You’ve probably run across the term RSS feed at some point while setting up your WordPress site. Enabling an RSS feed on your site is how you syndicate your content so that it can be read in multiple formats. This allows people who are following your blog to read your latest posts in their email browser without having to visit your site, for example. It also makes your site more mobile friendly.
Do You Have Your RSS Feed Enabled?
You might be tempted to disable your RSS feed after hearing that it syndicates your content. After all, you want people to be visiting your site, not just reading in their email. But giving users access to your content offline reaps a whole host of other benefits. For example, users are much more likely to share your content on their social media sites if it comes to them through RSS. It helps build a loyal following who is willing to spread the word about your site.
As a WordPress user, you don’t have to worry about how to add RSS feed to your site. WordPress automatically includes it. You can encourage more people to subscribe to your feed by putting an icon for it in your sidebar. You can then use a third party like Feedburner or Feedblitz to track your RSS feed and get statistics on its users.
Users Subscribing To Your RSS Feed
Subscribing to your RSS feed means that users agree to accept emails from your site. You can use this to your advantage with sites like MailChimp that help you design and send mass email newsletters. You don’t want to overdo this, usually a monthly email is plenty. MailChimp takes steps to prevent your emails from being filtered as spam, but people will unsubscribe if you are sending them too much.
One problem with RSS feed is that it makes it very easy for someone to republish your content on their own blog. You can prevent them from taking credit for it by adding a code snippet that will automatically give you credit for any content on your site.
Listen to the Latest Episodes Right Now.
If you add this code to the bottom of any post that you have in your RSS feed, then anytime it is republished it will include your byline.
Improve Subscription Rate
Another way to improve your RSS feed is to give users the opportunity to subscribe only to certain content. This is where WordPress categories can be very useful. If people don’t want all of your posts to appear in their email inbox, they can choose to only subscribe to the categories that they are most interested in.
When someone subscribes to your RSS feed, they only receive posts in their inbox. This means that if you have an image or a tagline that shows up after each of your posts, people reading it in other formats will never see them. By adding hooks to your feed, you can include these details in your RSS feed.
WordPress also gives you the option of adding content to your RSS feed that does not appear in your page posts. This is helpful for including a tag along the lines of “Thank you for subscribing to my RSS feed, please visit my website, ENTER URL.” That way you are enabling people to read your content in whatever format is most comfortable to them while still driving traffic to your site.
Get Users to Continue to Visit
Another way to get your RSS subscribers to come back is to only include post excerpts in the feed. That way, if they want to read the entire post, they have to return to your website. This might sound like it defeats the purpose of having an RSS feed, but most people are willing to follow a link to find out more about a post that has really grabbed their attention. It also gives them an easy way to tell if they really want to read your new post without having to check in on your site every day.
Most of these tweaks will improve your RSS feed, which means more subscribers for you. Unfortunately, they also involve tweaking a lot of code. The only code included in this article deals with linking back to your site when someone republishes off your RSS feed, because I feel that it is very important to make sure that you receive credit for your content.
The rest of these tips also involve coding. You can look up the code for all of this and insert it into your .php file. Of you can pick an RSS feed plugin to install and activate in order to avoid having to deal with coding. Here are some of the most popular plugins.
Blogroll Widget with RSS Feed: This plugin puts the most recent posts on your blogroll in a sidebar using RSS feed. It is very easy to configure and gives you lots of customization options.
Category Specific RSS Feed Subscription: Remember when I said that letting visitors subscribe to a specific category is good way to keep from plugging up their email inboxes with unwanted content? This plugin is designed to make that as easy as possible for you.
RSS Image Feed: Showing pictures in your RSS feed really grabs readers’ attention and draws them in. This plugin automatically includes the first image in your post in the feed, even if just an excerpt is showing.
RSS Includes Pages: If you are using WordPress as a blog, there is no reason for you to get this plugin. If you are putting a lot of content on static pages, however, this plugin will allow you to include any new content in your RSS feed.