FREE eCOURSE ON
    BUSINESS BLOGGING

    Everything you need to set-up, develop & promote a successful Business Blog

    Full Name

    Email

    Referred by


    FULL COURSE DETAILS HERE

  • Warren: Blogging and Social Media definitely go hand in hand. Having a successful social presence can do a lot for a...
  • Jennifer Rai: All points mentioned above are very well put together. Blogs having purpose and a focus on certain...
  • jessica@lukeroxas: I ran a small home based business, and lately I’ve decided to put up my own website,...
  • Rob: Rather weird that a blog on blogging hasn’t been updated since 2009!
  • Ayala Land: Perhaps I was one of those companies who, as you put it “think they can avoid it” but thanks to well...

    Join me on Twitter at @BlogCoach




    While there’s always been lots of debate as to what criteria Search Engines use to rank web pages in their search results, what there is little debate about is that appearing high up on the Search Engines Results page has become of key importance to most businesses. Why? Simply because currently, Search Engines are the preferred research tools in today’s marketplace.

    As a result, Search Engine Optimisation (aka SEO) has developed into a thriving (if often maligned) industry as organisations, both large and small, strive to gain higher positions and greater visibility in the Search Engine results pages (SERPs).

    The other thing that has become increasingly apparent is that blogs (and business blogs in particular) have a number of attributes which help them rank highly in the Search Engines, making them an important or even, dare I say, a key part of Search Engine Marketing. To understand why, first let’s have a quick reminder of how Search Engines work.

    Search Engines: a few basics

    The main Search Engines – I’m thinking here primarily of Google, Yahoo and Live – collect information from websites using electronic programs called “robots” or “spiders”. They find new sites and content generally by following links and then reading and indexing the code which creates the individual pages (and hence the text they contain). This is all stored on their servers so that when a search is submitted, the Search Engine sifts through all the relevant pages in its index and then ranks them in terms of relevancy using a mathematical algorithm. The result of all this is what we see on the Search Engine results page.

    They determine this relevancy using over 100 different criteria, if we are to believe the experts in this field, though some criteria are obviously considered more “valuable” than others. Those considered particularly important include the text itself, the inbound and internal links, focus and relevancy of the information and some key onpage elements such as the Title tag. It is also worth reminding ourselves that search engines rank individual pages rather than whole websites when they create their results pages.

    So how can we apply this to blogs?

    Armed with an overview of what Search Engines are looking for to rank pages highly, it’s clear that blogs do in fact fulfil a number of these criteria perfectly, which goes a long way to explain why they rank so well. Specifically:

    • Text: Business Blogs tend to be focused in their content and that is ideal for what Search Engines look for when they are searching for pages which fit with specific search criteria;

    • External Inbound Links: the overriding philosophy in the blogosphere is to reference other blogs by linking to relevant sources; so blogs offering good (and often specific) content are likely to attract a greater number of links;

    • Internal Links: blogs are automatically structured in such a way that the internal linking is excellent with highly relevant anchor text (the words that actually form the link) which is an extra bonus;

    • Up to date information: the most successful blogs are generally ones which are regularly updated and hence offer a growing resource of recent and relevant content;

    • Onpage elements: good blogging software has excellent flexibility which gives you the opportunity to have specific onpage elements (such as the Title Tag) for each individual page.

    Blog Search Engines, Pinging and Instant Indexing

    Although blogs appear in the main Search Engines like any other online site, they also have their own set of Search Engines which focus primarily on blogs. This is important because the way that these Blog Search Engines find new content is different to the main Search Engines.

    If blogs are set up correctly, they will automatically “ping” these search engines – this is the digital equivalent to a ‘tap on the shoulder’ telling them that there is new content for them to index. This happens instantly and, with one of these Blog Search Engines belonging to Google, this means that Google’s main index can pick up your post almost immediately – my best is 6 minutes.

