Internet Business Blog

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

What is RSS?

What is RSS? You probably have seen this three-letter acronym in the course of your internet surfing. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary; syndicating means republishing an article that comes from another source such as a website.

An RSS is a means of publicizing updates about websites. It may or may not include a summary and photos of the latest posting. But those that provide summaries (thus Rich Site Summary) allow users to skim through the article so that they could decide later on if they want to access the website source. The RSS feed usually contains the title of the update originating from the website. It is also usually the link to the website source.

What are the benefits of RSS? RSS gives benefits to both readers (users) and web
publishers.

1. It gives you the latest updates. Whether it is about the weather, new music, software upgrade, local news, or a new posting from a rarely-updates site learn about the latest as soon as it comes out.

2. It saves on surfing time.Since an RSS feed provides a summary of the related article, it saves the user’s time by helping s/he decide on which items to prioritize when reading or browsing the net.

3. It gives the power of subscription to the user. Users are given a free-hand on which websites to subscribe in their RSS aggregators which they can change at any time they decide differently.

4. It lessens the clutter in your inbox. Although your email address will be required to enjoy the services of online RSS aggregators, RSS does not use your email address to send the updates.

5. It is spam free.Unlike email subscriptions, RSS does not make use of your email address to send updates thus your privacy is kept safe from spam mails.

6. Unsubscribing is hassle-free. Unlike email subscriptions where the user is asked questions on why s/he is unsubscribing and then the user would be asked to confirm unsubscribing, all you have to do is to delete the RSS feed from your aggregator.

7. It can be used as an advertising or marketing tool. Users who subscribe or syndicate product websites receive the latest news on products and services without the website sending spam mail. This is advantageous to both the web user and the website owner since advertising becomes targeted; those who are actually interested in their products are kept posted.
What are the drawbacks of RSS?The disadvantages of RSS use are brought about by its being a new technology and some user-preference concerns.

1. Some users prefer receiving email updates over an RSS feed.

2. Graphics and photos do not appear in all RSS feeds. For conciseness and ease of publication, RSS feeds do not display the photos from the original site in announcing the update except for some web-based aggregators

3. The identity of the source website can be confusing.Since RSS feeds do not display the actual URL or name of the website, it can sometimes get confusing on what feed a user is actually reading.

4. Publishers cannot determine how many users are subscribed to their feed and the frequency of their visits. Moreover, they would not know the reasons why users unsubscribe which could be important in improving their advertising.

5. RSS feeds create higher traffic and demands on the server.Most readers still prefer the whole update over a brief summary of the entry, thus they still access the site.

6. Since it is a new technology, many sites still do not support RSS.

How do I start using RSS? There are two things needed: an RSS feed and an RSS aggregator or reader. The RSS feed comes from an RSS-supported website. There are also websites that provide a list of RSS feeds of different websites.

An RSS aggregator is used to read the RSS feed from the source website. It scans and collects data on latest RSS feeds from the worldwide web.

An aggregator comes in two forms: a downloadable program also known as desktop aggregator and an online or web-based aggregator. Downloadable aggregators may require payment before they can be acquired, while internet-based aggregators are usually free of charge. All you need to do is to register an account then you are ready to use their services. Both versions allow you to customize or choose which RSS feeds to enter. Paid aggregators are usually chosen by more experienced users and they usually allow more freedom in customizing feeds.

1. Choose an RSS aggregator to use. For beginners, web-based aggregators are recommended since they are usually user-friendly

2. Scan the homepage of your target website for the RSS or XML button. It contains the RSS code you need to enter in the aggregator. Copy this code. Syndic8 provides a directory of websites that support RSS.

3. Paste the code (which contains the URL of the website) in your aggregator. There is a space provided for pasting the code.

After you have done these three easy steps, you can start reading the RSS feeds coming from the website. New postings appear as they are published real time at the source website.
RSS and Internet Marketing

The application of RSS to internet marketing was an unforeseen development to RSS technology developers. Since users are given the freedom to add RSS feeds to their aggregators, those who are interested in particular products and services available in the internet can now be notified real time. Marketing becomes more specific to interested people and not a hit-and-miss operation.

