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RSS Abuse, Duplicate Content and Parasite Websites

Jason has spoken out about something that a number of us have been mulling over for the past week or so – RSS Abuse. He points to Skweezer as one of the culprits that is targeting their blogs.

I’ve noticed a growing trend recently for sites to do this. Skweezer has pages for most of my blogs also (http://www.skweezer.net/s.aspx/2/www.livingroom.org.au/photolog/ is the one for my digicam one). Basically they are repackaging content of sites/blogs for viewing on PDAs and Phones. Not a bad idea in many respects – however they are taking complete posts and giving no real link backs. They are also stripping the advertisements from the sites also.

About the only thing that I can see on their version of my site that is linked directly back to and hosted on my site is the images. So not only are they using my content without giving me a way to benefit from what they are doing – but I’m also hosting their images.

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ProBlogger to Visit US in 2005?

There is a chance that I might be in the US in June for a few weeks for holiday and maybe a little connecting with some bloggers if possible. We’re toying with the idea of New York, LA, Washington and maybe even Boston.

I know a lot of you are from the US and so I’d love to hear your suggestions on destinations, things to see and do and most importantly cheap places to stay which won’t suck all our worthless little Aussie dollars out of our wallet!

I’d also like to meet some of you – although we’ll have to work out a way of not completely dominating our holiday with probloggers! So if you’re based in the US and would like to meet, or you have any suggestions on destinateions, let me know in comments below or via email.

PS: is there any blogger conferences planned over there at that time?

The Challenge of RSS for Marketers

I’ve just been listening to G’day World latest Podcast interview with Mark Jones, Deputy Managing Director at IDG Communications. It is a pretty long interview – but the section that I found most interesting was his grappling with RSS feeds and Blogging as a Magazine publisher.

It is fascinating to hear both the excitement about the technology but also the frustration (wrong word?) with finding a way to measure and monetize it. One of the interesting threads of the conversation was how RSS is impacting email newsletters.

Traditionally people would subscribe to newsletters and information would be sent to them by marketers who know who they are, where they live, their age etc.

With RSS there are similarities (ie it is a permission based method of communicating information) – however the challenge comes when analyzing who is reading it. With RSS gives readers almost complete anonymity and puts the power back in the hand of the reader in terms of when and how they access the information.

This brings all kinds of difficulties for monetizing this exchange of information. Will advertisers be willing to sponsor RSS feeds when all they know is the total number of those subscribing to them? No more demographics which has been key in raising sponsorship for newsletters.

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.

56 Directories To Submit Your Blog To

Search Engines are perhaps the most popular source of traffic for most of our blogs – however its also worth working on other sources for traffic to supplement what Google and Yahoo sends your way. Directories are also a useful source of traffic so ‘Text Link Brokers’ provide this useful list of 56 Directories To Submit Your Blog To. Most of them charge a fee to to submit to – but some of them are completely free.

Slacker Manager pitches idea on Blogging for Charity

Slacker Manager has pitched an interesting not for profit idea to the Blogosphere with his post ‘Help me lasso the Long Tail for charity‘. He’s certainly mentioned some great names in this call for help – if he managed to get that sort of team on board Localism could really go places. It’ll be a project worth watching. Here’s part of his pitch:

‘The basic idea behind Localism is the same as with Gawker and Weblogs Inc, but the primary organizational difference is that Localism will organize blogs across two dimensions–geographic location and topic. So you’d find blogs about snowboarding in Canada, in the PNW, and in the alps. Blogs about mountain biking in Hawai’i, Northern California and Vermont. Blogs about surfing in Oregon and blogs about surfing in Asia. Blogs about art in NYC and art in London. Blogs about professional sports teams, since they’re so closely tied to location. You get the idea–place and topic.

Like Gawker and Weblogsinc, Localism will derive its revenue through advertising. Because Localism is non-profit, ad placement purchases will be tax-deductible. Unlike Gawker and Weblogsinc, Localism won’t take the majority of revenue. I’m envisioning a revenue split along these lines: 10% to Localism to cover overhead; 40% to the blogger; 50% to a designated charity. The blogger definitely needs to be paid, but I’m still not sure what the best strategy is…percentage of ad revenue, or flat fee.’

Problogger earns in excess of $5000 a month

Mobile-Tracker

Fortune has a fantastic article on Google that features problogger Jon Gales from Mobile Tracker (a blog about cell phones) which is a fantastic example of a blog which is being used very effectively to earn its owner/editor a decent income. Jon has recently redesigned his blog, taking it to the next level in terms of professionalism. As the article says – the major income stream for Mobile Tracker is Adsense but runs some private banner/affiliate ads also. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

‘Jon Gales loves Google, but not for the reason you might think. It’s a terrific search engine, sure, but what Gales really likes is that Google is making him money. Gales’s website, Mobiletracker.net, is a compendium of news and reviews about cellphones that after a year and a half attracts about 200,000 users a month. Google supplies the ads for the site, visitors click on the ads, and because of the site’s popularity, Google sends Gales monthly checks of $5,000 or more. That’s a decent chunk of change for any sole proprietor. But for Gales, the numbers are eye-popping. He’s only 19 and lives expense-free at home with his parents in Tampa, posting four or five items in the course of the day while parked on the living room couch with his laptop. Says Gales: “If things keep going the way they are going, I’ll be making more money than my dad next year.”’

Blink – Malcolm Gladwell

Blink-Malcolm-Gladwell-1Is anyone else really hanging out to get their hands on a copy of Malcolm Gladwell’s new book Blink?

I’ve had my copy on order for a month or so now and can’t wait til the postman brings it. Malcolm’s last book, The Tipping Point, was really worthwhile and so relevant to blogging. It was one of the books that really got me thinking about Problogging (whilst never mentioning it).

Blink is a book about ‘rapid cognition’ – huh? Well on its ‘about page‘ Malcolm explains:

‘When you meet someone for the first time, or walk into a house you are thinking of buying, or read the first few sentences of a book, your mind takes about two seconds to jump to a series of conclusions. Well, “Blink” is a book about those two seconds, because I think those instant conclusions that we reach are really powerful and really important and, occasionally, really good….

What is going on in inside our heads when we engage in rapid cognition? When are snap judgments good and when are they not? What kinds of things can we do to make our powers of rapid cognition better?’

This sounds like a fascinating book – and as a problogger I’m very interested to get my hands on it because I’ve long believed that the first few seconds that a new reader arrives on your blog are incredibly crucial in whether they’ll stay, read on and become loyal readers. In fact my very first blog tips (on my other blog) were related to this topic. I did a little study into how long people stay on blogs and found that the average length of stay on a blog was 96 seconds. 96 seconds isn’t long – but its long enough to make an impression that lasts a lifetime.

Anyway – can’t wait to read ‘Blink‘ – its supposed to be released on 11 January!

Customize your Error 404 Page for Retaining Readership

SEO Chat has a good article on making your 404 error pages work for you to create increased traffic. Using these methods you can not only retain visitors to your site that have strayed out of your working pages but can also direct them into the areas of your site that you’d like them to head to.

‘Why do you need a 404 custom page? Well, what happens when someone requests a page on your site that does not exist? Have you ever noticed that some sites give you a very nice looking page when you mistype a URL, instead of that nasty 404 File Not Found? It is easy to create a 404 custom page in IIS and Apache.’

This is a technique I’m keen to explore in the new year – let us know in comment below how and if you’ve used these sorts of techniques.

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