Danny opens the session saying this is the “Blogging is Dead” panel, nice joke to jumpstart the session.
Amanda Watlington from Searching for Profit is up first to discuss all three elements of the session. Blogs in the last year have gone from the warm puppy to not so much. She quotes some humorous quotes from places like BusinessWeek and Forbes. Next there are quotes of the same places slamming blogs as evil. So why the debate about Blogs? The good is that they can rapidly spread the “meme”. They can provide a personal or human face to corporations. Can provide valuable feedback through comments and trackbacks. They are bad because they can spread misinformation, rants, and wrong information.
She puts up a graph from Technorati about how blogs have been doubling and doubling and finally doubling. 70,000 blogs are created each day, she doesn’t know how long they will continue. Only 13% are only updated daily. There is about 1.2 million legitimate posts a day. The news people say that “aren’t blogs use teenagers or politically charged people posting?”. No not necessarily. She puts up a list of the top mainstream media sites. There is a good mix of blogs in there.
There is a message to use from the blogosphere. Blogs are extending and changing the tasks and role of the search engine marketer to include: Brand and reputation monitors and management, content strategy and development, and link development and site publicity efforts that include consumer-generated media.
Blogs are not the only force that is changing our role in the search marketing field. RSS is the high octane fuel is changing things. But isn’t RSS just some geeky thing and no one cares about the orange box? Well the data says different. People are using it in places they don’t know they are using it.
So why add RSS to your arsenal? You build stronger relationships, end cross platform content delivery problems, avoids email spam, and strong traffic generator from the traffic side. The best part of RSS is when you break down its uses. Such as affiliate communications, syndicating your content on other sites, new products, security alerts, product types and tips, customer communications, and so on. Its good stuff.
So if I want to use RSS for content syndication? She puts up examples of LifeTips, and they have hundreds of tip sites. You can use there RSS tip of the day feed, and get a tip each day. Smart retailers are using RSS as well. You will hear that RSS is a proven driver of valuable traffic. A simple feed could improve click thru rates.
There are some steps for managing your RSS feed. First you need to create it, then validate it, disseminate it, and finally eliminate old content. There are some great feed creation tools – trade offs out there. Tools like List Garden, NewzAlert, Composer and so are in the middle to help you. Amanda goes into optimizing your feed. Its basic SEO type stuff, I won’t go into it. Some tips though, how many feeds do I need? She says find out what your customers want.
The next horizon is going to be RSS advertising. She says watch out for it. Why RSS advertising? RSS advertising can outperform email advertising, by as much as 26%. There is a storage of online ad inventory is creating interest in new resources. RSS advertising is complex and compelling.
Stephan Spencer from NetConcepts is up second. He says he is an RSS junkie. There are two main areas he sees offering capabilities. It’s better than an inbox, and it produces interaction. So how do you take RSS to the next level. What will help subscribers keep their finger on the pulse of your business/industry and compel webmasters to disseminate to their visitors? If you are writing a book you can include revisions into the RSS feed. There is a wide range of things you create RSS lists on. Give it away, be sure to include the full content. Watch out for SEO’s using your feed content as search engine fodder and hoarding the link gain.
He puts up a few examples of RSS in action such as Yahoo news, Dealnews, marketingprofs.com, and itconversations. You also need to make it easy for subscribers to add a feed to their aggregator. Also make sure that auto discovery is also happening (Safari does this). Also be sure to have My Yahoo listings appear in search results. Create My Yahoo account, and then start pinging Yahoo with updates or use Pingomatic.
It’s also important to track user behavior and capture the link gain to right place. Track your subscribers as well if you can. Some aggregators will track the amount of subscribers you have. You can also track click-thrus which is helpful.
Up third is Greg Jarboe from SEO-PR and asks some audience questions. The bad news he says is that there are 18.5 million feeds out there and there are 22.2 million blogs out there. There are 22.2 million tv channels out there, how many are tuning into your tonight? You have 20 million competitors, that’s the bad news though.
Basically you have no choice in order to take this to the next level. Taking it to the next level can be difficult. Consumer Reports thinks feeds as text broadcast of site’s content. He shows a picture of a girl from 1938 testing a bizarre hair curler. RSS can be like that some how. The is real story is the much larger population of “unaware RSS users”. Consumer Reports magazine has 4.2 million paid subscribers. ConsumerReports.org has 2 million paid online subscribers.
So what kind of RSS feeds do people want? They want World News as number 1, and National News as number 2. You need really compelling stuff and create more than one feed. Having a feed is useful, but getting it found is a different story. People find them different ways and it’s important to distribute it as much as you can. You can use RSS Submit or Press Feed to do some distribution for you.
Create your feeds and create your blogs but create them for people. Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings.