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    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingWe’ve seen how beneficial RSS can be to both publishers and readers alike earlier in this series so, with that in mind, it’s going to be important to encourage as many people as possible to subscribe to your feed so that they receive your latest posts automatically.

    To help start this process, here are 14 ways which will give the best chance of encouraging subscribers and help you to promote all of the information that you’re providing at the same time:

    1. Promote your feed prominently on your blog

    It’s important to make sure that the RSS icon / feed link is displayed in a prominent position at the top of your blog – as with anything, the placement on the page is very important and, in general, the higher up the page you place it, the more attention and clicks it will attract. What some blogs do is have the feed link appearing down in the footer of the page – don’t make that mistake yourselves!

    2. Offer an email option to receive RSS

    While we can talk about how useful RSS is (and it is!), that will not overcome the fact that a lot of people remain much more comfortable with email and slightly hesitant in the face of technology they’re not totally familiar with. So give them what they want. Offer the option to receive your blog updates automatically via email (ssshh – it’s still using RSS really) – Feedburner, Feedblitz and Aweber all have systems to help you to do this.

    3. Remind them after each post

    They’ve read your post – they’ve loved what you’ve written – so what better time to remind them that they can get all your articles delivered to them automatically than by adding a link to your feed at the bottom of each post together with a (Attention: marketing term!) call to action. They need never miss a thing you write again.

    4. Sign up reminder in your email

    Most of us have a “signature” at the bottom of every email we send – usually it contains our contact details and perhaps a short tagline for the business. Well, what better place to get your RSS feed information out to people you’re in contact with. You can do this either as a link or, if you use Feedburner, then you can use their “headline animator” and have the titles of your last 5 posts appear to help encourage people along.

    5. Tell people about it offline

    In business, we are in contact with potential customers on a constant basis, whether that’s when we give presentations, run seminars, participate in exhibitions etc. Here’s a great opportunity to help them get all your latest news and really get to know what you’re all about by making sure they are clear where to find your feed and what to do with it.

    6. Make people aware what RSS is and how useful it can be

    As I mentioned above, there are still many people who remain unclear of what RSS is and the benefits that it can offer them. Help them to find out. Put together a page which gives details of what RSS is and how they can use it to keep up with all the information they look at on a daily basis. To make it easy, if you’d like to use the introduction to RSS page I put together then please do – and if you could mention where you found it then that would be even better.

    7. Full Feeds or Partial Feeds

    Not all feeds are created equal. You can send out the complete post (full feed) or just an excerpt of it (partial feed) in your RSS - the general consensus seems to indicate that you are more likely to keep the subscribers if you offer them a full feed. The downside is that it does make it easier for scrapers to reproduce your content. I still say, “Go for full feed!”.

    8. Give them an incentive to subscribe

    You can always give an incentive (reward, giveaway, thank you … call it what you want) for people to sign up – something like an ebook focusing on a subject of particular relevance to your readers would probably work well. The easiest way to achieve this is to create a special link within your RSS feed which appears at the bottom of each post and takes subscribers through to a page where the download can be accessed.

    9. Use other online marketing methods

    Don’t forget to use the other online marketing methods to promote your feed as well – email marketing, online PR, SEO, social networks even Pay Per Click all have their place to encourage new subscribers to follow you, should you decide that they are relevant.

    10. Feeds to feed directories

    Alongside general web directories and the blog directories, there are also RSS directories where you can submit your feed. Make the most of them and submit your feed to all the relevant ones you can find – making it visible to as many people as possible through them is only going to be of benefit and may encourage further syndication of your content.

    11. Network elsewhere? Promote the feed there too

    The likelihood is that you network on certain sites and also participate in forums where there are people who would be interested in the information your feed contains. Make sure that if your profile offers the chance to promote your feed that you use it and, perhaps more importantly, include it in your signature on posts or comments you make.

    12. Encourage people to recommend your feed

    This might be done simply through basic referral marketing by asking current subscribers to pass on details of your feed to colleagues and friends – if you want to help them to do this, then include an email a friend option or encourage social bookmarking if you feel that would be appropriate.

