How To Improve CTR Of Your Google Adwords.

As you are aware, Google Adwords is one of the most popular PPC avenues because of several features.

  • Low signup cost (only $5)
  • Instant activation of your account
  • Instant activation of your ad campaign
  • Provision to set daily spending limits

As the Click-Through-Rate (CTR) goes up, your ad position improves and Cost-Per-Click (CPC) goes down. This really puts Google Adwords in a different league. 10 Mistakes to Avoid When Analyzing a Deal.

Here are some simple tips to improve your CTR —

1) Specific matching along with broad matching

Generally when you want to advertise for, say, online dating, you put online dating in the keywords list. I suggest that you all of these in the keywords list –

  • [online dating]
  • “online dating”
  • online dating

This way, when a searcher types just online dating, the click is credited to the 1st keyword. If the searcher types a keyphrase including online dating in that order but as part of a bigger term like free online dating, it is credited to the 2nd keyword. Are You A Senior Person? Check Out – You May Qualify For The Useful VA Loans. And if both online and dating are present but not together and in that order, like online singles dating, it is credited to the 3rd keyword.

This improves the CTR for certain specific keywords and helps to lower your CPC and also improves your ad position.

2) Use a variable title

Did you know that your clickthrough rate (CTR) goes up when the searcher sees his keywords (that he searched for) in your ad? This is because Google shows these words in bold.

But you don’t know what term this searcher has used. So how can you put the term in the title? Try this.

Put this string in the title field on the Adwords screen –

{KeyWord: Default Title} where you replace “Default Title” with a suitable text. Now Google will show the search term as the ad title if the searched term fits within the 25 character limit and your default title if the search term won’t fit.

Example – say you use {KeyWord: OnlineDating} as the title and dating as the keyword.

If someone searches for dating help, the shown title will be Dating Help. However if one searches for free online dating resources, Google will show Online Dating because the search term won’t fit in the title space (25 characters).

Did you notice the capitalization? If you use Keyword, then only the first word would be capitalized. If you use keyword, all the letters will be in small case.

This tip alone can boost your CTR by 157% or more.

3) Variable destination URL

Did you know that Google now allows variable destination URLs? Why do you need that? Variable destination URL can help you identify the terms that the searchers are using and you can alter your page content to suit those terms for a much better conversion.

Let’s see the syntax to get the search term in the destination URL —

Here we are sending the searcher to a PHP program (you can use a Perl program also), which then stores the terms in a database for easy analysis. You can plan for yourself how you want to put this information to your advantage.

Frankly this tip does not increase your clickthrough rate directly but once you know what the searches were searching for, when they arrived at your site, you can change your message for a much better response.

Google’s Endless Summer.

A recent tour of Google headquarters (Aug. 13), and a highly cordial meeting with staff responsible for their advertising programs, offered me palpable confirmation: This is a young company on top of the world but taking nothing for granted. The Googlers’ enthusiastic hosting of that evening’s Google Dance bash, enjoyed by hundreds of attendees of the Search Engine Strategies conference, ranked Google high on life’s intangibles, as well.

In a previous article I polled some industry watchers in attempt to figure out why this Google thing just kept on happening. Some pointed directly to the technology, others argued in favor of timing, still others claimed it was the clean home page and singular focus that made Google a hit.

Houston Divorce Lawyer Answers Common Questions About Mediation
Fast forward precisely one year. Mainstream publications like Fortune magazine (in a glossy reprint that Googlers were handing out at the conference) are now singing Google’s praises louder than ever. The head-scratching analysis (and over-analysis) hasn’t abated. Fortune made much of the server hardware advantage underlying Google’s success – a point that’s been made before, but one that continues to capture observers’ imagination perhaps to an excessive degree (but like the phony eBay Pez Dispenser tale, it’s been an important part of developing a lore). And we’re now seeing more media talk about search engine business strategy, even if Google’s mathematicians and engineers mainly just wanted to create a cool product that worked fast.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and the media’s love affair with Google has been bemusing to watch; each writer seems to see in Google what they want to see. The major financial press wait impatiently for an IPO; Wired writes (less than a year ago) that Google is “geek-beloved” (hey, it’s not just for geeks anymore) and rails against Google’s supposed mishandling of its acquisition of the Usenet archive from Deja – a temporary controversy if there ever was one.

Sometimes one really can overthink things. Although usability studies have been at the foundation of many of Google’s more recent user-interface refinements (as they have been at companies like Yahoo! and Terry Lycos), as Marissa Mayer of Google pointed out in her talk at the SES conference, the initial clean look was simply the result of one of the Google co-founders’ conviction that “we’re not web designers and I don’t do HTML.”

As for technology, no question, Google has a great search engine. At the same time, they’re not the only ones who do. And the serious shortcomings in its offerings in the not-so-distant past – such as the inability to properly search phrases – might have been enough to sink a less-charmed ship. We’ve already been over the terrain before: AltaVista’s Raging Search, a direct attempt to compete with Google’s clean look and feel, could have triumphed in a different set of circumstances. AV had just burned too many chances, and its attempts to reinvigorate its search focus didn’t make a dent in the marketplace.

The endless search for the causes of Google’s success may be an exercise in hyper-rationality. For all I know, it’s witchcraft.

The current business successes of Google are undeniable. It’s managing to make a buck while maintaining the integrity of its search index. Very early on into the ramp-up of its AdWords Select and Premium Sponsorship programs (to go alongside other revenue streams from enterprise search), Google is reportedly profitable and making better revenues than eBay was at a similar stage of development. July’s comScore Media Metrix report of US Internet usage puts Google at a shocking #4, behind only the three major portals AOL, MSN, and Yahoo, and ahead of Terra Lycos (and everybody else).

