What Is RSS and Does My Blog Need It?

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In non-technical terms, RSS is like Tivo for the web. If a person is subscribed to your RSS feed, then every time you update your site, it will deliver it to their blog reader of choice. This means that they don't have to remember to visit each site they like individually. They can just check in with their feed reader and see updates from all their favorite blogs in one place and not have to worry about missing any if they forget or get too busy.

Using RSS is free for both you and the people who visit your blog. RSS is typically indicated by a variation of the following symbol or through a link that says "subscribe":

what is RSS?
Your subscribers are your VIP blog readers because they are the ones giving you permission to talk to them whenever you'd like. By subscribing to your blog, they are literally telling you that they want to hear what you have to say on a consistent basis. It is generally easier to convert a subscriber into a client or customer than it is someone who just visits your site directly and inconsistently.

Because of this, it's important to make it as easy as possible for people to get addicted to you. Most people won't spend more than three seconds looking for a link, so make sure the option to subscribe to your blog via RSS is near the top of your blog. Many web designers like to put the link at the bottom of the site, but many people won't scroll all the way down to find it.

Most blogs are set up with RSS by default, but I recommend adding your feed to Feedburner, a free service from Google, so that people have an easy option to subscribe to your blog via email as well. An added bonus, Feedburner provides statistics on your subscribers, which also integrate with your Google Analytics account.

Image via pckult.net

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