In the days of olde, people who wanted to stay in touch with their favorite blogs had to bookmark the site’s URL and visit daily to check for new content or updates.
Imagine how much effort that took. Wouldn’t it have been easier if those people could have simply asked their favorite websites to send out a notification when they posted new content?
A feed, also known as an RSS (Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary), is a great way for bloggers to boost readership, make their content more accessible and help readers stay in the loop. Currently, major sites like the New York Times, The Huffington Post and Point Blank SEO offer RSS subscription options.
When new content is published, a blog feed provides a stream of comments and posts that allows readers to keep tabs on your blog via feed readers. Because RSS feeds allow readers to view new content on your blog without having to physically visit the site, they’re a convenient way to make your content more available and boost engagement with new posts.
The 5 Biggest Benefits of Having A Blog Feed
Feeds have a multitude of advantages. In addition to being easy to set up and manage, feeds also provide lots of value to readers. Here are the top 5 advantages RSS feeds offer:
1) Blog Feeds Make Content Accessible
If a reader follows 20 blogs, he or she needs to visit each of those 20 blogs to view updated content. This means that your blog is likely to get lost in the shuffle or that it simply won’t get checked very frequently. If your blog offers a feed, however, a viewer’s feed reader of choice can check your blog regularly and provide that viewer with updated content. Because of this, feeds are a great way to get your content out to people who may be too busy or otherwise engaged to interact with it.
2) Feeds Cater to Slow Internet Connections
Although it would be wonderful if we lived in a world where everyone had hyper-speed internet connections, this simply isn’t true. If your blog readers have slow internet connections, a feed saves them from having to visit your blog and load each page individually.
3) Feeds Allow Constant Searches
Say you run a blog about health and wellness and you have a specific reader who is interested in tips on happiness. That reader can search “happiness” in your feed and instantly be granted with a results page filled with your happiness-related blog posts. Additionally, that reader can then load that feed into a feed reader and create a constant search for happiness tips. Although readers can always manually search blogs for keywords, a manual search doesn’t yield a constant search results page. Because of this, a feed is a great way to help readers find exactly what they’re looking for.
4) Feeds Allow for Retrieval of Content
How often have you read a piece and, several days later, had a discussion about it with a friend, during which you tried to locate the content online and couldn’t find it? When your blog offers a feed, people who read your content will never have this problem. When a viewer uses a feed reader with archiving capabilities that feed reader logs pieces for future retrieval, so the viewer has easy access to them days or weeks down the road.
5) Feeds Allow for Easy Sharing of Content
The Guide: How to Add a Feed to Your Blog
The method that you choose to add a feed to your blog will depend largely upon which blogging platform you use in the first place. Although most blogging platforms offer built-in feed readers, sites like Blogger and Blogspot as well as any static websites you may own will require some extra effort.
If you’re a Blogger/Blogspot user, the easiest way to add a feed to your page is to use a feed widget. RSS Include is a popular option and only requires users to copy and paste some code into the right sidebar or into individual blog posts. Check out this tutorial for further instruction.
Like most blogging platforms, WordPress automatically provides RSS feeds for comments and content. Each page published on WordPress has a meta tag embedded within it that points to the location of the site’s RSS feed. This means that, while WordPress users don’t have to do anything additional to add an RSS feed to their blog, they can promote their RSS feeds by incorporating an RSS icon into the blog’s sidebar. This increases the feed’s visibility and helps readers discover and subscribe to it. Additionally, WordPress users can boost the usefulness of their feeds by doing things like adding post thumbnails or separating the RSS feed into categories or post types.
Unless you love writing XML manually, it’s advisable to use feed software to add a feed to your static website. Although there are dozens of options, many bloggers love FeedForAll and FeedBurner. FeedForAll lets static site users create and publish RSS feeds as well as allowing options to create podcasts and videos as well as allowing export to HTML, text or CSV files.
FeedBurner, on the other hand, is Google’s feed management system. The platform was launched in 2004 and allows users to build, edit and display RSS feeds as well as including options for traffic analysis and advertising. FeedBurner is available as a plugin and as software for static sites.
An Alternative to RSS: Email Subscription
Even though this is an article about RSS feeds, it bears mentioning that there are alternatives. The main alternative is an email subscription list. Here at Express Writers, our subscription bar is hooked up to a weekly newsletter through popular email marketing platform MailChimp, so when readers subscribe, they get an email telling them about any new content or updates to our site. Although this serves essentially the same purpose as an RSS feed, it’s automated, hands-off and doesn’t require manual subscription or unsubscription of readers. Additionally, some readers believe email subscriptions are more personal. With that being said, RSS feeds do have a slight advantage due to the fact that they can avoid email spam filters. Because of this, some bloggers choose to use both RSS feeds and email subscriptions. Regardless of what you choose to utilize on your site, it’s wise to know the difference between the two.
The Case for RSS Blog Feeds: Why You Should Add one to Your Blog
At the end of the day, RSS feeds are a great way to make your content more visible and boost readership. And because they are easy to install and manage, they’re an ideal fit for every novice and professional bloggers alike.
If you so choose, you can combine your RSS feed with an email subscription list to ensure that you’re catering to the preferences of all of your readers.
No matter what you choose to do, one thing is certain: getting your content in front of readers without forcing them to manually scour your site for it is one of the most effective ways to boost engagement and gain popularity for your site.