When you build a website one of the things most people want are visitors. New visitors are great because they tend to turn into return visitors. People will return to your website because they find the content entertaining, informative and worth their time. However, you know how busy we get these days. We save a link to our favorites for a website and promise that we will be back on a regular basis. How often do you really go to your favorites directory and go back visiting websites? I know my answer – rarely.
So what can you offer that might draw your site visitors back to your site every once in a while? WordPress has this great ability to create RSS (stands for Really Simple Syndication) feeds. These RSS feeds are read through most modern internet browsers, stand alone free reader programs, web based reader programs and even office suites.
An RSS feed is a dynamic summary of information. In WordPress it is either comments on your blog posts or the blog posts themselves. When you update your website or someone makes a comment the RSS feed is also updated with that information. Then when someone reads your feed they see that updated information. The next step is for them to click on the link to your original blog entry or comment and head back to your site. Now that first time visitor is now a return visitor and hopefully clicking on a few more pages of your site while they are there.
So how can you attract more RSS subscribers to your blog feed? Well the beauty of WordPress and its community of plug in developers come into play then and give us some great tools to highlight an RSS feed on our sites to get those subscribers.
Here are my five favorite RSS plug-ins for WordPress:
Subscribe Remind by Trevor Fitzgerald – places a small reminder at the end of each post to remind readers to subscribe to your RSS feed. Check out the below screenshot’s very last line after the related posts. (11,689 all time downloads from the WordPress Plug-in Directory)
WP Greet Box by Thaya Kareeson – This plugin inserts a welcome note with a link to your RSS feed at the beginning of a blog entry very similar to what the Subscribe Remind plugin does. However, this plug in is setup for referrals from Twitter (pictured below), Google, Yahoo!, Digg, sSumbleupon, Technorati, etc. Plus it has a admin page where you can create your own welcome message for other services. (26,352 all time downloads from the WordPress Plug-in Directory)
RSS Footer by Joost de Valk – This is another plugin that adds an extra line to your blog posts that invite your visitors to become subscribers of your RSS feed. Very nice admin interface which allows you to customize the text and its location in your blog post. (22,671 all time downloads from the WordPress Plug-in Directory)
Extra Feed Links by scribu – This small plugin adds auto-discovery links for RSS feeds based on what type of page and content is displayed. It then shows that RSS feed to your browser and it will then add links to those various other RSS feeds for category, tag, search, author and comments. More options to subscribe will usually result in more subscriptions. (2,411 all time downloads from the WordPress Plug-in Directory)
Feedburner Email Subscription Form in a Sidebar Widget. This one is not actually a plugin but a way I get an email RSS subscription form in my sidebar for visitors to sign up for email based delivery of my sites RSS feeds.
To get this form in the sidebar I simply choose a Text widget in the appearance admin panel and then paste in the email subscription form code from Feedburner’s website into its text area and save it. After that I now have the below text box in my sites sidebar.
So what is your favorite method of gaining RSS subscribers on your WordPress website? I look forward to hearing your ideas and suggestions in the comments.