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Using AideRSS to Help Identify Hot Topics to Cover On Your Blog

View the full sized version of this video at Blip, YouTube or Viddler (you’ll probably want to to see the text of what I’m talking about).

Yesterday I wrote about how to choose a topic to write about for blog posts and today in this video post I want to follow up this topic with a video demonstration of how I use a great service called AideRSS to analyze previous posts on my blog and observe trends in both the topics and styles of writing that can help to decide upon future topics to cover.

You won’t simply want to repeat past topics that have done well but will probably do better to extend upon them.

AideRSS can be used in lots of ways to track other blogs and help find great content on other blogs but for me this analysis of my own posts has become a valuable tool. I hope you enjoy this screen cast.

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Great tool, thx for sharing

  2. Dan Cole says:

    AideRSS is imperfect though… It said I had 120 comments on a post that gone none, but I still think it could be useful for a general analysis.

  3. Lee says:

    I just used AideRSS to analyse my own feed and it rated posts differently to how I perhaps would have done.

    I can certainly see how I could leverage that top 20 list to write follow-ups, especially as many of the posts on that list were unexpected ones.

  4. Zackatoustra says:

    When I’ve seen that 3 posts of my blogs were rated with a 10 (wow! 10!), I actually wondered how the rating was calculated…
    And I didn’t find anything about that, except that this algorithm is called PostRank.
    It’s apparently derived from the number of comments any post has received, and the number of references the post has in delicious( thanks god for making it easily writable) and digg.
    That’s it.

    Yeah, sure, you won’t find the inner details of the google PageRank. So, it seems logical that they don’t share the way they calculate it.

    Still, how meaningful is a rating system that gives three of my posts a 10?!
    Or, is the rating ranging from 0 to 1000?!

  5. Wow, I feel like you’re doing my job for me. :) I’ve been explaining this usage a lot lately, so it’s fantastic to have both a real world example and an explanation in video format — thank you!

    You can do this feed-based analysis (your own site) or thematic analysis (all sites you’ve included under a given topic) in Google Reader with our extension as well, for those who might prefer to access a lot of feeds at once, rather than one at a time.

    @Dan Cole — that is a known issue we’re working on. If you send me the URL (melanie at aiderss dot com) I can have one of the devs fix it.

    @Lee — I always enjoy seeing people’s reactions to analysis of their own work. I have yet to talk to a single person for whom the analysis produced zero surprises. :) That said, most people have a pretty good handle on what many of the greatest hits are.

  6. Home Biss says:

    Never use AideRSS before. Looks interesting.

    Thanks for the tip! :-)

  7. writer dad says:

    It seems like a really great tool. Writers tend to repeat themselves. We are drawing from the same well after all. But it’s nice to know in what areas it is safer to repeat.

  8. Gary says:

    HI – I must echo the comments of a couple of your previous commentors: I like the concept of AideRSS and have used it on occasions in the past, but in my experience the algorithm used to calculate the Page rank is flawed. On my own sites I have several posts which are ranked as though they had many more comments than they actually have. When I click on the link to see the comments it displays the correct ones, but it seems to be getting the numbers from another post (sometimes one that’s not even on my web site!).

    Hopefully they’ll address this in the near future though.
    Gary

  9. @Zackatoustra — Blog comments and delicious bookmarks are two of the engagement sources we track. There is more information on what we track and how we weight it here: http://postrank.com/postrank.html (And of course we’re always looking at new sources to add.)

  10. First time knowing site…! Thanks Darren.

  11. Laura says:

    It looks very helpful, but it only showed my last three posts. I’ll have to wait to really benefit from the site.

  12. Tracey says:

    Thanks for the tip- will have to check it out. As always, you are a wealth of information!

  13. This seems to be a really good tool. I’m really not to look into this and see if they can help me especially since I never want to repeat myself. Instead we all just need to think of new content so that readers don’t feel like they’re reading the same thing over and over again.

  14. Thanks for the info. It’s always beneficial to be able to accurately monitor your traffic.

  15. Great tool Darren,
    Really cool how you can look at and analyse so much information. Just wanted to give you a testimony that it was your site that first pushed me towards making money online from blogging.
    Now I am working full time as a blogger/website creator. So thanks

  16. Syed Balkhi says:

    Thanks for sharing a cool tool Darren. I will try this one.

  17. amirulcyber says:

    First time i know about it.Thanks.

  18. Wow… this is really cool. I wonder if bloggers should be worried about competing blogs snooping around on other blogs to get ideas? That’s the first thing I’ve started doing ;)

  19. Amanda Evans says:

    Thanks for sharing this great article I will be sure to link to it from my blog and this tool is definitely something that I will be using in the future.

  20. Neil Duckett says:

    I’ve experienced with this today and find it amazingly useful …. will be using it in the future to plan a posting attack!

  21. Dom says:

    Nice idea, but the numbers it comes up with (delicious bookmarks, comments, etc.) are just plain wrong in many cases, making the entire web site useless unless and until they fix it.

  22. Dan Mihaliak says:

    I have added it to my favorite tools and will use it as a different way to analyze my blog.

  23. How does AideRSS compare with Feedhub?

  24. This is very slick tool that I haven’t seen before… thanks Darren. That said, it doesn’t really help out much with smaller bloggers with not many readers. It seems to base a lot on diggs, bookmarks and comments… so unless you have a lot of that type of activity then it’s not as useful.

    It’s still cool though!

  25. Great site.

    I’d like to add to the article with my favorite feature of AideRSS. If you register with the website you can maintain a list of RSS feeds that you would like to keep track of. This is a great way to check up on your sites as well as others in the same niche without having to type in each url.

