Aggregator Foundations - Links and Suggestions
"Make aggregation work for you through suggestions and links to sites that can make this job easier"
Now that you've dipped your feet into social media platforms such as Twitter, Ning, Facebook and more, isn't it time you took a hint and applied some social aspects to your Web site? In the previous article, Linda talked about aggregation, and how aggregator sites have shaped current Web trends. In this article, she will pass on information about how to make aggregation work for you through suggestions and links to sites that can make this job easier.
The Hybrid Model
By 'hybrid,' I mean a model that uses a mix of free and paid content selections. One model, provided by Mochila, provides free content provided you allow them to push advertisers through the widgets you install. Although I have not tried this tool, warning bells go off in my head, thanks to Google. Google can be a blessing and a curse, as if you use any other advertising model other than Adsense, your page ranking in Google may suffer. Hence, my fear of trying a free Mochila platform for content.
Another model, provided by Wilson Internet Services Content, provides free content with some caveats (simply to add the author's name and a link back to the site) or paid content. You can find many more content sites like this, and you may be able to live with most of the guidelines. In most cases, the guidelines simply represent a way for you to avoid stealing the original author's content.
The "Free" Model
Nothing ever is free. It's a law of physics – every reaction creates a separate yet equal reaction. This is not to say that using 'free' information is 'bad.' Rather, when you use free information in a mindful manner, the benefits to you and your Web site may increase. So, rather than thinking about 'free' information as information at no charge, think of it as intellectual property – no matter how well it is written – and treat it and its author with respect. In exchange, you, too, may receive respect from both the author and your readers.
When you treat "free" material with respect, you honour the author and you provide an easy way for readers to gain further insight into your Web site topic. To create an atmosphere where ideas are freely exchanged, you might:
Respect an author's intellectual property: In most cases, the author of articles at another blog a person who creates free content at an article site such as Articles Base or Articles Factory is a person who wants you to use that material. This is especially true if the content is produced on a blog that carries an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed.
The logic behind the use of an RSS feed on your blog is that the original blog author knows that you now can dump an RSS feed into your blog via a plugin or through WordPress widgets to embellish your site. If that author realizes that using an RSS feed is similar to linking to his/her site through a plain 'ol link, then they might be very happy that you've chosen their feed to embellish your site. Sometimes, however, it might prove worth your time to contact the author to 1) ask if it is ok to use their RSS on your site, or; 2) tell the author that you're using his or her RSS feed on your site. The reasoning behind this contact is to inform the author that you're linking to the site through RSS. Even if the favor is not returned, you've created a contact with the author, and this may prove beneficial in other ways.
First, the author may link back to your site. Or, that author may brag about the fact that you're using his or her blog to constitute some content on your site (think about bragging rights when bloggers were first listed on Guy Kawasaki's Alltop site). Finally, if nothing else, you may create a business contact – someone who shares the same interests and ideals as you. That person has friends and business contacts, too – and you could increase your readership simply by creating this connection.
Make sure the content fits your theme: In other words, don't use a gardening blog as content unless you're writing about gardens. Further, avoid a blog that writes about gardening in Alaska when your blog is focused on gardens in Italy. Those topics represent two different aspects to the same category. Find information specific to your topic and to your theme and then you're in business.
Pay homage to the author and to his/her site: Use a plugin or widget to pull the RSS feed, as you then can create a way to link back to the author's site and to the writing. If you do not do this and if you downright steal the material without providing credit, you may lose credibility. Just ask Jamie at DotWeekly about this dilemma. Don't become one of those Web developers who uses other people to reach a goal. If you do, your path may become so fraught with issues that emanate from the writer that your goal may become unattainable.
One caveat – I noticed a few articles on the Web on how to take free content and make it your own. While I believe it's ok to take an article and edit it so the article is grammatically correct and so that it presents a better argument, I don't believe it's ok to take the article, the links within the article or the images and any other hard work that someone has created and move a few paragraphs around to make it your own and sign it with your name. This last act still constitutes plagiarism.
Linda Goin carries a B.F.A. in visual communications with a minor in business and marketing, and an M.A. in American History with a minor in the Reformation. While the latter degree doesn't seem to fit with the first two educational experiences, Linda used her 25-year design expertise on site at archaeological digs and in the study of material culture. Now she uses her education and experiences in creating social media environments.
Accolades for her work include fifteen first-place Colorado Press Association awards, numerous fine art and graphic design awards, and interviews about content development with The Wall St. Journal, Chicago Tribune, Psychology Today, and L.A. Times.