Real Simple Syndication (RSS) allows site owners to automatically syndicate their content to readers in an easy to read format. For the reader this is content delivered to their inbox or reader! In many instances this is a reverse of roles, the content is coming to the reader, not the reader to the content.
The idea of this post is to explore the different tweeks and additions you can make to your RSS feed to improve the overall RSS experience for your readers and drive traffic through promoting your content.
Firstly I would recommend allowing readers access to the full content of your posts in their feed reader. I have found that only publishing extracts and requiring readers to actually visit your blog to view the full posts, causes readers to become annoyed. I know the idea is to generate traffic to your website, but remember it is better to have a subscriber than not. Observers have noted the type of people who subscribe to RSS feeds generally tend to be those who know their field. Be honered there reading your content! Allowing them to read the full content of your posts, promotes them to become more interested in you and what you have to say.
Someone to watch over me
Pretty much everyone uses Feedburner, and recently it was taken over by Google. I use it to manage my RSS feed. With feedburner I can see how many readers I have as well as getting a break down of what system they use to read my updates and also offer readers the ability to subscribe to my blog updates via e-mail. You can see all this in operation on my site right now!
I would recommend activating FeedFlare in your feedburner account which will allow you to build in interactive features to the feed. This means you can show your users how many people have commented on your post, thus generating some traffic back to your blog to read these comments.
Note:In order to use feedburner you also need the feedburner plugin for your wordpress blog (if your using wordpress).
This plugin makes it easy to redirect 100% of traffic for your feeds to a FeedBurner feed you have created. FeedBurner can then track all of your feed subscriber traffic and usage and apply a variety of features you choose to improve and enhance your original wordPress feed.
Related Posts Plugin
This is a wonderful addition to your website, if you don’t have the related posts plugin already give it a try. Not only does it supply related posts for your blog content, but it also does so for RSS feeds. This falls back into what I was talking about earlier, regarding giving away ‘free content’ or full posts. By adding related posts to your feeds your readers can now find assicated articles which are linked back to your website.
Polls are a wonderful form of interaction between the author and the reader, in regards to the feed, it once again promts visitors from the feed to your website, so that they too can vote in your poll.
I am going to throw in this line about video, but it is a little redundant today. Previously most RSS readers did not support video players, so RSS subscribers had to visit your website to actually watch the video. However these days, readers do support this. Just a quick point really!
With modern browsers it is easy to subscribe to a feed by clicking on the usually built in RSS icon, safari has one beside the URL bar. However there is no harm in popping an RSS icon into your sidebar, as I have done in a prominent place on my website. You can also show off how popular you are by placing a FeedCount badge on your widget.
These are just a few tips I can share with you based on my experience on RSS feed tweeks. Please do share your views of RSS feeds, and any suggestions you may have for enhancing reader experience & promote traffic to your website!