Blog Tip Friday: Managing Your RSS Feed

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Today’s Blog Tip Friday is a guest post on setting up a your RSS Feed, and includes some great info on finding your way around the FeedBurner site. The end of the post shows how to place a widget using WordPress. If you did not know, I use Blogger, and am a supporter of Blogger as a platform. My use of Blogger may change as the blog grows, and when I can afford to purchase a self-hosted WordPress platform. In any case, I will follow up this post with how to set up your Blogger RSS feed.

How to Manage Your WordPress Blog’s RSS Feed

While it’s a complex process to set up a RSS feed for many sites, bloggers using WordPress have a much simpler option. Since RSS feeds are included within the WordPress install, users only have to undergo a relatively simple process to make the most out of their RSS feed. After most WordPress installations, users can access their feed via http://yoursite.com/feed. This feed automatically updates whenever a new post is published, and the feed URL can be submitted to search engines immediately. However, managing and taking full advantage of your RSS feed requires several simple tweaks, which most accomplish by using FeedBurner, a free tool that allows you to analyze, optimize, publicize, and troubleshoot RSS feeds on WordPress.

Setting up your Feedburner account

Registering on Feedburner is very easy. Simply sign in using your Google account on http://feedburner.google.comand you are ready to begin. One of the first menus will ask you to type your blog or feed address in the box. If you know your feed URL, you can feel free to type it in. But if you just know your blog’s primary URL – http://yoursite.com – then that’s fine too. Feedburner will detect your feed URL automatically, even if it’s not the default http://yoursite.com/feed.

After entering in your URL, you can specify your feed title and feed address, the latter of which will be a http://feeds.feedburner.com/yourblog address, which is in addition to your pre-exisiting original feed URL. You can promote either link. After this step, your FeedBurner feed is live.

Making the most out of FeedBurner’s analysis tools

After your feed is created on Feedburner, you can access a multitude of options on Feedburner’s dashboard.

The first tab on the dashboard is for analysis, where you can view how popular specific feed items are. These analytics include the number of views, clicks, and downloads, for a specific feed item, in addition to features like a map overlay that shows where your subscribers are located, in addition to your number of subscribers. If you just set up a feed for a new blog this will most likely be blank, but as your blog accumulates readers it will accumulate RSS followers as well, who will appear in the analytics.

Optimizing your RSS feed using Feedburner


The next tab on the Feedburner dashboard is for general optimization of your blog’s RSS feed. In addition to providing viewable links for both your RSS feed and its XML source, Feedburner offers a number of services that makes subscribing to your feed easier. BrowserFriendly offers a one-click subscription option via web browsers, so even those who don’t know about RSS clients can subscribe.

FeedFlare provides subscribers simple ways to e-mail, tag, and share your content; it can be a great tool for helping your posts go viral.

SmartFeed also broadens your audience, making your feed compatible with all feed readers. You should make sure to activate this feature. In addition to these helpful tools, you can also geotag your feed and splice links in this tab.


Publicizing your RSS feed using Feedburner


Some of the most versatile features on Feedburner are under the ‘Publicize’ tab, where you can offer tools like e-mail subscriptions to users, who will be notified via e-mail whenever the feed is updated. This can contribute immensely to your number of loyal readers. PingShot is also quite useful; it notifies feed reading services automatically so there is no delay publishing content around the web. With Socialize, Feedburner can automatically publish blog updates onto a specified Twitter account, another helpful tool to grow your blog’s audience. In addition to automatic troubleshooting tool FeedMedic, these are some of the most effective tools in broadening your blog’s audience.

In order to allow email subscriptions, click the tab for email subscriptions and past the html snippet into a designated page or sidebar by using a Text Widget.

To change your email subscription settings, go to Communication Preferences tab to customize your activate email. You can further customize in the Email Branding tab the style of the email they will receive. Use the ${latestItemTitle} to input your posts title in the subject line of the email.

If you encounter any issues, there is a thriving Feedburner help community on Google with developers able to answer questions of all experience levels.

Once your Feedburner account is set up and optimized, you will need to plug in the RSS button for people to subscribe. You can choose to just let people subscribe via email or also give them the choice of subscribing through the famous orange RSS button.

To place the button on your site you’ll need this below html snippet, which you’ll customize for your blog. You can plug the snippet onto a page, footer or in the sidebar through the Text Widget (see pic below).

RSS

BIO: Alicia Lawrence is a content coordinator for web design company and blogs in her free time about health, travel, tech and communication at MarCom Land.

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