One of the most difficult decisions a blogger makes when moving their blog to WordPress is the format of their blog feed. Do you want to deliver your entire post to your readers via Feedburner, or should you just give them an excerpt (a partial feed), and then have them visit your blog to see the rest? In this post I’ll discuss the pros and cons of both options so you can make an informed decision for your blog.
Full Feed Delivery – Givin’ it all away
Publishing a full RSS feed is still the most common method of feed delivery. When someone views your posts in their Reader, they can see everything – all your words and images.
- It’s convenient. Your readers can see all of your posts in one place.
- It’s good for “blog shoppers” who are exploring new blogs via their reader. If you have your full posts accessible on your feed, new readers can easily decide whether you’re a blogger they’d like to follow.
- It makes you appear “friendly,” like you’re willing to come out and meet your readers wherever they are.
- Readers don’t have to visit your blog, so they don’t see all the beautiful work you’ve put into your sidebar to make them want to browse around and stay awhile.
- Readers are less likely to share your content AND less likely to comment on your blog. This goes against the principle of building a community.
- What about your blog sponsors? If readers don’t see your sidebar, they don’t see your sponsors. That’s not sharing the love.
- It makes it easy for scrapers to steal your content. That’s right – there are apps out there that can take what’s in your feed and automatically republish it elsewhere. A full feed lends itself to piracy.
- Since not as many people will be visiting your blog, you’ll have lower page views, which is bad for your SEO.
Partial Feed – Being a tease
Publishing your feed with just a small excerpt from your post is becoming more common. Several of the major blogs I personally read (or used to read) use post excerpts (e.g., MADE, Small Things, Sew Liberated), and switching to excerpts is definitely a growing trend.
- All your readers have the same experience, and they’re viewing your posts in context on your blog.
- Readers are more likely to share your content and interact with you via comments.
- Your readers can see (and click on!) your sponsors’ buttons in your sidebar.
- Your blog will have higher page views, which is good for your search engine optimization (SEO).
- Higher page views means you’ll be more attractive to potential blog sponsors, and you’ll be able to charge more for sponsorships.
- It may feel unfriendly or impersonal – after all, you’re only giving them 250 words of what they want to see and then telling them they have to do something to see the rest.
- It’s annoying. If you switch to post excerpts in your feed, you’ll probably get some
hate mailunhappy readers (and may even lose some subscribers over it). Yes, some readers think it’s that important.
- There are still people out there with slow internet connections or limited time to spend on the web. These people like to download all their feeds to their computer, then disconnect from the internet and read them at their leisure. Switching to a partial feed makes your blog inaccessible to some people, though it’s a minority of blog readers.
If you’re leaning towards changing your feed to post excerpts, it’s important to find a natural time to do this, such as a blog redesign or when you’re moving from Blogger to WordPress. If your readers can’t see a reason for your switch, you’ll risk losing subscribers over this issue.
If you don’t have a big event coming up for your blog that would lend itself to switching to post excerpt, it’s best to keep the full feed. But if you’re a blogger with an eye for growth, there are still some things you can do to keep your sponsors happy and your readership growing.
A Happy Medium
If you’re keeping a full feed for your blog, my suggestion is to use a free WordPress plugin like RSS Footer or Ozh Better Feed to customize the end of your feed. These changes won’t show up on your blog itself, but they’ll help you bring elements of your blog to your readers who are viewing you in Google Reader or another feed management service.
- Add your sponsors’ buttons to the end of your feed (you’ll need to use HTML to do this). That way, even people who view your posts in their Reader can see (and click on!) your sponsors’ buttons.
- Add a link back to your blog, displaying the title of the post (which is clickable) and the author. This discourages scrapers from stealing your content…because the post has the author information clearly visible.
- Add the number of comments on your post to the end of your feed, or invite your readers directly to comment on your blog. By doing this, you’ll be letting your feed readers know you care about them, too.
Pick one and stick with it.
Although which type of feed you publish may seem like a minor issue, it’s really very important because it determines how your readers interact with you. But whatever you choose, make sure you consider your options carefully, then pick one and stick with it. No back-and-forth. Just follow my childhood motto of: “Pretend you know what you’re doing and no one will question you.”
So how about you? What do you think?
How do you feed your readers?