An RSS feed is a type of web feedRSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  In a way it’s like the Associated Press.  One person writes an article, let’s call him the blogger. The bloggers article is then sent to the Associated Press for syndication, or in this case to an RSS feed.  The newspapers that are interested in the story re-print the original article.  Think of other bloggers as the newpapers and the RSS system as the Associated Press.  You submit an article via RSS to a busy blogger or reader who has subscribed so they can read what you have to say.  Now if they like what they read, maybe they will link/repost your article on their website, possibly save it to del.icio.us or pingback/trackback to their blog.  Maybe the subscriber will buy something from you if your posts are about something you are selling.  The latest this or the latest that.  By subscribing to your feed they are demonstrating a willingness to hear what you have to say.  So don’t waste RSS subscribers time with fluff since they are a great potential client.

Using RSS feeds is really simple with the latest version of Mozilla FirefoxMozilla Firefox 3.0.1 will show the RSS button at the end of the address bar. It looks like an orange square with three parentheses pointing up and to the right. Single left-click on that orange button to bring up the subscription window.  I choose Google from the drop-down list and the selected feed is automatically added in a section of my iGoogle home page.

I use iGoogle to view my feeds, I only track a few.  Google also offers the Google Reader application that provides even more functionality for tracking many RSS feeds.

RSS feeds can be used by businesses for many things.  A pastor may podcast his sermons and by using RSS feeds so he can distribute the podcasts automatically to his parishioners instead of using more traditional methods such as e-mail or a phone call.

A website designer might use RSS feeds to let people know about his latest design accomplishments.  A non-profit organization might use an RSS feed so the people donating money can easily see where the money is going or be notified of upcoming events, without spending money on e-mail campaigns.  Anything newsworthy or unique is a prime candidate for RSS technology.

A share holder might even use an RSS feed to monitor the blog of the companies he has a stake in. A sports fan might want the latest information about a certain team or just scores and highlights.  RSS feeds provide customized content delivery to your desktop.  You don’t have to search manually, you can setup an RSS feed on a search term as well.  If you want to make sure noone is using your business name or imposing on your brand, setup an RSS feed to monitor yourself based on selected search terms.

The easiest way to start an RSS feed is to start a blogFantastico can be used to add a WordPress blog to a website.  Check the control panel on your hosting providers website to see if the Fantastico option is available.

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox for receiving RSS feedsMozilla Firefox is far easier to setup and use for inbound RSS feeds.

WordPress or Blogger?  We techie guys went with WordPressWordPress gives me results from Google quickly. It generally takes less than an hour before I start getting search hits from Google each time I post an article.

Frequent updates to your blog help a lot to keep the Google search hits coming.  It doesn’t always have to be an essay.

We talked some more about MyBlogLog and began to look online at MyBlogLog communities to join related to what our own blogs are about.  MyBlogLog is a great way to find other people with similar interests and related blogs.

del.icio.us is a great way to organize your favorites and bookmarks so you can share them with other people.  You can add your del.icio.us account links to your blogs and social networking sites by using widgets. The tags are used to help del.icio.us users to find the information they are seeking.  Tags are slightly different than keywords in that there are times when people are browsing del.icio.us and not searching.  The tags help guide del.icio.us users to the sites and other users that share similar interests. Keywords are used more for search engine searches.  Tags are set manually.  Keywords are found.

A signature file is a powerful e-mail based tool to get more visitors and business.  Your custom signature file can be set to automatically insert each time you send an e-mail.  You can use your signature file to reach people you already know with links to your blog or LinkedIn.  Add HTML code snippets to your signature file to make it real fancy.  The LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar for Microsoft Outlook has a real nice signature generator if you need help creating one.

dmoz.org is a pain in the butt. It’s that simple but don’t give up.

We covered a lot today.  It was a great meeting. Thank you to all that attended.

