This is Part 2 of the short series on RSS and expands on information provided in my first post “What Is RSS And How You “Eat” It“. But this time I want to discuss details that are more relevant to bloggers and how you can use RSS technology to promote your blogs.
In this post I will cover 3 specific areas:
- Optimizing your RSS feed
- Announcing your RSS feed
- Promoting your RSS feed
So dive in for details…
Optimizing your RSS feed
Before you can benefit from the technology you need to make sure that the Feed provided by your blog is optimized for maximum performance and compatibility. Since I personally use WordPress I want to discuss how to make your default feed better, and how to address some shortcomings using plugins.
- FeedBurner FeedSmith plugin is a ‘must’ in my personal opinion. FeedBurner is a free service that gives you access to statistics, compatibility and many other options to add much needed “bling” to your feed. I personally think each blog should burn a feed using this service and this plugin automates the feed-redirect to FeedBurner.
- Full Text Feed plugin addresses issues introduced by WordPress 2.1 that, by default, cut off your feed at the “more” tag. I’m a strong believer that a blog should provide a full text feed to subscribers and this plugin does the job quite nicely.
- Dual Feeds plugin is something you might want to consider… and something I don’t personally use. Essentially, it allows you to present your visitors with an option to subscribe to a Full Text Feed or just the Summary Feed.
Once you have optimized your feed via plugins and decided to use FeedBurner, there are a few things configured within FeedBurner that can make your feed more user- friendly and browser-ready.
Here are my own preferred settings for my feed:
- Optimize -> BrowserFriendly -> Active with all subscription options enabled
- Optimize -> SmartFeed -> Active to ensure maximum compatibility
- Optimize -> Convert Format -> Set to RSS2 and Active
These simple settings will ensure that your feed is ready to present your super valuable information to readers.
Announce your RSS feed
Announcing your feed is more commonly known as “pinging” and is an in-built function within most blog platforms. One thing you have to be aware of is that by default, WordPress “announces” the ping list specified in your settings each and every time you make a change! So we will address this first and then discuss the way in which you should “announce” your feed …
- Smart Update Pinger plugin takes care of this issue quite nicely. It replaces built- in functionality and pings services on your ping list ONLY when a new post is published. This will help to ensure that you will not send unneeded pings and risk getting blacklisted by the services.
Next we need to create a nice “announcement” or “ping” list so the blogging world can be notified every time we publish a post. NB: I use a strategy where I allow FeedBurner to do part of the pinging and I do the rest manually from my own blog. Here is how I do it…
Ping List on my blog:
I’m fully aware that some of the more popular services are not on this list, but that is because I have FeedBurner to do the “big stuff” for me! Under Publicize -> PingShot I have enabled notification of updates on my blog, see image below:
As you can see, a combination of the ping list on my blog and FeedBurner Ping Shot takes care of notifications quite nicely and helps me promote my Feed easily and without overloading my server! If you need to send some additional pings I can recommend using Ping Goat or Ping-O-Matic.
Do all the things above and the “announcement” of your Feed will be taken care of. So now it’s time to …
Promote Your RSS Feed
I look at “feed promotion” as a separate task as it requires a larger time investment and more creativity. However, it rewards you with more traffic, new readers and extended reach to a new audiences … making it well worth the time taken.
- Submit your blog to blog directories. I have no intention to recite what has already been described by other bloggers on this subject. However, I do strongly recommend you have a look at 20 Essential Blog Directories for ideas on where you can submit your blog to.
- Submit your Feed to RSS directories. Once again, I will not do the work already completed by another blogger – Jack Humphrey – see his list of 42 RSS Directories.
Ok, so now that the most obvious means of RSS promotion are out of the way I want to discuss something a bit more creative and far too often ignored. DO NOT AVOID IMPLEMENTING THE STRATEGIES OUTLINED BELOW…
==> Use Social Networks To Promote Your Feed! <==
Surprisingly enough, this step is too often overlooked; yet it can bring a steady flow of traffic to your blog.
1. Claim Your Blog On Technorati. This step should be obvious… and yet I run into blogs all the time that have Technorati tags on the post… but when I attempt to locate them on Technorati itself – the blog has no authority because the blogger never claimed it! Why would you ignore it? Create an account and claim your blog.
2. Join Blogcatalog and submit your blog. Make sure you properly tag your blog using the most relevant categories and also provide your feed URL. Once your blog is approved, your feed will be displayed on your profile with links back to your blog. As you participate in relevant communities you will get more exposure resulting in people reciprocating and visiting your blog profile. NB: seeing your feed with great information (I assume your blog is filled with it) will generate more readers for you and more exposure to your blog. So submit your blog and join communities! See mine for example…
3. Join MyBlogLog and submit your blog. This blogging community is similar to Blogcatalog and will also display your feed on your blog profile page. Once you become active enough within the community , your blog profile will also tend to rank well on Google (same as Blogcatalog) and not only provide you with the benefit of “feed promotion and more readers”, but also much needed back-links to your blog. So get cranking today! And while you’re at it, check my community…
4. Join Facebook (if you haven’t already) and add the Blog Friends application. In my opinion, this is one of the most useful applications on Facebook (for a blogger) as it allows you to display your latest blog feed as well as news from your blogging friends on your profile. I’m not too popular on Facebook, as I don’t dedicate too much time to it… but even I have 34 friends via Blog Friends! Furthermore, everyone who visits my profile gets exposed to MY latest news! Pretty cool huh? So get rolling… and if you feel like it – add me to your friends!
5. Register with Squidoo and create a Lense. Yes, everyone knows about Squidoo. But is everyone using it? The fact is… you can add your RSS feed to your new Lense and even if it doesn’t become popular it will still market your feed for you. I recommend you invest a bit of time into creating your Lense and make it as relevant to your topic as possible so as to attract lots of visitors. Once set up properly with content added, it doesn’t “ask to be fed”. In fact it helps you promote your feed on autopilot! Get your Lense today! I’m not too big on Squidoo… but even I managed to create something that works for me… see it here… and don’t forget that it also give you valuable links back!
6. Create Windows Live Space and add your feed. This is something that I pulled from my long-forgotten past and intend on using again in the very near future. Adding your feed to Windows Live Space used to be simple and generated some nice traffic, so I plan to get back to it once I get some time and recommend you do same!
These are just a few of the most rewarding ways you can promote your RSS feed without investing too much. If you enjoyed this post be sure to get my Full Text RSS Feed using one of the options below.