    Even better is the fact that you an import an opml file. If you use Google Reader you can export an opml and import it into AideRss–any other RSS reader should be able to do with as well. With your favorite sites added you can now analyze them to a greater extent. Such as trends and overall performance compared to others.

  26. Ah interesting tool! It’s the first we’ve heard of it..thanks for the heads up!

  27. Amit Gupta says:

    Darren, analysis of AideRSS is a bit off its rocker. I just checked my blog’s feed in it & on that little info bar before the metrics, it says that I’ve been doing 109 posts per month & have posted 10 posts since 29th April 2008 & the last update was 36 minutes ago. (screenshot)

    But I’m not doing 109 posts a month(it would be fantastic had I been doing that, eh!), & I’ve posted more than 10 since 29th April 2008, the last post I wrote was 2 days back & not 36 min back as AideRSS thinks, even the last comment was 1 day back! ;)

    I think the AideRSS guys should label the service as beta & improve it. The idea behind it is pretty neat & can definitely be very useful for bloggers! :)

  28. Gary says:

    Following my earlier post about AideRSS being inaccurate I was contacted personally by Melanie at AideRSS who took my blog URL’s and sent them to the development guys.

    Today, I am pleased to say, all my feeds appear to be correctly analysed and the data looks far more accurate

    Thanks for the quick response, Melanie (and Darren for the original post!)

  29. Protoscopic says:

    AideRSS is an interesting idea, but given that it seems to function on raw numbers instead of on numbers over time, isn’t it going to have a bias for older posts?

  30. Wow, I was excited about using it until all these comments. Don’t have time for unproductive sites!

  31. @Protoscopic — The balance we try to strike is in ensuring accuracy of rankings in new posts, but also not constantly going back and checking for additional engagement items on old posts, since most posts get the bulk of their comments, bookmarks, etc. within about the first week after publishing.

    It takes a bit of time to get rankings for new posts, since it takes time for people to read and engage with newly published items. But that usually gets ramped up within about a day. (We’ve had a few requests to implement an initial predictive ranking, but far more requests to stick to “real” data.)

    It is also possible for posts to receive more engagement after the item is no longer in our analysis queue, but we’ve found over time that those additional engagement sources rarely make much difference in the PostRank established after significant time has passed.

    Hope that answers your question. If not, feel free to email me – melanie at aiderss dot com.

  32. @Amit — Thanks for the heads up. I got one of the devs to take a look at your feed, and it’s looking much better now: http://www.aiderss.com/all/hindi.amitgupta.in/

    I tried emailing you, but your contact page link appears to be broken. Then again, perhaps that’s by design. :) Any more issues, give me a holler.

  33. Amit Gupta says:

    @Melanie
    It looks good now, thanks for taking up on this & fixing the issue! :)

    And as for my contact page broken, I dunno how that happened to you b’coz its working fine & I keep getting emails via it from readers & other people! :)

  34. Debo Hobo says:

    This was useful info. I went to AideRss and have analyzed my feeds. I didn’t show to have any Best Posts so clearly I still have a lot to work on. But with this tool I atleast know what direction to head in.

    Thanks :)

  35. This is a great tool, I use it often and it really provides a clear picture.

  36. @Jonathan Franzone — We do base our analysis on various engagement sources, like diggs, bookmarks, and comments, as you noted. However, we use what we call “feed-based PostRank”, which means we rank posts based on your own site’s past performance. In that way, blogs with smaller audiences and engagement levels can still see realistic scores, even if there aren’t hundreds of comments on posts, for examples. That said, they are, of course, based on a lot smaller data set than blogs with more engagement. But since we don’t compare apples to oranges (a blog with 20 RSS subscribers to TechCrunch, for example), blogs with smaller audiences won’t have their rankings completely skewed.

    That said, we do offer what we call Thematic PostRank, which is part of our Google Reader extension functionality, and which is automatically applied in folder view, so all the feeds on a specific topic, as chosen by the user, are compared against each other, in that case.
    That said, it doesn’t really help out much with smaller bloggers with not many readers. It seems to base a lot on diggs, bookmarks and comments… so unless you have a lot of that type of activity then it’s not as useful.

  37. Suman says:

    AideRSS is showing about 124 comments in one of my blog post and I am not seeing anything in my blog. That post is ranked as the top post with rating 10. Why it is like this?

  38. Mr. Javo says:

    Excellent tool Darren, thanks for sharing….

  39. Nice tool indeed, thanks for sharing!

  40. gowers says:

    I like your blog, It’s great

  41. Took a quick look on 4 of my blogs. Gave incorrect number of comments for one of them and the numbers looked …unusual for several others. I’ll take a closer look later, had not heard of this.

  42. This is a very good tool, thank you for sharing this on your blog :).

  43. @QuittingTheDayJob — If you send me the URLs, I can look into any potential issues with your sites analysis – melanie at aiderss.com.

  44. Nappy_Rash says:

    This is genius advice, I wish more people would share stuff like this!

  45. Peter Morrow says:

    I used AideRSS for the first time about three days ago when I saw this post. As it turns out, the guy who started it is my brothers best friend from high school. Wow, it’s a small world.

  46. Cool Checks says:

    Thanks Darren for the heads up on that. Its nice to be able to at least track them

  47. PR Project says:

    Yea, this is a very cool and powerful service. We add it in our PR Project.

  48. johno says:

    A brilliant tool. Very useful indeed. Thanks.

  49. You sound depressed in that video, Darren. Where’s the excitement?

  50. Eric Blue says:

    I just started using the same technique myself! The other great benefit of AidRSS is the Google Reader integration. I’ve already saved myself hours of reading time….