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When it comes to starting a blog…

  • Your blog won’t be popular without a lot of quality content (one hit wonders don’t succeed at blogging.)
  • Write about something you are passionate about (it will show.)
  • It helps your ranking to link obscure words and lingo to a wiki page or some other respected informational site.  Try not to link to your competition though.
  • Take full advantage of picture tags and captions.  Google likes to see keywords in those places too.
  • Decide what action you want your visitors to take (buy something, subscribe to RSS feed, visit your website, click an ad…)
  • If readers are to click an ad, how will you integrate the ads? (text ads (AdSense), in-text ads (Kontera, VibrantMedia) , pay-per-click (AdSense), pay-per-transaction (Commission Junction) or maybe just ads to your own site/products…)
  • Are you going to host the blog on your web server and integrate directly the blog format into an existing page on your website site (the usual way for blogs without ads, just bring them to the site directly to read the content) or leave it separate from your actual business web page (the usual method for blogs with ads).

http://www.mybloglog.com/ is a good place to start getting involved in the blogging community.  Join other users communities and add contacts to people with similar interests.  To me the best blog readers are other bloggers.  They will help spread the word if you post interesting articles.

http://www.technorati.com is a blog search engine.  You should eventually be listed in here as your readership expands.  Technorati basically ranks your blog based on how many different blogs link to your posts.  The more appealing, unique and interesting your posts are –> the more different people link to you –> the higher your authority.  Don’t expect much from this site in the beginning.  Getting people to respect you online is a difficult thing and it takes time and effort.

http://www.socializr.com/ is the site I am going to use to track the meetings & attendees for our discussion group.  Please join this site so you can RSVP for the meetings.

http://www.talkshoe.com/ is a site to host & record Podcasts over the phone.  Another similar site is http://www.gcast.com/. Both are a great way to get started with Podcasting for those that loathe typing as much as I do.  The problem with Podcasting is that Google doesn’t search voice recordings.  You don’t get the same exposure as with a blog.

Finally we talked a little about LinkedIn.  A few attendees have gotten business through LinkedIn.  I use Yahoo Groups to meet people from LinkedIn.  The link to the LinkedIn forum search is this:
http://groups.yahoo.com/search?query=linkedin

If you want a jump start on meeting people through LinkedIn then I suggest joining MyVirtualPowerForum and introducing yourself to that group.  It’s 4th or 5th in the search list.  This Yahoo group was founded and is moderated by a local Hartford resident.  He is very nice.  Vincent can also open doors online and help make connections if properly motivated.
Some of the other groups are spammish and some are heavily moderated to keep the spammers out.  You can expect the amount of e-mails you receive to go up from joining a group such as MyVirtualPowerForum but you have access to the brains of many helpful business people should you need assistance one day.  You can learn alot by just lurking but the real benefit of the forums is quick access to answers when you need them.  I have made more money from my involvement with Vincent’s group than with any features or services LinkedIn offers.  They do go together though.  MyVirtualPowerForum has changed the way I view and use LinkedIn.


Today we mostly talked about http://www.dmoz.org, besides finding out where people feel they are with their online presence.  The Hartford Business Journal and my consulting website, KAndle Consulting, are the only two sites I found listed in the dmoz.org listings from the people that responded to my invitations.  dmoz.org listing information affects Google and almost every other search engine.  Some search engines rely solely on this site for search results.  If you aren’t on dmoz.org, you generally aren’t listed on these other search engines either.  The link to find out what search engines use this info is here:

http://www.dmoz.org/Computers/Internet/Searching/Directories/Open_Directory_Project/Sites_Using_ODP_Data/full-index.html

You will need to get added to dmoz.org to provide maximum visibility for your websites.  It is a manual process and subject to human error.  Each category has a volunteer that maintains those listings.  It can take months to see the changes after submitting and at least as long for your site to even be listed in the first place.

It will also help to prepare at least a 250 character site description for listing on this and many other sites.  dmoz.org policy states 25-30 words. If you can fit 250 characters in less than 30 words, that would be the most reusable description you can write or have someone else write for you.  It can also help to have someone else look at your site and write the description and compare that to yours.  Sometimes, for me, it can be hard to simplify things about myself or my business.  You need to do that online if you want to reach the largest audience.  Please read this Wiki on the Functionally Illiterate:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Functional_illiteracy

I have heard the numbers are as high as 70% of the online population from all over the world.  Many of these people cannot effectively scan a web page from top to bottom.  They have to stop and read each and every word, one line at a time.  This is why videos & pop-up ads are so effective.  You have only a few seconds, if that, to grab someone’s attention.

The instructions to add your site are here:

http://www.dmoz.org/add.html




RSS Web Technology Group Meeting Information

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