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What is RSS?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication and it’s an easy way to stay up to date with the posts from your favourite blogs and websites.  The information is a news feed that is fed directly to you via a reader so you don’t miss a thing.

You will see that many blogs have a distinctive orange icon like this one somewhere on their pages:

Alternatively they might use an icon like this one.  XML refers to the file format that the feed is sent in:

Both icons show that the site has a RSS feed that you can subscribe to.  Some browsers will also show a tiny orange RSS icon in the URL bar, too.

The feed is then sent to your reader which converts it from XML into something you can read.  You might use Feedburner, Google Reader , My Yahoo or one of many other readers available for free.  Most readers give you the option of having the posts sent straight to your inbox or smartphone, too, which might be even more convenient.

The good thing about RSS feeds is that you don’t have to remember to go to your favourite websites anymore because they come to you.   If you need to pay attention to news reports for fire or emergency warnings, or closely watch information related to your business, RSS feeds save you a lot of work.  It sends you the information as it is released.

As a business owner you should make it clear that you offer the RSS feed from your site and make it easy to subscribe to.   People don’t always come to your site intentionally.  When people find you because they are looking for the product or service you offer, you don’t want to lose them when they move on.  In fact, they probably don’t want to lose you either.  The RSS option will help them remember you.

An RSS feed will keep you in touch with the information that is important to you and it makes content easily shareable.  That’s the whole point of syndication, isn’t it?  Make it work for you.

Are You Being Found Online?

Article by Melinda Dunlop of Virtual Sanity

So, you’ve spent a lot of time, energy and money on getting your website up and running.  And the new clients are flooding in right?  What?  They’re not?  What happened?

Are you offering a real solution to your client’s problems or are you merely giving them a spiel about what you do?  Is your site ranking on the first page on search engines?  Do you have a compelling offer for people to sign up to your database or better still, actually buy something off you?

Hmm, if you are not rolling in cash by now & booked solid with new clients, I suspect possibly not.

Sounds like it’s time to optimise your site so the search engines can find you.  Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is one of the most important factors when designing and promoting your website.  Let me give you the run down on what SEO actually means.

SEO is the process of increasing the amount of visitors or traffic to your website by ranking highly in search engine results (Google, MSN, Bing, Yahoo etc).  The higher your website ranks in search engine results, the greater the chance that the site will be visited by a potential customer.

And here’s the real question … How do you get your site ranking higher?

There are a number of steps to optimising your website for search engines:

Step 1: Keyword Research and Analysis:

Identify your keywords.  This means you have to really know your target market. What is your niche?  What is your competitive edge? What is the solution that you offer to solve your client’s problems?   To identify your keywords, you must work out the search terms that your potential clients use when they are searching for an answer to their problem. Look at the keywords your competitors are using (ask me how you can do that). Do a simple Google search with your keywords and find out who is ranking the highest in your niche.  Getting your keywords right and actually testing them out is the key to effective SEO.

Step 2: Write your content:

The content on your site needs to be written in a way that is ‘keyword rich’.  Now this doesn’t mean repeating your keywords over and over again, it just means that you need to be clever about incorporating your keywords into your content while keeping your content clear & concise.  This is not as simple as it sounds, but a professional copywriter knows the tricks!  Keep your website fresh with new content regularly and if you have a blog, make sure it is linked to your site.

Step 3: Optimise Website:

The back end of your website is a complex thing and you need to make sure that your site is setup with the right meta-tags and page titles.  This is what the search engine spiders and robots like, so ask your web designer about setting up tags for SEO.  Also, incoming links to your site are extremely important.  So, put a social media strategy in place and get active with blogging and other discussion forums to really increase the traffic to your site.

Step 4: Measure and Review:

After all the hard work to create your website masterpiece, you want to be certain that your keywords work and that your website traffic has increased (and hopefully, your profits too!).  A free online tool like Google Analytics will track your website traffic and provide all the interesting statistics you need to work out what’s working and what’s not.

Blog article by Melinda Dunlop; Owner of Virtual Sanity, Copywriting and Online Marketing Support. Melinda provides general copywriting services and specialises in ghost writing for articles, blogs, eNewsletters and eBooks.

Mailchimp, Outlook and HUGE Images

MailChimpWhilst testing an eNewsletter created in Mailchimp with a client today, we were puzzled to find that on her end (Outlook 2007), images we had inserted into the newsletter were HUGE. Ginormous in fact, whereas on my end (Outlook 2003 – soon to be 2010!), and Thunderbird, they were perfectly fine.

Having never had this issue, I turned to Google  and found these very useful articles:

It turns out that Outlook “does not respect the way that images are resized in the MailChimp format”. Interesting, huh?!  The alternative: resize images before uploading to your MailChimp gallery.  It’ll save you a lot of heartache and the chances are you’ll have an aesthetically pleasing and “regular sized” newsletter across most mail platforms (including our very disrespectful Outlook!).

I’m proud to say I’ve learnt more about the friendly little Chimp today.

Facebook Pages – Increasing your Followers

I often get asked my clients and colleagues alike, “How can I increase the number of followers (or “Likers”) on my Facebook page”?  The answer can vary depending on the type of business you are in, but also the market you are targeting.  It’s no use having thousands of followers who have no potential interest in your product or service (although some may beg to differ) just for the sake of “numbers”.

Needless to say, these are just some of the ways I personally help my Facebook Page along:

  • Post regular updates (seems obvious, right?), just make sure you don’t spam your followers, and post too much.  Posting irrelevant content won’t work either, nor will posting every single Tweet in FB as well (I loathe this!).
  • Use the “share” function on posts with links.  Share using your personal profile, but make sure you copy and paste the text first.
  • Suggest the page to your friends, using the “Suggest to Friends” link under your sidebar image.
  • Run a promotion every once in a while.  It doesn’t have to be about Facebook or Social Media services, it can be for anything!  People will see there’s a special, and let their friends know about it if it’s of interest.
  • Add a “Like” button to your website, or just link to your profile from your site.
  • When you follow someone else’s Page, let them know!  Introduce yourself, tell them you also have a Page and you would welcome them to join it.
  • Let your Twitter friends know that you’re on Facebook too.

Do you have suggestions on ways to increase your Facebook followers?  What works for you or your clients?  What doesn’t?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.