With profitability and ownership of a massive daily user base comes a measure of autonomy. The usual suspects in the financial media can’t smugly micromanage a profitable privately-held technology company that can delay going public as long as it wishes. Google is not betting the entire farm on selling its search technology or keyword-based advertising results to portal partners, since, in the worst-case scenario, Google can fall back on monetizing its own heavy traffic.

How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?
Working at Google (as with many ultra-youthful Internet startups, most of whose day seems to have come and gone) is surely a singular experience. Brightly colored exercise balls, lava lamps, and goofy cereal dispensers are just the beginning. As employee #149 (an oldtimer as the headcount approaches 500) shows us around a bit more, we get to see various wacky-but-factual meters, charts, and prototypes all chronicling some aspect of Google’s past or current performance. We hustle past the legal department (“not that interesting”) and the finance department (“not that interesting, either”). In the parlance of organizational sociology, the company’s dominant coalition is engineers, with a significant and fast-growing add-on, the advertising salespeople, business development personnel, and the customer support reps whose job it is to keep advertisers happy. Inevitably, the organizational culture will shift to better achieve revenue targets, but it seems improbable that the place will become top-heavy with management. So far, it’s working.

One of the founders’ offices shows further evidence of “street cred” lurking in the bowels of America’s #4 web property: a wastebasket filled with worn-down hockey sticks suitable for street hockey or perhaps roller hockey. One Googler wears an oversized white hockey jersey with a big Google logo on it. Hmm, just enough Canadiana there to whet my whistle, but without the lousy winters. I start mentally calculating the cost-benefit of relocating. I’d have to start cheering for the San Jose Sharks. More frequent visits, at least, I decide.

New recruits don’t take it for granted. One paused when it was remarked that his shot at being hired was probably 500 to 1 at best. He thought about that, and suddenly two months ago seemed like an eternity ago to him, even if the pay here for entry-level jobs can’t be that great. “This sure beats where I was when I applied for this job: unemployment… and starving.” Like any other job. Except this one’s at Google, Inc.

The much-vaunted integration of work and play in the working lives of employees at companies like Google seems to defy conventional management thinking. Surely more money and the development of world-beating technology mean more work, and less play? Isn’t this a market economy, where everything has its price – an economy in which there are *trade-offs* and disastrous consequences for those who think they can have it all? Won’t Google get eaten alive eventually by a more sober, rational, sane competitor who eats her cereal at home? Is one late-forties CEO really enough adult supervision to keep this bunch focused? Didn’t someone say that they don’t even *have* a CFO?

Painless Presentations.
Not so long ago I was teaching a university course in public policy wherein the authors of a piece on unorthodox management and decision-making models used Apple as an example of a company whose innovations never would have happened unless play was incorporated into the founders’ daily work. People tend not to buy into these kinds of ideas when they hear them for the first time. Parents who have saved every time to send their kids to a good school don’t want their future management material learning that play is good. A few students nearly dropped my course that week, all because of that article. Much of the world is still eager to sign on with an established bureaucracy.

3 Secrets for Closing the Sale.
One thing’s certain – once a person gets used to thinking beyond and around tradeoffs, it’s tough to go back. Unorthodox ways of working shouldn’t be seen as *causes* of Google’s success any more than any other single causal factor, like red exercise balls, powerful server hardware, or, for that matter, youth. But they certainly seem to be a good fit for now.

If youth were the cause of Google’s success, what might that say about the future? As one industry veteran remarked, most everyone at Google seems to be in their twenties, whereas LookSmart’s core group are in their thirties and AltaVista’s perhaps even older than that. Does this mean Google will become the victim of a “life cycle?” Will 2002 be fondly remembered as the high point, the day in the sun? When will Googlers start looking as tired as the rest of us feel?

Nothing is Secret Anymore!”- The Confessions of a Millionaire Information Broker.
Why try to write history while there is still so much future left? And just a little bit of summer left, we hope.

Differentiation Can Be Brutal in the Web Search Business.

“Search engine positioning” is no easy feat – even if you *are* a search engine, it seems. So how are the engines positioning *themselves*?

Along with the unauthorized biography of Jerry Seinfeld, my holiday fun reading was a business book: Differentiate or Die by Trout and Rivkin. Suddenly, the laws of positioning rule my daily thoughts.

As the authors hilariously recite, in the old days, advertising gurus would lament the lameness of sales copy. But in those days, in spite of many mistakes being made, at least they were trying to sell something. Today’s vexing branding campaigns appear to actually dissuade the viewer from thinking about the product or the company. How’s this slogan for a great use of an airline’s advertising dollars? “Welcome Aboard. Really.” (That was somebody’s advertising slogan. Really.)

So many companies go so wrong by ignoring the fundamental principles of positioning; primary amongst them being the fact that there is only so much space in the consumer’s fried brain. You can’t occupy valuable mindshare by simply *saying* something unique, though. You’ve got to *have* something unique. Your product needs to be something different, and your company needs to walk the walk on a consistent basis.

I’m sure you can think of many examples of fuzzy positioning and poor communications, and just as many that seem to almost uncannily “get it.” I watched with some awe when Honda rolled out a campaign with race car driver Jacques Villeneuve zooming around in a plain old Honda Civic and then saying seriously: “Inside every Honda, there’s a Honda engine.” Honda engines have a great reputation amongst knowledgeable drivers and automotive writers. Why not leverage that, and remind people that it’s the engine that makes the car go, not the leasing options or the keyless remote entry? Honda has the right idea.