    Of course, if the blog is part of your main website then there is also the greater chance of the rest of your site being indexed more frequently too, let alone all the pages benefiting from the value of the inbound links coming into the blog, linking to your new articles! Ah, is there no end to the benefits!! ;)

    Conclusion: keep developing your Business Blog

    If, like me, you already use a blog for your business, then these Search Engine benefits will not be anything new – no doubt you will have already have seen the sort of great results that you can achieve. If you haven’t, then we really need to talk! :) However, they are particularly impressive when you consider that you are probably writing your blog with your readers uppermost in your mind and these benefits are merely a welcome (albeit very beneficial) side effect.

    Business blogs however are not a magic solution and nor should they be used in isolation – they are at their best when used in conjunction with other marketing activities, both online and offline. Equally, they are not trying to manipulate Search Engines – an accusation sometimes levelled at SEO companies. Simply put, well written and focused blogs give Search Engines exactly what they want to provide for their users – good, specific and up to date information on the subject matter that they are searching for.

    And providing that is of course where both the challenge and the benefits lie!

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

    24 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Which Search Engines can find my blog?
    2. Optimizing your Blog for Search Engines
    3. New blog search engines: Ask.com and Sphere
    4. Basic SEO in Blogs – Overview
    5. Google and UK Blog Search Results

    Google Blog SearchGoogle Blog Search has just had a bit of a facelift, though it’s not so much of a ‘new look’ as a ‘news look’ given that they have essentially taken the format that they use for Google News and applied it here.

    In many respects though, that’s a very sensible route to take. Blogs do tend to fulfil a dual role of providing the latest news on topics where timing is critical as well as being a type of interactive website where good information is always in demand no matter when it was posted. In the case of Google Blog Search, their results are skewed massively towards the most recent information posted – even when sorted in terms of relevance rather than date. Probably better this way or we would simply be looking largely at a rehash of Google’s main index and that’s not what we are after here.

    So what Google Blog Search is good at is letting you find the latest information appearing in blogs – does very much what is says on the tin, so to speak – and so the redesign is clearly playing to its strengths. It also benefits from Google’s general uncluttered approach which I sometimes think that Technorati might like to be mindful of again. So check it out and don’t forget to use the RSS feature – will save you masses of time!

    A quick run through

    So what do you get for your beta now and how can you use it. Well, on the homepage, you now get a pre selected set of blog posts in the main results area and, in the lefthand sidebar, you can select one of 11 other pre-ordained categories to look at. Alternatively you can of course head straight for the search box at the top.



    Once you’ve searched on a term, you’ve got the chance to do some filtering, essentially on how recent you want the results to be – you can also sort the results either by relevancy or time, though this makes less difference than you might think. From a business perspective, a really important function sits rather inconspicuously at the bottom of the lefthand sidebar where you can quickly set up either a Google Alert or an RSS Feed for the search terms you’ve just used. Can save you loads of time and keep you up to date!


    So overall, it’s a change but not a revolutionary one by any means – more a shuffle forward and to the side rather than a giant leap. I do, however, find myself using it more than Technorati now for general searches, although to track links etc I still return to the Big T.

    As an aside, at this time of intense political as well as economic debate over in the US, I like the fact that Google chooses to re-iterate at the bottom of the homepage “The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program”. So that’s all okay then …

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

    2 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Google spreads the word about Blog Search
    2. Google Blog Search: advanced search capabilities
    3. New blog search engines: Ask.com and Sphere
    4. Google and UK Blog Search Results
    5. Researching business blog topics – use Google Alerts

    RSS Series from Better Business BloggingThere are two things that I consider to be safe assumptions in life: one, we all like to know whats going on and, two, we never seem to have enough time. Now it may be that for some of us, a copy of Business Week, The Times or perhaps Cosmopolitan (according to our preferences) will be enough to keep us up to date with what’s happening in the areas that interest us. For others, and particularly in business, we need to cast our net a little wider and need to be able to sift the information more quickly.

    Of course, the more subject areas we want to follow, the more we bump into the issue of not having enough time to find the information that we need, let alone read it. Once again, RSS to the rescue! This sort of problem of information overload can really be reduced (though not I fear totally eradicated) by making best use of an RSS Reader to find and deliver to us the latest news and information from wherever it’s hiding on the internet.

    So let’s quickly start by looking at five of the main advantages before moving onto some of the more specific business benefits below:

    1. Time saver par excellence
    Time saver because you no longer need to keep revisiting sites to get the latest information, instead it is delivered to you in a neat bundle to let you decide quickly and easily what’s of interest.

