December 16, 2005

XML, Bloglines, My! Yahoo, My MSN, and Google Reader Subscribe to this Feed Buttons

People who subscribe to your blog will be more inclined to read more of your posts. They will also be more inclined to comment on or link at your posts. Making it easier for people to subscribe to your feed sends lots of love your way.

People use a wide variety of feed readers, but I thought it would be cool to provide the buttons to the most popular feed readers to help users subscribe to your content.

Attached in the syndicate zip file is the subscriber images for some of the most popular feed readers, XHTML source code for using the images horizontally or vertically, and directions for how to integrate them into your blog.

Here is what the buttons look like vertically:
Image of vertical syndication buttons.

Here is what the buttons look like horizontally.

Code to post the images vertically and horizontally is included in the zip file. You can also alter the code however to fit your site design. ff you need more specific tips for integrating the buttons on your blog please let me know.

Thanks to Andy Hagans for making a few of the buttons.

November 11, 2005

Blog & Feed Search Engine For Sale

Chris Ridings’ Blogs Say, a blog and feed search engine, is for sale.

I mentioned this to some of my friends. If I had a bit more technical knowledge or flow I probably would nab it up myself. The three hardest problems I can think of are:

  • getting users to want to ping it and help market it
  • handling the server load from spam pings
  • filtering out the noise while still making quality sites accessible

I think one of the biggest problems with blog search is that spammers are totally dealed with in an adversarial way. Nobody in the blog space really wants to listen to them, although I think their feedback would help solve many of the common blog spam problems.

Chris also recently created a meta search site for feeds & RSS.

A service by the name of MonitorThis meshes up 15 different search feeds into a single ompl file. Surely a useful feature for blogging professionals who write on many different topics. What would be really cool would be a tool that would compress all those feeds into one feed. I am sure something like that has to exist, right?

MonitorThis link from Philipp

November 6, 2005 Adds Blogs, the algorithmic news engine, has recently added 15,000 weblogs to their topical news feeds and search results. Algorithmically the blogs are on equal footing with the traditional news sources at

Rich Skrenta also discussed how they arived at 15,000 blogs and compares the number of blog channels vs mainstream news channels on each topic. Interesting that few bloggers blog the local and sports themes as compared to the mainstream news. From the 15,000 blogs tech blogs outweigh tech mainstream sources by a factor of about 6 to 1.

October 13, 2005

What Makes a Blog Important?

Only the Top Blogs Matter?

“Blogging is the fastest growing form of content on the Web,” said Jim Lanzone, senior vice president of search at AskJeeves, a unit of IAC/InterActiveCorp (IACI.O: Quote, Profile, Research) and a major Web search site. “But the number of sites that really matter is narrow.”

“The rest of the sites are like a tree falling in the forest,” he said.

Wait a week and you will be hearing about the long tail of blogging.

As I stated before, I don’t think the number of subscribers is a relevant measure of a blog’s power. Why?

  • Some people prefer to actually visit the sites because of the rich content they contain in the comments.
  • In niche fields there are going to be a limited number of potential subscribers.

The real measure of a blog is it’s attention & influence. The number of sources and link volume are a far better proxy of that than the number of subscribers, but to be honest, so long as your blog is above the fold – or seen by at least one or two well known bloggers who like you or comment on what you write, if they feel your story has merit it will spread. And stuff changes quickly. I got sued out of nowhere and had about 40,000 new visitors appear on one of my sites.

Syndicated sites that “really matter” — classified as sites that have at least 20 other sites linking to them — number 36,930, according to September data from Bloglines.

I don’t think this is true. Even my narcissistic personal rant / whinge blog has 5 subscribers, and that site is not intended for human consumption

Sites “that matter” — defined as having at least one link from another site — number nearly 1.4 million sites.

It’s so easy to get one rubbish link.

I think placing things in a box to count them has little value, other than marketing the counting product. Why do you think pedometer’s want you to walk 10,000 steps a day instead of jogging for a half hour?

