Monday, November 29, 2010

Your Bloglines service is here to stay!

Dear Bloglines Users,

You probably already know that MerchantCircle has entered into an agreement with to keep Bloglines running…

What you may not know is who we are. Well, here's the mini elevator pitch: MerchantCircle is the largest online network of local business owners, combining social networking features with free marketing tools to connect local business owners with their communities. MerchantCircle’s 1.4 million business owners and hundreds of thousands of consumers engage in our Community Forums, posting blogs about their areas of expertise, and asking and answering questions in MerchantCircle Answers.

We've been around since 2005, and with over 20 million business listings on our network- you can trust that we're not going anywhere- and neither is your Bloglines service. In fact, we're pretty excited to introduce this fantastic service to our current user base of merchants.

Our game plan is to bring you the best technology, with an easy transition, and avert the potential frustrations that can come with change. This does mean making some tough decisions, but our goal remains: Keep Bloglines alive and create the best experience possible for the largest number of users. 

Beginning around December 1st, when you log in to your Bloglines account (using your same id and password), you'll be transitioned to the NEW Bloglines experience. We'll be providing complete details on the almost-automatic migration process in which you'll just port your feeds over to the MerchantCircle-powered service.

 And no, it won't be IDENTICAL to the old Bloglines experience. We are going to provide better, more stable reader technology, with a wider range of user features, but some minimally used features in need of expensive updates didn't make the cut. Instead, we've included some helpful new resources that you didn't have before; and we'll continue to incorporate as many features as possible. Our own CEO has been an avid Bloglines user since 2005! He too wants the best, most familiar Blogline experience possible.

A perfectly smooth transition is ideal. But we do know it's a safe bet to expect a few bumps in the road. Should that happen, we apologize in advance and assure you that we'll be addressing any issues with a sense of urgency. We welcome your feedback and encourage you to reach out on Twitter. (@Bloglines)

Keep an eye out for future communication as we get closer to the big changeover day. We look forward to serving you!

Your MerchantCircle/Bloglines Team

Friday, November 12, 2010

MerchantCircle, Blogs and Bloglines

As you may already know, adding content to a blog you create about your area of expertise is what the new wave of personal publishing and reputation-building on the web is all about. Blogging your own short-format discussions about things you know about allows that information to get indexed by search engines offering a resource to others when they search for information on that subject. Do this periodically, and frequently, and you build a "content asset" that is authored by you, and builds your value on the web. The people who have done this for years now are among those recognized as relevant to the knowledge base about their subject on the web. Additionally, creating a track record in posts on a topic can result in you being seen and identified as an expert resource on the topic. Establishing yourself as an expert resource on a topic requires staying engaged, whether it be online or on the phone, as the go-to person in your community, easily found on the web with improving local search both online and mobile.

On MerchantCircle we have a platform for you to write a Blog, it’s easy to do and is the single most powerful thing you can do to improve your listing, your visibility on searches on the subject you write about, and your ranking when searches are done on your business category.

The MerchantCircle platform and network of merchants is designed to give our merchants easy tools to use that improve their posture on the web. By connecting to other merchants and consumers, adding information about their products and services, answering questions in our Q&A system, and writing informative short blog entries, our merchant users create attractive merchant-authored information that qualifies them as a resource to turn to for information about their business category.

Last week, we announced that we are now managing a one of the most popular blog and news reader sites ever called Bloglines. We took over this property because we believe in the future of personal publishing of expertise by people with experience, and have plans to make the Bloglines property one which features the best sources of user-authored content on a wide range of topics. Special attention will be paid to the topics which our merchant businesses address with their products and services. Bloglines is the granddaddy of "RSS Readers" (Really Simple Syndication on a user-defined Reader Page), and has been around since 2003. It makes aking it simple to subscribe to updates from personally selected Blogs and News sites, and have all those latest entries flow into one easy-to-read page. The Bloglines service fits in very nicely with the idea of fostering authoritative blogs and making it easy for users to digest the latest information about a subject. We will want to assemble great blogs on topics ranging from Plumbing to Healthcare Services, and would like our MerchantCircle members to contribute to that collection.

Look for more news in the first quarter of 2011 about how the Bloglines Reader service will be used at MerchantCircle to help you stay on top of your business but for now please enjoy the introduction to a service you will certainly value

Andy Halliday


P.S. You can contribute to the growing library of content discoverable on the web, and get attribution for that work, by answering questions in MerchantCircle's Q&A system, in forums online, and in Q&A sites with multiple categories that are designed to expose knowledge from both experts and the masses. A couple recent examples of the Q&A model of collective knowledge are Formspring and Quora. Quora is getting much on-the-web press and is attracting high quality contributors of content on a wide variety of subjects, though the subjects are currently focused around technology and internet startups given their roots.


Andy Halliday

VP GM Local Content

Thursday, November 4, 2010

MerchantCircle to Take Over Operations of the Popular Bloglines Platform

We have some exciting news to share today that we think is going to make the experience on MerchantCircle even more valuable for our users. We’ve reached an agreement with to assume control of the RSS reader site Bloglines in order to rejuvenate and integrate it with the MerchantCircle experience.

For those of you who may not be immediately familiar with Bloglines, it is the world's most popular free online service for searching, subscribing, publishing and sharing RSS feeds, blogs and rich web content. Bloglines was a pioneer in bringing RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feeds and rich content to mainstream Internet users. It’s been touted for excellence around the world with many awards and accolades, including Time Magazine's Coolest Websites for 2004 and Search Engine Watch's "Best Blog/Feed Search Engine" award., which has owned the property for the last few years, had decided to retire the service to focus more on its core offerings. This provided a wonderful opportunity for MerchantCircle to acquire the operations to reinvest in the platform and enhance it for its 2.7 million users.

But what does that mean for you? There are a lot of exciting plans on the horizon, but we can say for now that you will soon see Bloglines integrated for your use on your account dashboards. From there you will have the ability to organize and follow online information about your business, your community and your industry.

There’s so much potential and we are excited about the next steps. For now, please see our press release and news story on TechCrunch about the changing hands of Bloglines.