    2. Latest information always at your fingertips
    Whether it is business information, the weather, local news, breaking industry research or a new posting from a rarely-updated site you receive up to date information in your areas of interest as soon as it is published.

    3. You are in control of what you receive
    Both subscribing and unsubscribing from an RSS feed is totally under your control. You can do so at any time at the click of a button in your RSS reader; so if the information stops being relevant, you can instantly remove it.

    (more…)
    If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

    5 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. RSS Benefits for Businesses, Bloggers and Publishers
    2. RSS Readers – where can I get mine?
    3. 14 ways to help increase your RSS subscribers
    4. Who’s visiting your Blog? Browsers, Searchers and Subscribers
    5. A basic guide to RSS

    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!

    5 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogs and Newsletters: complementary marketing tools
    2. Researching business blog topics – use Google Alerts
    3. The 5′R’s of Better Business Blogging – RSS
    4. 52 of the Best Ways to Promote your Blog and your Business
    5. Feedburner: using your RSS Feed more effectively

    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.

    Advantages and risks for corporate bloggers
    Lots of talk about risks of blogging (has no-one heard of Blogging Policies?) but here nicely balanced with the advantages that businesses can gain.

    Employee blogs a potential legal minefield
    Like I said, lots of talk about the risks of blogging – while overblown here, make sure that you are covered in the same way that you should be regarding information sent in emails, which can also be used from a legal perspective.

    O’Reilly reverses call for blog code of conduct
    2nd part of a recent debate around whether there should be a Code of Conduct for blogs or not – looks like the person who suggested it is backtracking somewhat here. But it’s an interesting question, so …

    Blogging boom continues as world of weblogs grows
    An overview from BigMouth Media about the latest “State of the Blogosphere” release from Technorati.

    Power of the secret policeman’s blog
    A UK Bobby blogging anonymously about life in the force much in the way that “MiniMicrosoft” does and showing blogging as the important medium that it has become.

    British Blog Awards 07: the shortlist
    There’s a particularly short list for the Best Business Blogs … mainly because they haven’t got a category for them in the UK Awards! Mind you there is a panel of “celebrity judges”, so that’s ok, I suppose …

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

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Blogging in the News – 6 May 2007
    2. Blogging in the news – 20 May 2007
    3. Blogging in the News – 25 Nov
    4. Blogging in the News
    5. Blogging in the News – 20 October

    As I suggested in the Green Cross Code of Blogging, an important initial step before you start a blog yourself is to stop and check the blogs that are already in existence – preferable ones which are talking about your own market or subject area – to see what is being said, how they are being used and how they are approaching blogging as a business tool.

    It is equally important, whether you have a Business Blog or not, to track what is being said either about you and your company, or about developments in your market. At least you can then join the conversations where they are taking place even if you are are still deciding how best to put together your own blog. But first of all, you need to find out who is taking about this, and where.

    So the question is where the best place to find out what blogs exist in a certain industry or cover certain topics. For me, I always turn to Technorati, which is one of the two main blog sites that I recommend anyone intending to use blogs bookmarks immediately. If you want to find out what blogs exist and what is being said in them, then this is the place to start your search.

    As you hit Technorati’s homepage, there seems to be a lot going on but, for now, let’s just focus on the main search function. So the main area that you want to concentrate on is the Search Bar:

    You can see that you can search through 3 different sets of information: Blog posts, Tags and the Blog Directory.

    • Blog posts: this is the widest search and it looks through all of the information contained in the posts of the blogs on Technorati.

    • Tags: these are like categories that an author can assign to an individual post (or indeed to pictures or links) and gives the best idea of how the author would describe the content.

    • Blog Directory: the directory looks at the individual Blogs as a whole and assigns them to subsections of the directory. When a blogger “claims” a blog on Technorati (we’ll come to that in a later post), then they can add the categories they wish to appear in as well.

    I always advise starting with the “Blog Posts” search as it gives you a wide search but the “Tags” are an excellent second bet and are becoming ever more widely used and hence useful.

