I normally don’t like to use the word “Sure-Fire” because for some reason it always comes back to bite me in the ass. Anyhow, there are plenty of great ways to gain RSS subscribers to your blog, but this post is not about that. This post is about my number one irritation I commonly come across when browsing through blogs; I can’t find your RSS feed. It is a sad thing that so many SEO types make this error. If I have to spend more than 10 seconds looking for it, that is not good. It doesn’t have to be as obvious as it is on my blog, but don’t hide it on your sidebar or make it blend in with your blogroll. The goal here is to get subscribers, not tick them off by hiding your feed. The easiest thing to do on your blog should be to subscribe to your feed. Let’s take a look at a couple examples of what not to do. I mean no offense to these bloggers, this is just my opinion. These guys have much more experience and success than I do. I digress. Here we go with the “don’t do it” category:
Matt, I know most people reading your blog know how to sign up for a feed, but it doesn’t stand out as it should. I have to search for it in your side navigation. I’m thinking a green RSS button at the top of your navigation would be slick.
I don’t really know what his thinking was on this one. He places an orange feed button but it looks like it is for the comment feed because there is a “Main RSS Feed” link above it. It is a little confusing. It is also below the fold and it blends in with the regular navigation menu. Fixing this would be as simple as separating the feed area and changing up the look slightly.
Okay, enough of the bad examples. Let’s take a look at some excellent examples that I think probably have higher subscribe rates (total assumption):
A great example of what you should be doing. The buttons are above the fold with eye catching colors, he uses a reader count to let people know he’s popular (the more popular, the more likely people will subscribe). As Darren has mentioned before, Bloglines is his most popular reader so he uses that button and a regular feed button which takes care of the majority of his visitors.
This is a great example of simple and to the point. It stands out appropriately and takes you to a separate page with the most popular readers.
And of course my favorite example…ME! Probably an overkill but I give you the main feed and the most popular options via a really cool service called AddThis.com.
So make your feed stand out on your page so I can find it and subscribe. If your content is borderline I won’t bother to manually subscribe and you lose out on a new reader!