August 16, 2007

Five ways FeedBurner can Help Improve your Readership

If you're not already using FeedBurner's free services, you're missing out on some great blogging tools! Here are five of the best ways that FeedBurner can help you to improve your blog feed and attract more readers to your site:

  1. Redirect your Blogger feeds through Feedburner:

    This will help you get a better understanding of your feed subscriber base, and can also give you greater control over how your feeds are displayed (see below). To do this, log into your Blogger dashboard and go to Settings>Feeds. Then add your FeedBurner feed URL in the box provided to redirect all your Blogger feeds for management by FeedBurner.
  2. Include "Digg This", "Add to", "Email this" etc beneath each feed item:

    Using FeedBurner's "Feed Flare" service, you can choose to add various links to the foot of each feed item which will enable readers to Digg your posts, add to FaceBook, email your posts to their friends and a whole bunch more! To do this, log in to your FeedBurner dashboard and choose Optimize>Feed Flare.
  3. Offer your readers blog updates by email:

    Many blog readers prefer to receive updates by email instead of through an RSS reader. Feedburner can handle this service for you very easily, and provide a simple widget for you to collect email subscribers from your blog. To enable this service, go to Publicize>Email Subscriptions in your FeedBurner dashboard and customize your subscription form. You can then add this as a widget to your sidebar using the widget installer. You can even "brand" your emails using custom fonts and your blog's logo!
  4. Let FeedBurner manage your "pings":

    FeedBurner can automatically ping feed-reading sites for you each time you publish, including Technorati and Ping-o-matic! To enable this option, go to Publicize>PingShot in your FeedBurner dashboard and choose the services you would like to ping.
  5. Promote your content with a Headline Animator:

    You can create an animated "headlines" box to place anywhere on the web (in your blog, your website, etc...) which rotates the titles of your most recent posts. there are many styles and designs to choose from, such as the Spring Widgets skin whose background image changes according to the season. To get the code for your own Headline Animator, go to Publicize>Headline Animator in your FeedBurner dashboard and configure a style to your liking. You can even choose to add this as a widget in your blog using the widget installer.

Yet another useful feature is the ability to "summarize" your feed items, to provide a short teaser of your blog posts in order to encourage readers to visit your site to read the whole thing. This is not something which would appeal to all bloggers (which is why it didn't make the top 5!), but has proved rather useful when designing my own "RSS Headlines" widgets.

Also, I've noticed that when I choose to publish 'short' feeds in my Blogger settings, only the title of my posts show up in the feed, making FeedBurner's service a much more usable alternative! To enable feed summaries, go to Optimize>Summary Burner in your FeedBurner dashboard and activate this service.

For more information about FeedBurner, take a look at these posts:

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