It’s true that your product doesn’t necessarily have to embody the qualities that you associate it with any better than your competitor’s products, particularly if you’re the leader. AOL’s “It’s so easy to use, no wonder it’s #1” is believed by many of its users, even though most non-users would dispute the claim of “ease of use.” The point is, AOL as the “Internet with training wheels” has always had a clear identity. The ads show ordinary-looking people sitting around kitchen tables talking about things AOL lets them do online. The ease-of-use, family-appropriate theme is never confusing, always the same. For their customers, there is not only a tangible monetary and time cost to switching, there’s also a mental price to be paid for even thinking about it. That mental price is yet steeper when you’re a self-professed novice.

You can get addicted to thinking about positioning. Welch’s grape juice has been a favorite of mine for years. Last year, they reformulated their concentrated juice so that it became a “drink” – replacing much of the natural juice with sugar and fake stuff. I’ve since discovered that a company called Black River actually makes juice that tastes so much like real juice, it’s like being inside the grape. I’m willing to bet Welch’s loses market share with its me-too “drink,” since all companies like Black River have to say is: “Black River juice. It’s actually juice. Juice. Really.” Imagine leaving a hole in your market by allowing a small competitor the chance to claim it’s *actually delivering* to consumers what you *used to* deliver before you decided to pull the wool over your customers’ eyes. Like we aren’t going to notice? Imagine if winemakers tried that stunt. “Chateau de Piffle: We decided to make it with dandelions, but to appease you, we’ve doubled the alcohol content.”

In any case, the search industry isn’t exempt from the laws of positioning. Consumers only have so much memory. There are a lot of ways to lose in this business. It’s brutal.

Here’s a review of current and past contenders for mindshare supremacy in the web search business, and what they might say if asked for a brief positioning statement.

AltaVista: “Once, we were the world’s leading search engine. Then we were a portal. Now, we’re yesterday’s search engine.” In a world where what’s next matters most, this spells D-O-O-M. They have an enterprise business, to be sure, but one wonders if even that can survive given the FUD that is spreading about the company’s commitment. We suspect that it would be better for AV to scatter its ashes and make way for a regrowth of something fresh and hot.

Ask Jeeves: “Ask a question, get an answer.” Unfortunately the technology didn’t work as advertised, and it has been beefed up with the recently-acquired Teoma, which has great technology but too closely resembles the category leader, Google. Long term result: fuzzy branding, lack of differentiation. Selling Jeeves merchandise doesn’t help the company’s focus any, either.

Hotbot: “We used to be the hottest, coolest, search engine on the net. A long, long time ago. Then, we became best known for serving stale Inktomi results and as one of the only places to submit free to the Inktomi index, until Ink stopped accepting free submissions. More recently, we shut down the old site and created this quirky metasearch engine to help Inktomi get some press so it could get bought out by Yahoo. Now we’re stuck with this cool little site that no one will use. Much like the old Hotbot.”

Prediction: after an initial bout of tire-kicking, Hotbot will be used by experts and insiders, not consumers. Gary Price (a research expert) loves it, for example. That’s a great start, and it’s good to impress the experts. But that does not always translate into consumer adoption. The new Hotbot is cool, but it won’t be hot. They’ll try to make it so, however, with a $1 million ad campaign with the tagline “More Search. More Engine.”

Truth in advertising wouldn’t have worked. Then they would have had to say: “Somebody else’s search. Somebody else’s engine.” Ouch.

Inktomi: “We’ve always been one of the biggest and best indexes and have been through various generations of relevance ranking technology. Our differentiator was that we sold ourselves not to consumers, but to portal partners. We now work for Yahoo.”

We’ll be watching very closely to see if post-acquisition “blahs” water down the quality of Inktomi-powered Yahoo Search. One good thing about being acquired and having no hope of selling your product to your acquirer’s competitors: no need to differentiate, since it’s Yahoo’s overall navigational experience and product lineup that now takes center stage, while Inktomi quietly powers one part of that. Inktomi has this “keeping quiet” strategy pretty well figured out. So much so that they nearly went belly up.

Metacrawler: “We do metasearch. In fact, the brand name Metacrawler has become something of a generic term for metasearch.”

You can’t argue with that, so long as they continue to do what they say and don’t water it down with too many undifferentiated paid results. Metasearch users really want metasearch. To do this, there need to be enough reputable search sources to actually perform a metasearch on. This is a great brand that hangs in the balance. It would do best by staying the course, and focusing on “being” metasearch. That means keeping an eye out for product features that might generate industry buzz, and in general, continuing to be “metasearch geeks.” If the metasearch leader can’t act as an advocate for metasearch, no one else is going to do it. Fortunately for metacrawler, Hotbot is spending $1 million on a fancy Hill Holliday ad campaign to do just this. Metacrawler should wait until the dust settles, then come back and remind users just who “invented” metasearch. Might not even take a million bucks to do it.

Dogpile: “Look at this big, fun pile of stuff!”

Another metasearch engine – this one aims at novices. Today, many of those novices – even the AOL gang – like Google, but still fail to truly appreciate or understand metasearch. No matter. What’s important is that they seem to like it. “If you can’t find it here, you can’t find it” they say. These users believe the proposition and remember the name of the product. It’s not going to take over the world, but it’s going to hold its own as long as there is a crowd of people who can appreciate a non-technical explanation of why metasearch is useful. Woof woof woof. That means “we’re connecting now with the consumers Hotbot hopes it can find.”

Excite Search, Webcrawler: “We’re old brands that Infospace now serves ads on.” Strictly short term stuff. There really is such a thing as too much ad-laden metasearch, believe it or not. Even if you take away some of the ads, what’s the difference? Can you see a difference? No one has cared about Webcrawler for ten years. 5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs to Publish a News Feed.

Direct Hit: Special mention is warranted, since “popularity engine” was a unique category that caught the fancy of many users. Unfortunately the technology didn’t work too well, and what’s left of it, after the bloated $500 million (all stock, whose value promptly plunged 95%) Ask Jeeves acquisition, has been integrated into Teoma, which powers Ask Jeeves. Good little boost for Teoma… if Teoma can ever grab some market share under the wing of Ask Jeeves, which seems improbable. There are all too many stories like this. Unique stories that were overhyped and then, underhyped. At the market bottom many got shut down. The “popularity engine” concept is alive and well in several places. It will peek its head out again someday in a pure play or two.