    13. Include on key documents you distribute

    Mention your feed as part of the information that you send out with ebooks, white papers etc. In my own case, there is a pdf which forms part of each section of my Business Blogging eCourse. This includes a link through to this blog’s RSS feed so that people taking the course can also keep up on new posts at the same time.

    14. In your Newsletters

    Newsletters and blogs work really well together – very complementary! So make sure that you promote your RSS feed in your own newsletter and readers will be able to follow your blog inbetween the newsletters. You can then return the compliment and promote your newsletter via blog posts, distributed automatically by your feed.

    What about you – do you have any ways that you recommend to increase your RSS subscribers that you’d like to share?

    ......................................

    RSS Series:
    1. RSS - An Introduction: So, what is RSS all about then?
    2. RSS Benefits for businesses, bloggers and publishers
    3. Business benefits of RSS to subscribers & readers
    4. Ways to increase your RSS subscribers

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Not so much blogging tools, but rather tools I use in the course of blogging, if you see what I mean! Anyway, here are 12 tools that I find massively useful in and around my blog.

    1. Feedburner

    One of the blogging tools I would recommend unreservedly. While I may not visit the site every day, I run all of my RSS feeds and my clients feeds through Feedburner which allows me to use them so much more effectively than I could otherwise. It isnt just so I can see how many people are following my blog through my feed or that they can automatically receive updates via email if they are not familiar with RSS. I can also use it to brand the RSS feed, create a signature using the feed to promote my blog on my email or on forum postings, add messages about my services to the feed and much more. Oh and its free.

    2. Aweber

    Although I use a bespoke email marketing system for the larger client campaigns that I run, I also run a number of mailing lists including my own free Business Blogging eCourse (over 2500 takers now, BTW!) via Aweber. This started life as an autoresponder system as well as a bulk email system which seems to have gradually expanded so you can do tracking and all sorts now. In addition, they launched Blog Broadcast which will automatically create an email newsletter from your blog posts that you can schedule according to your needs.

    3. Google Webmaster Tools

    Now at the end of the day, a business blog is still essentially a website and as such can benefit from the tools that Google makes available to webmasters everywhere. Lets face it, businesses may run blogs as an interactive mouthpiece with their clients and the good ones benefit from all of the intangibles in terms of trust, relationships etc they can create; however, this doesn’t stop businesses also tapping into the fact that they are inherently attractive to search engines and so ideal to help develop your online marketing. So check in with Google Webmaster Tools over at Google Webmaster Central.

    4. Statcounter

    Its essential to keep track of whats going on your blog, which posts are attracting most attention, where readers are coming from and what keywords they are using to find you. These are all things we need to know to improve and get the most out of our business blogs. For this, I use two tools – Google Analytics, which is comprehensive but the 24 hour delay in getting the stats can sometimes be frustrating if I need immediate feedback on posts or when I get a surge of visitors from sites like Digg or StumbleUpon. For this reason I also use Statcounter free up to a certain limit but not too pricey on the upgrade if you want some additional bandwidth.

    5. RSS Reader

    To keep up with what is going on in my industry or those of my clients, I rely on two tools. Essential tool no.1 – my RSS reader, which provides me with the news and views of selected sites delivered straight to me. Personally I have gone with an offline reader called FeedReader and I like it. However, I would be remiss if I didnt also point you in the direction of the two most popular readers when it comes to people who follow me: Google Reader and Bloglines. My only advice is to check them out and see which ones appeals to you most. Actually Im wrong my real only advice would simply be – get one!

    6. Google Alerts

    Essential Tool no.2 – Google Alerts. A great little tool which keeps me up to date by sending me emails with any blogs, sites and news articles which mention any of the topics or companies that I am monitoring. Daily updates on some keywords but for others I prefer to get immediate notification so that I can follow up if necessary, perhaps leave a comment or be the first to share the information with my own readers.

