Feed Count Fluctuations: Understanding The Numbers
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You look at your Feedburner counts on Tuesday and you have thousands of followers. But by the weekend you’ve lost 500. Monday it’s back up, Friday it’s down… it’s like riding a roller coaster. What causes all these RSS feed count fluctuations?
I know it’s hard to believe but people do occasionally clean up their feed readers and delete the feeds they’re no longer following. It doesn’t happen often but it does happen and most of the time when it does it’s the weekend, when people have time to sift through all their feeds.
If you notice, your traffic is probably a little lower on the weekends, too. People have other things to do – running errands, car-pooling the kids to soccer games, shopping and just having some fun. Which means you don’t see as many new subscriptions on the weeknds.
On the other hand, you probably notice your subscriptions start to rise on Tuesdays, which is when most people return to the Internet. They’re too busy at work on Monday, but Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays they’re back and you can see it reflected in your feed counts.
Now, it’s also important to understand how Feedburner’s counts work. Each day your count reflects the number of people who’ve subscribed to you buy email. (And remember, these people do occasionally cancel your incoming feed.) It also includes the people who’ve subscribed using a web based feed reader, like they’re Google reader. (Again, these people may also cancel your feed.)
The third group it measures is the number of people reading your feed in a standalone feed reader. And it’s this group that causes that big fluctuation.
Feedburner has to be able to access the feedreader in order to be able to deliver the content. As most of these people using standalone readers are offline during the weekend, Feedburner doesn’t count them as subscribers because it can’t gain access. So your subscriber count drops drastically on the weekend but it picks up again on Tuesday morning.
In short, Feedburner software shows the number of unique feed subscribers you have on any given day. However, stand-alone reading software that’s not switched on doesn’t make a feed request to let Feedburner know it’s out there.
If you only have a few subscribers you probably don’t notice the fluctuations in counts throughout the week. But when you get up into the thousands you can see a noticeable difference from day to day. But there such a thing as spending too much time focusing on stats. Instead of worrying about it and obsessing every time you see the numbers drop, do something to keep those new subscribers coming in.
Make sure your RSS feed icon is prominently displayed and put a reminder at the end of each blog post to point new visitors in the right direction. And check out my article – 20 Simple Ways to Gain RSS Subscribers – to get even more helpful tips to take your mind of those weekend RSS slumps.