Why people don’t subscribe to your RSS feed

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  • August 20, 2007
Patrick Altoft

Patrick Altoft

Director of Strategy

Having a large RSS readership is probably the most reliable indicator
of a blogs success. The reason RSS is such a reliable metric is that
building a loyal subscriber base is the hardest task in internet
marketing, even harder than launching a new site.

There are lots of blogs such as ProBlogger and Shoemoney that just
seem to attract RSS subscribers in such huge numbers that it can be
quite demoralising to new bloggers. Over the past few weeks I’ve been
studying my own RSS subscription habits to try and understand why
people subscribe to RSS feeds.

The first point I noticed was that out of the hundred or so feeds I
subscribe to there are only about 5 that I found using social media.
As a Digg user I visit tens of sites every day that offer RSS feeds
and have never bothered to subscribe to any of them. Assuming most
Digg users are the same it’s not surprising that hitting the Digg
front page doesn’t do much to increase your subscriber levels.

It is also very unlikely that you will get many subscribers from
people finding your site in the Google search results, especially if
your blog is aimed at web savvy readers.

The main conclusion to be drawn from my subscription habits is that
the vast majority of blogs I subscribe to were found by following a
link from another blogger in my daily reading list. There is no better
blog promotion method than having another well known blog or website
write about your site in a positive light.

Armed with this information it seems the best way forward is to
somehow make sure that popular bloggers write about your site and link
to you. Clearly this is easier said than done, especially in a
saturated industry such as internet marketing.

Blogs in other industries (gadgets, for example) attract RSS
subscribers and links far more easily. Larger gadget blogs are much happier
to spread link love as they normally just credit the source at the end
of the article rather than actively pointing out a story from another
blog.

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