    7. WordPress

    Im a WordPress fan, I cant deny it. All the blogs I run for myself and those I set up for clients are based on the WordPress platform powerful, flexible and, in my opinion, the best tool to future proof your investment in blogging. (Oh dear, that sounded a bit like marketing speak!) However, there are often things that I want to do with a blog to achieve a business aim that I need to research from a technical standpoint. Enter the WordPress site. Not only an invaluable source of information on themes and plugins but also the support of other developers and users in the forums. Fab!

    8. Yahoo Site explorer / SEO plugin of Firefox

    Linking is such an important element of the development of a blog that it’s great to keep a close eye on who is linking to you. Specific sites like Technorati are really good but I also like to use another tool (or rather tools) to give a view across all areas of the internet – firstly you’ve got Yahoo’s Site Explorer which allows focus on inbound and internal links and secondly there is the SEO plugin for Firefox (from Aaron Wall of SEO Book fame). Both excellent.

    9. Core FTP

    While I could use WordPress to load images and pdfs etc onto my blog, I guess my years on the business development and marketing side of things havent totally suppressed the techie within (I blame my years at Psion for that) and I like to use an FTP program to load stuff onto my blog. Of course it also comes in very handy for setting up WordPress in the first place together with the plugins I use as part of creating fully optimised blogs for clients. Many recommend Filezilla but I still love the rather bare simplicity of Core FTP bless!

    10. SnagIt

    After trying a number of other products to capture images on screen, I finally forked out for SnagIt and dont regret it for an instant not that that makes me a big spender either at $50. Whether it is for putting together my training courses on blog promotion, creating manuals so clients can really use their blog properly or just to liven up posts or forum comments, its easy and very flexible. Well worth the money.

    11. Dreamstime

    Having looked at a number of different graphics sites, Dreamstime is the one that I use the most when I am looking for images and graphics to use in my posts. There are a number of others such as iStockphoto or Big Stock Photo which are widely used but I found that Dreamstime has an excellent range of images and a reasonable price structure so have stuck with that.

    12. Technorati

    Still the daddy of Blog Search Engines and Blog Directories all rolled into one. If you want to find a blog in your chosen area of expertise then Technorati is where to start and then just follow the links that you find there. Since its important to check out blogs that already exist as part of your own setup process, then this is definitely a site to be familiar with.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Blog Broadcast from AweberThe RSS Feed is one of those key underlying technologies in a blog that can do a huge number of things for us and yet most of us, myself included, are still only scratching the surface with it.

    Its main use is of course to give your readers a secure and immediate way of receiving your latest posts by subscribing to your RSS feed through an RSS Reader. Nevertheless, with so many internet users still unfamiliar with RSS in spite of its many benefits, I always recommend also offering the option of subscribing to the RSS feed via email as well.

    The easiest way to offer this is by using a third party supplier. Feedburner, for example, provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz and Zookoda.

    Normally, you receive these on a daily basis as posts are published. However, there is another provider, Aweber, which gives you the option to take that one step further and effectively create a newsletter with your posts.

    Aweber is probably best known as an autoresponder and email service provider along the lines of Constant Contact and Vertical Response. However, last year, they also launched a service called Blog Broadcast which essentially delivers your blog posts via email but also offers other features in as well. As you would expect from a company which specialises in email and newsletter delivery, this is includes a range of templates to control the look of the emails sent out, personalisation of aspects of the message and title, and tracking of links or ads.

    In addition, as of this week, they have added a scheduling feature to the service. This means that you can now use the service to send out your posts on a schedule which suits you and your readers rather than one decided by the software. For example, you can now automatically send your readers a newsletter every week or every month by email with all of your posts. A great way to use emails to help support your blog.

    Granted this is not a free service but the additional benefits that this gives you are certainly worthwhile and particularly if you also use the other services it offers. For example, I use the autoresponder to deliver my Business Blogging eCourse and you can also use the email broadcast system to send other ezines or general communication to your readers.

    So, if you want to do more than simply send out each post as you make it or you’re looking for an automated way to publish a newsletter to your list of readers, then this might well be worth looking at.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Blogging in the News - UK Blogs
    Some articles which have appeared in the UK online press over the past week which looks at blogging (primarily business blogging) and its uses. If you find any good articles that could be highlighted here, then please post the links below or send them to me directly at mark[at]betterbusinessblogging[dot]com and I’ll do the rest.

