Yeah, I know! It’s been a while since my first post on cultivating a blog community and I hope that you all have just been chomping at the bit to sink your teeth into another in depth look at cultivating your blog community. In the last post I talked about 10 ways to increase your readership via blog traffic and community participation. Today’s post is not much different but we are going to look into effectively cultivating your RSS subscriptions.
A growing amount of people are becoming VERY savvy when it comes to reading blogs. With the emergence of RSS readers like FeedReader, Bloglines and Google Reader it is possible to take hundreds of feeds and put them in one location, making it perfect for skimming titles to find something you might be interested in reading. In my opinion, this is the new wave of newspapers. Unfortunately, many bloggers are not taking full advantage of their RSS subscription feature in order to capture the return visitor and push traffic to new posts.
Here are some tips on how to open the RSS subscription flood gates:
Show that you offer a feed in an obvious manner:
Most blogs do not even advertise that they utilize an RSS feed. To help convert your visitors into subscribers it is important to make it painstakingly clear that you have a feed and you want them to sign up. Try putting this information above the fold of your site.
Use specific feed reader images to help promote your feed:
When promoting your feed you can use specific images for feeds, like the ones used on Search Marketing Standard. When users can see an image of a specific RSS feed reader compatibility they will be more likely to subscribe. See an image of specific feed readers below.
Educate your readers on the uses of RSS:
RSS readers have brought a whole new meaning to RSS subscriptions. Sadly, many people are not savvy enough to use RSS subscriptions or even know what they are. Educating them on the uses of RSS subscription can make a difference. If a reader has no idea what RSS is, how are they going to subscribe? Keep that question in mind when developing your educational page.
Offer RSS to email services:
Email subscriptions can be one of the best ways to gain RSS subscribers as many people still do not widely use RSS readers. Offering RSS by email makes it simple for a reader to find this option and sign up. It seems like everyone uses email, so enticing someone to sign up via email can help grow your RSS subscription at a steady pace. Use FeedBlitz or FeedBurner for this.
Promote your feeds off page:
Try promoting your feeds in forums, blog posts, comments, and articles you write and distribute. You can even do article distribution and include your feed information. Also there have been some amazing services that have helped the advancement of feed aggregation. Check out Text Link Ads Feedvertising and FeedBurner.
Find a blogger/site that is roughly related to yours BUT NOT a competitor and offer to cross promote each other’s feeds on each other’s blogs. This can help with exposure and networking. If this is done correctly it could be one of the most effective ways for you to get your name out there and convert your readers to subscribers.
Make sure your feed is discoverable:
Not many people know this but there is a line of code that needs to be in your index page in order to turn on auto discovery. This line of code is normally in a blog’s index but if your blog is in a sub-folder of your site you should use the following line of code on your home pages source code: Auto Discovery Code
Supply full feeds in your RSS subscriptions:
There is debate on whether or not to show your full feed. This must come down to the individual choice. Most popular feed subscription sites like techmeme.com will republish your feeds but rumor has it they need to be able to crawl the entire entry and not a portion. So for maximum exposure of your posts you might consider showing the full feed. However, to increase the traffic you are getting from your feeds you might want to consider using partial feeds.
Advertise your feed at high entry points:
Attempt to promote your feed at key entry points on your blog. For example, offer an RSS subscription on your popular posts and on high trafficked pages. Use your analytics software to see the high entry points and optimize these pages for RSS subscription. Try using this neat plugin that puts a feed subscription link above each post.
Dedicated subscription landing page:
Create a dedicated landing page for your RSS subscription. This can help with SEO, your PPC campaigns and for overall conversion for your RSS subscription. I would suggest making this page an informational page about RSS subscription related to your site and what RSS is and also allow people to sign up via RSS.
Run an ad campaign:
Try PPC campaigns for your RSS landing page. Try first, second and third tier search engines and focus on low-cost keywords to keep your spending down. You can also try other ad networks like StumbleUpon ads.
Utilize the RSS image to promote your feed:
Try using large images like the one below. This RSS image is synonymous with available feed subscription. Again, make sure you promote this image in an obvious area for your viewers. Most feeds fail because they are not advertised correctly.
Become a guest blogger:
Attempt to become a guest blogger and give away free content while including information about your brand, your site and your RSS subscription. Leverage your social media with this to gain extra traffic and exposure with your guest blogging.
Network yourself across multiple social networking sites. Cultivate relationships and watch the RSS subscriptions pour in.
Ask readers to subscribe:
If you have a really great post, DO NOT BE TOO SHY to ask or advertise your feed. If your post is a great contribution to the community then why shouldn’t someone subscribe to your feed? Reminding them to do so is perfectly normal.