Needless to say, these are the types of things only a leader can say. People love the product. They equate the product (Google) with the category (search). This can last a long time if there is sufficient homage paid to what got them here in the first place. So far, so good. RSS Feeds.

Google: “We’re #1. We lead the planet in the number of search queries served, and we’re the #4 web site in the world, trailing only the top three portals in traffic. Our product is indispensable. We have been first and best in various aspects of the delivery of search engine results, and have implemented our revenue model without disrupting that bread and butter. People even marvel at how fast the search engine is. People just love the product.”

I do worry that Google will indeed knock itself out of its own advantageous position. Having stumbled into the clean, search-only site design, Google’s “keep it simple, stupid” message was what pulled people in (it was only later that these users appreciated the sophistication of the technology). Benefits to RSS Feeds… That simplicity was so important to Google’s success, others tried in vain to copy it (AltaVista’s Raging Search, for example). Today, Google is branching out into a few other things. Unlike the AltaVista portal folly, though, Google’s multiple priorities – Usenet search, news search, image search, shopping search, etc. – all do involve its core competency, which is search. I really did not like it when they started monkeying with Google Answers, the research-on-demand service. It’s all too easy for smart people like these Googlers to get bored and lose track. Hopefully some seasoned management types will save the smart people from themselves.

100Hot: Remember that one? Acquired by Go2Net, then left to die on the vine. Kind of like a mini-Alexa or mini-Media-Metrix thing, except they gave up on making it work and just made it into the same old thing, a listing of a bunch of sites paying for placement. Advertising in itself is not a search engine. Never has been. Another sad story. A technology that the end user apparently cared more about than its inventors did.

FAST Search: “We’re #3, and we supply search results to the #4 portal.”

Good enough? Relatively speaking, not bad. But not an entirely enviable position to be in. Product differentiation efforts have more or less failed to make the desired impact, as the main competition, Inktomi, Altavista, and Google, can leapfrog FAST in the product department, at least as far as consumers are concerned. At the same time, now that Inktomi is Yahoo’s property, FAST becomes a sort-of-#2 contender and possible successor to Inktomi as the MSN supplier. And they become a minor threat if and when the AOL-Google partnership comes up for renewal.

FAST’s early potential differentiator, speed, is a non-factor since Google is probably faster.

We’d recommend that FAST continue to pursue a “we’re #2 so we try harder” type of image. If they are going to come out with product features, they must be features that Google can’t match or beat (most of the hype we’ve seen so far from FAST has been equaled by others shortly afterwards… remember, I’m not talking about industry insiders who may see subtle differences, I’m talking about what consumers need and want out of a search tool). If FAST intends to take a lead in news search, for example, it’ll need to do more than tweak. (Otherwise, Google, Moreover, and Altavista, to say nothing of well-managed portals, can kick their butt from a consumer-recognition standpoint.)

In the meantime, custom work for the enterprise sector is a nice honest living to supplement the consumer side. How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?

And last, but not least:

Library of Congress “Explore the Web” page: “We’re the frickin Library of Congress.”

It coulda been a contender. Really.

A Down and Dirty Guide to Search Engine Positioning.

I’ve been asked here to sum up what everyone should know about search engine positioning. 

First, two caveats: 

1) Search Engine Positioning is only a tiny part of the big Internet Marketing picture. It takes time and there are other things that will pay off far more in the long run.  /public-speaking-tips

2) This is a gross simplification of the whole process.

With that said, let’s dive in. 

1. This discussion will focus on spider engines. That is, an engine that goes to your site and indexes you based on what it finds. Directories are a whole ‘nother ball game (which we will address in another article). Good examples of spiders are: Infoseek, Excite, and AltaVista.

2. Every search engine is different. You need to learn the “algorithm” (set of rules) used by each engine to rank pages. An algorithm is a set of rules.

3. These algorithms change constantly. This is why tips like “put 3 % of your target keyword in your title tag” are probably worthless by the time you hear them.

4. The only reliable way to learn a sites algorithm is to analyze actual results of a search on that engine. This must be done using a reliable keyword density analyzer. This tool will show you the weight of particular keywords in high ranking documents. You then simply reproduce this weight in your document to attempt to reproduce the results. Any advice you find that did not come from an actual analysis is probably smoke and mirrors. This method is very reliable. There are a few other factors that will affect rank that can not be measured this way (link popularity, spam filtering etc.), but keyword density is the easiest to measure and most reliable factor. 

Here is the only keyword density analyzer that I use.

5. You should not only be concerned with the rank of your listing, but with the way it appears in the engine as well. If your listing is #1, but looks like a bunch of junk (try a search right now and you’ll see what I mean), it will be a waste of your time. The appearance of your listing depends on two of three things: 

a) your title tag e.g. <title>title here</title> 

b) your description tag <meta name=”description” content=”description here like this”> (applies to some engines – all others use the following)

c) the first 250 words (or so) of visible text on your site on your site

“A” above is what the engine links to your page.B or C are used as descriptive text for your link.You must balance your work on these tags. That is, sometimes what gets you a high rank will not make for an enticing listing. Remember that your title is most important. Think of it as a headline for an ad. 

