Wednesday, December 31, 2003

RSS Can Help You to Reach New Users

Continuing the RSS theme, here is one more use for RSS that can benefit your blog. One of the best ways to increase link popularity and reach as many surfers as possible, is to register your blog on as many directories as possible. There are some search engines and directories that only accept RSS feeds. There are also sites that aggregate RSS feeds to create a News or Buzz site. Once your RSS feed is set up, you can submit the URL to these sites to help increase visibility amongst surfers. Unless the URL for your RSS feed contains your blog domain name (if you used blogstreet or another site to create your RSS feed, then it won't include this), it won't help your page rank in Google, but it puts your RSS feed in front of more eyeballs and thus help boost traffic. Here are some RSS search engines and aggregated sites you can submit to:

All Headline News
RDF Ticker
Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Newsletters vs RSS

I have advocated RSS in my last posts, however newsletters are still worth looking into. Not everyone has an RSS reader or even knows what this is. Until mainstream applications like MS Outlook support RSS, it will still be smaller than email. Newsletters still have their uses, even though you run the risk of being treated as spam or ignored. You could set up a periodical email with links to your key posts, or much more effectively, you could create an email discussion list to generate debates around the topic of your blog - this can provide you with items to mention in your main blog as well. The easiest way to set up a newsletter or discussion list is to create a group in Yahoo! This will cost you nothing and you don't have to maintain subscriptions yourself. Sending a mail to the list is simple, just send it to the group's email address and its done - hey presto you have a newsletter or discussion forum!
Once the mailing list gets bigger and bigger you should look at options to manage your own list, which you can then use to create content on your site by publishing the archives.

More on RSS - the flipside of the coin

RSS can be used in another way that helps your blog. RSS Feeds can be used to automatically add content to your site. If you have a blog or news site that you feel is relevant to your own blog, then you can have thier headlines added to your blog. This can also be used to have other bloggers post to your blog if you have a multi-user blog and users have their own blog as well - it saves them time by not having to cut and paste their posts from their own blog. You can use the RSS Panel feature on Blogstreet to create an RSS generated section on your page.

RSS - How it can Help your Blog

RSS feeds can be beneficial to your blog. What is RSS? RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and is a method pioneered by to deliver news headlines to it's portal. If a site has an RSS feed, any user with an RSS Reader can subscribe to that feed. The feed then delivers headlines and short excerpts of each article posted on that website with a direct link to the article to read more. Many news sites offer RSS feeds. News sites have found this useful as there is no schedule to follow - you report on news as it happens. Thus users do not need to browse the site periodically for new stories, instead they are alerted to them as they are published. Because the user is using a special tool to read the updates, then it is not clogging up their mailbox or distracting them from other tasks - the user is in the mindset of wanting to read new posts or articles. Apply this to Blogs which are often updated on an ad-hoc basis, it prevents users from visiting your blog several times only to discover there are no new posts - chances are that they won't return to your site, and you have lost a user. Even the most dilligent of bloggers that post on a daily basis will have some kind of hiatus - illness, vacation, birth of a new child, etc. Thus RSS Feeds are a great benefit to bloggers. If you want to see how RSS works, try installing this free RSS reader and subscribe to Yahoo's RSS Feed for its news channel. If you want to subscribe to other sites, look out for small buttons labeled "xml" or "rss" - it's a good idea to use a similar design on your own blog.

If your next question is "sounds great - how do I create an RSS feed for my blog?", then read on:
Chek if your blog service offers RSS feeds, if so, then they should have a guide to explain how to create one. Once it is set up, it is automatically populated each time you create a new post. Unfortunately some blog platforms do not offer RSS feeds, including the platform this blog is hosted on, blogger. Don't worry if this is the case for you - Blogstreet offers a service that generates the code for an RSS feed - however you need to manually update this feed yourself each time you publish a new post.
If this is too much work for you, there are services that send an email each time you post to subscribers, unfortunately these do not give the subscriber any info about your posts. A couple to check out are: Blogarithm and Botablog. These do not require any setting up on the blogger's end and users are free to use any email update service for any blog, however you may want to put a link to such a service on your blog. I think RSS is more effective than email updates as it wont get lost in a sea of other messages, and provides a taste of the content so users only visit if they are really interested.
Monday, December 29, 2003