    Once you have your first set of results, Technorati then allows you to refine them. I have used the example of a search on “RSS Marketing” below.

    You have 3 options to help you refine the results, each with its own pull down menu – you can use just one or all three of them.

    • The first allows you to choose the “additional search terms” that Technorati has suggested which also appear in blue just below and gives you posts which contain both “RSS marketing” and, for example, “Business Blogging”. This helps to narrow your search.

    • The second allows you to set a level of authority which Technorati determines by the number of blogs which link to the blog you are looking at – “any authority” will give you all blogs which fit your search terms.

    • And the third, allows you to select blogs only in a certain language.

    So now we have a set of results which hopefully reflects the posts that contain the information that we are looking for. An example from the excellent Problogger is given below as an example.

    However, this gives us more than just this post to use in our research. For example:

    • By clicking on the Post Title, we go through to the blog where we can see if there are additional posts which interest us. There is also likely to be a “blogroll” or “recommended sites” section on the blog which will often link to other sites which will be of interest. Blogs often become the hub of a network in their own right so start with one that interests you and follow their recommendations

    • By clicking on the Blog Name, you will get additional information about the blog and other posts that as well as an overview of the main areas that it covers

    • By clicking on the Blogger’s name, you can see if they write other Blogs which might be of interest to you

    • By clicking on the Linked Sites, you can see which blogs have linked to the one you are interested in and also which sites it has linked to in turn. By following these links, you can quickly get a list of blogs to read and return to.

    So using Technorati, we can quickly gain an list of blogs which will be of interest to us and also of use in developing our own Business Blog. To save time, make sure you add them to your RSS Reader (you can always delete them later) so that you can follow them easily and keep up to date.

    [Adapted from a post on my other blog, The Blog Coach]

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

    1 Comment 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Technorati gets a 3rd Birthday facelift
    2. Technorati adds Favorites page
    3. Help people to want to read your Blog
    4. Lessons learned when Starting a blog
    5. Google Alerts: Great research tool now with RSS

    Joshua Schachter over at Del.icio.us announced this week that they had registered their 1 millionth user while TechCrunch in their own summary also reminded us that Digg recently reported they had just passed the half million mark.

    While the numbers arent enormous in internet terms, they are by no means insignificant and they are growing. So, along with the other social bookmarking (and indeed social networking) sites, they are certainly worth paying attention to as we look to promote our blogs and raise the visibility and profile of the information we provide.

    Why in particular? Because social bookmarking provides an additional way for your readers to save your site or an individual post as one of their favourites which allows them to share it with others – this creates an additional route for people to find and potentially write about your site. In this sense, you could look at it as a sort of online version of refer a friend on steroids. Not forgetting that, as with all networking, even if the person they tell is not directly interested, they may well pass it on to others who are.

    So, who might use this as a promotional tool? Effectively anyone with something (preferably interesting!) to say or share. It could be an article or a set of useful hints and tips, it could be a drawing, photo or picture (using Flickr for example) or perhaps a podcast or video clip. Whatever the content is, the key element is the sharing and the community aspect if someone has it in their favourites then they are effectively endorsing it and recommending it to others. Best type of recommendation – from a friend or colleague. And by extension, best type of business – referral business.

    For this reason, I have added social bookmarking to my list of Marketing and Promotional techniques, in particular for blogs though it should also be considered for websites. It is an added way to gain additional exposure which in turn translates into additional visitors which you can then turn into additional revenue. Definitely worthwhile.

    So what do I have to do to take advantage of this? Well, ideally it should be as easy as possible for visitors to save your content to the social bookmarking sites and the best way to do this is with a simple link or icon which does this automatically. If you are using WordPress, then there are a number of plug-ins which will help you to do just this. Two that you might like to look at are Sociable and Social Bookmark Bar, both of which achieve it well.

    People talk about social bookmarking as the way that Search Engines in general will need to go in the future, relying less on mathematical calculations and more on individual and personal recommendations. While this may or may not come to fruition, there is no doubt that it is a developing area and one that as Business blog owners we should both be aware of and catering to.

