Maximum Customer Reach in 2008
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Now, more than ever, website owners are looking for ways to expand their businesses and are building strategies for more quality content build-outs and added distribution channels. Their goal is to attract more eyeballs than ever before.
In today's competitive marketplace, how can you find additional ways to grow and build a loyal visitor base online? If you're planning to launch a small website--five to 10 pages--you must have found a niche marketplace with much less competition. Otherwise, you may not rank where searchers can find you. You know that adding content and links are important, but if your competition is doing more, how can you keep up? You can't continue to create, modify and copy pages and fiddle with HTML editor programs; you're too busy for that.
The first part of the answer is to join the blogosphere. Distribution via blog networks is smart. But, if you have a regular, static website, you may experience technical or HTML page issues in making your site available to search engines. Imagine that you've written a "Top 10 Tips" article on how to grow large, custom red tomatoes in your garden. The text provides excellent and useful information, but it's not optimized well for search engines. If search engines can't spider your site and find you easily, how can you get your information distributed? How can you target and continue to feed a hungry market?
The second part of the answer lies in RSS. As defined by Wikipedia, RSS is a "family of web feed formats used to publish frequently updated content such as blog entries, news headlines or podcasts." You may also see references to Media RSS, designed in 2004 by Yahoo!, but it's not as commonly known. You should use this for video and media.
The technology behind RSS isn't new, but with the rise of social media and social media optimization, failing to leverage this content marketing avenue could leave you behind. You don't need to worry about the technical aspects of RSS feeds, but they're XML representations that custom readers--known as feed readers--can consume for easy scan and reading by your audience. Blogs, RSS and social media will see a huge popularity uptick in 2008. As Stoney DeGeyter, a prolific search marketer, noted, "Content is dead, community is king."
Top 5 Web Traffic RSS Success Tips
1. Get a blog and start writing.
I wrote about how to set up a blog in a previous column, "6 SEO Blogging Tips." Start by posting one or two times a week and increase the frequency from there. Make sure readers can easily bookmark your posts with action clicks, easily installable via plug-ins (WordPress is a favorite here). You don't have to write everything yourself. It can be outsourced, and you can write commentaries on news stories and public domain articles to get started.
2. Provide a visible RSS icon.
Placing a large RSS icon on your site will let visitors know they can get your content into their readers and can sign up easily and quickly.
3. Publish feeds.
Big names like The New York Times, BBC, MSNBC and Amazon are already doing it. iTunes has read capability into media streams of audio and video. You're not limited by text anymore. Creating videos for your online marketing is big this year. If you have information to share, any "how to" and "problem solver" videos are always in demand.
4. Get a reader.
An RSS reader comes in different variations--free or paid, desktop or browser-based. Readers allow you to scan headlines and stay up-to-date on content with a high data freshness rate. Click here for an example of what a reader looks like graphically. The following readers are worth considering:
- Bloglines--another very popular reader
- Google Reader--one of my favorites
- Yahoo! Web--add feeds to your account via My Yahoo!
- FeedDemon--highly rated
- Pluck--nice interface; integrates well with other options for your browser
5. Set alerts.
Set alerts for your blog name or URL. Use Google.com/alerts and track events as they happen. You can set up weekly and daily alerts. Get a free account at FeedBurner.com and track and set up feeds, and run daily reports, stats and more. It's a very handy tool and contains many useful features and excellent reporting on your subscriptions, including search terms and incoming pages.
I run several multimedia sites with videos and supporting text. The distribution of my content is global via the subscriptions that are generated daily from interested readers. One of the sites is a test site that shows how to play guitar using free video guitar lessons. Subscribers get the feeds via a FeedBurner subscription that has been set up.
If you apply these techniques, you may see a potentially large rise in traffic on your site, including willing customers who are ready to buy what you have to offer. Get involved and let the RSS feeds push content out to your customers and readers, and use compelling headlines to draw the readers in.
Jon Rognerud is a recognized authority on the subject of search engine optimization and has spent more than 15 years developing websites and marketing solutions at companies like Overture and Yahoo!. His website, www.jonrognerud.com, provides a wealth of informative articles, resources and complimentary e-mail courses on everything you'll ever need to know about SEO and search marketing.