Travel bloggers—you’re doing RSS wrong!

| August 2, 2010 | 17 Comments
blogging Travel bloggers—you’re doing RSS wrong!

Deciding between using full posts and excerpts isn’t limited to just your RSS feed.

Travel bloggers, if you only offer an excerpt of your content through an RSS feed, you’re doing it wrong! As a reader, I prefer to subscribe to feeds that display full posts. In my opinion, the whole point of an RSS reader is to aggregate everything you want to read, saving time and bandwidth by not having to visit every travel blogger’s website. I personally believe that using excerpts in feeds takes away from the convenience of RSS. For our blog, we use full posts in the RSS feeds because we think that is what our readers prefer—and deserve.

No idea what RSS is? No worries. Read on!

What is RSS?

Really Simple Syndication (RSS)  has become a valuable technology for everything from casual web users to webmasters. According to a recent Yahoo survey, however, only 28% of internet users were aware of RSS and a mere 12% have knowingly used the technolofy. Still not sure what RSS is? No worries! RSS exists as a means to gather and display information quickly and easily.  

You have probably seen small, often orange, RSS or XML icons on websites. These icons link to that website’s ‘feed’—a consistently formatted selecton of content. RSS feeds often include the title of the article and a small excerpt or even the whole article. You read these ‘feeds’ in a program called an aggregator (like Google Reader), which collects news from various websites and provides it to you in a simple form. 

 A lot of our readers read Two Go Round-The-World through our RSS feed. In fact, our RSS subscribers almost outstrip our daily visitors—not by much mind you, but enough to significantly affect our overall traffic. Check out the growth curve!

rssgrowth Travel bloggers—you’re doing RSS wrong!

Great growth! Our RSS subscribers almost outstrip our daily visitors.

Why do so many of our readers use RSS? We believe it’s because travelers are a technically savvy demographic. They’re generally quick to adopt new forms of technology that can save them time—and money. They’ve been exposed to RSS through marketing initiatives by big travel industry players such as Expedia—who offer personalized travel deals delivered directly to their customers by RSS—when and where they want them. It’s easy and free.

If you use an RSS reader, you’ll notice two different methods travel bloggers use for displaying their RSS feeds. Some bloggers choose to show readers the full post directly in the RSS reader, while others choose to only use short excerpts that contain a link to the blog post on their site. 

It’s clear that RSS readers are a very targeted audience since they’ve chosen to read your feed—so why punish them by only offering a portion of your post?

Asking our readers

If Two Go RTW switches to excerpt-only RSS updates, I will...

View Results

loading Travel bloggers—you’re doing RSS wrong! Loading ...
  

Excerpts

That being said, each method has its pros and cons. From the perspective of a travel blogger, using an excerpt might appear to be the best solution. Excerpting a post will ultimately increase page views as readers will have to visit your site to read the full post. Of course, this will affect your overall traffic ranking and possibly advertising revenue. On the other hand, less people overall read your post, as it requires clicking through your link and visiting your blog. As a result, your RSS subscribers can become frustrated with not being able to see the full post and they may ultimately unsubscribe from your site.

Full Posts

In our opionion, full posts will be read by a higher percentage of subscribers. And, moreover, your RSS subscribers will increase. On the other hand, you drive less traffic to your blog, resulting in decreased page views, lower traffic rankings and reduced advertising revenue.

What’s a travel blogger to do?

You may have noticed that many popular news sites like CBC, BBC and CNN prefer using excerpts. These news sites only display the headlines in their RSS feed—and do not show any of the story until you visit the actual website. So which method is the right method for your travel blog? For our blog, we use full posts in the RSS feeds because we think that is what our readers prefer—and deserve.

One of the number one goals for most travel bloggers is to gain the trust of the largest possible audience. Readers aren’t just ‘traffic’, they are also your supporters. Because it is so difficult to increase your readership, doesn’t it make sense to try to retain your readers at any cost? If you make reading easier for your readers, they will appreciate it more than you realize.

You should not hold anything back from your readers, so give them everything that you can in your RSS feed. If you give your readers exactly what they subscribed to, you will benefit from an increase in RSS subscribers, a greater number of posts getting bookmarked on sites like StumbleUpon, more viewer comments, and more travel bloggers—and others—referencing about your blog in theirs.

Blog front pages—an ‘excerption’ to the rule

Deciding between using full posts and excerpts isn’t limited to just your RSS feed. Excerpts can also be used on the blog homepage. Although we use full posts in the RSS feed, we use excerpts on the blog’s front page. Our reason for doing so is the same—we believe it is what my readers would prefer.

Using excerpts on the blog front page can help increase your page views, but I think that is a secondary—and better—reason for using them. When we visit blogs, we like to be able to quickly and easily review titles and excerpts of several posts all at once, rather than needing to scroll down through an entire post. We believe it gives the reader a chance to quickly assess what type of content is available on the blog.

Conclusion

Ironically, we wrote this post because we’ve seriously been considering switching our RSS feed to use excerpts instead of full posts. We hate excerpting—we really do. But we need to try something to improve the meagre ad revenue we generate. Given the choice between pissing off every Two Go Round-The-World subscriber and making a few extra bucks, we’ll opt for keeping our subscribers happy.