October 10, 2005

Yahoo! Dips Toes in Podcast Waters

Podcasts are subscription audio recordings. You can get feeds of your favorite audio recordings and listen to them whenever you like. Odeo, founded by Evan Williams, was probably the #1 player in the fledgeling podcast market. Yahoo! just announced they are launching podcast search:

Hoping to tune into the latest craze in digital media, Yahoo Inc. is introducing tools for finding, organizing and rating “podcasts” — the audio programs designed to be played on Apple Inc.’s iPod and many other portable music players.

The Sunnyvale, Calif.-based company, which operates the world’s most visited Web site, plans to begin testing the new service Monday.

Search is rapidly evolving into a multimedia game. Check out Yahoo!’s podcast search at

October 9, 2005

Blogosphere Monitoring Tools Useless?

Jeremy Zawodny does not like the tools used to search the blogosphere.

The problems he is running into are based on:

  • Writing original posts takes so much more time than just copying other’s information, so the signal to noise ratio is just plain shit
  • there are limits to the social capacity of the human brain
  • the software is designed to help you find, not filter
  • even if the software was better at filtering inevitably the recall would plumit
  • sometimes even we don’t know what we are going to be interested in until we see it. How can software predict that without filtering out some of the good stuff?
  • The best blogs are good not just because how they state their opinions, but also because they are willing to do the hard work to find that extra bit of information. If information were easier to sort through then we would just find ways to produce & consume more information.

What is the solution? I have always found that taking effort to look through areas not well covered and trust others to catch most the main stuff works well. I also think sometimes you can find your way into other conversations if you give other people excuses to find their way to you. There is no better way to get a scoop than to create the news, story, or idea yourself.

There also seems to be a huge push throughout blogworld to be the first guy with a story. Sometimes this is going to end up being effort wasted, as only one person can be the first person with each story. It is a far more efficient use of time for most people to spend a bit less time flipping through their feeds over and over and over again and trust other people to bubble up important issues.

If the issues do not bubble up then most of the time they probably are not that important. It is also hard to find new information reading the exact same things everyone else does, and most blog authority tools are going to only tell you what others already think is important.

Sphere: the Relevant Blog Search

Well I don’t know much about Sphere, but Om Malik likes it.

They are still in stealth mode beta, but you can sign up for email news about when they launch here.

Most blogs are splogs (spam logs), so it is going to be interesting seeing how they deal with the spam, and how bloggers respond. Most blog search thusfar is, in a word, garbage.

Should You Track Your Blog Feeds Using FeedBurner?

Seeing how many subscribers helps you know what type of reach you have, but a subscriber is just a number. As a person who has used a number of feed readers (Firefox Sage, Bloglines, FeedDemon, & Google Reader), and as a person who has over 100 blogs in his reader, I have come to realize that the number of subscribers does not matter much. Sometimes I read all 100 + blogs I subscribe to, but most of the time I just check out my favorite channels.

When new subscribers join that is great, but I think most people with feed readers do not cull their feeds often (based on personal experience and chatting with a few friends). Many subscribers may not be readers.

What really matters is the number of people who think your content is interesting enough to reference it. Blogs are viral, and your true reach is not your number of subscribers, but a combination of the following:

  • the reach of your best subscribers
  • how likely they are to help you spread your story
  • how easy your story is to spread / how interesting your story is

Most competitive channels are going to have a few original voices and a bunch of echoing channels. So long as your blog is good enough to be considered one of the original channels, and so long as some of the other original channels occassionally reference your blog then that is all that matters.

You do not need to compete cross industry, you only need to be well known within your industry to gain exceptional exposure.

As far as the echo chamber effect goes, some of the echoing channels will be real people, and some of them will be driven by algorithms.

I tend to shy away from using FeedBurner or other similar products because I want people directly connecting to my site. That way, if some of the people are a bit lazy and link to a feed, or if some of the bots automatically link to a feed URL I still still want those links helping boost my overall site popularity score.

Bloglines will give you a number of subscribers there. It will only be a sample of your total subscribers, but unless you are selling direct ads in your feeds the exact number of readers does not matter much, and some of the best readers will not want to subscribe to anything with ads in it. If your blog has huge exposure then feed management might save you some bandwidth, but generally I love getting just about all the link popularity I can get.