Feedburner is a tool for managing RSS subscribers. To get started, you’ll need a Google account, then follow these steps:
- Visit Feedburner.com
- Add the URL of your blog and it will automatically find the RSS feed (most blog software like WordPress will have created an RSS feed for your blog)
- Go to the Publicize->Email Subscriptions section to grab the email form code
- Click on the small RSS icon at the top-left to get the URL of your new Feedburner RSS feed (which will look something like this: http://feeds.feedburner.com/Unbounce)
Here are some more detailed instructions on setting up your RSS feed with Feedburner (and WordPress).
Your goal is to get people to subscribe to the RSS feed of your blog, and there are two ways to do this:
- Place an email form (from step 3 above) on your blog (preferably at the end of every blog post) that asks people to subscribe to your blog.
- Put a bright orange RSS icon somewhere obvious on your blog (typically in the right-hand sidebar or at the top of the page) – and place a link on the image to your Feedburner RSS URL.
There are some cool free RSS icons at Iconspedia and more details about RSS concepts can be found in this post about RSS from Smashing Magazine.
Show off your subscriber count (when it’s high enough)
You can use your reader count to show social proof, but as you’ll hear me mention at various points in this post, you need to be a little bit patient. Only show how many readers you have when it hits a number that makes you feel proud or impressive. 500-1000 is a good ballpark level. When it reaches this level, you can grab the Feedburner Feedcount widget that doubles as an RSS subscribe link and social proof indicator.
If you are about to launch a new product or service (particularly an online one) you should be gathering leads (typically email addresses) so that you have a base of interested people to market to leading up to your launch and at launch time.
Getting the lead
If you don’t ask, you won’t receive. Create a simple coming soon landing page that asks for an email address so that you can notify people when you launch. Here’s an example:
Tips for an effective coming soon page
- Have a clear and simple statement about what your product offers.
- Offer a free gift in return for the email (such as an ebook that provides some expert advice related to the types of business problem your future customers are looking to solve). You can place a link to the file on your confirmation page – or you can set up an autoresponder via your email service provider.
- Give people some motivation to enter their email. If you’re going to have a beta period, ask people to sign up to be a part of your beta team and state that there are only x spots available. Making it exclusive will appeal to early adopters and beta geeks that like to be at the front of the line. Remember Gmail invites? There’s a new startup called LaunchRock that lets you create a viral “Launching Soon” page in minutes.
Google Webmaster Tools provides you with detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google. Such as when you are getting 404 errors (pages not being found), and who is linking to your site (which is good for some of the link building exercises we’ll get to later on). It’s also a good place to verify that your XML sitemap has been submitted correctly and that your pages are being indexed (so people can find them).
Follow these steps to get up and running:
- Step 1: Set up an account (you’ll need a Google account)
- Step 2: Add your site
- Step 3: Verify your site. To do this you will be asked to upload an HTML file to your site or to add a short code snippet to your homepage. Once you’ve done this you’ll get a happy green checkmark when Google sees what you did.
- Step 4: Create an XML sitemap. This tells Google what pages are on your site, so that it can go index them (it won’t index them all – it’s just picky that way). There are a couple of ways to do this depending on the type of site or blog you’re running. If you’re using WordPress, you should install the Google XML Sitemaps plugin which will generate it automatically for you. Alternatively you can use a different generator to produce one (after you enter your site URL).
- Step 5: Add your sitemap. Once your sitemap exists, you need to tell Webmaster Tools where it lives on your site. This is typically something like http://www.yoursite.com/sitemap.xml.
- Step 6: Get in the habit of checking in once per month to look at stats and spot any errors. It’s also a good QA task to do after you make any changes to your site, in case you broke something in the process.
Watch a simple video introduction to GWT that covers some of these steps and more.
This is a massive topic that would usually be taken up by at least one chapter of a book, but as I’m trying to keep it short and give a noob style overview, I’ll simplify it to one of the core purposes behind how and why you’d choose some of your core keywords.
The core organic search keywords (or phrases) are what you want to optimize your pages for so that people searching for those terms will find you. There are two main components at play here: optimizing your pages for these keywords (making the content on the page relevant to the keywords), and getting inbound links to your pages with link anchor text matching (or semantically related to) the keywords – which tells Google that someone else recognizes you as an authority on your subject.
As with all of the SEO tips I provide here, you will find much more detail elsewhere on the SEOmoz blog – and hopefully in the comments below if I get anything wrong 🙂
To quote Rand:
“Chances are that at launch, you won’t even be targeting many of these searches with specific pages, but if you build the list now, you’ll have the goal to create these pages and work on ranking for those terms.
As you’re doing this, don’t just choose the highest traffic keywords possible – go for those that are balanced; moderate to high in volume, highly relevant in terms of what the searcher wants vs. what your page/site offers and relatively low in difficulty.”
And see this post for more tips – Choosing the Right Keyphrases
Your first analytics task is to set up a free Google Analytics account. There are paid analytics services available, but when you’re getting started, Google Analytics is the best tool to use.
Conversion goals are the actions you want your site visitors to take. Examples of conversion goals are:
- Account signups
- File downloads
- Newsletter or RSS subscriptions
To get started, examine your website and make a list of all of the actions you’d like to track. Then you need to add these goals to your Google Analytics account. If the actions are based on a sequence of steps, you need to set up what’s known as a funnel.
Read this brilliant guide to goals and funnels or watch this video tutorial. If you want to take a look at some more advanced examples of goals that you can track, Web Analytics World wrote a good post on 10 Must Track Goals.
Once you have your goals and funnels set up, you can add them to your dashboard for easy access (discussed later on in #20).
When you get traffic spikes (from a great blog post, PR event, press coverage etc.) add an annotation note into Google Analytics so you can remember the reason for the surge at any point in the future. Not only is this good for historical tracking, but deeper analysis of the data during these spikes can point to potential opportunities and future direction decisions – if you can recreate events that produce a high degree of success then you can make a business case with analytical backing.
In this example you can see the effect that my last SEOmoz guest post and a mention in a post by Rand shortly afterwards had on our traffic.
How to add an annotation
Adding annotations is easy, either click the small gray drawer handle below the chart to open the notes panel (and click the “+ Create new annotation” link), or you can click directly on a node (blue dot) in the chart and click the link there (as shown in the image above). For further instructions and some good suggestions about the types of events to record – read this post on making notes with Google Analytics.
NOOB INSIGHT: Adding these notes tells a great story of the events in your company’s history. If you make it big, you’ll be seen as a hero for recording it all for the giant posterity poster that gets put on the wall just before you get bought out for billions.