6. No software in itself is going to get you a high position on a search engine. Period. There are many software products claiming to get you a higher position on the web. For the most part, save your money. There are really only two programs you need (and you may not even need them): 

a) A keyword density analyzer. You don’t really need this if you have some other tool that will allow you to analyze the relative mathematical composition of any text. If what I just said flew over your head, a keyword density analyzer is for you. Again, here is the only one I use.

b) A site submitter. You don’t really need one of these, either, if you are strictly focusing on a high position in the spider engines. You can probably submit these pages one by one just as easily since the process of gaining a high rank is a surgical one. However, if you need to submit many pages at once (if you do it will save time), or you want to submit to other types of sites (most submitters submit to over 900 sites and spider engines account for about 12 of those), then it is a good idea to get some software that will automate this task for you. We’ve developed a powerful multi-use tool that will spider all of your pages and submit each of them to all known spider engines (it has about 20 other functions as well – all of them key). You can check that out out right here

There is, of course, much more to it than I have listed here, but this information will get you started on the right track.

5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs to Publish a News Feed.

It seems like everyone is talking about RSS Feeds. They’ve been around for years but the buzz is up about them as the technology continues to go mainstream. Some people are reportedly abandoning their browsers and viewing the web through their readers – but they hardly represent the general public yet.

So does your site need one?

This question is somewhat like asking if your site needs a newsletter. Sure, the sky won’t fall tomorrow if you don’t get one today, but once you realize the benefits of having a news feed for your site, and try it for yourself, you may become an addict like the rest of us.

Reason #1: More free traffic to your site

I’m not exaggerating when I say that a frequently updated feed can bring you massive amounts of traffic in a short time period. This won’t be true forever.

Here’s a snapshot in PDF format, of just the feed-originating traffic to a new page of my site for the first 24 hours it opened.

Not exactly a stampede, but here’s the good part. On the fourth day, the feed traffic doubled, and all other traffic continued to rise at the same rate. That’s my fifth active feed of the twenty I have spread out over four sites, and I get similar results each time. In thirty days, that would be at least 5,000 new targeted visitors – again, this is not counting my present traffic, or those who try my feed and stay subscribed, nor does it factor in what happens when the traffic doubles again.

I can’t promise you the exact same results, no one can. But you should know that my feed is targeted towards a crowed market – if you know how to set up your feed properly and correctly apply your keyword research, you could have better results.

Those visitors, from the first hour of traffic to today, resulted just from submitting my feed to the list of directories I compiled from many sources and studied. Some bring great free traffic to new feeds, some are better for once your feed has matured.

You can often get better placement in feed directories and in Yahoo’s RSS Directory than you could from your results in a regular search engine, and often, inclusion is instant.

Reason #2: It’s a hands-off way to update your audience

What if you could run your newsletter without the hassles of maintaining your list, removing bounced addresses, finding new subscribers, formatting the content you find, altering your content to keep from being blacklisted, and after all that, wondering if all the various blockers mistakenly kept your message from getting through?

If that sounds like heaven, you can be one of the angels as soon as an hour from now.

When you supplement your current newsletter with more frequent updates via feed, you will be able to push out updates to subscribers to your news channel or feed more frequently and more efficiently.

With all the new free tools available, even if you’re all thumbs when it comes to making a web page, if you can fill out a form, you can create a feed.

Reason #3: Get visitors to click through to your site whenever you update

If you haven’t used a feed reader before, you might be confused about the connection between the feed and your site and why it can result in an increase in traffic. I’ll attempt to explain this to you in words, but I suggest downloading a news aggregator (also known as a feed reader), and looking at the results of your favorite site’s feed through a reader after you read this for the full effect..

You can use my main feed here if you don’t have one to view:

If you don’t want to have another application up while you’re surfing, you can try Pluck , a free application you can use for more than just feeds that integrates with Internet Explorer – get it at – it will take you right to the downloads page.

You can also do this from My Yahoo!, by changing your page to include their RSS Headlines console, still in Beta testing at .

To summarize, a visitor sees the headlines they want to read, view the summary, and click through to your site to read the rest of the news, either in a new window, or without having to leave the application they are in.

And when you update again, the reader will notify them that you have new headlines, and/or populate the list of items you have available. This can keep your audience coming back.

If you had trouble following that, come to this page for a one minute tutorial:

Reason #4: Recycle old content.

If you have a list of your older articles, some older product reviews, site suggestions, or archived newsletters, you can use those to build content to populate your feed with information. As long as this news is still relevant, you can recycle this content to attract new visitors

Reason #5: Its so easy it’s crazy not to do it.

Before the last few months, there weren’t as many free tools online that made the process of starting and publicizing a feed so effective and user-friendly. The bottom line is, now that you can get all those benefits from filling out a form, saving the file, uploading to your server, promoting it once, and updating it from time to time, it’s insane not to do so. You already have to update your site from time to time. You might as well get all the benefits of having a news feed too.

Benefits to RSS Feeds…

RSS streamlines communication between publishers and readers. Since RSS has had a popularity surge, webmasters have been experimenting and using RSS feeds to deliver content in new and innovative ways. Typically, RSS feeds contain news headlines and content summaries. The content summaries contain just enough information without overwhelming the reader with superfluous details. If the reader is interested and wants additional information they can click on the item in the feed, accessing the website which contains additional details. RSS readers aggregate multiple feeds, making it easy for individuals to quickly scan information contained within each feed. Feeds are generally themed, allowing users to opt-in to feeds that are of interest. How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?

The big benefit to RSS is that individuals opt-in to content of interest, totally controlling the flow of information that they receive. If the quality of the content in the feed declines, users simply remove the feed from their RSS reader and they will not receive any additional updates from that source. The RSS reader acts as an aggregator, allowing users to view and scan multiple content streams in a timely fashion.

RSS is a great supplemental communication method that does not burden the publisher with maintaining lists or following strict privacy guidelines. RSS feeds are compiled according to the user’s choices, removing any burden that is placed on publishers of email newsletters. Publishers no longer need to be concerned with spam, privacy policies, and age guidelines.