    Six Apart turns blogs into full Business Web Sites
    A part of the recent Six Apart PR offensive – we have been able to do this for a while with WordPress though. An example is the Heal Naturally website here.

    Third of Bloggers “risk the sack”
    Rather provocative headline – work with your employees and have blogging policies in place and you can worry about email again as the biggest security issue, rather than blogs.

    Six Apart scales up Movable Type Blogging
    Good to see Six Apart continuing their development of their main corporate blogging platform – now all you need to do is try our Blogging Workshops and in-house training to see how best to use of blogging in business! Anyone notice the blatant plug? :)

    Blog is but a list of names
    A case in point – to write a successful blog, you need to find out what interests your readers and it seems that a list of dinner parties just isn’t cutting it for this councillor.

    Google buys blog and RSS tool Feedburner
    One of my favourite tools, Feedburner, has been bought by Google – another big player getting heavily involved in RSS following Microsoft with the IE7 and others.

    Telegraph launches RSS reader
    The Telegraph seems intent on adding to their online offering and an RSS ensuring that they keep readers onsite even when they are reading others’ news is a very sensible step.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Business Blog Design Series[This is part of a series following on from a post called “Business Blog Design“]

    RSS is a key element of blogs and for their successful use in business it is also one of the 5 Rs that I consider to be key to business blogging. This is primarily because of the enormous benefits of what is effectively an instant and very efficient method of distributing information, as well as a great marketing tool.

    For publishers, RSS should really have a similar importance as an newsletter sign up box because it gives you the same opportunity to communicate with people who have expressed an interest in what you have to offer. The added benefit is of course that you have an assured method of delivery which is not hampered by email filters and the like.

    If gaining loyal readers (and hence subscribers) to your blog is important – and let’s face it, it is to 95% of business bloggers – then it’s important to consider where it appears on your blog design. Higher up the screen and certainly above the fold is clearly going to be better, though this needs to be balanced with the other elements that you wish to promote – however, if RSS subscriptions is a key aim, then get that up at the top, big and bold.

    Remember that there is also no need to restrict yourself to a single feed – if you are writing material which is has very distinct areas, then use the capability to set up an RSS feed for each category and promote them individually. Let your readers decide which parts they want to receive, they’ll appreciate that more than having to filter out the elements they want, particularly if you are a prolific writer.

    Other things that you should consider to encourage signups from your blog are:

    • Use Feedburner to optimise your RSS usage: I’m a great fan of Feedburner because they offer a number of services which allow you to increase the usability and marketing potential of your RSS Feed – I outline some of those in this post about Feedburner.Give yourself the best chance of using RSS - sign up to Feedburner.

    • Use a Giveaway to encourage Subscriptions: Taking a leaf out of email subscription good practice, use a giveaway to encourage sign ups to your RSS feed. Its sensible and it works! How to do it though? Well, using Feedburner, you can create a custom FeedFlare which links back to a download page on your site. Still unsure? contact me here!
    • Email subscription to RSS: even for readers who are not familiar with RSS, you can make sure that they can still benefit from the instant access that RSS offers by offering them a subscription via email. There are 3rd party services which allow you to do this such as Feedblitz or the email subscription service from Feedburner.
    • Link from each post: to cater for readers who arrive at your posts directly, encourage readers at the bottom of each post to sign up for the RSS feed. This can be done directly, or if you are a WordPress user, this can be done through a plugin such as Subscribe Remind.
    • Highlight Feed Readers: you may like to consider using the little chicklets highlighting the different Feed readers that people could be using to receive your feed. Don’t go overboard (there are more important things you can have in your sidebar) but you could benefit from using some.

