It’s no secret that over the last several years, Web 2.0 has swept the Internet with a new wave of collaboration and connection. Sites such as Facebook and Myspace, two popular social networking sites, allow anyone to sign up, add their friends, and post messages to each other. News sites such as Digg allow users to vote the articles they like up or down so the front page contains only the most popular articles. The list of these social networking and Web 2.0 sites could be continued almost indefinitely. With the popularity of this phenomena, it has become increasingly important to ensure any new blog has the ability to integrate with these sites and add popular components.
RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a good component to add to a blog. An RSS feed allows XML content syndication from a site. This creates a file which can be accessed which contains the text of the articles on a blog. Lots of web sites offer RSS feeds, but why exactly is this important?
For starters, RSS feeds allow people to read many different websites at the same time easily. Software can be installed which allows users to input the RSS feed locations of many of the sites they frequently view. With a morning cup of coffee in hand, all they need to do is load the program and a list of all of the recent articles from all of the chosen sources are available to read. Providing users an easy and convenient way to read the blog can help keep readers coming back.
RSS feeds also have another use. They allow other blogs and web sites to easily access content from another blog’s content. For example, WordPress, a popular software choice among bloggers, allows the addition of other site’s feeds. Blogger A could add the feed of Blogger B, C and D. The last 5 or so entry titles of B, C, and D would show up on the side of Blogger A’s page. An interested user could see something they like from Blogger C, and click on the title to read Blogger C’s entry. This could even work the other way if Blogger C adds Blogger A’s feed to the web site. Giving a blog exposure at other related (or sometimes unrelated) web sites can increase traffic and the reader base.
Social Bookmarking and Media
Social bookmarking is a concept in which users can add or ”vote” on favorite links. A user could add a link, and if no one likes it, it would be buried on the web site and never see the light of day. On the other hand, if many people like a web site, potentially thousands could vote for it, and it would appear on the front page of these types of web sites.
These types of sites include Digg (diggcom), reddit (reddit.com), and del.icio.us (del.icio.us), which are three of the largest social bookmarking sites on the Internet. The process for blogs is somewhat hit and miss. If content isn’t popular it’s quite possible that traffic won’t increase at all. On the other hand, if the content is quite popular (and makes it to the front page of one of these web sites), blogs could experience a dramatic increase in traffic, literally overnight. When attempting to use social bookmarking to increase traffic, it’s always a good idea to make sure that there’s enough extra bandwidth to keep the web site up in the event of front page exposure. At the very least, it’s a good time to email a web host and check on policies regarding excess bandwidth. Some web hosts allow the purchase of extra bandwidth, while others will charge for overages, and some simply shut down a web site after the bandwidth has been exceeded. There’s nothing worse than thousands of visitors trying to access a blog, only to find out it has run out of bandwidth.
Comments and Communication
It may seem like a simple idea, but some blogs don’t support (or have disabled) user comments. Allowing users to comment on a blog is one of the most basic forms of social networking. A simple ”good job” could be all that’s posted, but sometimes more constructive criticism is added, which could help the author improve the blog for future entries. Blogging wouldn’t be effective without an audience and listening and seeing what the readers are saying is a fundamental of success.
Who is replying may be just as important as what they’re replying with. If someone continually posts feedback on the blog and they own a blog of their own, why not add a link? Perhaps the commenter may even be willing to add a link in return. It could also connect like-minded blog writers who could share ideas or information.
Most blog software enables bloggers to delete unkind comments, and some support measures that prevent spam from being posted in comments. Some of these features may only be available via an extension or a plugin, but they’re well worth it. Make sure to do some research to ensure the software supports comments and some sort of spam prevention. Even without spam prevention, the power of comments and feedback shouldn’t be ignored.
Allowing users to contribute and easily access a blog’s content are fundamentals to success. Setting up an RSS feed can allow users to read a blog easily, and social media and networking can provide traffic and visitors, as well as allowing comments, which could generate crucial feedback and connect like-minded bloggers. Integrating these ideas into any blog, or switching to software which allows for these features to be implemented, can provide for current and future success.
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