There are upsides and downsides to almost everything you do in life and blogging is no exception. Read as many blogs as I do and you’ll see debates about everything from SEO techniques to the perfect theme. One of those ongoing debates involves RSS feeds and comments. If you’ve always thought having a large number of RSS subscribers was the cat’s meow, then you’ll be interested to know there is a downside: They could potentially kill your comments.
Let’s face it, the only way you’re going to have comments on your blog is if people visit your blog. There’s no way around it. They can comment via a mobile device or a desktop computer, but they still have to visit your blog and manually type in their comment. But what about people who read your blog in their RSS reader?
When you set up a WordPress blog you have the option of letting your readers subscribe to a full feed or a partial feed. With a partial feed, your readers only see the title and the first paragraph and they’re forced to click through to your blog if they want to read the whole thing. But, with a full feed your entire post appears in their feed reader and they never have to visit your blog again. Scary thought? Hold on. Don’t panic. I’m not done yet.
Pros And Cons of Partial Feeds
The reader must visit your blog to read the entire article, which helps keep your page views and traffic up. There’s also more opportunity for reader engagement. If he’s on your blog he could potentially read other posts that you’ve linked to, opt-in for your newsletter, and leave a comment.
On the downside, many people follow your RSS feed specifically so they don’t have to visit your blog. It’s a convenience. All the blogs they follow are right there in that reader. They can simply scan the headlines and click on the new titles they want to read. So if you’re only sending a partial feed they may not stay subscribers long.
Pros And Cons of Full Feeds
As mentioned above, you’re providing a service and additional value for your readers when you provide your full feed. However, on the downside, if they can read the whole post in their reader, they never have to visit your blog.
Why Full Feeds Are Better
Full feeds are better because of that additional value you’re providing. It’s important to understand that nobody is going to subscribe to your blog on a whim. Before they subscribe they’ll check out a lot of your content and follow your links to make sure yours is a blog they really want to follow. By the time they’re convinced they’ll know exactly what your blog has to offer.
So the idea that your RSS subscribers would view more of your content if you forced them to come to your blog is irrelevant. They know what you have to offer and if they have a question they already know they can come to your blog for an answer – otherwise they never would have subscribed.
How You Can Get More Comments
What do you do when you want your readers to do anything on your blog? You give them a strong call to action. If you’re worried about not getting comments from your RSS subscribers, put a strong call to action at the end of the post. Some feed providers will also allow you to include additional information at the bottom of the post or in a footer and only your RSS subscribers will see it.
Be specific. Tell your RSS subscribers that you miss their wonderful comments and tell them how much fun they’re missing. Then tell them to come and leave a comment.
Never stop providing something your readers value simply because it doesn’t fit in with your plan. If full-feeds are killing your comments, don’t cut back to partial feeds so you can force readers back to your blog. Use those feeds to pull your subscribers back to your blog.