8 Prime Locations to Promote Your Blog’s RSS Feed – What Are You Missing?

May 7, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

rssboardEvery blogger knows that an RSS feed is essential to the success of a blog. RSS enables readers to stay connected and conveniently view content through other channels like feed readers, email, and mobile phones. It’s one of the key features that allows blogs to easily distribute frequently updated content and amass huge followings. In fact, # of RSS subscriptions has become the measuring stick of success for blogs (e.g. it’s weighted heavily in the rankings for IM Top Blogs). As a blogger, you definitely want to maximize your RSS subscriber count to increase exposure and accumulate a loyal following of readers.

If you’re new to blogging, be sure to sign up for a service called Feedburner (now owned by Google). The tool allows you to easily manage your RSS feeds and track usage. You also want to enable the MyBrand feature so that the feed is still hosted on your domain rather than Feedburner’s.

RSS is important and you need to promote your feed to get as many people to sign up. In this article, I’ll lay out the prime locations on your blog you should display and advertise your RSS feed on. If you’re not utilizing these spots, try them out. A small change could have a big impact on the number of subscribers.

8 Prime Locations to Promote Your Blog’s RSS Feed

1. RSS autodiscovery
RSS autodiscovery is a feature that allows web browsers and aggregators to automatically detect a site’s RSS feed. It’s supported by Internet Explorer, Firefox, and Safari and makes it easy for users to subscribe to a feed. Below is an example for WTW in Firefox.

wtw-rss-autodiscovery

In order to set this up for your blog, all you have to do is include the following code in the head section of your blog template. Of course you’ll need to replace the URL with the address to your own blog feed. (surround the code with < >)

link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" title="RSS" href="http://feeds.winningtheweb.com/WinningTheWeb"

Take advantage of browser technology and set your site up for RSS autodiscovery. It’s a quick edit but it can lead to a lot of new subscribers.

2. Subscriber count
One of the reasons why Feedburner is so popular is because it allows you to see your subscriber count and compare it to other blogs. For example, Blog Perfume’s Feed Analysis tool uses Feedburner data to provide trending and analysis for blogs.

If you have at least a few hundred RSS subscribers, you might want to show your count off on your blog to display your prominence and popularity in a niche. Social proof is extremely powerful and will get people’s attention. The more subscribers you have, the more others will want to join as well.

joinxsubs

As you can see here on Winning the Web, I have “Join X Subscribers” clearly displayed at the top of my sidebar. I really like this feature because it stands out, is easily customizable and automatically updates every day.

If you want to implement this on your own blog, Yoast.com has the Feedburner subscription show-off code that will show you how.

Otherwise, you can also opt to use Feedburner’s built in FeedCount chicklet to dynamically display your feed’s circulation.

feed-chicklet

3. Call to action
Most of the time, website visitors need to be guided and told what to do. Explicit calls to action significantly improve conversion rates. For example, rather than saying “here’s my RSS feed”, say “sign up to get free updates to my blog”. Calls to action are extremely powerful and will direct your users to the actions you want them to take.

You can see the call to action for my RSS feed at the top of the sidebar – “Get FREE updates to Winning the Web via RSS or email”.

Test out different versions and see which of them gets the greatest response. Willy Franzen used a subtle difference in language and word association to increase his blog subscription rate by 254% (hint: he used “get” instead of “subscribe”). Definitely a must read.

4. Big orange feed button
You’ve probably seen this big orange button before, universally recognized on the web for an RSS feed. Include a big RSS button on your blog above the fold. Also be sure to make it a link so that your visitors can click on it to subscribe.

A lot of bloggers get fancy with their RSS buttons, creating new shapes, designs, and colors. For example, check out this collection of unique RSS buttons. Honestly, I think it’s better to keep it simple (orange square). This way, visitors are more likely to recognize the image and subscribe.

5. Email form
Another huge benefit of using Feedburner is that it allows RSS by email. In other words, visitors can get updates to your blog delivered straight to their inboxes. This feature is especially important in non-tech related niches because RSS isn’t as widely known or used. However, everyone knows what email is and interested readers will want to get updates in a format that they’re comfortable with. You might even want to create a page that describes RSS and the benefits of subscribing. Darren Rowse of Problogger has one here – What is RSS?

emailform

Create an email form on your blog and make it easy for people to sign up.

