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Before I begin, is RSS really worth the effort?

4:22 pm on Feb 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

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We're considering adding in RSS feeds to one or more of our websites. These would contain unique content and be available for most/all parts of our website.

But I have some reservations about RSS and have a few questions/concerns about it.


No one I know actually uses an RSS Reader - and few know what RSS is. Hence how many people (non-webmasters) actually use it?

If few people use it, will adding it beside offers simply confuse or distract people who don't know what it is?

It also looks like Google Reader, MSN etc all require different buttons for the RSS Feed to instantly go into their respective apps. Do we therefore need mulitple buttons on a page before people can use it easily?

Will we get spidered by too many readers each hour, putting strain on our servers?

If people do use RSS feeds, how many people will click through to the site?

Will only current users get the RSS Feed? Or will enough genuine websites include the RSS feeds that new users will go to the site?

Will RSS stop existing clients returning to the site as frequently as they currently do? I.e. instead of seeing a full page(s) of whatever content we're promoting that day, clients will only see 10 (or so) RSS offers as part of some reader/search engine?

I'd be very interested to hear other webmasters experiences regarding whether or not RSS Feeds has made any difference to traffic levels, or had any other positive effect (for those providing the RSS feeds).

1:35 am on Feb 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

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I have (had) the same dilamma. I have put RSS on my site but I don't think someone even noticed that. After a few months I think I'll take it off:

Here are the reasons:

1. I do think people who use RSS don't visit the website as much as without RSS. In result an RSS reader provider gets all the benefits - the user will click on their ads instead of yours and will see their visual ads instead of yours.

2. I think for most users visiting the site is much more interesting than just viewing it in reader.

10:03 am on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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Thanks fargo1999.

Well, with no positive comments posted I think I'll stear clear of RSS for a while!

[edited by: TravelSite at 10:04 am (utc) on Feb. 19, 2007]

10:37 am on Feb 19, 2007 (gmt 0)

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The decision to add RSS to a site should be made while considering the type of site and what purpose you want the feed to serve. If you're not adding content on an almost daily basis, forget about RSS.

If your site is news and information based and you regularly add content, then consider adding a feed.

You don't have to use FeedBurner or Feedblitz os similar systems to deliver your feed, however, people that aren't familiar with RSS may be confused when they click on that RSS icon and receive that XML page. Another reason for considering the use of a delivery system like FeedBurner is the stat tracking. Google Reader now reports subscriptions to FeedBurner as well.

If you're trying to position your site(s) as an authority in your industry, then by all means get your feed in the mix. Add some chicklets and let the RSS savvy folks subscribe via the service of their choice.

If you decide to offer a feed, then you have to decide on a full or partial feed. If you don't accept comments, then opt for a partial feed. If you do accept comments, you still have to make a decision about full versus partial feeds and that's a matter of some debate. Personally, I feel full feeds grow readership and weed out some potentially meaningless comments. Why bother to go the extra click just to say, 'nice blog' or 'your blog bites'?

You can place ads in your RSS, but I tend to eliminate feeds from my reader that throw too many ads my way.

If you do decide to add feeds, place a few links to some feed readers, like Sharpreader or NewzCrawler, or services like Google Reader or Rojo. Place those links near your subscription buttons.

My suggestion would be to try RSS if you think it's a fit for your sites. You can always remove the feeds if they don't work for you.

Is it worth it?

Depends on what your expectations are.


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