Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Burning Your Feeds - What Do Your Readers Want?

I thankfully received some comments from a few readers about a recent change to the way in which I burn feeds on my blog.

I was unaware that some readers access Destination: Austin Family from mobile or texting devices which don't allow you to go to the actual post on the blog.  I apologize to these readers and others who have had problems accessing DAF.  And I really appreciate the feedback.  Here is what happened and how, on Blogger, you can adjust your feed settings.

1. On the Blogger Dashboard, select Settings and then select the Site Feed tab. The Site Feed screen appears:

You may have to select between Basic Mode and Advanced Mode. Begin with Basic Mode since the selections will be easier to make.

2. Allow Blog Feeds: Select either NoneShort or Full.

- If you select None, users will only see the post title in their reader or on a mobile device and will need to click the title to open the original post. This has its disadvantages in that readers with mobile devices may not be able to access the full post whereas they can read a Full post via a text reader.

- If you select Short which is what Blogger seems to be recommending, then only the first 255 characters or the first paragraph, whichever is shorter, will appear in the reader. This may not satisfy those mobile readers especially if you are rather verbose like me and can't keep a post to one paragraph.

- If you select Full, then the entire post is available in the reader. This has a disadvantage in that a full feed becomes available to splogs and splog aggregators.

3. Post Feed Redirect URL: the feed burner service that you use (I use FeedBurner) will generate a URL for redirection of your feeds. That URL should be pasted here.

4. Post Feed Footer: you can compose a footer, almost like an email signature, that your readers will see at the end of posts in a blog reader. You can place your name, advertising, anything you desire.

If you choose to use the Advanced Mode, here are your options:

5. Blog Posts Feed: select NoneShort or Full with the same admonitions above.

6. Blog Feed Comment: again select NoneShort or Full. The comment feed contains all comments made on all posts on your blog.

7. Per-Post Comment Feed: again select None, Short or Full. Each individual post will have its own site feed, containing only its own comments.

8. Post Feed Redirect URL: again, as above, the URL from your feed burning service.

9. Post Feed Footer: same as above.

Why did I change my feed format?  I was looking to drive more traffic directly to my blog since I had looked at my traffic using Google Analytics and found that most readers were simply using the feeds and not going to the blog.  This is not so much a concern since I don't have advertising that needs clicks or interactivity on my blog.  So I switched my feed format back to one that is more pleasing to my readers.  Happy readers make a happy Thomas.


Becky said...

Thanks for mentioning this Thomas. I for one am glad to see you return to a full feed! I've noticed more new blogs going to a partial feed and think they should be encouraged to switch to a full feed. With the huge number of blogs, not just genealogy blogs, that are in my reader those that don't offer a full feed are going to be overlooked. There just isn't enough time in the day to click through to see if you might want to read a post.

I realize that some people are trying to monetize their blogs and think that a partial feed will "force" readers to their blogs (and those readers will then hopefully click on a link to buy something) but I truly think just the opposite happens. It turns me off from even reading the blog.

For a few months I was among those that allowed only a partial feed (due in part to the ancestry fiasco). When I switched back to a full feed the number of subscribers nearly doubled and the number of hits on my blog didn't hardly even change.

One thing that I did for the feeds was to add a footer with a copyright notice along with the url to my blog. It doesn't show up in the posts in the blog itself, just in the reader.

It is a person decision for everyone, but my advice is if you want your blog to be read, then allow a full feed!

Terry Thornton said...

Good discussion BECKY. I've been debating to change from partial feed to full --- based upon your recommendation, I'm going to give full feed a try and see if it helps.

Thanks, TERRY

Thomas MacEntee said...

Thanks for the extensive comments Becky. I may try to pre-post about how to burn a feed and have it run while I am away this weekend.


Becky said...

I just want to clarify something that could be misinterpreted when I said "It turns me off from even reading the blog." Monetizing a blog isn't what turns me off, rather, it is the fact that with a partial feed you are "forcing" me to go to your blog to read your posts.

Another concern with some bloggers is that comments may not be left by readers if they are using a feed reader. For me, if I think the post warrants a comment then I'll click on through and leave my comment.

Thomas MacEntee said...

I agree with you on the monetization thing. I have nothing against it, right now I don't carry ads, but I have considered it. I just want the best experience for my readers so that they do keep coming back, whether it is through feeds and a reader, or direct hits to the blog.

Terry Thornton said...

BECKY, I've been conflicted between my strong belief that a reader has some responsibility too --- and I've been of the opinion that readers should take the responsibility to "go" (in this day and age that means a click or two) to the blog they wish to read and read it. I think months ago I even posted the lament that why should the writer have to do everything? I still feel that way but realize I'm in a minority and have now started allowing full feeds for readers not willing to take that second click to my site.

But I still feel strongly that as in conversational exchanges, blog writers and blog readers each have some responsibility. Full feed is as far as the writer can go --- the rest is up the the reader.

Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi