Should I Truncate My Blog’s RSS Feed?
There are a lot of details that bloggers need to think about. And one of those should be how easy it is for readers to access your information. For example, think hard about whether or not to truncate your RSS feeds.
What Does it Mean to Truncate an RSS Feed?
Truncating your RSS feed means limiting the amount of content included in the feed’s entries. An RSS feed would normally include the full text or summary of each article or post from a website or blog. However, when truncating the feed, you would only provide a portion of the content, typically a summary or an excerpt, instead of the complete text.
We don’t address this topic enough in the Internet chatter about effective practices in blogging, so there isn’t much on this to share elsewhere. But at the end of the day, you should read “Why You Shouldn’t Truncate Your RSS Feed.”
Truncating RSS feeds can be done for various reasons:
Encouraging visitors to click through: By providing only a teaser or summary in the RSS feed, you can entice readers to click on the entry and visit your website or blog to read the full article. This can help drive traffic to your site and increase engagement.
- Controlling content distribution: Truncating the RSS feed gives you more control over how your content is consumed. You can limit the distribution of full articles through the feed, making it necessary for users to visit your site directly to access the complete content.
- Protecting intellectual property: If you want to protect your content from being copied or redistributed without permission, truncating the RSS feed can serve as a deterrent. Providing only partial content makes it more difficult for others to republish your entire articles.
However, it’s important to consider the preferences of your audience when deciding whether to truncate your RSS feed. Some readers may prefer full content delivered directly to their feed reader, while others may not mind clicking through to your website.
Pageviews vs. Influence
Some people are worried about numbers (although they may be the wrong numbers) and strongly believe you must truncate your RSS feed to get readers to visit your website. You need their physical click on your site, their count as “1″ in your page views so that sponsors and advertisers will pay you for your blog real estate in the future. The thinking here goes that as a blogger, you will want your page views to be through the roof, and only then will you make money from your blog.
While on the surface, this makes sense, it is shooting yourself in the foot during Mile One of a long-distance race.
Yes, companies and businesses care about your page views when they contact you about advertising. But they care even more about your reach and influence – they want engagement.
They want to see how your content carries how many people listen to you on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and they want to see you as an ambassador with their content. They are interested in seeing how effectively you can get your message out.
And when you make people work too hard to read your information, they won’t read it. If they don’t read it, they REALLY won’t share it.
As a business, you can not afford to truncate your feed! Subscribers want to build a relationship with you, long term. If an audience member has decided to be loyal enough to you and your content to go ahead and subscribe to get your news delivered, sing “hallelujah” and make it as easy for them to digest your information as you can.
Feed Readers Make Things Convenient
Consider this: most readers subscribing to RSS feeds are doing so because they want to use an RSS reader and see all their content in one place. I use Feedly. I like that in the morning, I can get my coffee, open my tablet, and immediately read all the articles I want to from the blogs I subscribe to.
But if you deliver only two sentences of your content to the morning coffee reader, the reader is probably skipping right over you. Subscribers don’t “click to read” in the smorgasbord of blog consumption at their fingertips. So your posts pile up, unread.
Additionally, if you only give someone two sentences because you want them to click through to your website (so you can have that “1″ page hit), then it better be a perfect two sentences. You have to be a phenomenal teaser writer to get someone to want to leave their program and spend time loading a separate tab and window to read your content. By only giving two to three sentences, you have lowered substantially the odds that the average blog reader will read your content. Think about how many missed opportunities you have created for yourself because you want “1.”
Drawing Them In
Alternatively, if you “allow” subscribers to read your entire post within their selected reader, the opportunities for social sharing on your posts are huge. While your two sentences might not have enticed readers to click or made them grasp immediately how great your content is if they can read it right away, drawn in by all your beautiful pictures, great words, and fascinating information, they are vastly more inclined to Pin it, Tweet it, Like it, Share it, and Comment.
When your stuff goes social, you win. Once tweeted/pinned/shared, you could see huge numbers in retweets/repins/and re-shares. This is what you want. Not just one more page hit. You want growth. That growth and social sharing is what will get you the sponsors and advertisers (and, incidentally, new subscribers).
Protecting Your Content
I have heard a few bloggers state that they truncate their RSS feeds so they don’t lose control of their content and can protect it from being stolen. The truth is that anybody can easily steal anything from your blog. This is just a fact. Just because you don’t deliver a full article via RSS doesn’t mean you are immune to piracy. (Tip: you can help yourself by watermarking all your pictures.)
So, bloggers and businesses that blog, take a moment to think about whether you want to truncate your RSS feed. Whatever you do, we want to ensure that you make your fascinating, wonderful content as accessible and easy to share to subscribers as possible.
Allison Barrett Carter is a writer who shares how to live a traditional life and still have great family adventures on her website – The Family Trip Online.
I set up my feed ages ago. I went into WordPress this morning and set my posts to show entire posts versus the summary. (Now I wait and see if the changes go through….because I cannot for the life of me remember where I originally set that up!) ;)
Allison Barrett Carter says
That’s great, Jaime! This is definitely one of those details that is tiny and, like you said, so many of us set it up so long ago! I follow you in my Feedly so I’ll look for you. ;)