Advice for RSS feeds

If you’re going to have an RSS feed, give me the whole feed.

There are a number of bloggers I like (and some other news sources) that only offer teasers in their feeds, and if you want to read the whole article, you are forced to click through. I understand the importance of driving traffic to the Web site, but it fundamentally tries to change the nature of the Internet, which is all about user control.

  1. Give me the whole article, and then I’m more likely to read the whole thing. If I read the whole thing, I’m more likely to link to it (good for you). I might like you as a blogger or as a news source, but I need something mighty compelling to entice me to click through.
  2. Most bloggers, and much of modern journalism, isn’t written in tightly crafted inverted pyramid form, with all the five W’s and H right in the lede. Most posts unfold in a more conversational fashion, so your teaser isn’t likely to contain enough compelling information to entice a click through.
  3. You’re hiding your light under a bushel. Many of your readers probably are not bloggers, but they probably are just as disinclined to click through without sufficient reason as I am. From them, you’re not looking for links, you’re looking for fans, for regular readres. However, if your best insights are hidden from view for a large portion of your audience. And if people aren’t continually exposed to your great mind, they’ll forget what drew them to your content in the first place. They’ll lose interest in you.

Ancillary to all this is: Write complete sentence headlines as much as possible. This is especially important for headline-only feeds, but all feeds need good subject-predicate explanations of what a post/story is about. This is not only good SEO, it’s also better for people scanning an RSS feed looking for something to worthwhile to read. For those people using RSS readers that jumble a bunch of feeds together, it’s vital.

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