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The Importance of Good Headlines for RSS

Poynter Online has a great post about the importance of having a good headline in your RSS feed.

‘But what do I do with headlines like “Dramatic change” (which turned out to be about a change in the government’s attitude toward immigrants) or “An unfinished story” (this deals with the U.S. inauguration). And these are just a couple of random picks from a Norwegian feed I read last night. Both those headlines belong in a newspaper or on a website, where there is room for a picture and a blurb. They have no place in my RSS reader. Or in my mobile phone’s WAP reader. Because I can’t even make up my mind if I’m interested.

With RSS and WAP, more and more journalism relies on headlines alone. So they better be good. And they better be informative.’

This is so true. I’ve actually done some tracking of the most popular posts on this site for those reading my RSS feeds and have noticed that it is usually the simple, clear and informatively titled posts that get the most hits. Yes occasionally I’ll get a little clever, humorous and cryptic and come up with a title that tries to be intriguing, witty or mysterious – but more often than not the simple ones do much better.

Of course I show the first few sentences in my RSS feeds also (not that everyone chooses to view them) so your opening line is also vitally important to getting people to read on.

I’ve touched on this topic previously in a number of posts includeing:

- Titles are Everything

- Get to the Point

- Blogging for Change – Rejection to Attention

Rhythmic Blogging

There is a good collection of blogging tips over at Leave It Behind’s Building a Better Blog with a few tips that I’ve not seen on too many other similar lists. I like this one:

3. Publish During High Traffic Times



If one of your desires is to generate traffic, try to publish during high traffic hours. Many people scan weblogs.com and other services (including TypePad and many TypePad member sites) for recently updated weblogs. Also, publishing during prime waking/working hours will give other writers time to comment, link, or respond to your post. A brilliant post in the middle-of-the-night will often get buried by the morning rush of fresh content.

I’ve found this to be true also – especially in the last 6 months with the rise of RSS feeds for some reason. There are periods of the day that I notice seem to bring a flood of traffic and posting in the middle of them can be very beneficial. It is a matter of being aware of the natural rhythms of your blog and exploiting them for your own benefit.

However having said that – its also important not to flood your blog with traffic all at once because you risk burying your posts in one another. I know sometimes I get on a roll and could easily post 5 or 6 posts within 5 minutes of one another to the same blog. In such instances I generally save half of them as drafts and slowly release them every few hours – a nice constant rhythm of posting should give your blog every chance of a nice constant influx of readers throughout the day.

How Obvious is your Blog’s Topic?

Can your readers identify what your blog is about quickly?

SEO Scoop has a good basic tip on making the topic of your posts obvious as a method of optimizing your page. I would extend this tip to the front page of your blog also.

‘Go to a page on your website that you are actively promoting but are having trouble ranking. Have your mother or grandmother or some non-techy friend look at the page. Give them only about 5 seconds to glance at it. Now close the browser and ask the person what the main topic of the page was. If they can give you the correct answer, give yourself a pat on the back. If they give the wrong answer, or just have no idea, you need to go back and do some more work on that page.’

It’s not rocket science – but its very true. So often I’ve been asked to look at blog to give advice and have found them to be so cluttered and complicated that its taken me concerted effort to even work out what they are about.

It is confession time – I’m a very lazy web surfer. If I go to a page and have to do work to understand what it is about then I generally leave within a few seconds. However if I can quickly ascertain the nature of the site and am engaged within the first few seconds I’m likely to stay a while and even come back.

Copyright and Blogs – 14 Guidelines

Copyright issues are becoming more and more important for bloggers as blogging is a medium where by it is so easy to borrow, steal, copy or duplicate another person’s content. I’ve blogged on numerous occasions about breaches of copyright that I’ve been on the end of.



So when I saw About.com had published 14 Copyright Tips for Bloggers my ears pricked up a little.

It is pretty basic stuff – but unfortunately ‘the basics’ are being ignored time and time again. The tips include guidelines for not infringing copyright but also tips on dealing with your own copyright being breeched. I’ll leave you with tip 14 from their list….

Don’t be overly scared by copyright. Most people do not experience copyright infringement allegations or problems, unless they are putting lots and lots of movies or MP3s on their website. Basic common sense will mostly be sufficient to avoid problems: Don’t copy too much and only copy where it is ‘fair’ – where you’re not competing with the owner’s market.’

