If you have a blog, you are probably at least somewhat familiar with an RSS feed.
However, you may not know exactly how to enhance the RSS feed to make the most of your blog. There are numerous ways to enhance your blog’s RSS feed, but the most important step is to understand fully what exactly an RSS feed is.
RSS is an acronym for Really Simple Syndication. It doesn’t require much technical skill to use an RSS feed. Basically what this type of feed does is help to make your blog post a file that people can use to read via the feed reader. In short, it’s a stripped down version of your content. And, what this means is that people can actually read your blog post outside of your specific blog whenever they feel like it, which can be a really good thing if leveraged properly.
All technical descriptions aside, the key point to understand if you are using a content management system like WordPress or Drupal, is that these systems automatically generate an RSS feed for you. You can typically find it by going to http://yoursite.com/feed.
Now that you have a general background, here are some tips for getting the most out of your RSS feed:
Your blog should always feature a visible link for your RSS feed, which is easy to do for the most part, simply because the RSS feed button is an orange square button. Use this button, since it will be recognizable to readers, and place it in a visible spot so that readers can find it easily. Many sites opt to put the link near any social media links that they make available.
Once you place your RSS feed button on your page, specifically in a visible spot, you can start to track your progress by using FeedBurner or other free services to track followers of your content.
This particular application will allow you to track the progress of your RSS feed, finding out how many followers you have on your RSS feed. You’ll also be able to find out when people read the posts you have, which is why the application is so useful.
Remember that people use RSS feeds to read your content in their own way through Google Reader, their email program, or another format. So the content will likely be stripped down to its most basic visual qualities, which means you may lose all of those nice images and graphics you use to get people interested.
This is why a catchy headline now becomes the hook to draw the reader’s attention. It’s a good practice to have an interesting headline, but with the RSS feed, it’s absolutely critical. So think through how you want to get attention and make sure your headline stands out to readers.
Most importantly, the content you write about must be high quality, search engine optimized (SEO) content. Search engines are now sensitive to bad grammar and spelling, so triple check your content before publishing. Always make sure that your content is beneficial to readers so that they look forward to reading each one of your posts.
SEO is its own field of expertise (and a blog post for another day), but everyone can get the basics down. For instance, the critical SEO elements are to use headers (like in this article) and use keywords carefully.
Remember that the RSS feed is the simplest, most bare-bones version of your content. Most formatting is stripped and images may or may not be included. Quality content is what ultimately keeps people coming back, so put your emphasis on that and track results, to see how engagement through your RSS feed grows.
Get Busy Media is a blog and resource center that helps small businesses and entrepreneurs build smarter companies. For more information on how to jump-start your small business marketing, please visit www.getbusymedia.com or connect with us on Twitter, @GetBusyMedia.
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