I was reading an interesting post over at SEOmoz and it got me thinking. The issue was increasing feed subscriptions by using creative feed icons instead of the traditional orange icon. While some were very creative, many looked too much like ads and would likely scare off readers new to feeds, and experienced feed users wouldn’t need the help.
In my opinion, the biggest problem is getting new users onto the feed reader train. Most of my readers are unfamiliar with feeds or even email subscriptions. Making it more accessible for the beginner is an important task for building a readership. Too often we get caught up in the goal of site traffic and forget that reader loyalty has value too. Whether it’s being added to someone’s blogroll or having them post a response to one of your posts, traffic comes from various sources, including feeds.
For example, you may offer only summaries in your feed or link to other content on your site to get feed readers to your site. Or you can just have content so good they can’t help but come and comment. OK, so that will never work, but in theory…
So the big question for me is how do I make my feeds more accessible to someone not familiar with feeds? Simple, explain it to them. But how? With an “about feeds” page of course.
But what does an “about feeds” page look like? Brief introduction with some links to popular, free, and easy feed readers? Step-by-step instructions on your favorite reader? Or maybe you start out with e-mail subscriptions where you ease them into feeds? Maybe videos?
Maybe you just ask Google?