I love my RSS reader. I have a gazillion website, blog and news feeds set up in there, and I get the latest information from all of my favorite sites. That means I can be one of the first to share it with you. And RSS Reader 1.0 has a doorbell sound effect that rings when there are new feed entries to read. So wherever I am in the house I hear it and take a look. I also get the additional bonus of six barking dogs to announce the new feed entries.
As an aside, I noticed something very interesting. Because of my RSS reader I was one of the first to cover adsenseblacklist.com, a terrific new web site that will help you screen out the cheesy AdSense ads. Because I was on it first, I popped up in the first five Google search results for this keyword for a while, which drove traffic to this site. So watch your RSS reader.
All that being said, we are beginning to see RSS used as auto update feature for websites and blogs. The first application was RSS feeds that automagically update your site with articles in your subject area from a free article site. The rationale is that this will give you fresh content that search engines will eat right up. They call it spiderfood. I call it a dumb idea. Have you read some of these articles? There’s a wide disparity in quality from one to another, and I would never allow articles to be put blindly on my web site without my approval. For crying out loud…you spend hours and hours of time getting your site to a certain level of quality to build a certain level of trust with your visitors, and then you’re going to allow some hack to put his content on your site without your approval, just so maybe a search engine will come a few extra times? That’s just stupid.
Need more content? Turn off the football game and write some.
Seriously…if you want to use articles as supplemental content, hand pick them. Just like famous Internet marketer Wille Crawford did on his blog when he picked my article Chitika – What Went Wrong (a little humor there). I have at least 20 – 30 articles in an Outlook Folder that I’m going to post on the site as soon as a I get a chance. That’s the good news — the bad news is I went through 500 or so articles to get those.
Closer to home, affiliate merchants are starting to get into datafeeds, which are sort of like file-based RSS feeds. Datafeeds provide direct access to merchant products using text files. The file contains a list of products, services, special offers, coupons or other information that you can display on your site. You then upload that information to your server and use some kind of tool or script to display the different items in that file. There are programs on CJ, LinkShare and Shareasale that have datafeeds.
While others are absolutely gaga over this, I look at it with the same jaundiced eye as the whole article thing — it all depends on your niche, the level of trust you want to maintain with your customer, and how technical you want to get.
If you have a niche that has a well-matched affiliate program, you might try a product feed. If you want to put up an occasional coupon or special offer, you can probably do it by hand rather than going through all of this mumbo jumbo.
We are starting to see products that convert merchant datafeeds to RSS, allowing you to auto-display products from affiiliate programs. Again, if you can maintain relevance across the entire affiliate line, it’s a good idea. If not, you’re not going to get conversion anyway, so you’re wasting your time. Personally I want everything including the advertising, to have relevance to my visitors.
There’s always a shortcut — in this case you’re shortcutting the time and effort involved in finding relevant offers for your visitors. That may work with some sites.
If you want to know more or give it a shot, here are some resources:
One last thing — while I was out looking for links and information, this is what someone said about using datafeeds:
Soon, I will let you know how I put this all on autopilot and never have to think about the blog again after I spend a few hours setting it up!
How do you think that blog is doing?