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Publish a full RSS feed, or a teasers only ?

Posted on Sep 9th, 2010 by

RSS billboard

Have you ever asked yourself the question to feature full blogposts in your RSS feed, or to only publish a teaser? Maybe you should!

I used my personal blog with a humble 700-800 RSS subscribers, as a test case.

Up until recently, I published my full blogposts using Feedburner. Back in April, I had too much time on my hands, and decided to experiment with a teaser:

feed teaser

How? Easy! In Feedburner, I used the “Optimize” – “Summary Burner” option, to truncate the feed to the first 500 characters of any post in my RSS feed:

feedburner configuration

Tonight, four months later, was the time to check if truncating the feed caused any traffic difference on my blog… And surprise, surprise. Google Analytics showed a significant increase in traffic originating from my RSS subscribers: Since I shortened the feeds on my blog, the traffic coming from my RSS feed went up fivefold:

Feedburner traffic

Even more interesting was that the visitors coming from the RSS feed, had a completely different behaviour than the average visitors on my site:

Feedburner stats

  • First of all, they spend twice as much time on my blog than the average visitor;
  • While on the blog, they 33% of them also read at least one other post (versus a site average of only 20%);
  • …And they read 33% more pages than average visitor

The explanation is obvious:
The people subscribing to your RSS feed are amongst the most loyal readers of your blog. They are inherently interested in the kind of content you generate.
If you publish an RSS feed with full blogposts, most of them will read the RSS feed, and not go to your blog. If you ‘tease’ them with a truncated RSS feed, they will want to read the full post, and will go onto your blog. Once they get to see your actual blog, they will be more eager than the ‘average visitor’ to ‘explore’ other content on your blog, discovering new content as they go along.

So is it worth while truncating your RSS feed? You bet!

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6 Comments to “Publish a full RSS feed, or a teasers only ?”

  1. Weekend WordPress Wrap for September 17, 2010 | Throwing a Brick says:

    [...] Publish a full RSS feed, or a teasers only? Do you publish full feeds, on your blog? Peter at Blog Tips offers some compelling data that suggests publishing teasers might be the way to go, if your aim is to boost the number of visitors to your blog. Google Analytics showed a significant increase in traffic originating from my RSS subscribers: Since I shortened the feeds on my blog, the traffic coming from my RSS feed went up fivefold. [...]

  2. John Soares says:

    I’ve always done teasers precisely because I want people to go to my blogs. However, I have print books and e-books for sale on my blogs, and if people don’t actually go to my blog, they won’t buy.

    I also write blog for a nonprofit, the Mount Shasta Trail Association. Again, I want people to go to the site to see what else is there, and perhaps also to join or volunteer to help.

  3. Teasers are not that good for SEO purposes. Most of the times your feed gets picked by bots who post it at some other website. When this happens you would want your links to go there as well. Therefore, a full feed will give that page a good ranking but with your links thus increasing your popularity as the net effect.


  4. Neil says:

    Is there a way to use summary burner AND keep the image at the top of the post in the tease?

    Thank you!


  5. Daniel says:

    Fantastic ans very helpful post, Peter.

    I did have the rss set for teasers before, though, on relaunching my site I had them stuck in “full-post mode…

    Whilst optimizing my feed setting to make sure it was working properly, the first thing that came to mind when realizing I had “full post settings enabled was, “Why would anybody bother visiting my site, if they can get the whole post via a feed…

    As you have shown in your stats, the “rss feed tease choice” has proved to be great for your site, and has increased the number of “switched on and engaged visitors” greatly….

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