RSS (also known as “Really Simple Syndication”) is a free tool that almost every single blogging platform has built into it. Here’s how to use it for your blog.
If you aren’t using RSS feeds for your blog, then the time to start using it is NOW. An RSS feed will pick up your blog post and update your RSS feed so that anyone who is then subscribed to your feed can then access your post and read it.
While most of you bloggers probably have a feed built in, not all of you are using it to its fullest potential. As a matter of fact, a large amount of bloggers seen to use it only to unintentionally show these poorly formatted little tidbits about their posts which makes their blog look cheap and unprofessional. That is no way to entice people to read your blog. It becomes an annoyance and any subscribers that you did have will soon be unsubscribing.
If you feel lost, don’t worry. We have the tools and the tricks that you need in order to really optimize your feed so that your blog can get the exposure it deserves. We’ll start with our favorite tool first:
If you don’t already have Feedburner, get it NOW. Feedburner is a free tool that provides you with a ton of important traffic analysis information and numerous ad delivery mechanisms that you won’t find in any other tool.
Oh yeah, and did we mention that it’s free?
When you get into Feedburner, you’ll notice several different “core functionalities.” While it may seem a bit overwhelming at first, start by turning on one or two at a time. We recommend that you start with “SmartFeed” and the “Title/Description Burner.” When you begin to feel more comfortable with those, move on to the other options that Feedburner offers.
2. Your Title
A title is all-telling in what your feed is about. Bloggers like to get creative and often think that coming up with creative or witty titles is what will bring people to their blog, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. You want any title that you put on your feed to tell people exactly what your blog is about. “Exploring the World of Gadgets” isn’t too descriptive for a blog about tech reviews, but “Top Tech Reviews By James Smith” is direct and tells people exactly what that blog is about.
TIP: This is where you can make use of the “Title/Description” option in Feedburner. Check for it under the “Optimize” tab.
3. Content And SEO
When you’re writing up content for your site, make sure that you take SEO into consideration if you really want to boost your blog’s rankings. You can do this by:
- Add “ALT” descriptions to links and images
- Use descriptive keywords in all post titles
- Tag content appropriately
This all helps search engines index your content faster too, which is important if you are writing content that is about something new or time sensitive.
The content itself should also have SEO taken into consideration. The best way to start is to start by looking at keywords. Don’t go and guess which words you think will do best in search; use a tool like the Google Keyword Tool to determine which keywords will be the most beneficial for your blog. Once you have that, add the keywords to your content.
TIP: When writing content with SEO, bear in mind that you generally should not go above 5% keyword density, but never less than 2%.
Depending on your blogging platform, there may be additional tools that can help you optimize your feed. For example, if you use WordPress, try out the Yoast SEO plugin.
4. Feed-Boosting Plugins
Speaking of plugins, there are a number of plugins that may be available for either your blogging platform or for your CMS that will help you channel traffic directly through Feedburner. Some of these include:
- For Blogger: RSS Widget, Redirect, Email Subscriptions
- For WordPress: Feedburner Plugin, Yoast SEO
- For TypePad: RSS Widget, Redirect, Email subscriptions
5. Use Qualified URLS
Whenever you are linking up to your site or any other sites, you want to make sure that you use a fully qualified URL address, as in “http://” and then your domain, or the domain you are citing. Don’t use any internal pathways. There are a lot of websites that aren’t able to syndicate any improperly set links, so to make sure that your blog entries are getting the most exposure possible, always start any link off with “http://.”
6. Remove Images From Your Feed
Or, if you don’t want to completely remove all images, provide just a small thumbnail of a picture that is relevant to your article. The goal here is to get people to visit your website. If you provide them with images that already tell the story about what your blog entry is about, there’s a slim chance they’ll bother to go and visit your blog to check it out.
7. Add A Footer
An RSS footer is a great thing that you can add. You can use a footer to include any copyright information about your posts, any related post links, you can include social media links, add author information, or even add graphics. This move alone should increase the number of clicks that you receive not only on the blog featured on your feed, but to your other past blog posts.
TIP: If you download Feedburner, make sure that you take advantage of their footer option for adding both social links and email subscription links through their FeedFlare optimization tab.
8. Ping Lots
When you “ping” you are notifying all of the search engines that your feed has been updated and that it should be indexed. A lot of the plugins that you will find for a number of blogging platforms offer this, so definitely take advantage of it.
If your blogging platform doesn’t offer a “ping” service, you can use a free service such as “Ping-O Matic” to do it for you.