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Small Business Blogging Tip #24 – RSS Feeds

RSS FeedInformation overload and scarcity of time are two of the greatest nemeses we face today. One of the best ways to help your readers reduce the effects of both of these issues is to add RSS options to your blog. RSS, which stands for Really Simple Syndication, allows your readers to add your content to a news reader that notifies them only when your content has been updated. To many bloggers, RSS feeds are a mandatory feature for them to become regular readers of your blog.

RSS feeds may not be completely mainstream as yet, but they are a simple feature to add, provide benefits to all parties and will in time be as common as comments and posts. For business uses, building a large RSS readership can be an extremely powerful and profitable marketing tactic and should by all means be one of your marketing objectives. As noted in several of my top business blog posts, huge RSS subscriptions are both a sign of trust for that blog and an opportunity to market to thousands for free at any given time. Be sure to have this feature set up from day one.

Why should I add RSS feeds to my small business blog?

  • An RSS feed allows your readers to get your new content quickly and in their own news reader. Many blog readers prefer and even insist on this option, so it will help you build your reader base and increase your blog’s usefulness and trust factor
  • Because everyone subscribed to your RSS feed gets your content whether they go to your blog or not, you can market to this group immediately, at any time, for free. Consider your RSS subscribers as your new targeted email list, except instead of having to send an email to your list, you just publish a post on your blog
  • RSS feeds are also another opportunity for you to build advertising revenue. You may or may not have ads on your blog, but you can still put them in your RSS feed. As with your other advertising space, you can use these ads to promote any number of strategic opportunities like joint ventures and affiliates

How do I add and optimize this option?

  • There are numerous ways to add an RSS feed to your blog, but the most common and accepted way is to submit your blog to Feedburner and add the link they give you to your blog. You can then submit your blog to any number of other RSS directories, but Feedburner offers many free tools that will increase the effectiveness of your feeds
  • To promote your RSS feed, you will need to get a button to place on your blog that will get the attention of your readers. There are many types of buttons, but the mainstream movement has been towards the icon used on this site. You can get free buttons here or search around to find your own
  • Once you have the RSS button image hosted on your site, you will want to place it in a very prominent location. Make sure it’s visible on every page and without having to scroll down. You can also add an RSS feed for your comments, as well as any or all of your categories

Are there any negatives to adding RSS feeds to my small business blog?

  • There are many tools to help optimize your feeds, but they aren’t perfect. Tracking your feeds to exact details isn’t quite possible, so keep this in mind when testing your feed marketing tactics
  • RSS feeds also allow your readers to view your content without having to go to your blog. If you are relying on advertising to bring in revenue or on links on your site to get prospects to perform desired actions, this can be a problem. Keep in mind that only supplying part of a post in your feed is generally considered bad practice, so use your creativity to get feed readers to come to your blog or certain landing pages
  • Many bloggers that subscribe to your feed also subscribe to other blogs, sometimes dozens and even hundreds. View your content in a feed reader to make sure it is still compelling when delivered in this manner. To stand out in a feed reader with dozens of competitors, your content needs to be high quality and depending on your readers, very short and to the point. Long posts are generally harder to read in a feed reader and formatting is often different than that from your blog. Headlines are even more important as your RSS subscribers increase

Despite a few negatives, it is essential that you offer an RSS feed on your small business blog. Time is scarce and information is everywhere. Let your readers save time and read only the information they want, where they want. This builds trust and appreciation, and in time, will become an invaluable marketing tool for your business goals. In my opinion, nearly all blogs will be read ONLY through feed readers, so make sure to promote your RSS feed prominently and on a regular basis. Lastly, test and try new ways to make your feeds work to your advantage so that when the time comes, you will know how to get readers to click through to your site and landing pages when you want them to.