How to Automate Outside.in Submissions of Local Blog Posts

Outside.in,
as I’ve
written
about before, is a local news aggregation site where content from local news
sites and blogs are organized by city, neighborhood, and / or zip code to build
a create a unique collection of news from a wide variety of sources.

Local bloggers submit their sites to outside.in. The site then indexes the local
blogger’s sites on a regular basis and displays headlines with snippets on
outside.in, driving traffic back to the primary source for the full story.

One of the challenges with this model is a lot of local writes don’t
consistently write about local content. It’s, in fact, very common for people to
write about a new restaurant they checked out, a concert, or something related
to local politics, with a mix of Dilbert cartoons and other non-geographically
significant content.

I found this out first hand when I submitted my personal blog to Outside.in. It
was accepted at first, but they eventually grew tired of my random observations.
This poses a challenge because when I do write about local events, I’m creating
exactly the type of content outside.in is looking for, but the rest of the time,
it’s junk from their stand point.

There are three solutions to this challenge:


1. Submit individual stories to Outside.in.
Once you’ve posted a
geographically significant story, go to outside.in, click on the Submit Story
link on the right column, and paste in the URL of your story. You’ll then be
asked to provide a location for the story, such as the city/state, zip, or
address relevant to the story along with some tags to help sort it. That’s it.
By the way, the stories don’t have to be about where you live, but about some
location, so stories about vacations could be tagged with appropriate locations
as well. The biggest problem with this approach is remembering to do it.

?
2. Use FeedBurner’s Outside.in FeedFlare.
After burning your blog’s RSS feed with
FeedBurner, tack on
the Outside.in FeedFlare. This will add a “Geocode this Post” link to the footer
of each post in your feed (or on your blog). Once a post goes live, you or your
readers can click that link to geotag appropriate posts. Clicking the link
passes the post’s URL to outside.in, basically taking you directly to step 2 of
the geotagging process. This cuts a little time out of solution #1, and gives
you a reminder to geotag posts.

To to this, log in to your FeedBurner account and click Optimize > Feed
Flare > and check the box for the outside.in flare.

3. Categorize posts and submit categories to
outside.in.
Rather than manually geotagging each post, how about
automatically submitting appropriate posts to Outside.in based on the categories
you assign to them? This guarantees that appropriate posts from your blog will
be indexed by outside.in in a timely manner as long as you include them in
appropriate categories. To do this, create a category of your blog for your
city, neighborhood, or zip code. Next, create a feed for that category.

WordPress example:

If your site is:

http://www.yourblog.com/

and you have created a category about Minneapolis, the category URL probably
looks like this by default:

http://www.yourblog.com/category/minneapolis/

The feed for this category can be found by simply adding “feed” to the url,
like this:

http://www.yourblog.com/category/minneapolis/feed/

Take the feed URL, and submit that to Outside.in as a web site. Outside.in will
choke on it a bit, but it will take it. Once submitted, whenever you categorize
a post with that category (in this case, Minneapolis) it will automatically
syndicate onto Outside.in.

You can do this for more than one location by submitting more than one category
of your site as “sites” to Outside.in.

NOTE: The FD FeedBurner Plugin for
Wordpress may redirect category feeds to the blog’s primary feed, forcing you to
choose how you’d like to handle this. I worked around this by turning off the FD
plug-in and updated the RSS feed URLs in header.php to solve this.

Movable Type: I haven’t tested this on
Movable Type, but
here
is a link
to instructions on how to create category-based feeds. Once
created, follow the steps listed above.

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