Read more at 14 Copyright Tips for Bloggers

Article Swapping

Wayne over at Blog Business World has a good article on Article Swapping as a strategy to increase the content on your blog. If you can ensure the quality of your article swapping partners this is a good strategy that can double your article producing power and therefor quantity of content on your page. He writes:

Adding new visitor traffic to your website is always a challenge. Finding fresh and innovative promotional techniques is often as difficult as creating fresh content.

Wait a minute! Why not accomplish both goals at the same time? By working with your current link exchange partners, and other website owners with businesses that complement yours, both goals are achievable.

Every website requires new content to provide interesting information for your site visitors. The same old stale articles won’t bring in much in the way of return traffic.

The various search engines give extra credit for site freshness and incoming links. Every article you provide to other webmasters provides them with new content. It provides your site with a themed incoming link. The same holds true for guest articles hosted on your site.

The level of my blogging earnings are directly related to the number of pages on my blogs (of course there are many other factors but quantity is a significant factor). Therefor one strategy for increasing earnings is obviously more pages as I’ve written about in my Generating Quantity of Content series.

RSS Syndication Made Simple – Finding Content Made Easy

Steve Rubel (one of my newest favorite reads) has a very useful post on RSS Syndication Made Simple. It is one of the best and easiest to follow, descriptions of how to use RSS to find and read content of other bloggers and news sources.

Steve writes – ‘RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. It is a new technology standard that enables any online publisher (corporate, blogger, media, etc.) to broadcast information onto the Internet in “feeds.” Users can elect to subscribe to as many feeds as they want and view them all at once or individually using one or more different RSS readers, or news aggregators. Such readers include high-end dedicated desktop software applications, mobile devices and increasingly sophisticated Web-based applications. No matter which aggregator you choose, you get the same great benefits: 1) you are alerted to new content from your favorite sites as soon as it hits the web and 2) you can aggregate all your favorite sources of information together and peruse them on one page.’

95% of what I write in my blogs I find through RSS – following specific blogs and using news alerts targeting keywords that my blogs are interested in. Every morning I wake up to a fresh stock of starting points for my days research and postings.

Within minutes of a news article or blog post hitting the internet I can know about it and be posting a link, quote or comment on my own blog responding to what is happening.

So if you’re not using RSS to find content for your blog you’re probably giving yourself a whole heap of work that you don’t need to go through each day – head over to RSS Syndication Made Simple and take a load off!

Product and Brand Names are Best Keywords

The Daily Rundown (link removed as the site is no longer there)has this interesting piece of analysis about what people are searching for on Google.

‘ 28% of Google searches are for a “product name”, 9% are for a “brand name” and 5% are searches for a “company name”. “Brand” keywords also have a 8x higher ROI than generic keywords. Not sure if that is for all searches or just consumer-product related searches, but either way it demonstrates the importance of making sure your site shows up on the SERPs for your brand.’

Now that is some useful information that fits pretty well with the anecdotal evidence that I’ve seen over the past year. So if you’re reviewing, previewing or just talking about a product you should be as specific as possible with your keywords – put them in your title, in your image tags, and make sure they’re included numerous times in the body of your post.

Writing Tips for Bloggers

Poynter Online is one of the best resources around to help you with your content development. It is actually a tool for those wanting to improve their journalistic skills – but as is often the case – it is easily adaptable to the blogging medium.

Their section on writing is especially useful. Check out their latest tip for example – its on the use of repetition in your writing – I said the use of repetition in your writing (sorry). They write:

‘The repetition of key words, phrases, and story elements creates a rhythm, a pace, a structure, a drumbeat that reinforces the central theme of the work.

Such repetition works in music, in advertising, in humor, in literature, in political speech and rhetoric, in teaching, in homilies, in parental lectures – even in this sentence, where the word ‘in’ was used 10 times.

Writers use repetition as a tool of persuasion, few as skillfully as Michael Gartner, who, in a distinguished and varied journalism career, won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing.’

Hmmm – the other bonus of repetition is that if you repeat the right word it is good for your Search Engine Optimization and Google ads.

Generating High Quanitities of Blog Content – Recruit Writers

This is the Fifth post in a series of tips on how to generate higher quantities of content for your blog. Check out the previous posts at Set Targets, News Sites and Aggregators, Start a New Blog, Break Down Your Posts and Ecto.

Get others to write content for you. I’ve often asked other people to write an article, review, reflection or rant for me on a topic that they have a passion or interest in. I don’t pay for content (some people do) but I try to make it worth the writer’s while by giving a link back to their site or by promoting them and encouraging them. I’ve also bought gifts for one or two people who’ve written me significant amounts of content over time.

Some writers will also allow you to co-publish posts. In this way they their post would appear on both their own blog and yours.