Publishers using RSS as a communication vehicle are able to create keyword-rich, themed content, establishing trust, reputation, and ongoing communication with current and prospective customers.

What Kind of Information Can be Delivered in RSS Feeds?

Blogs Feed
Many blogs are catalogued in an RSS feed, with each blog entry summarized as a feed item. This makes it easy for visitors to scan blog posts for items of interest.

Article Feed
Articles are often placed into feeds to alert readers when new articles and content are available. The feed entry is typically an article summary or introduction. Readers can then ascertain if the article is of interest and read further.

Forum Feed
Many forums now have add-ons that allow participants to receive forum posts via RSS. The RSS feeds often will show the latest discussion topics; if users are interested they simply click to enter the forum to participate in the discussion. As the topic is updated they will see new entries in the RSS feed.

Schedule Feed
Schools, clubs and organizations will often use feeds to communicate meeting times, places and events that might be occurring. The RSS feeds are often used to publicize events, notify the community of schedule changes or meeting agendas.

Discounts / Specials Feed
Retail and online stores have begun using RSS feeds to deliver their latest specials and discounted offers. Some online retailers have taken this a step further, allowing users to create their own feeds based on keywords or phrases.

For example, this service will generate a URL than can be entered into a news reader. The feed is updated each time an item is added to Amazon that meets the specified criteria or keywords – Amazon Search Feed –

Ego / News Monitoring
Companies or individuals interested in receiving headline news based on a specific brand or keyword can use RSS feeds to monitor news sources.

For example, users can use the following tool to create a feed that will allow them to receive filtered news from Google News. They will only receive items related to a specific keyword or phrase they setup –

Industry-Specific RSS Feed Uses Include:
Technical professionals in specific industries have also developed RSS feeds as way to market, promote or communicate within their specific industries. In many cases, this has expanded their reach and increased communication with current and prospective customers and clients.

RSS feeds can be used by realtors to communicate the time and location for open houses, announce new property listings or promote decreased mortgage rates. Content feeds can also be used by universities to communicate sports scores or event schedules. Computer service professionals can create feeds to notify clients of potential security breaches, virus risks or outbreaks. Ultimately, RSS is molded to meet the communication needs of many sectors. Consider how RSS can benefit your business and supplement your communication needs.

RSS feed creation tool for publishers interested in creating fresh content – FeedForAll –

RSS Feeds.

Lets face it as much as we all rely on email communications it is not really a reliable technology.

Why Should I care about RSS Feeds
SPAM and viruses have wreaked havoc with a communication medium and reduced its value. Users have become admittedly paranoid about privacy issues and have begun “tuning out” and mentally filtering mail. What this means is that vendors really ought to begin exploring alternatives means of communciation in order to be heard. One of these alternatives is RSS or Really Simple Syndication. Five Ways to Profit from Every Meeting with a Seller.

While I’m not suggesting that you abandon email I think that many might want to consider RSS feeds as well. Because RSS Feeds are selected by the end user spam is not an issue. RSS is created using XML, a very basic markup language. One that does not contain the risks inherent to email.

Endusers select the feeds they wish to view. Content providers select the feeds they wish to display. By providing a RSS feed another site may pick up “news” about your software and post it. If email continues on a self destruct course RSS will become a new standard and an accepted viable alternative or more likely an email supplement. For now if you have a “technical” customer base RSS might be a “cool” thing to add.

What are RSS Feeds –
In very simple non-technical terms RSS is an XML file containing a directory of web pages with related news or information. The RSS is contained in an XML file and referred to as a “feed”. RSS format is very simple, in fact even I was able to create a feed with little effort.

The XML file basically contains what would be commonly used as a title and description in an html document, along with the url of a web page containing the actual content. Personal Property Trusts.

Sample feeds can be seen at:

Once uploaded to a website the feed should be validated (to make sure you did not use any invalid characters). The feed can then be submitted to engines. Individuals can view your content in a reader. Individuals can also add news feed to their websites by using an aggregator and tapping the feed of news vendors or others.

For convenience I’ve created a webpage with RSS resources at

Basics of RSS.

RSS is the element that makes a blog different from the old-style static website. The initials stand for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ (also Rich Site Summary – pick the one you like). What it does is announce changes to the website by creating a “feed” that can be read by the spider from an aggregator such as Bloglines or NewsGator.

An aggregator keeps track of your links to favorite blogs, much like the bookmarks section of your browser. It’s different than a bookmarks section, because the aggregator can alert you to the frequent updates to blogs, which your browser can’t do.

A spider is an automated program that seeks out RSS feeds available on the Internet.

Your blog content can be read (in plain English by people) in the aggregator, or they can choose to visit your site. Your feed is available to anyone who uses an aggregator, so your readership can be alerted automatically each time you update. There are already a few million people using aggregators (nobody knows the exact number), and those who are actively looking for new blogs will already have one. So when you establish a new blog, all you need to do is tell your friends who don’t have aggregators to start using one.

Making RSS Work for You

When choosing a blog host, it’s important to make sure an RSS feed is available. There are some hosts that market their offering as a blog when in fact, with no RSS feed, all you’ve got is a static website that can be easily updated.

What a ping does is announce to the aggregator that there’s new material in your blog. That gets your update alert to your readers much faster than waiting for a spider to work.

You need to know if your host automatically pings the aggregators when you create a new post, and which ones, if they do. For example, you can configure a blog to automatically ping and TBlogs pings automatically, with no effort on your part, while Blog-City leaves the issue entirely up to the individual, whether they want to ping or not.

Some aggregators require prior registration with their directory to accept your ping, so it’s a good idea to register your blog with as many of the your blog will qualify for.

