Blogging and RSS - Important Small Business Marketing Strategies
Over the last year Bloging and RSS have become the new internet buzz words, yet when I talk about either to most small business owners, I am met with blank stares. If you would like to know a little more about what a Blog is and how important blogging is becoming in business and especially marketing, how to use RSS to publish your blog or site and seek someone to help you unscramble the gobbledygook and technobabble, well you are in the right place to be illuminated - read on.
In this section of the site I will be explaining what these new tools are all about, how you can use them to market your business more effectively and provide links to a variety of web sites, blogs and ebooks to help you master them ahead of the game. Trust me - in a couple of years everyone will be using these tools.
First, if you are not sure what a Blog is let me suggest that you go straight to my Small Business Marketing Strategies Blog. The link below opens in a new window so you can come straight back after you have had a look.
What's this Blogging thing all about
If you have just looked at my blog you will see it is single page website on which I have posted journal entries on an intermittent basis and which are displayed in date order with the most recent first. All the journal entries are related to the specific focus of my Blog - Small Business Marketing Strategies.
Blogging has been around for a while. The term Blog came from a contraction of Web Log, which is quite simply a daily diary of events on a web site. The practice of authoring a blog, maintaining a blog or adding an article to an existing blog is called blogging. The individual articles on a blog are called blog posts, posts or entries and a person who posts these entries is called a blogger.
Unfortunately like so many technology terms, because it came from a geeky space it has acquired a geeky image, while it really is nothing more than the online equivalent of an editor's column, or diary. If you do want to know more about the history and practice of blogging the best place as always is the online free encyclopaedia Wikipedia.
In the past couple of years the technology for blogging has been made very simple. I have looked at a few systems and decided to go with Google's offering www.Blogger.com partly because I was led to believe that Google indexes blog entries very quickly - I am not sure I am seeing that in practice yet though there are many other factors in Google's ranking algorithms.
Most blogs are personal diaries with pictures and comment on day to day happenings enabling friends and family to keep in touch and stay up to date with what is happening. You can log onto a computer anywhere in the world at any time and post an update and people can communicate back by making comments on your blog entry, providing that is they know where to find your blog, which is the main challenge I want to deal with.
Blogging for Marketing
Blogs also have a very significant marketing potential. Every newspaper and magazine has columns, often very quirky or specialist, but they are very popular and acquire a loyal readership because they are personal.
So it is with blogs. They are not like a formal brochure or even a monthly newsletter. A blog should be in the style of a diary or column with a much more personal approach. However in marketing parlance a blog is a "pull" technology - people have to come to it, it is not "pushed" to them.
So how about writing a blog on the day to day challenges you help your clients to overcome. If you are in a very targeted niche, you could write a commentary on the niche, the personalities, events, thing you notice day to day, new developments etc.
Let me explain how I am developing my blog and perhaps it will make sense, but please this is just my approach - the key is writing something that people come and read.
At the beginning of September I was working every day on getting my newsletter ready to launch and posting articles to gain publicity, all of which was quite new to me. The learning curve was huge and not as easy as I had expected. I began to get comments from people that it was all a bit too complex.
So it struck me, what if I started a diary of the day to day lessons learned as I struggle to master these new communications tools, adding in some personal observations much as I would when speaking on stage. Well it seems to work. Immediately I started getting positive comments from people who simply happened on the blog. Suddenly I am becoming a popular online columnist.
However there are other benefits. Search engines index blog entries, so I make sure that my blogs are keyword rich, ie they use keywords I want me and my site to be strongly associated with. The more stuff there is out on the web linking me to those keywords the better my ranking.
I have not yet cracked Google, but the keyword phrase "Small Business Marketing Strategies" finds me at number two on MSN and eight on Yahoo after one month of effort. I will be creating a significant resource here about Blogs, so please come back.
RSS and Publishing and Promoting Your Blog
You have had a look at my blog on the Blogger site - but if course I can also publish that blog elsewhere using RSS. You have probably seen lots of those little orange buttons on sites labelled "RSS" or "XML" and may have wondered what they are all about. RSS is now generally said to stand for Really Simple Syndication. It is the protocol enabling data to be shared between different systems. XML stands for Extensible Markup Language so where HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) is the standard for creating web pages, XML is the standard for sharing data between systems and RSS is one XLM protocol. And that's all you need to know. If you want to know more you can find it here.
How do you read RSS feeds?
RSS enables you to publish information directly to your readers and reach customers without the problems we are facing now with spam filters deleting our newsletters. Spam filters are the scourge of internet marketing because they so often filter stuff we want, and especially newsletters. RSS avoids this – however it is a Pull technology. To read an RSS feed the recipient has to chose to read it in an RSS reader or because it is displayed on a web site they visit.
There are stand alone RSS readers you can install, some for free others at a small charge. If you want to try out a free reader now and see how this works I have a small help file here with some simple instructions you can follow.
Publishing on Web Sites
There are other way to get your RSS feed read. If you look at the top of this page above the navigation bar you will see the now familiar RSS/XML buttons and below that three buttons labelled "add to My Yahoo" "My MSN and "Add to Google." Click on any of these and you can add my Site RSS feed to your page at your chosen portal. Just like adding any other news feed.
This site feed will be updated every time I change a page, or add a page to this web site. Click on the Site Blog navigation button to read the site feed.
Below you will see a coloured box with a side scroll bar and containing links to the last 10 articles or so from my blog that you may have visited earlier. Click on any link and you go straight to the full article.
Now from a marketing point of view the great thing about publishing my Blog RSS feed here is that it is all automatic. When I add any post to my blog, it automatically updates the feed published here and on any web site that is publishing my blog – This feed is published here and also on my Yahoo, MSN and Google Pages. It is also published on my Professional Speakers Web page. It may be published elsewhere because anyone can publish any RSS feed on their web site as you will learn later.
Articles on RSS and Blogging
I will be constantly developing this section of my site as an easy to follow resource on RSS and Blogging. It really is the next big thing so do book mark the page or better still add my site feed to your RSS reader.
Below you will also find 10 articles on Blogging and 10 recent articles on RSS – This list is updated almost daily so do pop back and check them out.
Articles on Blogging
Articles on RSS
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