Weblog vs Newsletter

The traditional method of providing fresh content and building relationships with users of one's website was newsletters. Why choose a blog over a newsletter? Ripples blog offers some good reasons for using a blog over newsletters. The conclusion is that newsletters are "push" technology and web-logs are "pull". He believes that weblogs are essentially less intrusive and can offer some mini-immortality for articles as users can read them when they want. Newsletters will only live as long as they stay in the recipient's mailbox. Think about - how many times have you deleted newsletters simply because you don't have the time to read them due to having too much other personal email? Your chance to read that story is gone, but with a weblog you can discover it any time. If readers want to have your articles posted to them, you can provide this using RSS feeds - these will not be construed as spam. My next post will cover the topic of RSS feeds on weblogs.

Make a Blog for your Affiliate Site

Following on from the last topic of adding affiliate links to your blog, owners of affiliate sites (sites primarily promoting affiliate partnerships with select companies) can get significant help from creating a complimentary web-log. There are thousands of shopping sites, and just as many affiliate sites, so getting noticed amongst the crowd can be very hard. However, if you set up a blog which you can use to mention the products you are pushing for affiliate partners, you can find your search results dramatically improving on Google and other search engines. Good use of keywords can get your site more highly ranked for products you are promoting, and search engines like site that are regularly updated. Adding fresh content can bring users back to your site and it doesn't require much work. Due to the interlinked nature of blogs, your page rank will increase and thus improve your search ranking on Google. Following the same steps as below, building reciprocal links will help improve your Page Rank - the fact that your blog is linked to your main affiliate site will have a knoc-on effect tand improve rankings for these pages. So, if you have an affiliate site and are disappointed with your traffic, give it a go - it won't cost much and wont take up much time.
Saturday, December 27, 2003

Make money from your Blog pt2 - Affiliate Links

Apart from random advertising, there is another way to make money from your blog using partners: affiliate links. The Ad Networks described in my last post will normally pay for clicks - when a user clicks on the banner you get a few cents. With affiliate links you are paid by your partner when the user makes a purchase. This may sound like a worse idea than regular ads, but you can find some very relevant affiliate links, with advertising you cannot control the content of the ad or product supplied. For example, almost every blog will have some books covering similar subject matter. Amazon will pay you a percentage of what the user purchases when transferred from your blog - you can just put their logo on your site for users to click on but you can also put a direct link to books specific to your subject matter. Similarly you could put links to specific CDs, DVDs, Videos or anything else on their site. If your site mentions any media, then you can put hyperlinks in your posts to their product pages on Amazon too. A good example is this post here on the Booklinker blog.
I have used Amazon as an example, but they are not the only ones, here are some others you can also use, including Amazon:

Amazon Associates Program
Ebay Affiliate Program - offers payments for new registrations and bids
BOL Partnership Programme - note that BOL has no US site.
Barnes & Affiliate Network affiliate Connection - US site only
Best Buy affiliate Program - US site only
BlackStar - UK site only
Quelle - Germany site only

Apart from those mentioned as being based in just one market, there may also be programs for your country too, so it's worth checking out the local site. The list above is just a starter and these are retailers of a wide range of media and goods. There are many specific affiliate programs, even one that pays commissions when you refer users to a service that helps retrieve their FBI files! Simply search on Google for affiliate programs and you will find many directories pointing you to more specialized programs.
Monday, December 22, 2003

Even Santa Claus has a Blog Now

This will be my last post before Xmas; so merry Christmas to all, and if you need a blog fix why not see what Santa is up to.
Sunday, December 21, 2003

Make money from your Blog

If you have been following the steps in my previous posts on boosting link popularity and are now satisfied with your page rank (6/10 is a good target) and traffic, you can start trying to make money form your site. Please don't expect to make fortunes, but it could supply enough to pay for your phone bills. There are two ways to make money from your site, and both involve nothing more than referring your users to someone else's site.

