8 Prime Locations to Promote Your Blog’s RSS Feed – What Are You Missing?
May 7, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park
Every 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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…
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.
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.