When you ping an aggregator, you’re placing your feed ahead of the others who don’t ping. So in order to get the widest exposure, pinging a variety of aggregators is right now the best way to go. You can do this easily and quickly at Dougal Campbell’s Blog Service Pinger. You enter your site’s URL and check the aggregators you want from several on the list. You need to do this each time you update if your blog doesn’t ping automatically. Note: Once you’ve clicked submit at the BSP, resist the impulse to click again if it doesn’t respond immediately. Another click sends another ping and you’ll end up with an error message.

There’s a good piece by Doc Searls here for further reading and another by Dave Pollard here.

If you aren’t looking for a wide readership.

Some people don’t care to promote their sites, although if the RSS feed is there, the spiders from various aggregators will find these sites eventually. If you’re serious about not wanting anyone else to see your material, don’t put it online in a blog. You can limit access to a blog using a password protection mechanism, when there are a few people with whom you want to share the material. But, that is not 100% secure.

Promotion aspects of RSS

The RSS feed is a helpful component of weblog promotion. If you only want a limited readership, it can be all you need to alert a small group of readers of your blog updates. If you are looking to have your blog read by as many people as possible, however, you need to do more than just provide RSS feeds if you’re looking to be the next Instapundit.

RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal.

Rich Site Summary, or RSS, is an XML format originally designed to list the changing contents of a news Website. Originally released by Netscape in 1997, it was used to allow readers to customize their personal Netscape Webpage and to create content indices inside the Netscape browser. Abandoned by Netscape, the format lived on through a grassroots content syndication movement and has evolved through several versions. Today, RSS is widely used by news Websites and Weblog authors.

Simplicity leads to popularity

The major attraction of RSS for Web developers is its simplicity. (In fact, RSS is often known by an alternative name, Really Simple Syndication). An RSS file can be created from scratch using nothing more than a simple text editor and sample file as a template, posted to a Web server as though it were a Webpage, and retrieved and read by a wide variety of applications. Additionally, and this probably accounts for its recent burst of popularity, numerous content management tools now create RSS files automatically and applications called headline readers enable users to view the contents.

A single RSS file, commonly known as a feed, consists of two major types of elements:

  • a channel element, which describes the feed as a whole
  • one or more item elements, which provide a summary of new content on the Website.

The channel element describes the Website title and base URL. Each item element contains an item title, URL, and a short description. Optional elements in an RSS file include a channel image and a form submission description. (See a sample RSS file at )

Though originally designed for news content, and currently widely used by the news media, the most common use of RSS is to list Weblog contents. This became possible when the major blogging software applications—specifically, Blogger, Moveable Type, and Userland Radio—began to create RSS files automatically when bloggers entered and published a new submission. The structure of an RSS file mirrors the structure of a blog entry, so the user need not enter any additional information over and above the blog entry.

An RSS file will typically display the most recent content of a Website, usually ten items or so, updated whenever a new item is added. RSS files are therefore read on a regular basis by software applications known as harvesters or aggregators that scan for new entries and retrieve the data. An aggregator will check a large number of individual RSS files, returning to a given site once an hour or so. Consequently, when new material is published to a news site or Weblog, it is very quickly picked up and distributed.

Because RSS files are structured data, and because they are updated so frequently, they support content syndication much more easily than a Webpage. Popular aggregators, such as Blogdex, Daypop, Popdex, Technorati, Blogstreet and Feedster, are able to represent new content in a more user-friendly format than a regular search engine, including Yahoo! or Google. Because Weblog entries and news stories link to each other, these aggregators can quickly find the most popular new items. For many readers, a site such as the DayPop Top 40 is as useful a source of news as any online newspaper or portal—it’s far more current and not reflective of any editorial influence or control.

Though most readers use RSS by turning to an aggregator Website, many others use applications known as headline readers. A headline reader performs the same function as an aggregator, but is a stand-alone application that usually resides on the readers own computer (though some, such as Bloglines, are stand-alone Websites). Desktop readers, such as AmphetaDesk, FeedDemon and NewsGator, divide the screen into three panes:

  • a list of RSS feeds to which a reader subscribes
  • a list of titles from the currently selected feed
  • the text of the currently selected item.

Utility leads to praise

For readers, the most commonly expressed benefit is convenience. RSS headline readers automatically flag new items, so readers need not search through a number of Websites looking for new content. Additionally, content is displayed first as a summary description, allowing readers to browse quickly through numerous items. RSS readers also provide readers with more choice and control because they can determine whether or not to subscribe to a given feed. And unlike email newsletters, which RSS feeds most resemble, the feeds do not contain spam or viruses.

The benefits of RSS have not been lost on educational technologists, with the result that some early work has been done to adapt the format to educational use. In their widely regarded paper and presentation, What’s the Fuss, Alan Levine, Brian Lamb and D’Arcy Norman demonstrate the use of RSS and a feature called trackback to facilitate the distribution of learning resources to novel audiences. Trackback allows the owner of a resource to know when it has been linked to by another user, and thus helps in the propagation of learning resources through a potential audience.

RSS is also being used to support the use of Weblogs in the classroom. In the weeks preceding this article, for example, staff and students at Centre d’Apprentissage du Haut-Madawaska posted 538 public and private blog entries among them. Rather than search each student’s page individually, a teacher or administrator simply uses an RSS aggregator to capture and display the day’s most recent posts. (See

Additionally, an RSS aggregator can be used to create a specialized community of interest. The first example of this is my own Edu_RSS, which collects about 300 feeds related to learning technology and displays them in a single location, updating the results hourly. For educational technologists with more specialized interests, Edu_RSS also organizes the incoming items into a set of about 100 specific topics. Each topic generates its own RSS feed, so a person can keep track of all developments in the field of, say, learning objects, by subscribing to this single feed. (See Edu_RSS at

The operators of learning object repositories have also started to experiment with RSS feeds listing recently added or topical learning resources; collections providing feeds now include the Maricopa Learning Exchange, Merlot, EdNA, CAREO, and the UK Centre for Materials Education. These feeds may be read in any RSS headline reader. In addition, such software as the Distributed Learning Object Repository Network (DLORN) harvests the feeds from these repositories and displays the results in a centrally accessible site, which greatly eases the search for learning objects from a wide range of sources.