6. Welcome message before posts
Wouldn’t it be cool if you could welcome specific visitors based on where they’re coming from and urge them to subscribe to your RSS feed? Thankfully, there’s a WordPress plugin that does just that. WP Greet Box allows you to show a different greeting message to your visitors depending on the referrer URL (e.g. Google, Digg, StumbleUpon, Twitter, etc). This allows for a lot more customization and increases your chances of gaining new subscribers.

I’ve had a lot of success using the WP Greet Box plugin here on Winning the Web and I always get at least a couple new subscribers everyday from the RSS links. Right now, the welcome message appears before all of my posts after a few seconds delay. It’s very effective and I recommend you install the plugin. You can see a few example messages below.

greetrss

greetgoog

7. Call to action after posts
You should not only insert RSS links in your welcome messages before posts, but you should also include them after your posts. After all, if your readers like an article, they’d probably want to sign up to get updates. You want to make it as easy as possible for them by including a call to action at the end of every post.

Here’s what I use…

rsspost

I include the orange RSS button to make the text stand out and include a call to action to subscribe for readers who liked a post. I also emphasize the fact that updates are free (people love free).

8. In content links
Finally, you want to include in-content links to your RSS feed where applicable. This strategy is especially effective because you’re usually providing people with additional context and incentive to subscribe.

For example, my next article will be about testing and tracking the success of all of these RSS link locations. You definitely want to subscribe to the RSS feed to get the update. Don’t miss out!

Get the idea?

Bonus Tips for Promoting Your Blog’s RSS
9. Include a link to your RSS feed in your signatures – email, newsletters, forums, etc.

10. Add your RSS link to guest posts you write on other blogs.

11. If you have an email newsletter, send out RSS updates to your email list. I used the Aweber Blog Broadcast feature to increase my subscriber count by 500 overnight.

RSS is probably one of the most important success metrics for your blog. How are you promoting it? Are you utilizing your blog’s real estate to its full potential?

In my next article, I’ll go over how you can test and track each of these positions using Google Analytics. Based on this intelligence you’ll then be able to tweak your links and maximize RSS subscriptions to your blog. Subscribe now so you don’t miss out. 🙂

If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.
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Comments

52 Responses to “8 Prime Locations to Promote Your Blog’s RSS Feed – What Are You Missing?”

Tom - StandOutBlogger.com on May 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

There are so many great ways! I actually use twitter and promote a free ebook of mine, directing to the ebooks page and asking them to sign up to receive it! works really well.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Hey Tom,
There are a lot of great ways to promote your blog. Offering a free ebook through Twitter is an effective method of increasing exposure and subscribers. In this post though, I mainly focus on where you can promote your RSS feed on your own blog.

 
 
Greg Ellison on May 7th, 2009

I didn’t know about the plugin WP Greet Box. It looks pretty cool. Thanks Gregellison

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Hi Greg,
I found out about WP Greet Box not too long ago myself and have already seen great results from it. I definitely recommend everyone install it and customize it a little bit so that readers don’t start ignoring it on all blogs.

 
 
Melvin on May 7th, 2009

Informative post. I don’t actually know some of the stuffs you discussed above. But anyway isn’t it that readers would get annoyed if they see a lot of “subscribe” or something in a blog?

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Hey Melvin,
I don’t think people will get annoyed with the “subscribe” options. They don’t detract from the content at all and are necessary to maximize your readership. I’m sure there will be a few naysayers here and there but I wouldn’t worry about them. If your content is good, people will thank you for reminding them to subscribe.

 
 
Shanker Bakshi on May 7th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

All said and done. Contest works better ( if you ask to subscribe your blog as condition to participate in the contest). WP Greet Box allows look good. I’m fixing it on my blog right away.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Yep, contests work very well to get attention – but your content has to be up to par to get those people to stay on as subscribers once the promotion is over.

