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Marketing : RSS


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Use RSS To Increase Your Traffic Now

By Rok Hrastnik
May 25, 2006

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Online visibility and online traffic are, quite naturally, of paramount importance to everyone and anyone marketing or conducting business online, period.

While RSS will not perform as your key tool to improve online visibility and generate more traffic, its importance for helping you do so cannot be disputed.

It will help you:

* increase your traditional search engine rankings;

* improve your online visibility by making your content available where people are increasingly searching for new content, such as RSS search engines and content aggregation sites;

* drive traffic from other websites covering your topic, by helping you make your content available at these websites more easily.

Deliver Your News to Where It's Searched For: Generate Traffic From RSS Search and Content Aggregation Sites

The fundamental media shift is not only happening between offline and online, but within online itself as well.

Just a few years ago the search engines, the largest portals and news sites, were more or less the central hub of where online users got their online information. They still are today, but are now challenged by the growth of new online search engine and content aggregation website categories.
It's quite simple.

Go to Google, Yahoo! or MSN and do a keyword search. What you get are somewhat the most relevant results for what you're looking for but without a timestamp. Search engines provide results based on universal relevancy and not on recentcy.

But what if you're looking for the latest relevant content, instead of just the most relevant content? Enter the news engines, content aggregation sites and RSS search engines. Instead of providing results by universal relevancy, these sites provide results by actual recentcy, with of course a better or lower level of relevancy.

The point is that these websites are starting to become the central hub of searching for news online and latest content online.

Google and Yahoo! know it too their own news engines are among the top of breed.

But what if you don't want to search for specifically the latest news or the latest general content, but just want to search for the latest blog posts pertaining to your topic of interest?

Enter blog search engines, which will only return results from blogs. And Google has one as well, although this one is not on top.

And so on

Why this matters to you?

If you want your latest content to be found where people are actually searching for the latest news and other latest content, even video and audio content, you need to start using these new search and aggregation site categories to increase your reach and attract new traffic traffic that is interested in what you have to say right now.

And the RSS connection?

Most of these new services, although not all, rely on RSS to receive the latest content just as it becomes available and then offer it to their visitors.

In many cases, RSS is the key tool that will get you indexed and then found and read, being used to get your content from your website to the service, which will then make it available to the world. And additionally, you can expect to receive extra traffic from RSS directories, used by people who are proactively searching for new RSS feeds to subscribe to.

Syndicate Your Content to Other Online Media

Yes, traditional search and news search will get you the visitors that are currently actively searching for specific content, no doubt about it. Those are the visitors that need something specific right now and will use the search engines to get it.

But chances are that your website won't be their first destination after their search, especially if you're not well ranked for the specific keywords these people are looking for. But, they might get to a website that at least partially covers the topic you're covering.

And not all online traffic comes from search.

Much traffic is generated by the e-zines that people subscribe to, by frequent visits to favorite online destinations for specific topics and so on.

The point is, every day online users are visiting websites that have something to do with your topics but these websites are not your websites.

Now consider this fact: Content is best served when contextually relevant to the current online environment of the visitor.

How can you take advantage of this fact?

You can work towards getting your latest headlines, content summaries or even full-text content published on these websites, to increase your online exposure and receive targeted traffic from these websites.

In short, online content syndication is all about delivering your content to other websites and having it re-published there.

Essentially, this is a concept adapted from TV syndication, where TV show producers and TV networks allow other TV networks to run their show for a price. The difference is that in the world of online syndication the coin isn't money, but rather the traffic and exposure you receive by syndicating your online content.

Here are some quick examples:

* A cooking website provides an abundance of cooking tips, recipies, reviews and other cooking related content. You on the other hand wrote a book on exotic indian recipies you are now trying to sell online. It's a perfect match. The cooking website is (or should be) looking for new ways to get more credible content for its visitors for free, while you're looking for increased exposure. In this case you could provide that website with your latest selections of exotic indian receipies, perhaps with a new recipe every day. The website would publish your headlines and short summaries of the receipes, and their visitors would need to clickthrough to your site to read more giving you the opportunity to make the sale. Or, the other way to do it, would be to allow the cooking website to display your syndicated content in full, but with an ad at the bottom of your recipies inviting readers to order the book, with a link to the order page.

* You're a direct marketing consultancy firm, specializing in direct marketing in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Well, there are dozens of websites covering direct marketing, but none provide direct marketing tips on direct marketing in the CEE region. Although you're not in the publishing business, you could easily provide direct marketing portals with semi-daily commentary on direct marketing in the CEE, tips for marketing in the region, coverage of direct marketing events in the region, legal tips and so on. The portals would better satisfy its visitors by providing them with more unique content, while you could generate new leads from the people that visit your own website after clicking on your headlines.

