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“Blogging is one of the best ways to drive traffic to a website because consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands. Syndicating RSS feeds allows for promotion on other blogs and websites.”

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia…

A blog (a truncation of the expression weblog) is a discussion or informational site published on the World Wide Web consisting of discrete entries (“posts”) typically displayed in reverse chronological order (the most recent post appears first).  Until 2009, blogs were usually the work of a single individual, occasionally of a small group, and often covered a single subject.  More recently, “multi-author blogs” (MABs) have developed, with posts written by large numbers of authors and professionally edited.  MABs from newspapers, other media outlets, universities, think tanksadvocacy groups, and similar institutions account for an increasing quantity of blog traffic.  The rise of Twitter and other “microblogging” systems helps integrate MABs and single-author blogs into societal newstreams.  Blog can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

The emergence and growth of blogs in the late 1990s coincided with the advent of web publishing tools that facilitated the posting of content by non-technical users.  (Previously, a knowledge of such technologies as HTML and FTP had been required to publish content on the Web.)

A majority are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments and even message each other via GUI widgets on the blogs, and it is this interactivity that distinguishes them from other static websites.  In that sense, blogging can be seen as a form of social networking service.  Indeed, bloggers do not only produce content to post on their blogs, but also build social relations with their readers and other bloggers.  However, there are high-readership blogs which do not allow comments.

Many blogs provide commentary on a particular subject. Others function as more personal online diaries, and others function more as online brand advertising of a particular individual or company.  A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, web pages, and other media related to its topic.  The ability of readers to leave comments in an interactive format is an important contribution to the popularity of many blogs.  Most blogs are primarily textual, although some focus on art (art blogs), photographs (photoblogs), videos (video blogs or “vlogs”), music (MP3 blogs), and audio (podcasts). Microblogging is another type of blogging, featuring very short posts.  In education, blogs can be used as instructional resources.  These blogs are referred to as edublogs.

History

The term “weblog” was coined by Jorn Barger on 17 December 1997.  The short form, “blog”, was coined by Peter Merholz, who jokingly broke the word weblog into the phrase we blog in the sidebar of his blog Peterme.com in April or May 1999.  Shortly thereafter, Evan Williams at Pyra Labs used “blog” as both a noun and verb (“to blog”, meaning “to edit one’s weblog or to post to one’s weblog”) and devised the term “blogger” in connection with Pyra Labs’ Blogger product, leading to the popularization of the terms.

On the World Wide Web, a web feed (or news feed) is a data format used for providing users with frequently updated content.  Content distributors syndicate a web feed, thereby allowing users to subscribe to it.  Making a collection of web feeds accessible in one spot is known as aggregation, which is performed by a news aggregator.  A web feed is also sometimes referred to as a syndicated feed.

A typical scenario of web-feed use might involve the following: a content provider publishes a feed link on its site which end users can register with an aggregator program (also called a feed reader or a news reader) running on their own machines; doing this is usually as simple as dragging the link from the web browser to the aggregator.  When instructed, the aggregator asks all the servers in its feed list if they have new content; if so, the aggregator either makes a note of the new content or downloads it.  One can schedule aggregators to check for new content periodically.

Web feeds exemplify pull technology, although they may appear to push content to the user.

The kinds of content delivered by a web feed are typically HTML (webpage content) or links to webpages and other kinds of digital media. Often when websites provide web feeds to notify users of content updates, they only include summaries in the web feed rather than the full content itself.

Many news websites, weblogs, schools, and podcasters operate web feeds.

Uses

Web feeds have some advantages compared to receiving frequently published content via an email:

  • Users do not disclose their email address when subscribing to a feed and so are not increasing their exposure to threats associated with email: spam, viruses, phishing, and identity theft.
  • Users do not have to send an unsubscribe request to stop receiving news.  They simply remove the feed from their aggregator.
  • The feed items are automatically sorted in that each feed URL has its own sets of entries (unlike an email box where messages must be sorted by user-defined rules and pattern matching).

In its explanation “What is a web feed?”, the publishing group of Nature describes two benefits of web feeds:

  1. It makes it easier for users to keep track of our content…This is a very convenient way of staying up to date with the content of a large number of sites.
  2. It makes it easier for other websites to link to our content. Because RSS feeds can easily be read by computers, it’s also easy for webmasters to configure their sites so that the latest headlines from another site’s RSS feed are embedded into their own pages, and updated automatically.

Scraping

Usually a web feed is made available by the same entity that created the content.  Typically the feed comes from the same place as the website. Not all websites, however, provide a feed.  Sometimes third parties will read the website and create a feed for it by scraping it.  Scraping is controversial since it distributes the content in a manner that was not chosen by the authors.

Technical definition

A web feed is a document (often XML-based) whose discrete content items include web links to the source of the content.  News websites and blogs are common sources for web feeds, but feeds are also used to deliver structured information ranging from weather data to top-ten lists of hit tunes to search results.  The two main web feed formats are RSS and Atom.

“Publishing a feed” and “syndication” are two of the more common terms used to describe making a feed available for an information source such as a blog.  Web feed content, like syndicated print newspaper features or broadcast programs, may be shared and republished by other websites.  (For that reason one popular definition of RSS is Really Simple Syndication. )

Feeds are more often subscribed to directly by users with aggregators or feed readers which combine the contents of multiple web feeds for display on a single screen or series of screens.  Some modern web browsers incorporate aggregator features.  Users typically subscribe to a feed by manually entering the URL of a feed or clicking a link in a web browser.

Web feeds are designed to be machine-readable rather than human-readable, which tends to be a source of confusion when people first encounter web feeds.  This means that web feeds can also be used to automatically transfer information from one website to another without any human intervention.

Confusion between web feed and RSS

The term RSS is often used to refer to web feeds or web syndication in general, although not all feed formats are RSS.  The Blogspace description of using web feeds in an aggregator, for example, is headlined “RSS info” and “RSS readers” even though its first sentence makes clear the inclusion of the Atom format: “RSS and Atom files provide news updates from a website in a simple form for your computer.”


Blogging & RSS Feed Strategies

Blogging is one of the best ways to drive traffic to a website because consumers enjoy reading relevant content from brands.  Blogs should include calls-to-action that direct your visitors to lead generating forms.  Using keywords (SEO techniques) in blog posts helps your website rank higher for the specific words and phrases that are important to your business.  Syndicating RSS feeds allows for promotion on other blogs and websites.  This type of promotion can lead to an influx of new targeted visitors, build quality backlinks, and improve search engine rankings.

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