5 Tips For Giving Your Readers Their Best RSS UX

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If you blog, you neglect the RSS reader experience at your own peril.

Even while Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms are becoming mainstays for news and content consumption (often at the expense of RSS), the reality is that RSS is still a vital part of blog optimization. With millions of people still using online and desktop RSS readers, it’s important to make sure that these people have the user experience you’ve intended. How your content is displayed within an RSS reader can make a world of difference between a subscription and an immediate bounce, and reader experiences can vary wildly in this area.

Don’t assume that just because your blog is perfect, your RSS reader experience will be the same. A few things to double-check to help your content and its promotion be that much better:

1. Feedburner: If you opt to use Feedburner for RSS management, you don’t have to worry about incompatibility between RSS or Atom feeds with various readers. This is an up-front way to minimize any subscription headache by your readers.

2. Images: Make sure that images appear properly formatted in the RSS reader. What looks great on your customized blog may get screwed up in the transition to RSS. Inlines, for example, are common on a lot of blogging management systems and should be corrected.

3. Social bookmarking: Most RSS readers have sharing options built into them, but few provide the metrics associated with the shared post. If the number of shares/saves/tweets is actually displayed in the reader (which starts by integrating these numbers into your actual post), people are more likely to take the time to read and bookmark the post as well.

4. Comments: Similar to the above, even though you can’t display the actual comments in an RSS reader, you can and should display the number of total comments on each post, and that’s likely to fuel more click-through.

5. Goal Alignment: The way your blog is displayed in the reader should be aligned with your overall blog strategy. If your goal is to monetize from affiliate links, you’ll want to incorporate ads into your RSS feed or drive readers back to your site, commonly done by only displaying a post teaser in RSS. Whatever you choose, the decision about whether to display a full or partial post should be deliberate.

I know there are more RSS best practices out there. What would you add?


Scott Cowley
Scott Cowley is an SEO consultant by night, marketing PhD student by day. He was previously head of SEO at ZAGG and SEO manager at SEO.com. He speaks and writes frequently about social media and digital marketing.
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  • http://bigbeanbagshop.co.uk Beanbag

    Some excellent points here. Not done anything with the RSS feeds on any of my blogs as yet, After reading this it's pencilled into my diary for next week.

  • http://twitter.com/ClayFranklin ClayFranklin

    Great points Scott. I have some work to do to get these points implemented.

    RSS tip:
    Avinash Kaushik in “Web Analytics an Hour a Day” indicates that we should use feedburner and measure the number of readers as well as establish RSS readership metrics to see if we are achieving our targeted RSS readership increases each month.

  • http://www.localbrandmarketing.com/florida-search-engine-optimization South Florida SEO

    thanks for sharing some tips. I will surely used your tips shared.

  • http://jfknet.com/st-louis-seo St. Louis SEO

    Good points, especially on the image formatting issues.