Flexibility leads to compatibility

Operating parallel to RSS, and using a slightly different format, the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) operates on the same principle. Instead of using RSS, OAI feeds list resources using (typically) Dublin Core, which while providing the same type of information as may be found in an RSS channel, offers more detailed information about authorship and publication data. An OAI site typically requires the installation of an OAI server, which in addition to supporting plain harvesting allows for a site-specific search (though recently OAI has released a harvest-only version of the format.

The OAI initiative has been widely embraced by the academic community and has supported several spin-offs, the most notable being MIT’s DSpace open archiving service. The Institutional Archives Registry now lists about 180 feeds containing many thousands of academic articles. Another aggregation service, OAIster reports as of this writing to have collected 3,063,884 records from 277 institutions.

It is only a matter of time before the RSS and OAI worlds merge. Authors of RSS software are by now used to working with different formats. In the seven years since the format was released, there have been nine different flavors of RSS, the most popular being the original RSS 0.91 format used by Netscape, the RDF-flavoured RSS 1.0 format, and the most recent RSS 2.0 format. An alternative format, called Atom, is now being supported by the major blogging software suppliers. And though not widely used, specialized formats such as NewsML are being used by specific communities.

Most aggregators and headline readers are indifferent to the original format provided by an RSS feed. Transformations between types of XML may be accomplished by software engines or through the use of XSLT files. These transformation files make the different types of RSS and similar formats essentially interchangeable. Regardless of what version the original RSS feed uses, the result looks more or less the same when displayed to a reader. Indeed, one of the reasons RSS has become so popular is that for the vast majority of content producers and consumers, the RSS encoding remains completely behind the scenes, used only by the applications to communicate with each other.

RSS also supports compatibility with additional XML formats through the use of extensions or modules. (See These are formally supported by RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0, but they are sometimes used in other formats as well. Major extensions include Dublic Core, Syndication, and Content modules, allowing for a more precise description of individual items. Another widely used, though unofficial, module is the Creative Commons module, which allows a feed provider to refer to a Creative Commons license from within the RSS feed. Additional proposed modules include annotation, DC Terms, event, and email. (See

The more detailed description of learning resources may also be supported using RSS modules. Though not formally accepted or implemented, my own RSS_LOM is an RSS 1.0 module designed to allow the inclusion of IEEE-LOM metadata in an RSS file. This allows RSS feed items to include such learning-specific metadata as TypicalAgeRange or InteractionLevel. The use of modules in RSS files describing learning resources will allow resource owners and users to add a wide range of information not envisioned in the original LOM specification, including evaluation and peer review information, event metadata, and digital rights information. (See

Another change likely to spread through the RSS world over the next few months is the integration of social networking metadata with RSS content metadata. The popularity of such social networking sites as Friendster and Orkut has shown that there is a need for individuals to describe themselves and their relations with other individuals. These descriptions, most commonly found in a Friend of a Friend (FOAF) file, may be referred to by an RSS file using a social networking module. A FOAF file is another form of XML file, and so may be created read by many of the same tools now creating and reading RSS files. Adding social networking information to RSS allows for even more finely grained filtering and searching, as author information may now also be included in the search parameters. (See

The future leads to…

To be sure, RSS will evolve rapidly over the next few years. It’s poised to be exposed to a great deal of rhetoric, and is on the verge of being widely commercialized, with the inevitable cycle of hype and disappointment that will follow. That said, RSS is a technology with a strong future, strong because of its simplicity, flexibility, and utility. Although RSS is not the semantic Web originally dreamed of in the laboratory, with finely grained and standardized element descriptions and canonical vocabularies, it is a technology that has proved itself, and evolved roughshod, though the much grittier practice of grassroots development. There is, I think, a lesson in that.

Things You Need To Know About RSS Feeds

Like many others you may also want to know what RSS feeds are all about and how exactly do such feeds help out websites. Well, basically the RSS or Real Simple Syndication feeds are a way of increasing targeted website traffic by distributing content through the Internet. The RSS feeds help open up avenues of email marketing. This is the new marketing procedure making use of emails while avoiding Spam filters. The RSS feeds find particular usage with email newsletters, Blogs and certain websites. SIXTY DAYS TO YOUR FIRST BARGAIN PURCHASE.

Via the RSS feeds provided to the user’s browser or desktop the user can stay updated on content/info from one and more sources. With RSS feeds the web authors and publishers can rest assured that the updated information provided by them is very soon efficiently transferred to their readers.

Programmers find it easy to use RSS feeds. Many of the popular website hosting and building sites permit quick implementation of the code involved. Blogger and such other sites and the major blogging software companies permit RSS feeds to be built from within their programs without needing the use of coding or any other technical know-how. No need to learn up a complete new set of codes- bloggers can very simply use this technology to their advantage. Five Tips for Successful Negotiating.

There are various ways of getting the RSS feeds readied. You may be buying sophisticated programs that will help you out in creating, maintaining and fine-tuning your feeds. Again, you may simply be turning the content created into feeds. Making use of is a rather easy way of preparing the feeds. However, the feeds thus created are good enough for all purposes.

Normally the feeds are provided in three ways- headlines only, headlines with excerpts and full text feeds. You may suitably choose any of these. It all depends on the approach you wish to take up.

So, go ahead with advantageously using the RSS feeds and ensure that your readers, followers or fans always stay abreast with the updates that you make on your website.