 
 
Smart Boy Designs on May 8th, 2009

Great post and excellent thoughts. I would say that in my experience, the call to action after posts – and a RSS logo above the fold works best. I also have great success with email subscriptions.

Thanks for sharing.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

I’ve had similar results as well. The RSS logo is by far the clear winner – followed by the calls to action in the beginning and end of posts.

 
 
Jacob Share on May 8th, 2009

Good list, Gyutae. I RT’ed it and Sphunn it. Currently my favorite is WP Greet Box, with email subscriptions a close 2nd.

There’s a long list of 78 RSS subscriber tips here:

http://groupwritingprojects.com/building-rss-email-blog-subscribers/

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Hey Jake,
Thanks for the share. I’d think that favorite positions depend a lot of which bring the best results. A lot of good tips for building RSS in that article you mentioned…

 
 
Andrea J. Stenberg on May 8th, 2009

Another great post. I use aweber myself but haven’t done anything with the blog broadcast feature. Guess I’m going to have to look into it now.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Thanks Andrea. If you’re using Aweber, it’s definitely a good idea to tie in your email list to your RSS feed. You’ll increase your subscriber count and you’ll be able to cross promote (RSS and email).

 
 
zappolo on May 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I’ll try your suggestions….thanks!!!!

 
Sleepless in Sacaramento on May 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Gyutae, thanks for the list. It appears to have all the core elements. It was great that you gave the basic details / information for the new kids in blogging. I am relatively new, so thanks! For some of the the info was new, other stuff common knowledge.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Some of them may seem like common knowledge but I’m sure a lot of bloggers overlook them. Me for example… I only just recently implemented the Greet Box plugin (after 2 years of blogging). I’m sure I left some subscribers on the table for forgetting that one.

 
 
Ultra on May 9th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Good points. I just finished up a post Top 8 RSS Directories that should go well with yours. Submit your feeds to these other sites for promotion.

Thanks!

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of RSS directories. Every blog has an RSS.. what’s the benefit of looking through a directory full of them?

 
 
GERRI on May 9th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I’m moving over to WordPress in the next couple of weeks and some of the things you mentioned in this post will come in very handy. Thanks!

 
Dennis Edell on May 9th, 2009

Personally I think putting it on top of a post is silly. Do many subscribe BEFORE reading anything?

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Hey Dennis,
That’s what you would think, right? That’s what I thought up until just recently. However, I tried the WP Greet Box plugin before posts and the results have been substantial. It’s now the #2 RSS position on my blog (after the big orange RSS button).

All the readers on your blog don’t get to the end of your posts like you might hope. Having a subscribe button at the top encourages them to subscribe and come back later. Everything requires testing – it’ll give you new insights that you may not have had before.

Dennis Edell on May 11th, 2009

I’ve also heard that it screws up your SE descriptions, by becoming the description for every post….have you seen this?

(Comments wont nest below this level)
 
 
 
Mike Huang on May 10th, 2009

It isn’t about RSS anymore…it’s now about Twitter. Twitter this and twitter that…who has the most followers? 😀

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Twitter is important for sure and it’s quickly becoming the communication medium of choice. However, it’s still just that, a medium or channel. I wouldn’t abandon RSS for the sake of Twitter. If anything they should work in tandem to bring exposure and eyeballs back to your blog.

 
 
Vic- BusinessAccent on May 10th, 2009

Hi Gyutae,

Thanks for the great information.
I just realize now how important RSS.
I may try to install WP Greet Box.
Thanks again.

Gyutae Park on May 10th, 2009

Glad I can help, Vic. RSS is definitely one of the key features of your blog and you should utilize it for maximum exposure. Putting up a large RSS feed button and installing the WP Greet Box plugin is a good place to start.

 
 
Dawid Ryba - Make Money Online on May 10th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks For “WP Greet Box plug” I will install it ….thanks!!!!

