3 Easy Steps to Test and Tweak Your RSS Link Locations Using Google Analytics
May 12, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park
If you’re a blogger, you know that RSS subscriptions are important. It’s one of your most effective content distribution channels – so you should be heavily advertising your feed, right? Last week, I outlined the 8 prime locations to promote your blog’s RSS feed. If you haven’t had a chance to look through the post and implement all of the suggestions, go back and do so now.
In this followup article, we’ll cover a related topic – tracking RSS subscribers on your blog through Google Analytics. Using this method, you’ll be able to set up GA to display the performance of each of your RSS feed positions. You can then test and tweak each location to maximize your subscriber count. If you’re not tracking your RSS feed links, you’re making a huge mistake. How can you effectively increase your subscriber base if you have no idea where your readers are clicking?
Setting up Google Analytics to Track RSS Feed Sign Ups
This guide will show you how to track RSS feed sign ups in Google Analytics using conversion goals and link onclick parameters. It isn’t the most accurate tracking solution because an action is recorded every time someone clicks on a feed link, NOT when they actually subscribe. Conversions will probably be slightly inflated as a result. However, the tracking method still gives you useful insights into which links are performing best relative to the others. Here’s how to set it up.
1. Create a goal in GA
If you haven’t already done so, sign up for a free account with Google Analytics.
Once you’ve set up your site for tracking, click on “Analytics Settings” in the upper left hand corner then “Edit Settings” for your site.
Under “Conversion Goals and Funnel”, click on “Edit” for G1 or for the next available goal.
Use the below settings. You can name your goal whatever you’d like (I used “Feed Subscriptions”).
Google Analytics should now be set up to track clicks on RSS links as a goal.
2. Append unique onclick parameters to RSS feed links
Next, you want to include onclick parameters to each of your RSS feed links so that the feed subscription goal is registered each time someone clicks on a link.
Below is the sample code you should use. Surround the link code with brackets (< >) and replace the feed URL with your own.
a href="http://feeds.winningtheweb.com/WinningTheWeb" rel="nofollow" onclick="pageTracker._trackPageview('/feed/sidebar-rss-button');"
It’s important to note that the ‘/feed/sidebar-rss-button’ portion changes with each link. The given example is for my sidebar RSS button link. Google Analytics tracks every occurrence of ‘/feed/’ as a goal but you’re able to include a sub-directory to track performance of each individual RSS link. You can use as many unique identifiers as you’d like.
Some of the ones I use are shown below. Each of them represents a different RSS link on my blog.
To track “RSS by email” subscriptions, simply append the same onclick parameter to the form submit button (e.g. input type=”submit”).
3. Track RSS subscriptions – analyze performance
Once you confirm that everything is working properly, check back to your analytics after a while and see which RSS link positions are performing best. You can do this by clicking on “Goals” in the left sidebar of GA and navigating to the various sub-sections.
Below are the results I’ve seen here on Winning the Web over the past 2 weeks.
Over the past 2 weeks, Winning the Web gained 43 new RSS subscribers (modest increases). Of those new sign ups, my big orange RSS button accounted for 44%. That’s a very large number – second place (sidebar email form and greet box before posts) only accounted for 14%.
Furthermore, 28% of new RSS signups came from the new WP Greet Box plugin that I installed. That’s huge considering the fact that I didn’t utilize the tool before and I’m sure I left a lot of subscribers on the table. Be sure to install WP Greet Box on your blog.
Test, Test, Test
Over the next few months, I will continue to monitor RSS signups and the performance of each link. Using this information I’ll test out different variations in copy, calls to action, feed button size and color, and link placement. In fact, my next idea is to add an arrow and “click here” text to my RSS feed button. We’ll see how that affects conversion rates.
Always test to get ahead. It’s my belief that there’s never a ceiling for this sort of thing. There’s always something you can do to improve – and tracking/testing is the first step.
Do you track your RSS link signups? What have your results looked like? What are the link positions that work best for you?If you like this post, subscribe to the RSS feed. Get the latest updates delivered straight to your email or news reader.