I’ll start really quickly with the answer to “What the heck is RSS?” so everyone can have grasp on the conversation here.
RSS stand for Real Simple Syndication. It basically is a way to “syndicate” or make your content available to others in a easy to read and access format. Think of it like the way the Associated Press syndicates their news to your local newspaper. They provide the content, and your local newspaper decides where it fits, and prints it in their paper.
In much the same way, when you use RSS, you’re allowing other people to subscribe to that information, and they can view the content you’re serving up in a format that is easy for them to read, and comes to their doorstep (so to speak).
Here’s a quick “RSS in Plain English” video if you’re still lost.
Why Full RSS Feeds Are Important
In WordPress you have the option of providing Full Text or Summary. The default is Full Text. The mistake that a few photographers make is changing this to Summary.
Why is this a mistake you ask?
Well, the Full Text option makes it easier for people that have subscribed to your RSS Feed to read it however they are used to reading their other feeds.
A Summary Feed only provides them with a short snippet of the blog post and then the reader is forced to go back to the original website to read the rest.
“Well that’s great, right? I get more traffic that way right?” You might say. But the reverse is true actually. The reason people subscribe to your RSS Feeds is because they like your content, but they also subscribe to a number of other blogs, and want to easily read all those blogs in one easy to access Feed Reader like Google Reader.
Nashville Wedding Photographer Paul Rowland agrees:
9 out of 10 times I will probably not visit that site if it requires “click through for more”. It’s all about barrier to entry for me. That being said, it’s probably no coincidence that very few, if any, of the blogs I follow require me to do this.
The goal should be to make it easy for the people interested in your content. If it’s not easy to consume, then why would they come to your website to read more? Plus when you do a Summary, you don’t know how much is going to show in your feed or if any photos will. Not knowing what people will see is a huge turn-off for your readers.
So do the right thing and publish Full Text Feeds.
A Few RSS Tips:
Here are a few other things that can help you with your RSS feeds:
- Use Feedburner to publish your Feeds. The ability to keep statistics on how many subscribers is very valuable. There is also the option for allowing people to subscribe via email for those that don’t use feed readers.
- If you use the Yoast SEO (in my opinion, it should be the only SEO plugin you use), you can create unique footers in your RSS feed that identify you as the original author of the blog post. This helps in the event that a content scraper uses your content somewhere else. You get the benefit of being the original. And sometimes that extra link back to your site isn’t a bad thing. Check out the RSS section in the plugin to set this up.
- Make it easy for people to subscribe. You can use the standard orange icon or make up something to match your site. Want some help? Flaunt Your Site can help you with a custom design.
- Forget about publishing your comments as a separate RSS feed. I don’t know of any reason why anyone would subscribe to your blog comments.
Thanks for reading, and don’t forget to subscribe. 🙂