* You're an e-commerce site selling low-priced laptops. What you could do in this case is seek out websites that cover and review low-priced laptops and offer them to re-publish your latest laptop deals and releases, to direct people to your webstore where they can make the order or simply find out more about the laptops promoted, and the website would in turn receive a commission for every product sold through them. This same concept works for any affiliate marketing powered business. If you have affiliates, you can help them generate more sales by providing them with ready made content about your products, such as a list of upcoming seminars and similar.

No matter what industry you're in and what your goals online are, you are almost certain to have your own relevant content that you want re-published in whole or in part on other websites, and you will be sure to find websites that reach the same audience and cover the same or complimentary topics that could be interested in republishing your content.

The key, however, in making all of this work, is contextuallity and relevancy.

* The content you wish to distribute must be highly relevant to the audience your prospective syndication partners reach.

* The content must be in some context with the website you want it to be available at.

This tactic will not only generate new traffic for you and bring you highly relevant and targeted visitors, but will also help you increase your online credibility, increase your brand recognition and might even help you become established as a thought leader.

But what's the role of RSS in all of this?

RSS has become the de-facto standard for online content syndication.

All you need is to provide an RSS feed with the exact content you want to syndicate, and all the other websites owners need is a way to consume your RSS feed and display its contents on their websites.

Once you update your RSS feed, for example when adding a new news piece, the content on your syndication partners' websites is updated too. If you're syndicating content to a thousand other websites, all of them will receive the same updated version at the same time you update your RSS feed. Easy, simple, cheap and streamlined.

And because this is a standard there are now countless tools available to make this process easy for everyone involved.

Feed the Search Engines With Third-Party Syndicated Content

As already noted, search engines love websites with on-topic and frequently updated content.

RSS will help you get that content, by syndicating third-party RSS feeds on your own website. Basically the same model as using RSS to syndicate your content to other web media, just turned upside down.

Advertise in RSS Feeds

With just about over 30% RSS penetration among the online US population, advertising in RSS feeds won't help you reach the masses, but it will help you reach specific niche audience segments and the early adopters.

The good news is that ads in RSS feeds are achieving a much higher average clickthrough rate than traditional online ads. Standalone

Standalone RSS ads are achieving an average 7.99% click-through rate, according to Pheedo. Compare that with traditional and rich-media online ads with CTRs ranging from 0.20% to 1.17% CTR, according to a report by DoubleClick, and the opportunities of advertising in RSS feeds immediately become more inviting, although the reach is still only getting there.

The other good piece of news is that there is really not that much competition for RSS advertising among advertisers, which is still keeping advertising prices civil.

According to a poll, conducted by MarketingSherpa on a sample of ad:tech attendees in January 2006, 21% of marketers are definetly planning on spending on RSS advertising in 2006, while 27% plan to spend more than a year out.

So the time to start testing is now, before the competition wakes up and starts driving prices up.

Get Attention From the Influencers

Reaching out to the influencers, such as bloggers, journalists and analysts won't only get you backlinks from highly reputable online sources, if they think you have something worthwhile to say, but will also increase your reach through print and perhaps even TV and radio coverage.

And if you want to attention from the influencers, publishing RSS feeds is the way to go.

A survey of 200 individuals from a variety of online & offline media, conducted by Nooked, revealed that 87% of key influencers are using RSS to collect key information and are adopting RSS as an information gathering and tracking tool.

How All This Improves Traditional Search Engine Rankings?

Although the algorithms by which traditional search engines, such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN, rank websites higher are a closely guarded secret, just like the CocaCola recipe, some things are clear.

1. Inbound links to your site from relevant websites increase rankings

Inbound links from relevant websites, especially those pertaining to the same topics covered by your website, are arguably the most important element in getting higher traditional search engine rankings.

And as you've seen, RSS is an especially strong channel when it comes to getting inbound links:

* Getting your RSS feeds and content into RSS directories and search engines, content aggregation sites and news search will provide you with direct inbound links to your website and your content.

* At the same time, these websites will drive browsers to your website. If what they find there is up to their standards and relevant to their audiences, they will link back to your site from their blogs, portals and so on, providing you with even more inbound links.

* Getting your content syndicated to other websites, using RSS, will provide you with direct backlinks to your content.

* The influencers, like bloggers, journalists and analysts, love RSS feeds and use RSS to get the content they are most interested in. Meet their content needs and they will write about you, providing you with more inbound links to your site. And online mentions at websites like the New York Times or the Scobleizer blog do carry a lot of weight with traditional search engines.

2. Frequent content updates, relevant to your website's topic, increase rankings

Traditional search engines love website with rich, focused and frequently updated content. Employing RSS to publish additional focused content from other websites on your own website will help you meet the search engines' criteria of what they want from your site to award you with better rankings.

3. Other ways of how RSS increases traditional search engine rankings

While there is only anecdotal evidence available, it does seem that websites with RSS feeds are indexed by the search engines quicker and are given more relevance from them.

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