I made a big mistake a few months ago.
I listened to some savvy writers and decided to slow the car, reach across, open the passenger door, and shove my RSS feeds out of the Pushing Social express. I believed that RSS feeds were dead and I wanted to do my part.
I went so far as to remove a prominent link for them from my homepage. Although, Feedburner was still dutifully signing up RSS users. I ignored everyone of them.
For the next few months, I watched my “repeat visitor” measurement slide. No problem I thought, the regulars are just waiting for some good content. I worked harder to find good topics. I tested posting on different days and times.
The repeat visitor number continued its downward march and soon retweets and shares started to stumble too.
In the back of my mind, I remembered the day I turned my back on RSS readers. Although I felt good about the decision, something nagged at me.
I didn’t put my finger on it until I installed Feedly on my iPad and Flipboard on my iPhone.
Both of these apps turn your Twitter, Facebook, and RSS feeds into magazine-like publications. For many connected influencers, these apps are essential to curating content for their audiences. While the apps are able to use Twitter and Facebook readers they shine when it comes to RSS. I suspect that many of the people I want to share content with are using them to peruse my RSS feed.
The feed that I’ve ignored.
Based on this hunch, I backed up the car, climbed out, picked up my RSS feed, and showered it with my profuse apologies.
That was just the start…
How to Get Traffic with RSS Feeds
I spent some time researching how RSS readers work and how some power RSS readers use them to curate content. I learned that RSS was definitely not dead. I also learned that managing your RSS feed is a great way to get traffic for your blog.
Here are some techniques that I have tested and validated:
Make Sure Your RSS Feed Works
Sounds obvious right? But, my RSS feed had a random error that I was unaware of for a month! Click on your RSS feed icon now and make sure you are ready for business. If you don’t have an RSS feed then visit Feedburner.com or do a google search to get started.
Slow Down the Power Scanners
I learned from Robert Scoble that power users of RSS readers slow down when they see an image in an RSS feed. Check your blog posts and make sure you have a well formatted and visually appealing image.
RSS readers quickly scan their feeds for information that will appeal to them. Including Subheads breaks up your post making it easier to digest in one pass. Without subheads your post just looks like a uni-bomber ransom note.
By the way use the tags for your subheadings. These HTML tags will make them stand out and help with search engine optimization.
Research and Include Keywords
I’m very interested in blogging, apps, apple, productivity, and lifehacks. I scan RSS feeds looking for these topics. Your audience does the same. Make it easier for your readers by responsibly including keywords in your titles and subheads. I use the Scribe plugin to quickly find relevant keywords for my topic. The plugin works within WordPress or a standalone web app. You can also research keywords with the Google Keyword tool.
Include Share Links
Review your blog’s current RSS feed and see if your Twitter, Facebook, and other share icons show up. RSS readers will share from within their Readers if the links are available.
If you haven’t already, get very good at writing compelling headlines and ledes. RSS readers make quick decisions about which posts they will spend time with, your headline will help your post stand out from rest. Some readers will show the first paragraph of your post making your lede important too. Copyblogger is the undisputed king of headline coaching. A quick search there will turn up dozens of articles and free courses on how to write great headlines.
These techniques my RSS subscriber list. Traffic has also spiked although I can’t isolate how many visitors visit because of my RSS feed. Its safe to say, however, that more subscribers reading the feed offers more opportunities for my post reaching a wider audience.
Want More Information on RSS Feeds?
I’ve only touched on a few great ways to pump your RSS feed’s blog promotion power. Take a look at some more resources that you can use:
- A Comprehensive Guide to Using RSS
- 30 Tips to Maximize Your RSS Feed Subscribers
- Eight Tips for Making the Most of Your RSS Feed
- How I Bumped My RSS Conversion Rate from 16% to 25%