Blogs can have a powerful influence. Amanda Watlington from APR presented an overview of the blogosphere. This looks like its going to be a great session that is moderately attended. She asks what are blogs? There are 8 million bloggers, 7% of 120 million of internet users. Blogs enable conversation. One to one conversation is critical, and they are the reality of one to one marketing, the marketing that we envisioned several years ago. Blogs and RSS are a new information paradigm. Use to you submitted you website and waited for it to get submitted. Now with blog content and RSS you avoid that. RSS is instant and the user is pulling the content daily. Blogs have many uses and there is are many media uses. Publishing content with a personal voice is important. They also social networking and conversation. They allow dialogues with your market on a local and international basis. They create fans and are wonderful collaboration tools. Its not all just about publishing, itís about the facilitate of the conversation of the one to one marketing with your audience. Communities are often comprised of linked sites of a topical nature. She explains that you blog and its feed is an admission ticket to a community. Building traffic through links requires a strategy. She presents a link network to give us the scope for which blogs gather links. Amazing. ďSorry if you do a marketing site and you donít have an RSS feed today you should be firedĒ from Robert Scobel of Microsoft. He is making a point, that if you website is stale, you are missing the boat. Its all about fresh content and feeding this.
There are many flavors of feeds and formats. You need to think about making you blog visible. She gives an example RSS feed, and that we need to separate our thinking that its an technology. Itís just like a text document. If you think about it as a file it becomes demystified. There is a whole host of independent feed creation tools, many of which are include in packaged blog services. Now, managing you RSS feed, you need to create it, validate it, disseminate, and then eliminate it. She next goes into measuring RSS results. What would you like to measure. You can track aggregate feeds. Tracking aggregator visits as you would spiders Ė directional only. Use something called FeedBurner, its good but not completely accurate. Remember itís a file that links to other files. Now what are the keys to power blogging. Keep you content fresh, topical, and keyword rick. You archives, go beyond just using a calendar. What is in calendar? Create a great navigation, use anchor text to guide reader. Give links freely, and make sure people know you give links. On the template side, keep it simple. All of this is simple technology. They give you a url for each post and is spidered rapidly.
Success can come quickly for a blog. She says that you need to plan you blog for power. Add fresh and quality content often. Remember to give and receive links freely. Amanda ends with mentioning a book that is coming out about business blogs. Great presentation!
Next up was Stephen Spencer, who is an evangelist of RSS. He starts by explaining the types of aggregators. There is the client side vs. the hosted applications, and presents several different types. So how do we work our RSS to the limit. Make sure to give it away, make it easy to subscribe. You will want to track your user behavior to understand what is going on. On the subject of giving it away. What will help subscribers keep their finger on the pulse of your business/industry and compel webmaster to disseminate to their visitors? Use new alerts, latest specials, clearance items, upcoming events, new arrivals, new articles, new tools, & resources. Furthermore, consider whether you should be giving away full text, not just summaries. Watch out for SEOís using you feed content as search fonder to build links. He shows an RSS feed for various searches on MSN. You got to make you RSS easy to subscribe. 1 click add to your favorite aggregator, such as Add to Buttons, Ping Yahoo with your updates. Add you feed to you My Yahoo account. (eg. http://api.my.yahoo.com/rss/ping?u=http://www.myrssfeed.com).
On how to track subscriber behavior, make sure to personalize the content. What is the best practice for users. Subscription form with interest tickboxes. Allow the user to stay anonymous if they so choose. Also give them the option of subscribing via RSS, or email, or both. Personalized feed not ideal from an SEO standpoint. Because you not reinforcing the same items across multiple sites. He gives an example of a personalized RSS feed. He goes on to explain that you can capture the search juice (links he means). Encourage links through RSS directories/engines submission, trackbacks, pings. Click you links and pass the search juice. You can do a 301 (permanent) redirect, not 302, or the juice may not flow. Most ads and affiliate links suffer this fate. Warning for bloggers Feedburner and Simplefeed use 302 redirects. Pay attention to each items title, as they will become link text. He offers an ebook called Unleash the Marketing & publishing power of RSS at marketingstudies.net. He ran out of time, but could have gone on about podcasting, screencasting, OML.
Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR, he ask how many in this room was ready to go and start a corporate blog. He says you need to be a bit of a marketer and a bit of a techie to succeed. Search engines and blogs value relevant content and important links. He admits that he doesnít have a blog, but his daughter has 3. He has discovered that many people have a passion for blogging. What he found out was that there were many people getting a lot of traffic, but didnít make any money. They were up all night, had no life, but didnít know how to make money at blogging. Some do though. Some stats, in 2004 blog readership jumped 58% to 32 million internet users. The interesting thing is that 32 million are reading blogs, and there are 8 million new blogs. So for each blog there are 4 people. So detach yourself, as you will have to wade through the chaff to get to the weeds. He gives an example of a successful blog. He shows some keywords stats for keyword ď voip architectureĒ. So what do pioneers have to do? They have to experiment or die. There are lessons to be learned from the pioneers of the experiments. Back to the case study, he gives a great example of building credibility. Create a list of top bloggers in the space you are covering. This says who is also in the area. Create briefing channels (each a keyword), which creates massive amounts of links. Greg says the clients blog gained over 1,441 links without spending any money. The blog saw a good amount of success in the search engines for competitive phrases. Even though Greg doesnít have a blog, he knows his stuff. Good overview of what you can achieve in this presentation. He ends asking about whether we would like to visit some of the following blogs, and his point is taken, I and you would want to visit them!
Lastly up on the blog panel was Nan Dawkins, she doesnít have a presentation but will talk briefly talk about RSS. She gives a great site right off the bat, http://www.rss2anything.com, which will allow you to create an RSS feed from anything such as emails, newsletter, etc.. Very useful. Another way to experiment with blogs is to create a website that is a blog with an RSS feed. It serves the purpose of a website, with the benefits of a blog. Also make sure to consider your strategy of the blog. Overall great session.
Q: To subdomain you blog or not? A: Donít try to fool anyone. Chris Sherman explains why they used a subdomain on Search Engine Watch. He says that people use the Google Toolbar to search the site inside of on-site search. So people who search with the toolbar can get both blog content and articles on the site. Works well. Greg jumps in and explains that transparency is important to consider. There was a funny example he mentions about a blog called RagingCow that Dr. Pepper created to promote chocolate milk, who then hired bloggers to blog and talk up chocolate milk. How ridiculous he says.
Q: One of our corporate executives thinks we need a blog, but we donít know where will find the content, writers, etc.. A: Greg says this is a common problem. He goes back to the example of his case study, that none of the people at the company are good writers, they even have trouble with emails. They are tech people. So hire a writer! They are very expensive it seems up to $1000 possibly or more. The writer then finds about you company and writes on several areas that work for you. But this works. Some of the speakers goes on to explain that its risky not to take part in the conversation (blog). Gives the example of Kryptonite, a lock manufacturer, who stayed out of the communication and paid the price. Their locks apparently could be picked and opened with a Bic pen. Obviously a problem. If they had a blogger who noticed this early on it would have saved them 10 million dollars to recall all the locks. Big mistake to illustrate the potential benefits to a company.