I wrote on Monday that FeedBurner is a great tool for jazzing up your feed, and I also told you why investing in your feed was important, but I haven’t gone into any specifics yet. Today we’ll discuss three powerful ways you can use FeedBurner to optimize your theme. I’ll tell you why each step is important, how to do it, and the result you might expect from using FeedBurner in this fashion.
Making your feed Browser Friendly
As I wrote last time, you invest a lot of time and effort into making your site look nice, and you do so to impress, attract, and keep readers. It stands to reason that you would likewise want your RSS feed to be attractive and usable, and this is where FeedBurner comes in. There’s absolutely no sense in reinventing the wheel, so let FeedBurner do the work of making your feeds more beautiful.
Once you have burned your feed, you can navigate to the Optimize tab and select Browser Friendly from the sidebar on the left. The default settings will probably do, but as you can see above, you can also add more subscription options either before or after you activate Browser Friendly. Hitting the activate button at the bottom of the page will turn this on, and within an hour or so you’ll have a beautiful RSS page.
To get an idea of what this would look like, check out my RSS page, helpfully burned, styled, and optimized by FeedBurner. Why don’t you subscribe while you’re there? 😉
Don’t Have a Dumb Feed
One of the problems with RSS is that there isn’t just one way to do it. We use the term “RSS” to refer to site content syndication that we can then put into a centralized reader, be it desktop or web based, but the truth is that there are two different kinds of web feeds (RSS and Atom), and each one of those has a handful of different versions and specs. Due to this, compatibility between a feed and a reader (I use Google Reader myself) can be a problem.
That’s where SmartFeed comes in. FeedBurner can automagically translate your feed into the different protocols and versions so that any RSS reader will be able to interpret and display your feed. This gives your readers a seamless, trouble-free experience.
We all know that web browser compatibility can be a pain. Don’t let your RSS feeds cause the same misery; optimize your feed with SmartFeed and you’ll never have to worry about your feed compatibility again.
Because You Want to Express Yourself, Right?
Once you’ve got people subscribing, it’s really best if you can keep them actively engaged with your site, rather than just passively reading. FeedFlare adds content to the bottom of your feed, almost like a footer, so you can give your RSS subscribers some additional ways to interact with you and your site.
You can see the flare I’ve chosen to use above, but there are a ton of different options. Since you’re already in the Optimize tab from doing the earlier two steps, just click on FeedFlare in the left column and take a gander at everything that’s available to you. I’d recommend, though, that you don’t add too many. If you’ve got a whole wall of flare at the bottom of your RSS feeds, people’s eyes will glaze over and they’ll start to drool before they move to their next article to read. Then they’ll blame you for getting their shirt damp and will unsubscribe to your feed. Don’t engage in such foolishness.
I’ve got five flares, which makes for a single line at most resolutions. Once you’ve added flare, you can easily drag them around to get the order you want. Activate and save your FeedFlare settings and FeedBurner will take care of the rest.
Using the above tips will make your feed a whole lot more appealing and useful, but it probably won’t bring any more traffic to your site. Tune in again on Friday to learn about using FeedBurner to get the word out and bring more visitors to both your site and your feed. See you then!