Those who intend to use RSS for marketing their products and services should consider linking up with email account providers, (e.g. Yahoo, MSN, Google mail); networking websites (e.g. Friendster, Multiply, My Space, Hi5); websites of newspapers and television network websites (e.g. New York Times, CNN) for medium to big-scale companies.

Clearly, RSS is an innovation in information management in the worldwide web as well as online marketing. We can expect better RSS technology in the not-so-distant future as its popularity increases among users and website owners alike.

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Internet Business Blog

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Monitoring Your Search Engine Position

Since search engines are the first stop for people on the Internet looking for goods or services, the position your website appears in the search results is an important factor. If your URL shows up far down the results list, the chances of searchers finding you decreases incrementally. Once you achieve a high search engine position, it is essential that you make sure you maintain the high rankingyou have worked so hard to achieve.

This means you must come up with a strategy to monitor your search engines position. This strategy is crucial to the success of any internet marketing campaign. Think of your search engine positions as your online portfolio. Would you let your stock portfolio be ruled by chance and market fluctuations, or would you keep close tabs on your stocks so you could buy and sell when the time is right? This is the way you must consider your search engines position.

Be aware that at first, after you have launched your searchengine campaign and done all the right things to increase your rankings, you will most likely see a continual upward climb. What you need to be on the lookout for is the moment that upward climb reaches a plateau. When this happens, your search engine position campaign moves into stage two, the monitoring and protecting stage.

In stage two, do not be concerned about the short-term fluctuations in your positions. These are similar to the subtle rising and falling of stocks in a portfolio. Short-term movement is an integral part of the whole process. It's the long-term changes that you must watch for and prepare to act on immediately.

Analyzing the long-term trends of search engines positions is imperative. The way in which search engines rank websites may change at the drop of hat. If you are unaware of these changes - many of which are subtle yet can be deadly to your ranking - your position may drop to the bottom of the list before you can get your bearings. To prevent this kind of precipitous drop, you must create a system to monitor your positions on a monthly basis.

Each search engine uses a formula to compute website rankings. When a search engine changes this formula in anyway, it may raise or lower your ranking. Some search engines use a number of different formulas, rotating them so that a formula doesn't become over used or outdated. Depending on which formula is being applied, your search engine position may suddenly drop or rise in rank significantly. Therefore, you must check your positions frequently in order to catch when a search engine changes formulas and what effect it has on your positions.

You must also deal with your competition - a crucial factor you must always be vigilant about. Your competitor's position may suddenly rise, automatically lowering yourposition. Or their position may drop, pushing your position higher. Each month, expect position changes due to the continual changes that are occurring in your competitor's position, and be prepared to adjust your marketing strategy to compensate for decreased rankings. Monitoring these fluctuations will also give you vital information about howto improve your website to increase your position in search results.

Another factor to monitor carefully is a sudden drop ofyour positions in all search engines. This is not the sameas monthly fluctuations - this is a neon red warning sign! It could mean a number of different things.

Finally, pay attention to your keywords. Keywords are the foundation bricks of the entire search engine system, and they demand individual scrutiny in your monitoring efforts. If you have found that a number of your positions haveplummeted, it may mean that a page of your website has become invisible or inaccessible to search engine spiders. Or the competition for that particular keyword or phrasehas recently rocketed into outer space. In either case, youmust act quickly and efficiently to regain lost ground.

Your search engine marketing campaign is an investment. It costs you time and money on a continual basis. Protect this investment as diligently as you would your financial portfolio. In the same way, track your positions from anobjective perspective, and monitor your positions on a regular basis. Make sure your time and effort reap rewards by keeping your eye on the big picture - your long-termmarketing campaign.

Web CEO is a tool that allows you to monitor your search engine rankings, the number of backlinks to your site, your competition and much more. You can download a free version of Web CEO here.

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