Readers—we would now like to throw the question out to you. When reading RSS feeds, do you prefer to see the full post inside your RSS reader or do you just want to see an excerpt? Let us know in the comments what you prefer!

Travel bloggers—have you tested the difference between full-text and excerpt RSS feeds? We’d love to hear your thoughts on the matter. Please share your comments below.


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Category: Dan's Blog

About the Author ()

For nearly ten years now, Daniel of Two Go Round-The-World has explored how travel captures our imagination and engages our deepest emotions. One half of the duo that maintains the widely read Two Go Round-The-World blog, Daniel treats his subjects not only as works of art but also as symbols of the cultural and political forces that inspire them. Check him out on Google+.

Comments (17)

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  1. Oh, PLEASE keep the posts in full! I really do tend to skip most excerpted posts, especially when my reader is full. I feel your pain on the revenue end, but I really hope you keep them in full!!

    • Daniel says:


      Hey Kate — I think it’s fair to say that we’ll maintain the status quo. Excerpts just don’t serve readers very well, to be quite honest.

  2. Fuzz says:


    I subscribe to this blog through an RSS feed and also subscribe to about 200 other blogs.

    I think the key point to those bloggers who post shortened feeds that they need to allow something within those few shortened sentences or paragraphs for the reader to comment on. If there is nothing for me to comment on, I don’t continue to read the rest of the feed.

    • Daniel says:


      Thanks for the comments, Fuzz. We subscribe to a great number of blogs, to. That’s why we’ve learned to not hold anything back from our readers — at the end of the day, there’s just such a proliferation of blogs out there they’ll find the ‘full’ feed they are looking for!


  3. The poll isn’t working for me. Let me just say this, I don’t have a single excerpt only feed in my RSS and I don’t bother actually visiting to check for updates on those sites that don’t provide a full feed. It’s not a matter of principle, its just the internet should be Really Simple to use. You might think what is one click but why do Apple and Microsoft work so hard at reducing the number of clicks in their software. It’s not so much to increase efficiency as to make it easier to use.

    • Daniel says:


      Ironically, those polls don’t work inside of RSS feeds! I hear what you’re saying — exactly. And anything we can do to make the lives of our readers easier is worth doing — in our opinion!

  4. Daniel says:


    Excerpts suck – don’t use them, as a reader they drive me away from blogs in my RSS feeds.

    that said – I understand that you need to monetize your content in order to continue producing it. I’d recommend text or display adds IN your rss content. See the feed for techcrunch.com. Even better in my opinion is how daringfireball.com monetizes his feed. He puts out 1-2 posts per week (not more or they will annoy) with highly targeted advertisements. For travel this could be anything from backpacks, to iPhone travel guides, or really anything you feel would be valuable to your readers.

    The posts are conversational which reduces the annoyance level and generally prove to be more valuable to your advertisers with better click through rates and conversion.

    I would imagine this method takes a little extra work to get started lining up advertisers, but ultimately it is likely the most effective method.

    Hope that give you some choices for moving forward and remaining successful with the blog.

    • Daniel says:


      Thanks, Daniel. Sage advice — and something we might consider doing. I’m not at all surprised to find out that those who use RSS feeds find full-post feeds so useful. Thanks again!


  5. Interesting post! We’ve been traveling the world nonstop since 2006 and blogging about it and I must admit that i am still totally clueless about RSS.

    • Daniel says:


      Check out Google Reader, soultravelers3. You’re a member of — and a big contributor to the travel blogging community. If you frequent more than a handful of blogs, which I believe you do, I can only imagine how much time you could save by aggregating your reading through RSS. In my opinion, it’s worth the bother of learning and setting up. Once you’re there, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

  6. Crissy says:


    While there are some blogs I have on my RSS feed that have excerpts, I rarely click to the page on them unless there is something really catchy about the title or the excerpt – so I’m not reading what they have to say and connecting with them often.

    If you’re using an excerpt then you have to be writing every post like someone actively wants to click through to read the whole thing, a whole different level of follow ship. The person who will click through might be someone you’re better connected with, which is a good thing, but you might also be missing other opportunities to bring in new readers to connect with.

  7. Laura says:


    Oh, come on, it’s just clicking! We do hundreds of clicks everyday, why do people get so frustrated about it? Most bloggers that you would want to subscribe to are blogging to earn money. If their own readers are not willing to click and see the ads, then who? It’s cool to give away free stuff from time to time, but not all the time. Why do people just want to receive without giving anything in return?

  8. KiteZA says:


    Just switched over from excerpts to full feed, because of this post.

    The reason I originally had it on truncated feeds is because I’m an absolute sucker for statistics, and I didn’t know if I could get RSS feed stats for my blog.

    Honestly, I still don’t, but I’ve decided that if any kind souls want to read it via RSS, I won’t make it more difficult for them.

    By the way, if you do know of a way to track RSS feed visits/reads then do let me know :)

    Thanks!

  9. Jill says:


    I’m so new to this whole RSS thing I’m a little confused. I get my RSS through Google Homepage and all I see are the titles of the posts…

    Eh?

  10. Skott says:


    Can I ask? How do I change the feeds of our website from excerpts to full posts?

    thanks!


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