Micro ISV Blogging: Useful Extras

After my slightly under-whelmed take on affiliate programs and advertising for Micro ISV blogs last week, I’m really feeling the pressure to include something good this week. Fortunately, there are a couple of really useful services that I haven’t touched on yet in this series, Technorati and Feedburner.

Tagging and Technorati

Technorati is a blog-based search engine, and how it indexes your blog posts depends heavily on the tags you use. In other words, if you want your blog posts to be visible on Technorati, you need to make sure you are using the right tags.

If your blogging platform supports categories, Technorati should be picking up your categories and processing them as tags. If not, or to be absolutely sure, you will need to add the tags yourself. Fortunately, it’s very easy to do.

On the surface, a tag is just a plain old hyperlink, but there are a couple of rules to be aware of. Firstly, the rel="tag" attribute should be added. Secondly, the final part of the URL and the content should be the tag. So, for a MicroISV tag:-

<a href="http://www.technorati.com/tag/MicroISV" rel="tag">MicroISV</a>

I’ve used a link to Technorati, but your URL can point anywhere, as long as you follow those basic rules. The following link to del.icio.us would also be a valid MicroISV tag:-

<a href="http://del.icio.us/tag/MicroISV" rel="tag">MicroISV</a>

Claiming your Blog

While visiting Technorati, why not take advantage of one of their other options: claiming your blog. You have to sign up for a Technorati account, but then you get the option to register yourself as the author of a blog. You can upload a picture, add a description, and add some general tags to the blog.

You’ll also get a profile page with a personal Tag cloud, and some extra code to add some Technorati links or tools to your own site. It’s quick and easy to do, but I can’t tell you much more about how useful it is, as I just claimed mine this morning!

Feedburner

Feedburner is like a one stop shop for your site feeds, I find it amazing how many genuinely useful services they offer for free.

Let’s say you want to syndicate your recent blog posts on your company homepage, Feedburner have a free service with basic syndication code. Or, if you want to monitor your circulation, basic stats are free. If your blog feed is in the wrong format for some readers, Feedburner will convert your feed to whatever format you need. They even offer a smart feed option which attempts to detect the format required each time it’s requested.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. You can get a little rotating headline graphic for your blog which you can put anywhere on the web (in a forum signature, for example), Feedburner will notify blog syndication and search services whenever you make an update, and they will give you one of those little readership counter graphics that are all over the web.

It’s all free, and it’s quick and easy to get started; all you need is the URL of an xml feed.

There’s one great reason for using Feedburner right from day one: portability. If you ensure that all your blog readers sign up via a Feedburner feed, rather than your default blog feed, you will have a much more flexible relationship. You won’t lose any of those readers if you change your feed format, change your domain or directory structure, or move your blog to a new platform. All of those changes could be managed seamlessly with a free Feedburner account.

Not too long ago, I created a separate blog purely for company announcements or product updates, just because Blogger doesn’t support categories. Had I been a little bit more creative, I could probably have achieved the same results with a combination of free tagging and syndication services.

Summary

These free services can really help you manage, monitor and publicize your blog, so it’s good to be aware of what they can do for you. Future decisions or changes could be easier if you spend some time up front deciding how you’re going to use them.