Saturday, October 22, 2005

Blog Tools for Niche Marketing

Blog Tools for Niche Marketing

With more and more people turning to using blogs for niche marketing, a frequent topic on internet marketing forums is how to you go about maintaining them.

Blogging platforms provide an effective CMS solution, but being a blog, they are most effective is the content is fresh. Many once webmasters of niche websites, are now becoming professional bloggers in a slightly different sense to the journalistic approach.

Blog Spam: Common Misconceptions in the Press

There has been a lot of talk in the press recently about spam blogs (or splog). What the press fail to frequently point out is that RSS is a medium THEY use for creating duplicate content all over the web, and that a blog is a simplified CMS solution with built in commenting and cross-linking of related sites (trackback).

p.s. Don't confuse this with Blog Spam, which is a totally separate issue (at least to some people)

Yes there is RSS spam, with people sending out streams of random keywords. There are also people using a technique known as "blog & ping". This just means they build an RSS feed of their site contents automatically over time.

Now for an established site, you would understand that all their content has at one time been included in their RSS feeds, so that content is already out there.

For a new site that has just started on the internet, Blog & Ping is a viable option. It can be abused, just like any method. All my own sites are built with RSS and grown naturally, but I can see Blog and Ping being a legitimate method for many, though I would suggest hosting the blog on your own site, rather than use a free service.

I have even heard people suggest that feeding articles to a blog, from 3rd party authors is blog spam.

Almost every article directory on the internet has an RSS feed, but most of those RSS feeds are purely an article title, and at best include a snippet of article content and the author name.

By feeding articles to a blog using either manual selection or an automated process, you are effectively creating a highly focused RSS feed and website. The articles used are fully attributed to the original authors, and create backlinks to their websites.

Some may argue that the quality of the articles might be poor. My counter arguement is that often the articles I choose have passed through not just one, but quite often 2 or even 3 human reviews, before they are selected for my own sites.

I select articles based on specific niche terms, much more highly focused than an article directory which has to cater for much more varied topics. Thus whilst an article directory would have a general category "Search Engine Optimization", one of my own sites would focus purely on keyword research and keyword optimization.

Many would argue that if I selected articles purely by hand, the quality would be higher. I agree, but then Rolls Royce and Ferrari make arguably better cars than General Motors or Ford, but I think most would agree that General Motors and Ford still provide value. I don't charge for access to the content sites I produce, they are purely advertising supported.

There are Bloggers who even argue that advertising should not be displyed on blogs, that blogs should not be commercial, yet all the top news sites are produced using a custom made CMS solution, often using lots of duplicate content from RSS feeds, and they themselves then provide their own RSS feed.

Spam blogs are those that don't provide content that is useful for a human, such as random keywords.

Automated Blogging (but use with a reader in mind)

Some level of automated blogging solution is thus a viable, and legitimate method of creating niche focused content sites.

Here are some alternative solutions for everyone.

First of all here are 2 free options.

Wbloggar - fairly basic and not very automated, but can certainly help tremendously. Much better than logging in manually.

Use an autoresponder or scheduled reminder email service. There are loads of choices.
Feedmagic and Getresponse are both very good services to choose from. Both have superb delivery, and unique features.

There are also various plugins for Blog software and CMS systems that can do a reasonable job, though they are hard to setup and get the results you want. I spent a day playing with one for Wordpress, Reblog, and I was not very satisfied with the results.

Cheaper options

Elicit from
I haven't used Elicit, I came across it on Tuesday, downloaded it, and discovered that it won't run on my preferred operating system (Win98SE)
For $59 is seems to be an excellent alternative, especially if you blog other peoples blogs proactively.

More expensive Solutions is used by many peole, it is server based and currently has 2 versions, standard and pro. I have heard good things about it, and it might still have a few advantages over the solution I currently use, such as being server based so it is always on (that can be a negative for many), but things certainly balance out.

Blog Auto Publisher - what I am using, still in beta but should be released soon. It is a desktop application.
The most exciting feature of Blog Auto Publisher is its flexibility. I generate article posts using article miner, and then pull content from the generated pages. Keywords can be autolinked easily, and I am working hard on integrating Blog Auto Publisher and Article Miner so that every time I generate article posts, they immediately get entered into the article queue.
I am currently also experimenting with using the auto-linker with Peakclick, and with the automatic generation of technorati tags. Technorati tags are already generated for keywords.

Peakclick is a new PPC aggregator, that you can easily include on your own pages or blog using PHP includes. I still need to work out a way to use the includes on a blogspot hosted blog, but I can link to their searches.

Olga the developer of Blog Auto Publisher is also very pro-active in introducing new features. I think I have probably exchanged 60 emails with her over the last couple of weeks, both to squash a few bugs (it is beta after all) and to enhance the feature set. She has a long-term outlook on the product.
You can see some of the stuff I am playing with on my "Coolest Guy on the Planet" blog.

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