    One final thing to reiterate is that promoting your RSS in your blog design is no good without the content behind it – it is easy to unsubscribe so that puts the onus on you, the writer, to make sure you give content that they’ll want to come back to read. The inimitable Hugh McLeod summed this up beautifully in one of his cartoons, which is what I leave you with.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    If you are serious about developing your blog for your business then the likelihood is that you will be keeping a keen eye on tracking visitors to your site, seeing which posts are attracting most interest and which keywords are being used to find you.

    There are a number of tools of the market which can help you in this, many of which are free. Most of these are generic tracking packages are aimed at websites in general, but there are also some excellent ones which are specifically aimed at blogs which should also be considered because of the additional elements they bring.

    Blog Tracking Tools

    There are four services that I have looked at specifically, though there are of course many more which exist in the market. The first two, MyBlogLog and Feedburner, were created with blogs specifically in mind while Statcounter and Google Analytics are general analytics packages, designed for a wider audience.

    MyBlogLog: (recently acquired by Yahoo) is much more than just a tracking package. You are given a dashboard overview of where readers came from, what they’ve viewed and what they clicked on, as well additional more comprehensive details in the detailed area, but I believe that the real value comes from the community element it also offers.

    With MyBlogLog, you get the chance to make contact with the people who read your blog, make contact and link up with others as well as join communities on individual blogs or sites (join the Better Business Blogging community here). You can see which members last visited your blog in your profile area on MyBlogLog and, through an easily installed widget, also display it on your blog encouraging others to join.

    Overall, a nice set up combining relationship options and tracking combined, though I notice that the statistics reported are generally lower than through other packages.

    Feedburner: Feedburner is perhaps best known for its RSS tracking and manipulation but during 2006 they also bought blog tracking company BlogBeat. This has now been integrated as a blog analytics element into their free StandardStats package which sits alongside their more familiar RSS feed services.

    Following the familiar Feedburner look and feel, you get page and visitor tracking, entry and exit pages together with browser information and location delivered in a “tag cloud” format. There are also a couple of nice touches linked to the RSS feeds, insofaras you can identify sites where your content has been resyndicated including other blogs and directories and you can track downloads of podcasts etc.

    Lots more integration to come by all accounts so definitely one to keep an eye on in terms of new developments.

    Statcounter: Real time stats and a whole host of information about who’s doing what and where on your site. A comprehensive and very popular stats package which gives a whole host of information across every aspect that you might need, perhaps with the exception of detailed information on exit links clicked on. Other than that you have everything that you might need from Search Engine referencers, keywords used, visitor tracking, popular pages etc.

    The free service offers all the functionality but retains only 100 page views to drill down into for detailed information – however, upgrading is relatively inexpensive if required. The interface is functional without being anything to write home about but the fact that it is real time statistics from the word “go” is a real plus if you need to know what is happening on your blog immediately.

    Google Analytics: After a few initial teething troubles of its own making (I guess that’s what happens when you give away something like this for free), Google Analytics has settled down to be probably the most comprehensive free tracking package out in the market.

    In some ways in fact, it’s possibly overkill for what most blogs require but it is certainly very complete in what it tracks, and it presents the information in graphic format as well as raw data. The click paths are particularly nice but there is going to be a lot of the functionality which will probably not be used.

    Which to go for

    All contain more than enough basic information in their tracking to satisfy most users, so it is really their individual specialist additions that make the difference where they play to their own strengths.

    There is of course nothing stopping you using more than one package and this is the road I would probably recommend. If you use a comprehensive overall analytics package such as Statcounter or Google Analytics, then these will certainly cover all your indepth tracking requirements. But the community elements at MyBlogLog are an excellent addition and Feedburner’s RSS expertise offers tracking through your feeds that the others can’t provide, so incorporate these as well and get the best of all worlds!

    One word of warning – it can get addictive! So try not to keep popping back to your stats every 5 minutes to see who’s visited, the information will still be there later.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    Feedburner acquires BlogbeatFeedburner announced today that it has acquired Blogbeat, which is a provider of blog analytics based in Raleigh, Durham.

    As a fan of Feedburner and the services that they offer, this is good news that that they are further extending their services and particularly so because they have expressed the intention to include the blog analytics as an extension of the free services package. These are already hugely useful in tracking and customising RSS feeds and so adding in the ability to track visitors as well can only add to this.

