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Seven Ways to Increase Your RSS Conversions

Posted by Ignat Drozdov on: 2006-06-22 18:04:20

Self SEO > RSS Articles

RSS subscriptions are a new kind of Web bookmarking that guarantee a return visit. That’s exactly why I think RSS conversion technique is an important topic to discuss. What makes visitors subscribe, how can you make it easier? Are all good questions to consider when offering an RSS feed. Below are a few guidelines I created from my personal experience:

1. Create a “perfect match” content

90% of my search engine traffic is driven through individual posts rather than my home page. Sometimes this can be viewed as a downside to RSS conversions efforts as your best posts are not visible to the surfer. As a blogger, you should make the best of this situation and write clean content with a “perfect match” mentality. “Perfect match” posts are ideal results that surfers might find via search engines. They exhibit 100% relevancy to a search query and serve as a perfect reason to subscribe to your RSS.

2. Create targeted content

Most RSS subscriptions are triggered by content that is relevant to a surfer’s niche and one that is updated frequently. You should make it your goal to select a target audience and create compelling and useful content that can be treated as news or tips and one that can be often returned to.

3. Design an eye-candy of a blog

I often find myself browsing thorough web and bookmarking beautiful web designs so I can return and admire them later. Often I notice that content of a site doesn’t really matter to me as long as it offers good design and usability. When designing your site to target RSS subscribers, you should:

  • Create a warm color scheme.
  • Clearly distinguish content from the background and/or surroundings
  • Use CSS for positioning and styling (you can later change anything you want on the fly)

When picking a blog design, I would stay away from pre-made templates for the following reasons:

  • Every one knows a classic template when he sees one
  • Using pre-made templates is unprofessional if you are a legitimate institution (Matt Cutts and everyone who is busy is an exception to this rule)
  • You don’t have a flexibility that comes you’re your own design

A website is a work of art that can be either admired or dismissed. I strongly believe that a way site is designed influences all types of conversions, as well as RSS conversions.

4. Make your feed visible

I once came upon a site that was extremely well designed and served perfect content. Unfortunately I spent too long looking of a “subscribe to my feed” type of link. I finally found it in the footer mixed in with a copyright notice. When placing a feed link, keep the following in mind:

  • Place a link towards the top (few visitors read beyond the fold)
  • Indicate what RSS is (you should always dumb-proof your site)
  • Place an optional link toward the buttom (for those that read your article beginning to end)
  • Distinguish your link from the background

Visibility is a number one approach to conversion.

5. Provide a direct subscription via popular aggregators

Before placing a link on a page, you should research which RSS aggregators are most widely used. Currently I believe that the big three are Bloglines, My Yahoo, and Google reader. This will change over time, but a good way of keeping track of reader popularity is through Feedburner as it allows you to observe circulation of each feed via any RSS aggregator.

6. Pick your feed manager

You have an option of either providing a direct link to your XML file or use service such as Feedburner to manipulate your feed. I prefer Feedburner as it allows my visitors to subscribe using multiple aggregators so I don’t have to worry about popularity of each. It also comes equipped with a few goodies to spice up your feed as well.

7. Submit your feed to RSS directories

I believe it is always useful to make your feed visible on the Web. There are quite a few search engines that spider your feed and deliver search results based exclusively on it’s content (take Google’s Blogsearch for example). To have spiders crawl your feed inside and out, submit it to the following directories:

  • Syndic8
  • Feedster
  • BlogDex
  • PopDex
  • Blogz
  • and many many more

Please keep in mind that six steps outlined above are to be treated as a single approach to increasing RSS conversions. If I had to pick only one out, I would most definitely go with building targeted content. This option will bring you the most relevant traffic over time and with relevancy come conversions. In this game, you must by either extremely pro-active or patient as results vary over time. One thing is for sure: content and visibility still remain top reasons behind any given conversion.