A little over a year and a half ago, when John Reese announced his BlogRush service, I thought "oh, c**p," (that word isn't "CaRP" :-) "one of the big boys beat me to my idea." At the time, I'd begun working on a site that was going to be similar, but with a few key differences.

Like BlogRush, my service was going to take data from people's RSS feeds (which probably every modern blogging platform generates) and attempt to display the most relevant headlines on related blogs.

Unlike BlogRush, my service was going to offer SEO value, because the headlines (which would link back to the original articles) would be integrated into the page's content using PHP, rather than being displayed using JavaScript (which is invisible to the search engines). My service would also have displayed more of each headline, plus some of the content of each post.

Ultimately, BlogRush died. After the novelty wore off, click-through rates plummeted. When that happened, since there was no SEO value, there was little value left of any kind. I believe BlogRush's biggest failure was that it only displayed a small widget with only the first part of each headline -- there simply wasn't enough there to capture attention and interest. ...well, that and the fact that it wasn't designed to offer SEO value.

Had I launched my service as originally planned, it may have failed too.

One of its key weaknesses would have been quality control. BlogRush ran into the same problem almost the moment it lauched -- so many junky blogs were submitted that the quality of the content was unacceptable. John ended up hiring a small army (at least that's my impression) of people to approve (or disapprove) every single blog that was submitted.

My plan had been to let members vote blogs up or down (or blacklist specific blogs from appearing on their sites), and use their votes to help control which blogs got to have their content displayed the most. It would have been a fine strategy except for the fact that the site's members have their own lives to live -- they don't want to sit around monitoring what shows up on their site and voting it up or down.

In the end, it was a moot point, because I soon set the project aside to work on other things.

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. I'd gotten the idea to do "RSS Exchanges", similar to link exchanges, but using RSS feed content. I decided to launch a free "beta" version of my service that did nothing but help people find RSS feed exchange partners. My main goal was to drive sales of CaRP Evolution (my RSS to HTML converter -- members would use it to display RSS feeds on their sites).

But once I got working on the site, I realized I was onto something big. So I spent a few extra weeks building some extra features and polishing it a little more, and finally launched it today. The site is LinContEx.com.

One the one hand, members will have to approve their exchanges on a case-by-case basis rather than just setting it up and forgetting it. But that process will take care of the quality control problem completely -- unless members just approve all requests without glancing over the feed first (in which case, excuse me, but they're getting what they deserve), only acceptable quality feeds are going to get displayed.

I still made it possible to vote feeds up or down (which can be done with a single click on the feed's preview page), and those votes will be used to determine the order feeds are displayed when searching for a feed to display on one's site. But the ranking of feeds is no longer mission critical to the site.

The most exciting feature on the site is called "LinContEx Remote". It's a script you install on your site that interfaces with LinContEx.com and does two main things:

1) When you add a page to your site (eg. a blog post in your WordPress blog -- one part of LinContEx Remote is a WordPress plugin), LinContEx Remote notifies LinContEx.com of it, and it's automatically added to your list of pages where you may display other members' RSS feeds.

2) When you approve an RSS feed exchange, LinContEx.com notifies LinContEx Remote on your site and tells it which RSS feed to display on which page. With one click, you approve the exchange and add the feed to your website.

All of this is done using a secure link format similar to what Amazon uses to enable auto-expiring links to content on their S3 service (I had invented a similar method of securing links for my affiliate bonus delivery system, Fast JV).

I installed LinContEx Remote on a few of my blogs last night, and so far it has automatically configured 271 pages on my sites to be ready for RSS feed exchanges. In a day or two (once a bunch of people have added their RSS feeds to the system), I'll start submitting a bunch of exchange requests.

I won't blabber on here about the various ways LinContEx will benefit members as an SEO tool -- that's all covered well enough on the sales letter.

Part of me would still love to create the more BlogRush-like LinContEx I originally envisioned. But in the end, I think the idea I came up with this time might be better for the users of the site, and ultimately more successful.