I have attended this session last March in New York and been impressed with great information that is presented. Each of the speakers complement themselves well. This time around it appears the room is getting full with people, about half of which are business owners and the other half media.
Amanda Watlington from SearchingForProfit.com is up first and she asks some basic questions. Who is a blogger? Who uses RSS on other things besides blogs? What is a blog? Blogs are websites with content management systems that: support frequent updates. Present content in reverse chronological order, use simple no coding required templates. Support searchable archiving. Support social interaction through linking, comments, and tracking. She says that a blog without comments is just a website as there is not social interaction. There are 14 million blogs and counting. Blogging is being engrained into American internet life. Last year there was not as many people in this session. This year its grown. As for July 2005, 85,000 blogs where created daily. Worldwide there are 60 million blogs. 55% of people that setup blogs are posting 3 months later. 13% of blogs are updated weekly. We need to play close attend to blogs. They are starting to take up space. Messages to SEMS from the blogosphere. Build links with blogs to improve site link popularity. Create high ranking keyword rich content using an easy to use blogging CMS. Monitor and manage the brand and its reputation across all media segments. Win with recent and relevant content. How do you win? You win with relevant content. Amanda has written a book on blogs. Its not blogs, its RSS see says. It should be powering some website visibility. RSS stands on three legs, RSS feeds, RSS Aggregators, RSS Readers.
What is an RSS feed? An example is thrown up, and she shows how easy it is to code an RSS feed. Step back and thing of how easy it is to add information to an RSS feed. Freed creation tools presents but there are tradeoffs. As you need more flexibility you will need to create a more custom script. Manage your feeds is important. Create, validate, disseminate, and eliminate is what you need to do to manage your feeds. She goes into talking about RSS readers. Amanda asks about how many people use RSS readers? About 25% of the hands are raised, quite a bit more than last year. RSS feeds the mix. RSS is not just for blogs, for example Amazon, NPR, and news sources. There are many uses for RSS such as affiliate communications. Syndicating your content on other sites. Other uses such as new product announcements, security alerts, product uses tops and articles, customer communications, press room, and career channel. What do us as search marketers need to think about? We need to write our content on RSS feeds that are meaningful. RSS is a proven driver of traffic. Measuring RSS results, such as circulation, viewer ship and so on. So why add RSS? You build stronger relationships with faster communication.
Stephan Spencer from Netconcepts started next with information about RSS as a “killer app”. It does get caught up with spam filters. There is web wide syndication. He gives an example of a site that is syndicating their content through RSS. This RSS feed is getting picked up by the search engines at the top of the listings. He provides some tips on RSS. You want to look at creative ways of delivering useful content. Think creatively. Think about RSS as a way to deliver content by category. A lot of blog software does support this. Give it away, provide full text and not just summaries. Watch out for SEO’s using your feed content as search engine fodder and hoarding the link juice (through href rel=nofollow added). MSN search provides the ability to subscribe to news results. Consumers can be keep up to date on deals. He gives the example of Marketingprofs, and ITconversations.com (great podcasts he recommends). Blog software like WordPress embeds podcasts when it finds links to mp3 files. Make it easy to subscribe. 1 click add to your favorite aggregator is best. Make your listings in the Yahoo! SERPS display the “Add to My Yahoo!” link. Signup for my Yahoo! to let yahoo know have updated your blog. You can use Pingomatic to ping many sites at once.
Be sure to track your subscriber behavior. Subscribers from user agent fields in log files. You can also track with reads from “web bugs” which is a 1 pixel gif that can record when people view you RSS feed. Click throughs are also good. Be sure to also personalize your content. This can shot you in the foot however. The best practice for users, subscribe form with interests tickboxes. How to capture the link juice? Encourage links through RSS directories/engines submissions, trackbacks, and pings. Click track your links and pass the search juice. Use a 301 redirects, not 302, or the juice may not flow. Most ads and affiliate links suffer this fate. Warning: Feedburner and simplefeed use 302, not 301. He concludes with some great books, such as Unleash the Marketing & Publishing Power of RSS. This powerpoint can be downloaded at http://www.netconcepts.com/rss.ppt (thanks for the easy link).
Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR is a well known blog champion and he starts off by asking the bloggers in the audience which is rich yet? He says that blogs are catching on fast. The bad news is that blogs are catching on. Business week covered story says “Blogs will change your business”. Is the magazine right? Or is the cover story “the kiss of death?” He says that if its on a magazine, its passé and old news. He says you need to take your blog in a different direction.
How are you going to be successful? How many blogs are there? Over 11 million adults have blogs, 9% of internet users. Blog creators more likely to be men 57%, and young with 48% are under age of 30. They are broadband users, internet veterans, and relatively well off financially. There are 500,000 blog posts per day, which is about 5.8 posts a second. He asks who is picking up your content and when? You have to stand out with your blogs and understand the technical complexities of RSS. So why are people reading blogs. The common answer is that people want to get news they can’t get elsewhere. 51% of journalists use blogs regularly. 70% for work related tasks, 53% find story ideas, 43% to research and reference facts, 36% to find sources, and 33% to uncover breaking news or scandals. The news needs to be compelling, because as a blogger you are technically competing against the New York Times for readership. 32 million American adults read blogs which is about 25% of internet users.
What can we learn from? The midnight rider Paul Revere, the first blogger he says. The night he rode out that night, he spread the message to many towns. He didn’t make, but along the way he meet people who he passed on his message, which those people further spread it to other places. I think Greg is getting at that we need to spread our message. He then compares Paul Revere and William Dawes, in that Paul Revere knew how to reach opinion readers. Greg then goes into examples from someone who attended the session last march in New York. The guy who started a blog about Timeshares had great success talking about timeshares and exposing the market. He gives the example that when Hurricane Dennis hit, this timeshare blog had information on how it affected the timeshare market. It was news that you could only get there. The sites link popularity shot up and there was great increase in search rankings. Good example.
He ends saying that is not about having a blog, not about the content, it’s that the content has to be exceptional.