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

    4 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Online viral marketing and PR in action
    2. Business Blogs, Social Media and Welcome Mats
    3. Blogs as Social and Business Networks
    4. Where do readers of your blog come from?
    5. Promoting and Marketing your Business Blog (Blog specifc methods)

    Technorati have just announced and implemented a facelift for their site which at first glance looks good and very clean, though as ever I find myself starting to look for things where they used to be but aren’t any more!

    With so many new features and additions over the past few months, the interface had certainly become rather cluttered so this is certainly a good decision to have stood back, looked at all the different functionality and then decided on the best way to present all of the information. Clearly lots of work behind the scenes as well.

    There seems to be a lot more focus on personalising the information which follows a good trend in web design and, from my own point of view, having all of the information about a blog in a single view rather than having to sift through a number of different page views to find it all is very positive.

    I look forward to going through in more detail and looking at all the changes. In the meantime, you can find out all the changes that have been made in Dave Sifry’s Announcement on the Technorati Blog. Have fun!

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

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Technorati adds Favorites page
    2. Technorati and Blog Research
    3. Monitor your brand, company and industry using blogs
    4. Blogging Platforms & Google Trends
    5. New blog search engines: Ask.com and Sphere

    The launch of Ask.coms own blog search engine last week has prompted me to look at what both Asks new offering brings to the blogosphere and also what Sphere offers, a search engine which I had not looked at previously here.

    There are already a number of players in the Blog Search Engine space, from specialist blog engines such as Technorati and IceRocket and blog search offerings from the main players in the general Search Engine market such as Google Blog Search. As such, the marketplace is already looking quite competitive as everyone looks for which features to offer and how to go about differentiating themselves.

    So let’s have a brief look at what both Ask and Sphere are offering us in terms of search and functionality:

    ASK.com
    They call it their Blogs and Feeds search engine and they have teamed up with Bloglines to provide the information within it, there are three main tabs which return results for a general search, an RSS Feed search and a News Search.

    On the general search, you can search according to relevance, date or popularity, with the displayed results giving you the post title together with the author, name of the blog and a short description. It offers 4 options in terms of what you can do with the displayed results: you can preview the blog without leaving the search page by using their binocular feature; you can subscribe to the RSS feed and a drop down menu gives a choice of readers; you can also save the result to visit later which is a nice touch; and you can share the results by posting to del.icio.us, bloglines, digg etc.

    There is also a fully functioning advanced search option which allows you to search according to a number of different criteria such as title, author, description etc and by specific time frames. As Ask.com has created this is conjunction with Bloglines, so the RSS feeds are ranked according to Bloglines subscription data not entirely fair but it is difficult to rank RSS Feeds so I guess it has to be done somehow.

    Sphere
    Sphere runs their own Search Engine and the initial interface reminds me of a mixture of Google and Technorati, which I guess is where some of the inspiration will have come from.

    Probably the main stand out feature for the search is that there is a deal of flexibility open to you in terms of the time scales being searched, although this is only available once you have your initial search results which defaults to the last day guess that shows just how much information is now posted on blogs! You can choose to look at the last week, 4 months or choose a customised range of your choice with a natty little graphic to do it with. On top of this you can choose to organise the results by relevance or time.

    They give a profile of the author of the Blog which contains average number of posts per week, links per post, last 3 links in and last three links out. The additional information link takes you to a page which recreates much of the same information together with the last three posts made. You can also subscribe to an RSS Feed of your results.

    As for the results between the two difficult to tell. Speed was good on both and I was more familiar with the results on Sphere to be honest but the functionality and hence flexibility on Ask seemed to have the edge.

    So, over to you – try them out and let me know what you think.

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

    Comments Off 
    Tags: , , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Which Search Engines can find my blog?
    2. Blogs and Search Engines – is the love affair over?
    3. Google Blog Search: advanced search capabilities
    4. Optimizing your Blog for Search Engines
    5. Google spreads the word about Blog Search

    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!

    3 Comments 
    Tags: , , , , ,

    Recomended Reading:

    1. Greater RSS integration – Blogger, Feedburner and Typepad
    2. Feedburner snaps up Blogbeat
    3. RSS, Blogs and Newsletters
    4. Don’t forget to ping!
    5. Business Blog Design: RSS Feeds & Subscriptions

    Next Page »