My previous post showed you five paid, and a handful of free, web directories to submit your website to.
In this post I show you how to make the most of your RSS feed. I also show you a handful of RSS directories, which are like web directories.
What’s an RSS feed?
An RSS feed is an automated feed of your latest blog posts, created by your blogging system.
It’s a conveyor belt that pushes out your blog posts to subscribers. How it does that is beyond the scope of this article. Click here if you want to learn more about RSS.
WordPress comes with a built-in RSS feed, since it’s primarily a blogging system. If you use Joomla or another CMS, chances are you’ll find a plugin that offers an RSS feed, if it’s not built in.
An RSS feed means nothing if not used as intended. The idea with an RSS feed is to send content to people, as opposed to waiting for them to return to your website.
A basic marketing principle: remind your customers of your existence.
That’s why I extol the virtues of blogging. That’s why I’m an evangelist for creating content through your own blog. Your blog is a free soapbox from which you remind people about your accommodation establishment. People are walking by. Not everyone stops to listen, but some do. And some of those who stop, are so interested that they want more.
But they can’t listen now. They’re on their way to a meeting. So your assistant takes down their details. They give you permission to contact them in future. You do this with an RSS feed.
Where to find your site’s main RSS feed
If you use WordPress for your website or blog, append the word, “feed,” to your website address.
In this website’s case, it’s at http://blog.booksure.com/feed.
This is your site’s main feed. It groups together all the posts on your website.
Category and tag feeds
WordPress creates an RSS feed for each of your blog’s categories and tags.
This allows users to receive articles from categories or tags of their interest.
For instance, you write articles about two main activities in your city. One category covers nightlife, the other your region’s cuisine.
So you create two blog categories, one called nightlife, one called food.
Not everyone’s interested in your city’s nightlife. Some aren’t interested in knowing everything about your city’s restaurants. But some people are interested in both these topics.
You created two categories, which gives you three RSS feeds, one for all categories (and tags), and one for each of the categories you created.
Now visitors can choose which RSS feed they want to subscribe to.
How do people read your RSS feed?
The directories listed at the bottom of this article each have their unique way of displaying RSS content to viewers. But people have other options when it comes to receiving your RSS. Here are a few…
There are five main internet browsers: Chrome, Firefox, Opera, Internet Explorer / Edge and Safari (Apple).
Two of these, Firefox and Opera, display RSS feeds well.
Chrome doesn’t add any style to the RSS feed, unless you add the extension, RSS Subscription Extension.
Edge can’t display an RSS feed. If you paste the URL, http://blog.booksure.com/feed into your Edge browser, it asks if you’d like to download the file. It seems Microsoft is content with leaving it like that.
I can’t tell what Safari does. Apple doesn’t release Safari to non-Apple users anymore. But Safari does read RSS.
Here are screenshots of what an RSS feed looks like on my side. I use a PC with Win 10. It might look different on your side.
These tools allow you to read RSS feeds. In other words, these are some of the tools people use to read your RSS feed.
|Blogtrottr||Web||Free, up to €6.99 per month|
|Feeder||Web||$2 per month|
|Feedly||Web / iOS / Android||Free, up to $18 per month|
|G2Reader||Web / Android||Free, up to $1.17 per month|
|gReader||Android||Free and €3.99 once off|
|Inoreader||Web / iOS / Android / Windows Phone||Free, up to $4.99 per month|
|Leaf||Mac||$9.99 once off|
|Miniflux||Web||$15 per year|
|Newsblur||Web / iOS / Android||Free and $2 per month|
|RSSOwl||Windows / Mac / Linux||Free|
|Tickr||Windows / Linux||Free|
|Tiny Tiny RSS||Web||Free|
|The Old Reader||Web and others||Free, up to $3 per month|
|Reeder||Mac / iOS||$4.99 for mobile, $9.99 for Mac|
Let’s look at ways to tweak your feed for delivery.
WordPress RSS settings
If you’re using your RSS feed to drive an email newsletter, here are some options.
Add a featured image
You could try to add an image to your RSS feed by using a plugin such as Featured Images in RSS & Mailchimp Email.
This adds your blog posts’ featured image to your RSS feed. This means that, if someone sets their RSS reader to fetch your feed, it includes an image for each post.
It might work or it might fail. There are plenty of RSS readers out there (as the below table shows), so whether an image displays is not up to you.
Yoast SEO RSS settings
You should install Yoast SEO if you haven’t already.
Yoast SEO allows you to take one action with your RSS: to add a link to each of your RSS news items. The plugin preloads your RSS feed posts with the following sliver of text: “The post, %%POSTLINK%%, belongs to %%BLOGLINK%%.”
This is appended to each post. (The plugin allows you to change or remove this piece of text.)
This ensures that your content, even if used without your permission, receives a backlink. Yoast SEO does this with the help of shortcodes. In other words, the shortcodes, %%POSTLINK%% and %%BLOGLINK%%, turn into clickable links.
Follow these steps to get to the Yoast SEO RSS settings…
- Navigate to the Yoast SEO RSS tab.
- Yoast SEO -> Advanced -> RSS.
- Add or remove content as you see fit.
- Notice the variables at your disposal. They allow you to add a link to your blog’s author page, a link to the original post and / or a link to your site’s front page.
Add your feed to these aggregators
An RSS aggregator works like a website directory. It’s a platform where you add your RSS feed for others to discover. An RSS aggregator keeps your listing up to date with your latest content.
|Service name||Sign up URL||Cost|
|alltop.com||alltop.com/submission/||Free (if you can get in)|
|blokube.com||blokube.com/register.php||GBP9.99 / month|
|blogengage.com||blogengage.com/blog-marketing/register.php||GBP4.99 / month|
If you’re serious about increasing direct bookings, you’ll need a database of customers to whom you can send a regular email newsletter. An RSS feed is one of the building blocks of a database.
Plug your RSS feed into the Mailchimp and you have an automatic newsletter.
It’s a great way to keep people up to date with your news (and it’s free), so I’ll tackle setting up RSS with Mailchimp in the next article.
Sign up to learn how to set up a free automatic newsletter with your RSS feed.
At face value an RSS feed looks weak. Under the hood, though, is an engine that never fails to deliver your content. It’s like an old VW Beetle. It’s no oil painting, but it’s reliable.
Use your RSS feed well and you’ll gain more visibility online. This translates to more direct bookings. More direct bookings means more profit. That’s the bottom line.