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June 19, 2009

The Ad Heavy Feed Footers

It was bound to happen, ads hitting the RSS feeds. It’s not even anything even remotely new, popular services such as Feedburner (pre-Google) offered advertising solutions for your feed, and does now too, thanks to Adsense. Other players in the feed sphere did it too, and don’t forget the publishers themselves – adding something at the end of the RSS feed isn’t even all that hard. And I’m not even mentioning the fact that if you put an ad in your blog post, it’ll go right along in your feed.

It makes sense. A lot of us like to read, or at least glance, stories in the feed reader. We might not visit some sites in weeks, despite being regular readers.

Enters the ads in the RSS feeds. Problem is, where there is plenty of opportunity to make it look splendid and great on a website, the feed doesn’t have the same possibilities. Which makes it ugly. read more

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April 29, 2009

YouSayToo nails shut the coffin for partial feeds

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I’ve not heard anyone arguing about the merits of full or partial RSS feeds for some time now (perhaps I’ve not been looking hard enough) but it seems that one blog community is making its feelings known – albeit a couple of years late.

YouSayToo.com, the network that aims to allow blog owners to make additional revenue by linking up, has sent an email to its members as follows:

We would like to inform you that YouSayToo.com no longer accepts blogs with short feeds. All blogs with short feeds have been hidden and they won’t show up on public pages like Top24h. If your blog has a short feed you can set it to full and contact us so we could make your blog public again.

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March 17, 2009

MyAlltop Launches: Get Your Own Alltop

Guy Kawasaki’s Alltop, called “the online magazine rack”, is really just a collection of RSS feeds in various topics, displayed in Popurls fashion. Now you can get your own, because the one year anniversary brings MyAlltop. Get an account and pick any of the 31,000 sources from the 550 topics (numbers courtesy of Kawasaki) by browsing the Alltop site. Then arrange it anyway you like to get your own Alltop page.

Pretty nice actually, although I prefer the feed reader before this. Still, if you’re an Alltop fan this is a must.

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November 16, 2008

Exploring Social Media: Start With the Basics

Exploring Social Media article series badgeIn Exploring Social Media: Social Media Tools, I featured a list of what other social media sites and experts recommend as their social media tools. Let’s take a step backwards and explore the basics you need to have in place as part of your core social media tools for bloggers and businesses as part of this ongoing series on Exploring Social Media.

While the concept of social media and social media tools confuses many, the basic social tools are ones you probably already have and use. You might not think of these as social media tools, but they are crucial to today’s communication strategies.

You probably understand why you need these, but let’s review the reasons you should have these basics in place to start your blog, online persona, business, or media campaign. read more

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October 21, 2008

Bloglines Tackles Feed Problem

It appears that Bloglines have managed to solve the issue with feeds not updating accordingly. This from their news page:

Some folks might have noticed that specific feeds were not updating recently on Bloglines, and we wanted to update you and fill you in on what’s been going on. We have figured out what the glitch has been. Over the weekend, a fix was released on Bloglines to resolve the issue. All feeds should now be updating and back to normal

Now Mark Fletcher can stick to his old service and won’t have to move to Google Reader!

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October 20, 2008

Bloglines Founder Considering Switching to Google Reader

Wow, this must be embarrassing to the Bloglines team, when founder Mark Fletcher (who sold Bloglines to Ask.com in 2005) is considering to move to Google Reader for his RSS fix:

Bloglines, please stop sucking. It’s been a couple weeks now. I don’t want to have to move to Google Reader. Sigh.

Found via TechCrunch, who has one of several feeds that just won’t update in Bloglines. Hopefully they’ll get their act together soon, otherwise the web is likely to loose one of the few competitors to Google Reader…

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September 8, 2008

Aggregator Feeds Us TechCrunch50 Stories

Is this the future? The TechCrunch50 Aggregator feeds us stories from the blogosphere and the social web that are tagged “techcrunch50″ or “tc50″, which is really cool. Sure, it is mostly tweets up front, but you can sort it. Perhaps this is the future, a mashed up feed of specific events. Sean Percival built the service, and naturally it hit TechCrunch as well.

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August 15, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter: What to Call Your Feeds and Ads

In Unrelated Ads Angst and Feed Clutter, part of the WTF Blog Design Clutter series, I talked about how to name the ad and feed sections on your blog so your readers and visitors aren’t confused with jargon or misleading representation.

