Successful bloggers have learned that you shouldn’t leave it to chance or memory that a visitor will come back to your blog to read new articles. Popular blogs proactively put their readers in a position where they can alerted to new content and pulled back to the blog. A blog with a large number of RSS subscribers will benefit from a steady flow of traffic from loyal visitors, and it this group who are the most likely to link back to your website from their own, bookmark you in Digg, Stumbleupon, Delicious et al, spread the word via social media and engage with your blog posts via the comments.
However, increasing your RSS subscribers can be a bit of a challenge, as you have to convince the reader that your site is worth the daily updates. Aside from having great content, there are a few other surefire ways to increase your subscribers, which we’ll discuss in this post.
Don’t reinvent the wheel
No one likes things to be difficult or time-consuming, especially when all you want to do is click on a link! Although it can be tempting to be creative and different, your visitor’s eyes have become trained to expect certain things from an RSS icon. They expect it to be orange, and they expect it to use the signal beams. As their eyes scan the page, anything else is likely to be looked over and missed.
Don’t be shy
Make sure that the icon is displayed prominently, both above and below the fold. This isn’t to suggest you take up half the page with it, but you should target key hotspots. These include…
The top right of the page (as seen on Smashing Magazine):
Above the main body of the content (as seen on Bad Language):
Near the top of your sidebar (as seen on the Heart Internet web hosting blog):
In the footer (as seen on Creative Nerds):
Make it quick
The maximum number of clicks to subscribe should be two. One click to go to the feed, and another to sign up. Don’t interrupt this process with another page cross selling services, promoting offers/deals, or another page explaining why they should sign up; they already want to.
Communicate the benefits
What compelling reasons can you give to someone why they should sign up to your RSS feed? Some examples include becoming part of a community (“Join over 1,000 others and subscribe”), making life easier for them (e.g. “Get the latest news directly”) or not missing out on some juicy content (e.g. “Don’t miss out on upcoming XYZ”).
Reward your subscribers
Not every reader is created equally, and you shouldn’t treat them as such. The loyal readers, those who have signed up to your feed, should be rewarded. This gives people an extra incentive to sign up, and to stay signed up (other than your riveting content of course). Examples include exclusive subscriber content, prize draws and giveaways.
Look beyond your website
If you send out a newsletter to your readers and/ or customers make sure you link to your RSS feed there too. Twitter and Facebook followers are already engaged with you via another medium and therefore more likely to sign up to your blog’s RSS feed.
And finally… write content people want to read!
The most compelling reasons anyone has to signing up to your RSS feed is that you publish such good content so often they don’t want to risk missing anything. It sounds simple, but writing quality content requires a lot of time and effort, and few have the energy to see it through week after week, year after year.