    As they have also announced that Jeff Turner, Blogbeat founder, will be joining Feedburner as Lead Engineer, Web Analytics, they are clearly expressing their intention to develop this area further – another positive step. For a Business Blog to be truly effective, we need to be able to measure its success according to the goals that we have for it – visitors to the blog and RSS readership are two of the possible criteria by which to do so.

    We should also be using stats packages and analytics to get a better idea of which posts and subject areas are proving the biggest attraction for our readers – with this information at our fingertips, we can then make sure that we adapt our writing, provide the type of information that is most in demand and so give our readers what they are looking for.

    Feedburner expect to have the Blogbeat services integrated by the 4th quarter of this year and I for one will be looking forward to using them.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    This post is the 5th part of the series which looks at the 5 key elements of creating a successful Business Blog. These elements are:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    Let’s turn our attention to the fifth and final ‘R, which is:

    Communication and dissemination of information is key to achieving a successful blog and the RSS functionality is the way to achieve that. So as the 5th R, Im including is RSS.

    When someone subscribes to your RSS Feed, it means that they have shown a commitment to continuing the interaction they are interested in receiving more information from you and you are now able to provide them with immediate and unobtrusive updates from your blog.

    RSS is definitely “Opt-in”
    Being completely “opt-in”, it is also a totally safe method for readers to receive information, after all it is anonymous and they can opt out whenever they wish. This may sound unappealing from a writer’s perspective but all this in fact means is that the onus is on us to create content that people are going to want to read. RSS is the perfect way to deliver it safely.

    Make the RSS Feeds easy to find
    You want to make sure that the RSS feeds are prominent on your blog to make it as easy as possible for visitors to find. The generic orange logo is now becoming more and more commonplace although even more sites still retain the orange box with RSS or XML in it. You can also add a series of small logos which are set up with the names of the main RSS Readers to help make the process easier and more visible – this is great as it can help people feel more comfortable about subscribing.

    Offer RSS by email too
    To cover all options, you should also make use of the 3rd party services such as Feedblitzwhich give people the ability to subscribe to the RSS feed by email not quite the way that RSS was intended to be delivered but the main point is delivering the content it contains to those who want to receive it. In any case, the take up of RSS, which has been steady but still relatively slow, is likely to increase dramatically as it is incorporated directly into the main browsers this year.

    Explain RSS and how great it is to use
    To help the take up levels, create a page which explains what RSS is and what RSS Readers are available this may not seem necessary, but if it helps to break down the barriers to its use then it is worthwhile and both you and your readers will benefit from this additional effort because they will receive your content as and when you post it.

    Customise your RSS Feed
    You should look to customise your feed where possible to include branding elements such as your logo and have the feed appear as you would like it to. Differentiate yourself in your feed. However, if you are not proficient in XML, then don’t worry. If you use the tools available from a company such as Feedburner then you can easily do this at the click of a button – you may also find my post Feedburner: using your RSS feed more effectively useful in this context.

    Wider syndication
    Although RSS Feeds are generally read in individual’s browsers, the syndication of this information doesn’t need to stop there. RSS Feeds can also be taken and displayed on websites elsewhere using software which turns the feed into text which is visible in a browser – this allows you to syndicate and spread the information from your Blog even more widely.

    Target more with multiple RSS Feeds
    As your blog develops, you should consider creating a separate RSS Feed for individual topics, probably divided according to the categories you have set up. This will allow your readers even greater choice in terms of the information they receive from you and in terms of giving your readers what they want, more choice is going to be better.

    But whether you work from a single RSS feed or develop multiple feeds, it is important that you make RSS a central part of your blog promotion and reader retention program. It is something which underpins the other elements and allows the Business Blog to reach its full potential by making the information we produce as widely available as possible.

