If you use WordPress to publish your content, you automatically also publish an RSS news feed. An RSS feed is the format that allows your content to be delivered and subscribed to on the web by using a software called feed reader. Any WordPress blog that you run will automatically have a RSS feed by default at this address: yourdomain.com/feed.
RSS feeds are (unfortunately for some) becoming less and less important and less and less used online. They are slowly being replaced by people consuming media through applications and through social media sites like Facebook and Twitter directly. One of the events that showcases this trend is the recent decision by Google to shut down their very well loved and very popular RSS feed reader called Google Reader. This is also why you should focus less on building your RSS readership and can focus your efforts on building your social media audiences on Twitter and Facebook instead.
Using Feedburner to enhance your RSS feed
Even though the RSS feeds are slowly going out of fashion it is a nice service to offer for your visitors that still use them (even though they are only a few). There are not too many options you have in terms of improving your feeds. A service called feedburner lets you optimize your RSS feed and build on top of what WordPress provides by default. Not only does it let you publicize your content and makes it easy for people to subscribe, it also optimizes distribution so that your content is properly formatted for all of the major directories and can be consumed by subscribers wherever they are. Feedburner also analyzes your feed traffic to learn how many subscribers you have, where they’re coming from and which of your content they like the best.
The most popular feedburner on the market for RSS news feeds is Google’s FeedBurner, another of Google services free to use for all bloggers. FeedBurner is very simple to setup, brings you creative ways to attract an audience, lets you see where your content goes once you publish it and generally adds a lot more value to your feed, than a regular feedburner. One of the good things about Feedburner by Google is that it allows your visitors to subscribe to your site via email and receive all your posts directly into their email inbox. Again, it is a very simple and free process to sign up for Feedburner. Just visit FeedBurner, add your URL and you are on your way to bringing a better RSS feed to your visitors.
Here is a quick look through the different options you have in Google’s Feedburner. Note that the Feedburner has not been updated for several years and with Google shutting down Google Reader recently it is not sure how long Feedburner will be let standing or how long it will still function properly.
- In the Analyze section of Feedburner you get access to all the stats for your feeds. How many subscribers are there, what is the reach and such.
- In the Optimize section you can customize some things in terms of how you want your feed to be displayed in the feed readers.
- Publicize section is probably the one that is of most interest to the bloggers. It allows you to show off your feed numbers in your sidebar for example. A lot of blogs use/used to do that to show how popular their blogs are/were. This section also allows you to let people subscribe to your feed via email. Click on “Emails Subscriptions” to set this up. You can see this option in my sidebar where I allow you to subscribe via email and get all my latest content directly into your mailbox.