Are you a blogger?
Do you use self-hosted WordPress?
If so, this post is for you!
As a blogger, you probably check your site stats consistently. It’s good to know the posts we spend so much time writing are actually seen by people out there in the world. While comments and actual feedback are, in my opinion, the best ways of being able to tell that people are actually reading my blog posts, I look at the stats as well.
If you have added ads to your blog, you may be even more concerned with the traffic influx on the blog. After all, it is mostly the number of hits that count toward getting you paid. (depending on the ad service you use)
I have a number of people subscribing to my blog (and I love you all who do! You rock!)- whether it is by email, Google Reader, or Bloglovin‘. I was never concerned about which Reader people were using until I read an article about using Bloglovin’ by NutritonElla.
The thing that really caught my attention is that using Bloglovin’ gives bloggers more page views. This got me thinking… clearly more people read my blog posts than the stats show because it is most likely they don’t even click on the post to get directed to the blog’s web page.
Because why would they?
I have been featuring my blog feed as a full post since the beginning so the readers would never have to go to my blog if they didn’t want to – they got the full content right on their Reader. And those views don’t count on the site stats. Which is unfortunate because that meant I wasn’t getting the hits to encourage me to keep going.
So I went through my Google Reader and paid attention to how other bloggers’ posts were showing up on the Reader. Some bloggers were using the full text on their feed (like I was previously) which was the easiest for us readers – we never had to click over to the blog and we could get all of our reading done in one place. Then there was the opposite option, the summary text which only showed the title and the first two sentences of the blog post and no pictures.
I have to admit, I have unsubscribed from blogs before because they had their feed set to the summary option. I usually did not click over because I was in a rush, or lazy, or the title was too vague to catch my attention. It was too much work.
I know, how sad – but it’s true, and I’m not the only one who feels that way. It’s extremely difficult to catch someone’s attention in mere two sentences especially when you are also subscribed to many other blogs! The title would have to be really captivating for you to actually stop and click over to read the whole post. This is unfortunate because I know I missed out on some wonderful posts from these great bloggers in the past.
Some examples of these type of posts:
And another example:
While these two recipes are amazing (depending on how much free time I had), it’s difficult to portray that in a summary feed post. It’s difficult to capture the attention of a busy reader with a only a couple of sentences which tend to also get cut off abruptly.
Additionally, as visual creatures we are driven by imagery.
The summary feed option lacks any visual content to excite us to continue reading the post.
Then I also saw some bloggers that had their feed customized. It seemed like this was the case mostly with bloggers who were using Blogger.com. As a self-hosted WordPress user, I had no idea how they were making this happen but it seemed like a truly best option. They were able to control how much was being shown in the post feed and they included images, html links, and a “continue reading” link.
I found this to be the best feed option, especially for a food blogger – you get to reel the readers in through the text copy and the images. If the reader wants to see the recipe, they must click on over to the web page. I think it’s the most balanced way to satisfy both the readers and the blogger. We get our page views from the readers who click over because they are actually interested and the readers get their teaser content that allows them to figure out whether they truly do want to continue reading or not.
Great examples of the customized RSS feed option:
So how can you do this?
How can you customize your WordPress RSS feed so that you get all of the page views you deserve without annoying your readers?
How do you hook your readers so they will actually navigate over to your web page rather than reading it all on their Reader of choice?
You’ve gotta find the right plugin!
This way you can make your post interesting and pleasant to look at so that your reader can make a conscious decision whether to continue reading or not.
I searched the Google world trying to figure out which WordPress.org plugin is the best to make this effect for me too.
I tested a couple of plugins and found that the best one for the effect I am trying to accomplish is mPress Custom Feed Excerpts.
- In WordPress dashboard, naviate to “Plugins” –> click on “Add new”
- Type mPress Custom Feed Excerpts in the search box and find the one with that exact name (should be the first one) and click on “Install now”. Once the plugin is installed, click on “activate” to make the plugin do its work.
- Then in your dashboard, navigate to “Settings” –> “Reading”
- Find the prompt “For each article in a feed, show:” and make sure that the “Full Text” option is selected.
You’re done! Now when you draft your posts, your <more> tag will insert a “continue reading” link to your feed so that you have total control over how much is being shown in your feed.
If you want the whole post to be shown in the reader, just don’t use the <more> page divider.
If you want to include it, such as with recipes, simply add the <more> tag to the post!
Since adding the plugin and using the <more> page divider, I’ve noticed my page views increase. I think it’s a great plugin to use and I recommend any and all bloggers, especially food bloggers, to use it!
Hope it helps!