    Key elements: explain benefits of RSS, make RSS easy to subscribe to, customise your RSS feed, push the use of RSS, use multiple RSS Feeds where appropriate, syndication of information

    So remember, we are looking to cover these 5 elements:

    ReadReplyReturnRecommendRSS

    If we can achieve each of these 5Rs successfully in our Business Blogging, then we are well on the way to creating a Business Blog which will achieve the goals that we set for it, whether they are focused on creating a network, improving our reputation or positioning, developing a solid base of subscribers, increasing our Search Engine Rankings or simply generating new business.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    3. The 5 ‘R’s of Better Business Blogging – Recommend
    4. The 5 Rs of Better Business Blogging – Return
    5. 5 ‘R’s of Business Blogging – a Summary

    A couple of small steps last week to note regarding RSS feeds and getting a more common and compatible system across more of the main blogging platforms.

    Firstly, Blogger.com finally added support for RSS to their system in addition to the Atom feeds that they had been using. While not riveting news perhaps, it does give people using Blogger a better choice of how they want to syndicate their content which is certainly for the best (although Im sure theres no need to repeat here my views on whether Businesses should be using Blogger!).

    In any case, you will ideally still put your feed through Feedburner for all the good reasons that I outlined in Feedburner: using your feeds more effectively.

    Talking of Feeedburner, the other news was that they have been working with Six Apart on the TypePad system and they are now able to offer better integration between the two systems. This means that anyone using TypePad can also benefit from all the subscriber information and promotional elements that Feedburner offers.

    So what does this all mean? Well, its really just another step in the integration of all of the services across the main blogging platforms which should ultimately be of benefit to bothe publishers and readers of Blogs alike, because they will be able to use the same familiar tools no matter what blogging software is being used. Having worked for may years in the mobile computing industry where this was the exception rather than the norm, I for one am glad to see it happening.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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    There are two sites that I always walk people through whenever I start to work with them on their Blogs: Technorati and Feedburner. Why? Because I believe that Technorati is the start point for anyone looking to find out more about what is out in the Blogosphere and because Feedburner provides some excellent easy to use tools that all bloggers can benefit from, right from the start.

    Feedburner offers a number of paid services which you can progress on to as the need arises, but their free services are well worth taking the time to examine and incorporate in your Blog. There are ones which I particularly recommend because I feel that they help in utilising and developing your Blog’s RSS Feed in important ways.

    The elements I would highlight are:

    Subscriber information: by channeling your RSS Feed subscriptions through Feedburner, you can gain additional information about those subscribing. Specifically, it allows you to identify the number of people that are actively subscribed to your feed, as well as providing information on the type of reader they are using and the articles that have been visited directly from the feed itself.

    User friendly RSS feed: there are some small touches you can make to enhance the experience for people receiving your feed such as including your logo, which in itself reinforces the branding aspect, and changing the description of the feed. Although these are changes you can make yourself directly to the feed with a little technical knowledge, this makes it simple for everyone to apply.

    Feed Reader Chicklets: the code and images required to create the small RSS feed logos relating to each of the main RSS Readers are provided. While not strictly necessary, any method such as this which increases the visibility of your feed on your Blog can only be beneficial to your promotional activities.

    RSS Feed via email: for those people who dont use RSS readers but still want to know when you have updated your blog, there is the option of an email subscription service. Feedburner provides you with the code to create a basic sign up form on your blog and then visitors can use to subscribe to receiving your blog updates automatically via email. A similar service is provided by Feedblitz.

    Headline Animator: this is a small image using an animated gif file, which automatically displays the titles of the last 5 posts from your Blog and allows people to click through a sign up for the feed. It appears in the form of a box (2 formats available) which can be used either in emails or perhaps in online forums etc.

    PingShot: this is an ideal companion to the concept of Post and Ping, where PingShot notifies a number of servers at once that you have published new content on your Blog . No real difference from the other services available at Pingomatic and Pingoat (indeed it works through Pingomatic) but a good extra service.

    How do you do this? Well, just head along to the Feedburner site, sign up for an account and then “burn” a Feed using your current feed, follow the instructions and away you go! There are some useful services there and with RSS destined to become more widespread as the year progresses, set up in the best way you can in readiness.

    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

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