 
Kahoong Lee on May 10th, 2009

Hey Gyutae, thanks for telling us about point #6. Welcome message before posts. I saw that in other blogs but didn’t know how to do this, now I know that this can be done by installing plugin, seems that it’s easy to be installed.
I’ve the request box for Subscribe at the end of my post too, but I think I need to add 1 more at the sidebar. 🙂

Regards,
Lee

Gyutae Park on May 12th, 2009

Hi Lee,
Glad I can help! All of the different locations work together to maximize RSS subscribers. It’s best to utilize all of them – and find additional ones to see how it affects your subscriber base.

 
 
Jenny on May 11th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

great tips.

 
Franck Silvestre on May 11th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

This is a great list Gyutae, thanks for sharing it. I do rss submissions for my blogs from time to time, I will add this to my list. Thanks for the tips and guidelines! 🙂

 
Bob on May 11th, 2009

What a great post. #3, Call to Action, is a great reminder to not pussyfoot around with your visitors. Tell them bluntly, but tactfully, what you want them to do. Most people want to be directed. Sometimes we forget that when we write the copy we are providing them with the map of the territory.

Gyutae Park on May 12th, 2009

Not what?? Haha, never heard that used before.

 
 
Anelly on May 12th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Recently i have added the RSS link to my signature in e-mail, i’m linking from one post to another and many other things that can promote my blog.

Gyutae Park on May 14th, 2009

Hey Anelly,
This post covers locations on your own blog that you can utilize to promote your RSS feed. However, as you mentioned you can even go outside of your blog to get people to sign up – email signatures are a good place to start.

 
 
Ranking Challenge on May 12th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Rss is useful to bring back loyal visitor

 
Keith Johnson on May 12th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Thanks for this really informative post. I agree that getting subscribers via RSS is the greatest way to build your web business, because once people subscribe, then you can send things their way alot easier. All of these points here are valid, for sure.

Gyutae Park on May 14th, 2009

Hi Keith,
I’m glad that this post resonates with you. RSS subscribers are the best types of blog readers because they’re loyal and always come back for more. Technology makes it easy for people to stay in touch – so why not use it?

 
 
Melissa Fach- SEO Aware on May 12th, 2009

Great post. I have sent it to about 40 people!

Gyutae Park on May 14th, 2009

Hi Melissa,
I really appreciate that. Thanks for sharing!

 
 

Great information…

Not everyone that reads your blog understands RSS feeds – especially if your topic is not internet related – I use feedburner as you discussed – but I add a notice about the feedburner email area – Want to be notified when new articles are added? Enter your email address.

When I did this – my email rss numbers jumped.

Gyutae Park on May 14th, 2009

Hey Ellie,
Thanks for sharing your results. To bloggers like us, RSS is part of our everyday language. But for others, it might as well be Greek. Sometimes it’s best to point out the obvious – people respond best when everything is laid out clearly for them.

 
 
Franck Silvestre on June 9th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

People who subscribe to your blog are your most loyal readers. By subscribing they are saying that they do not want to miss any of your articles. But it’s important to be able to reciprocate by ensuring you always got great content on your blog.

 
ZK @ Web Marketing Blog on June 21st, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Yes I think greeting position and at the end of every post position is vital. If you want to get more and more than have a nice design and perfect words to get visitors into subscriber.

 
Rashmi Khetani on August 17th, 2009

I am not new to building websites but RSS is something that I am mystified with. Your article has somewhat de-mystify my understanding. Thanks…:-)

 
Brian on August 20th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Good advice for using the RSS function, I have definitely not promoted it enough and also need to look into Feedburner, great suggestions. I’ll be back to look in more depth.

 
Brian on October 29th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I wrote on this post before and since then I have instigated Feedburner on my blogs. The number of subscribers goes up and down but there does seem to be a definite number of loyal followers that stay subscribed and others that come on board and leave again if you don’t post for a while. Overall though I have to say doing this has been a very positive move.

 
Chris Peterson on January 12th, 2010

All tips that you have written are useful to promote and get more visitors. Using all technique we will able to make our blog more readable to customer.
Another plus point is visitor will able to know our fresh content immediately after posting in our blog.

 
Samuel on June 20th, 2010 Subscribed to comments via email

Ping Blogs to promote, http://www.pingblogs.us/ could do some good.

Samuel

 
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