With the growing adoption of RSS readers, Meme Trackers and content being syndicated on 3rd party sites, how your content is ultimately presented becomes increasingly important.
What follows are some basic steps to optimize your content for syndication, as well as some more advanced techniques.
- Offer full feeds – I am not going to argue about how this is good for subscribers. That argument has been debated almost to death. However if you want reputable sites to pick up your content, you need to give them an easy way to do it. Obviously they are not looking for excerpts. Meme Trackers that work on feeds rather than scraping content from your site will also attribute relevance better if you provide more content.
- Image Alignment – lots of themes provide CSS for image alignment. It is useless as soon as your content is being read elsewhere. It doesn’t take much code to align an image left or right and wrap text around it wherever your content is being read.
- Scraping Friendly Theme – You might not realise this, but many meme trackers scrape your content. It is very important to have your article content appear before navigation and various “about this site” text. There are quite a few top marketing blogs where the snippet listed on sites like Megite for their articles is always their “about me”, rather than relevant content
- Images – Try to include images with every post, but also ensure that the most interesting image appears first on the page. You might need to make an additional thumbnail for the start of your post of an image that appears full size later on.
- Headings – Please refer to the post I made recently regarding Headings in Feeds
- Related Content – link through to related content on your sites – not only will you get a backlink to your original article, but also a deep link to something else. Don’t go overboard, and make sure it is highly relevant. You can probably get away with more than you might be able to with article distribution, where self serving links in the body of an article is heavily frowned upon.
- Unique Format – Here is something I spotted on Megite recently that made me smile, the “Search Engine Twins“.
<div style="float:right;"> Image Code </div>
Obviously there is some prior history there, but both sites were listing relatively the same content, in the same format. I am not sure how they are going to solve that one in the long-term, but I hope their formatting develops in different directions in the future to add some diversity.
Today I spend a number of hours experimenting with CSS and hacking my Disclosure Policy Plugin to do what I wanted to achieve. A couple of weeks ago I was approached by someone who was interested in syndicating my posts, and they requested a picture and a byline. I looked on their site, and wasn’t overly impressed with the way bylines were handled by default. I decided that if my content is going to be syndicated, it needed to have a clear link back to the original article, and maybe a link to my root domain as well, all presented the way I want it.
My plugin didn’t have an option to include the post title and URL, so today I hacked it in.
These changes are around line 70 in disclosure_keywords.php
$dpp_post_title = get_the_title($id); $dpp_post_url = get_permalink(); $str = $content; $content1 = $str."<br><br>"; eval('$content2 = "' . $keywords_div_start . '";');
The first 2 lines above set 2 variables to contain the post name and URL
The 5th line evaluates the first block of text you set in the options, looking for php variables and processing them.
Handling quotation marks with this is a nightmare but here is what I found to work.
In all the CSS used in the options, I used single quotes
For the quotes around the variables to evaluate, I used double quotes.
For the actual disclosure lines that are defined, I use double quotes
Thus the code in the options “Insert Start Div Tags:” looks a bit like this (though it still needs tweaking)
<div style='margin: 0 0 0 0; padding: 0.3em 0.3em 0.3em 0.3em;'><div style='border: 1px solid rgb(184, 184, 184); margin-bottom: 0em; margin-top: 0em; padding-bottom:0.3em; width: 450px; float: left;'><div style='margin-bottom: 0em; margin-left: 0.3em; margin-top: 0.3em; margin-right: 0.5em;width: 75px; float: left; line-height:1em;'><img style='width: 75px; height: 100px;' alt='Andy Beard' src="http://andybeard.eu/wp-content/uploads/andy75x100-a1.png"></div><div style='margin-bottom: 0em; margin-left: 0.5em; margin-top: 0.3em; margin-right: 0.3em; float: right; line-height:1em;'><a href='http://creativecommons.org/licenses/GPL/2.0/' rel='nofollow'><img alt='CC-GNU GPL' border='0' src="http://andybeard.eu/wp-content/uploads/cc-GPL-a.png" /></a></div><h3 style='margin: 0em 0 0em 0;'><a href='http://andybeard.eu/'>Andy Beard - Niche Marketing</a></h3><p style='line-height:1em; margin: 0em 0 -0.2em 0;'> Blog search engine perfomance, WordPress and general niche and affiliate marketing tips</p><p>Original Article:<br /><strong><a href=".$dpp_post_url.">$dpp_post_title </a></strong></p><div style='width: 100%; float: left; line-height:0.7em; margin: 0em 0 0.2em 0.5em;'><h3 style='margin: 0em 0 0em 0;'>Disclosure</h3>
Note: all the quotes seem to be messing up even with a code plugin, so don’t just copy/paste the above, it won’t work. Also note I am not a CSS expert and just play around with things until they look ok. I tested first of all on a test blog running Kubrick, and then copied the code over here.
In the second box you just have 3 closing Divs
For individual disclosure declarations, I am using something like:-
<p style="margin: 0em 1em 0em 0em;"><small>Whilst the content I create, however it is distributed is commercial, relevance is always considered before any potential financial gain. <a href="http://andybeard.eu/disclosure-policy" rel="nofollow">Disclosure Policy</a> <a href="http://andybeard.eu/contact/" rel="nofollow">Contact</a></small></p>
I actually need to make that a bit more structured, so I can just wrap any entry with paragraph tags, although that entry will always be “small print”.
The Proof of the Pudding is in the Eating
The only way to really see the effect is to see how it looks in an RSS reader or on various Meme Trackers.
Here is what a post should look like on Megite
You will also notice they also use your favicon, so well worth spending a few minutes generating one.
No screenshots – try signing up by email and RSS to take a look. I think I need to make my box slightly narrower, because then the Feedburner Feed Flare using will all align nicely down the right hand side of the author box. Currently on a 1024×768 Google Reader view, only some of them are on the right hand side.
The changes have definitely made my Feedburner landing page for subscribers look more professional and personal.
I still need to format my tags the way I want to, both on page and in feeds. The same goes for related posts, which in syndication will most likely be cut off.
Some default CSS of my theme also seems to over-ride my inline CSS with margins and paddings, so I need to take a careful look to see how that can be corrected.
Standards compatible? Well I didn’t use any tables, or fixed fonts –
It is worth spending some time working on how you want your content displayed in the future, as once your working environment is setup, it can save you a lot of time, and improve the results you achieve. Are you in this for the long haul?