Many of you asked me what title or label should be used to lure your visitors into clicking on your ads and subscribing to your feeds without driving them away or confusing them. Let’s brainstorm some possibilities.

Naming Ad Sections on Your Blog

If you use a misleading title for your advertising or “sponsored” section, you can really upset your readers and visitors when they click through to an ad. That’s a sure way to lose visitors. You need to warn them, but you also need to entice them to click, if your blog is serious about making money.

Like most online advertisers, Adsense is very clear about what you can and cannot do with their ads, including the use of deceptive titles that infer the ads are not ads. You need an honest, transparent, yet motivating title for your ads.

“Visit Our Sponsors” is simple and generic, as is “Our Commercial Recommendations.” You can be blatant with “Advertisements” or “Ad sponsors” as long as that still complies with the terms of service for the advertiser.

What about something more appropriate to your blog’s topic?

If your blog is about cars, why not title them, “Drive Some Business to Our Sponsors.” If your blog is about cats, what about “Our Sponsors are the Cat’s Meow” or “Here Kitty Kitty! Shop Here!”

Contextual ad services require keywords near their ads and on the page, so why not add more by being clever, not deceptive. You cannot imply the links in the ads are publisher-created content, but you can say they are ads or sponsors with some imagination.

You can also color the background or the area around the ads to set them apart but also integrated into the blog’s design to draw the eye towards them without distracting from the content. There are many ways of highlighting your ads without words that helps the visitor recognize them. Research the guidelines the advertiser provides, as some do not allow graphics or design emphasis, and check their top revenue earners to see what they are doing.

Naming Feed Subscriptions on Your Blog

As featured in the article on feed clutter, I cited an article by Copyblogger about changing the title of your feed subscriptions from “Subscribe” to anything else could improve your blog’s subscription rate and help clean up the WTF confusion that term represents. If “subscription” implies payment, then what terms do you use to promote your blog feed?

The answer depends upon your reader’s familiarity with feeds. If they are familiar with feeds and feed readers, then all you need is the feed icon.

If they aren’t, what words can you use to get readers to sign up for your blog feed?

You can use phrases that link to your blog’s feed, or to a Page with a listing of your various feed options. Here are some phrases to consider:

  • Keep up with my blog!
  • Add this blog to your feed reader.
  • Want to know how to keep up with my blog?
  • Track this blog.
  • Follow this blog.
  • Follow me.
  • Frequent Reports and Updates
  • Follow me where I lead…
  • Stay up-to-date

Again, be clever with the phrasing and match it to your blog’s purpose:

  • Cat blog: Track this cat
  • Auto blog: Take a trip with us!
  • Nature/Outdoor blog: Take our hike!
  • Travel blog: Track Our Travels
  • Sailing blog: Chart Our Course With Us
  • Medical/Health blog: Want a daily dose of My Blog?

Use the feed icon to add some visual hint and have fun with the all the possibilities. Got more suggestions?

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August 7, 2008

WTF Blog Clutter Design: How Many Feed Icons Do You Need?

A question came up during this WTF Blog Design Clutter series asking how many feed icons to we need on our blogs. We looked at feed clutter on your blog but how many is too many and which ones do you need?

How many do you think you need?

The two most popular feed types are RSS and Atom. That’s it. How many feed icons do you have on your blog? Hmm?

These are the types of feed, the code that generates the feeds based upon XML formats. From here, there are different types of content that can go into the feed, various off-site alternatives for handling your feeds (called feed subscription services), and many colorful, cluttering feed icons that promote all the different feed readers. read more

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August 5, 2008

WTF Blog Design Clutter: Incoming Feed Clutter

Yesterday, we looked at the clutter that can be found on many blogs for visually displaying outgoing feed information. Today, let’s explore the clutter of incoming feeds as part of the WTF Blog Design Clutter series.

With the ease of adding incoming feeds to your blog through widgets, bloggers are stuffing their sidebars with incoming feeds. Incoming feeds have become the next generation blogroll. Like the long blogroll lists, these incoming feeds can quickly get out of control.

At first, this made sense. If you want to recommend specific blogs and content, then having a feed or feed aggregator in your blog’s sidebar acted like a scrolling ticker blogroll in a way, giving your readers more options to explore. Unfortunately, many bloggers found too many visitors were finding the help they needed on those incoming feed links, clicking away instead of digging in deeper to their own blogs.
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