Firstly, you can have advertising on your site. I suggest not using one of the banner exchanges as these will take up a lot of real estate on your page and will add up to 20Kb extra filesize to your pages making it slower to load. Instead use only suppliers of text based advertising. Of these there are two types: contextual and standard. The Contextual advertising networks will parse your page for keywords and deliver ads that are relevant to the content of your page (an example is at the top of this page) - there are two main suppliers of this service: Google AdSense and Overture ContentMatch. Both of these are very selective about which sites can be included in their network, so you may not be approved to enter their program. If you are using the free version of blogger, then you will not be able to enter Google's program as they already run these ads on your site, but you don't make any money from this. Users of Blogger can pay to have these ads removed.
If your site isn't up to scratch for Google or Overture, all is not lost you can sign up to one of the many standard advertising networks, although these ads will not be so finely targeted. You can also sign up to other Contextual Ad Networks, but most of these will not pay you money instead they just give you credits to buy advertising for your own site on the network. There is a new network targeted to bloggers which you may like to check out but as it is just starting out I cannot say how successful it may be. The service is called and this will pay you you real $$$.
Standard Advertising - there are many networks to sign up to here, but most will either only work with larger portals or not pay you money. These are mostly banner networks and as I already mentioned will only be a hindrance to your site. I do not suggest you pursue entry to one of these networks. Instead look for ad networks that use only text ads. Again these are largely represented by networks that do not pay you money, however by and large you can advertise on these sites regardless of the performance of the ads on your site - these are good for driving traffic to your site so are worth looking at to acheive that goal. Make sure the networks you sign up to have an approval process as you may end up with nothing but links to porn sites on your blog. Two unpaid networks I recommend are: Site Mojo and Blogsnob. Of those that pay you $$$ I do not know which ones to recommend, its best to look around and try a few - supplies a service and would be a good starting point, as well as Blogads which caters specifically for blog owners.

The second method of driving revenue from your site is using Affiliate links. My next post will cover this topic.
Monday, December 08, 2003

Using the power of blogs to get close to customers

Here is a good article from newmediazero on the business benefits of using a blog. In particular it highlights the way a blog can help enrich customer relationships.
Tuesday, November 04, 2003

More Reasons To Trade Links

In case you need more reasons to trade links with other bloggers after reading my previous post, Wayne Hurlbert has written a similar encouraging post which I am sure will convince anyone still undecided on this matter.
Monday, November 03, 2003

Increase Link Popularity

If you have read through my previous posts you will have realized now that links are the key to building traffic and improving search engine rankings. You may have already made many links on forums or directories back to your site, but how do you get people to link to you? You could always email the authors of blogs or sites that are relevant to you, mostly these people will be glad to add a link to your blog as long as you link to theirs too. Keep doing this and stay in contact with the most relevant bloggers, and you may even be able to do guest posts in each other's blogs. Some Blogs are multi-author blogs that you can sign up to and start writing your own posts. Blog Search Engine offers a blog like this. Please be sure to keep your posts on-topic or your posts will likely be deleted. Google also penalizes sites that just put self promotional text in other sites' comments sections or forums, so be very careful not to "spam" other blogs.

Another way to get people to link to your blog or exchange posts is to meet other like-minded bloggers in a forum. Bloggertalk is a great example.

The two most important rules to blogging: Keep writing regular posts; keep in touch with fellow bloggers. Simple really and its not much work at all.
Tuesday, October 28, 2003

Traffic Counters

Now that your blog is on the search engines and directories, you will no doubt want to see how much traffic your blog is getting and where from. The two free counters I recommend (and personally use for my blogs) are the free service at (Onestat basic) and extreme tracking. The reason I recommend both and use both simultaneously is that neither give me all I need.'s stats service provides better accuracy in the number of hits my blogs receive, but does not report on keywords used in search engines that result in a referral to my site. Extreme Tracking does the vice versa of this, and so is extremely useful for tracking keywords on my blogs. In fact once you start analyzing the keywords used to find your site you may find better keywords to use when doing Search Engine optimization work on your blog.
Thursday, October 23, 2003

Make your Blog famous

The last post detailed how to get your blog noticed and indexed by the search engines. Unless you have a very niche blog you may find that your blog is nowhere near the top of the rankings. In order to improve this one needs to understand what increases ranking.
Firstly, the search engines will scan your blog for your keywords, so you need to ensure that you write for the search engines, using your chosen keywords as much as possible in the text of your posts.
The other deciding factor is popularity - search engines will often rank pages higher according to how many sites are linking to them. As part of registering on the blog directories you have made a start on your popularity. However these are often generic sites, you need links relevant to your own content. There are a number of easy ways to do this:

1. Run queries on Google with your chosen keywords. The most highly ranked sites will be the most relevant for you. Send an email to the site owner asking if they can add a link to your site. The worst they can do is say no, but often they agree if you link back to them as well. Some of these sites may have comments sections - add comments to the site with links back to your own blog. Make sure that your comments are relevant and not blatant self promotional pieces. Some of the websites that appear in the search results may be forums - if they are forums that do not require logging in to view (search engines will not be able to index private pages), then write or contribute to threads.

