement right now. The Ad Wrap plugin wraps the actual content of my posts in HTML comments:

<!-- google_ad_section_start -->

<!-- google_ad_section_end -->

These comments are used by Google to determine what part of the web page is actual content as opposed to supporting structure. My theory and hope is that Google will still pick up on this even when no advertisement is used, at any rate it shouldn’t hurt to have these.

To prevent content from being indexed multiple times, I’ve edited my robots.txt file to add /category/ and /tag/ to the list of directories crawlers should ignore. I use SEO Ultimate, but for this experiment I turned everything off except the File Editor module.

I’ve registered this webpage in my Google Webmaster tools account. I like Google Webmaster tools because of the statistics and “health checks” it offers. I am also submitting my XML sitemap to Google; it is being automagically created by the XML & Google News Sitemap Feeds plugin for WordPress. This will cause Google to index the site but as I write this post that hasn’t happened yet.

Finally, my “Just do it” friend commented that I should add a Facebook “Like” button. The social media sharing buttons did include a Facebook button, but it did not look like the normal “Like” button. I looked into it and it turns out that Jetpack’s sharing module allows you to the sharing buttons to “official” styles. I did that, figuring less confusion on the function of these buttons is absolutely essential in the long run. I’ve also enabled the Open Graph Pro plugin to provide metadata to social media sites in the event someone shares an URL with them.

That pretty much covers all the basics, I think. Now that I have a functional site I can tackle some actual content – next time.

2 thoughts on “Step Three: Setting Up RSS Feed, Analytics, Webmaster Tools

  1. Hi, as far as I can tell, your site has a few pages indexed by Google already. But not Bing. Did you open Webmasters Tools accounts at Google and Bing to submit the sitemap?

    And can you explain more why you are blocking indexation of category and tags pages? I agree they are of lesser value but how would these pages cause content being indexed multiple times? Unless you have many categories and tags that all list the same posts… But even then I would be surprised if Google or Bing would punish your site for that. I can assure you that Google (at least, I’m not so sure about Bing because it seems always much slower at indexing new content on all my sites) loves WordPress as is, even without any SEO tweaking.

    In any case, I’ll be interested in your findings 🙂

    Rolf Allard

    • Hi Rolf!

      To be quite honest I did not realize Bing had Webmaster tools as well. I should’ve thought about it and I absolutely have to look into it. A quick check shows that Bing (and services that use it) have a 25% marketshare – that’s significant!

      I guess to me, Google is just such a juggernaut that everything else is not really on my radar. The last time I really worked on blogs Bing did not even exist yet 🙂 So – thank you, you gave me something to look into and saved me from making an early mistake!

      As for the category and tag pages – I excluded them mostly because I don’t like the way they work right now. They’re so redundant, and ugly, and not really helpful to a reader. I think I’ve never ended up on a tag or category page after searching for something on Google. Which might very well be caused by my own automatic rejection of such pages on top of lesser ranking of the pages themselves. Since they just duplicate a subset of the articles, I think it’s just much more helpful for any potential reader to either end up on the main page or an individual article.

      I do suspect that Google can deal with WordPress tag/category/archive pages and doesn’t penalize you for “duplicate content” on them – after all, they have enough staff and money to understand popular software, so I doubt you get penalized for them (without looking into the matter, I think “duplicate content” was mostly a problem if the content appeared on multiple sites but I could be wrong).

      As an aside, I also do not like the way archives work in WordPress, but I haven’t gotten around to tackling them yet.

      Thanks for the feedback – glad to have you on board 🙂
      – Nils

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