Jul
3rd

FeedBurner Adds E-mail Subject Love

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All of those who subscribe to this blog via e-mail have just sighed in relief.  “Horray for meaningful subject lines!”, you rejoice.  It is true; FeedBurner has added the ability for bloggers to add meaningful subject lines to their blog posts, most notably we can now add the title of the post to the subject line.  For bloggers, this is truly a boon.  For our subscribers this is… well… It is whatever is better than a boon, I suppose.

To enable this on your own blog (assuming you use FeedBurner), just find E-mail Branding under the Publicize tab.  Then you can edit your subject line.  Use ${latestItemTitle} to place the title of your blog post into the subject line of the e-mail that FeedBurner sends to subscribers.  Bada-boom!  Done.

As you can see from the image, there is also a checkbox to change how e-mails get sent if you send more than one per day.  You can check out Google’s Adsense for Feedburner Blog Post for more details on how to customize additional e-mails.

2 points FeedBurner.

Jun
29th

What is RSS?

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Whats RSS?

What's RSS?

Imagine the world before we invented magazine subscriptions.  Every time you wanted to read your favorite magazine you would walk to the nearest bookstore and go buy the magazine from the shelf.  You’d be happy that you got to read your favorite magazine, but somewhere inside you would know.  Know that there has to be a better way.  Wouldn’t it be great if all these magazines I read could somehow get delivered right to my door, then I could read them at my leisure and wouldn’t have to keep going to find them.

Welcome to RSS.

RSS originally stood for Really Simple Syndication.  Somehow that acronym has been made “unofficial”, but it still explains it pretty well.  Any online entity that has regular updates (like a blog, your Twitter account, or a news site) may choose to publish an RSS feed.  You can then subscribe to the RSS feed and read the articles from all of your feeds in one place.

There are plenty of RSS readers out there and you’ll just have to find the one your most comfortable with.  Myself, I use gmail, so adding my feeds to Google Reader was pretty simple.  Click on the RSS icon (top right) and you will be taken to a site that allows you to choose from several popular RSS readers.  Sign up for a (usually free) account and then every time we add a new article to the blog it will appear in your reader.  Check the reader as often or as casually as you desire.

And now you know how to RSS.

Jun
27th

Google PageRank Update June 2009 – Bloggers Beware

Google has just updated PageRank for the second time in 30 days! I found this very surprising as some updates have taken 3 months or more. Interesting to note in this update is that Bing soared to a PR9. My DVD Collection website has moved from PR1 to PR2. That is especially interesting to me because in the previous update, it moved up as well. In that case, it increased from a PR0 to a PR1.

It wasn’t all good, however. I took a search of 5 blogs that I know participate in paid posting and 3 of them had their PageRank drop. One of them actually dropped from PR5 to PR2 — quite a drop for < 30 days! The others only dropped 1 point to PR4. Those were the only sites I found that dropped from the recent update, so it could be possible that Google changed their algorithms to target pay per post blogs.

What surprised me most about the jump of DVDCorral.com is that the PageRank scale is non-linear. That means going from 1 to 2 is much harder than going from 0 to 1. For example, the Richter scale is a logarithmic scale which measures earth quakes. There are about 120 level 6 earth quakes per year, but only 18 level 7. Go all the way to level 8 and there's only 1 per year. What does this mean for SEO? It means that whatever work you do to get from PR2 to PR3, you'll have to do much more to get from PR3 up to PR4. How much more? No one is really sure. I have heard estimates that one level to the next is about 4 or 5 times as many links (assuming equal quality links).

I also noticed my mother's Prayer Music Website went up from a PR0 to a PR1. Her site is fairly new, so Google has only found links from Twitter.com so far. Twitter, however, is now a PageRank 9. One has to wonder if the increase in links to Twitter (and Google’s corresponding PR increase) has made it a more valuable place for online advertising.

This may be bad news for blogs that are selling paid advertisements as posts, but it looks like good news for those of us who love Twitter. Catch me @bgeisel1.

Jun
13th

Starting a Blog – A Quick Guide to Blogging

Start your own Blog

Start your own Blog

Thanks to hardworking people at several major internet sites, it’s now easier than ever to start your own blog.  In a recent article in Inc. Magazine, Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress) said, “My mom started a blog a couple of weeks ago.  Six years into this, and we finally made it easy enough for my mom to use.”  He’s absolutely right.

Blogging has finally come to a point where it depends more on your ability as a writer than it does your technical skills.  Between sites that will allow you to freely host your blog and software to run the blog, you’re pretty much left with the writing — Oh, and the setup, but we can help you with that.

First, let’s briefly understand what a blog is and is not.  The term comes from the initial use of the term Web-log.  A lot of internet users (especially students) were starting to keep journals online, and now we’ve got tools that allow for much more.  Now blogs are often used as a primary source of news on the internet, but they can just as easily be used for posting information online.  Blogs should not be confused with forums where many users participate in a conversation.  If it’s a topic you’re interested in and ready to talk about, blogs are a great way to get your information out.

The blog will need to be hosted somewhere (see Starting a Website for more information) and there are several sites online that will host your blog for free.  The two easiest are probably WordPress.org and Blogger.com and both are free.  I do have a small blog that I setup on blogger.com and it only took a few minutes to do so.  I haven’t set one up with WordPress.org, but given how well-written their software is, I can’t image their hosting is any different.

For basic blogs, you should just be able to setup an account with one of those sites and get started.  However, if you’re planning on doing some serious blogging (i.e. considering part or full-time work) you may want to have it hosted somewhere you have more control.  When you host a site with a webhosting company, you have more control about the speed of your blog and where you store images.  For anyone just starting, the free-hosted solution is probably just fine and you can always transfer your blog later.  It’s always good to have a solution you can revise later.
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