2. Run the searches again, but this time add the word "forum" to your keywords to find forums relating to your blog's topics. Contribute to these forums as in step 1.

3. Try running the queries again but inserting the word "blogger", "weblog" or "blog". Hopefully this should bring up relevant blogs to your topic. Owners of blogs will often be more than happy to add links as it helps their own site promotion. A lot of blogs have comments sections so add comments with links back to your site.

4. Search Engines also take into account your own links to other relevant sites, so add a list of links to your blog and post to blogs and websites of similar content. A useful tool to maintain your list of links is Blogrolling - this handy tool lets you add new links using a button on your browser when you are reading a site you would like to link to.

This process should be repeated often, and you can track your progress by using the popularity tool on Do not worry if your site is more popular on Google than the other search engines - Google is the most important search engine for blog promotion as it has the widest reach and supplies listings to many other search portals, including Yahoo and AOL. Google measures popularity by 'Page Rank' - if you have the Google toolbar installed on your browser you can see what your Page rank is when you view your blog. Linking to relevant sites with high Page Rank will help to increase your own ranking.
To understand more about how search engines calculate popularity read this guide to Google's page rank method.
Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Build it and They Shall Come

Remember that line from the old Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams"? Well, that may hold out for supernatural baseball fields, but all web marketers know its not that easy to get noticed in the great ocean of websites out there. Its even hard to get noticed by the search engines unless you do things right.

So how do you get noticed by the Search Engines? I would recommend the following process:

1. Work out which keywords are relevant for your blog. Make a note of these. You can research popularity of keywords using the tool at Overture, or simply by running queries on Google. I would recommend at least 12 keywords.

2. You need to optimize the code on your blog. Firstly the title of the blog should accurately describe your page with the most important keywords at the beginning. Secondly work on your meta tags; write a description meta tag again using as many keywords as possible. Once this is done, create a keyword meta tag with all your keywords from step 1. Put a self referencing link (like this one) on your blog with your chosen keywords as the name of the link.

3. Now that your blog has keywords, it should be indexed successfully. This may take some time. However you can speed up this process by hand-submitting to as many search engines and directories as possible.

3.a I would highly recommend the submit free service at There is a paid version also worth considering as it is so cheap and gives you good exposure - this is the only paid service I have ever used. The major Search Engines will scan these directories and be directed to your blog which will in turn be indexed.

3.b Now comes the laborious part. Hand Submission. Submit your blog to as many directories as possible. when prompted for a description use the one you created in step 2.
The two most important are Yahoo and DMOZ. For both of these you must first find a relevant directory and submit from that page. Yahoo will give you a lot of referrals, and DMOZ is important as this directory is used to form directory listings for Google, and many of the other major search engines. As DMOZ is run by volunteers it can be very slow to get listed. Here is a great guide to getting listed on DMOZ. Please note that these two directories will only list your blog if you have a lot of content so don'T do this before you start writing your posts!
Blogs also have their own dedicated directories. Getting listed on these does not usually bring much traffic but will get your blog noticed by search engines. Here is a list of blog directories to start you off:

Blog Hot or Not
Blog Universe
Blog Search Engine
eatonweb portal
Globe of Blogs

Once you have done this, within a few weeks you will be indexed on at least Google, which is the most important.

Web Fire Escape

Are you scared that readers of your blog will be caught viewing your posts at work and get fired? If so, then you need to install the web fire escape. This handy tool creates a button for blog editors to put onto their page, and when the boss comes along users click on it and up pops up an innocent looking Excel sheet or word doc.

Welcome to Blogopoly

This Blog has been set up to give tips and tricks on improving your blog or increasing its popularity. It is not intended to be a guide to weblogs or to show you how to set up your own weblog. If you are looking for a beginners guide to weblogs, then click here.