I'm not the first one to chime in on this topic, mostly because I've gone both ways and I can make pretty valid arguments from either side. But I've finally settled it in my mind which is "best".

Full RSS feeds are better than summary feeds.

Why?

I can answer that only from the perspective of a skimmer and scanner.

When I browse through my RSS feeds, I'm first looking for titles that draw my interest. If your title doesn't make me want to read I scroll right past it. But that doesn't necessarily mean you have a bad title, not every title is going to make everybody want to read. There are just a lot of things that I don't care about and many feeds I read don't always have posts that strike my particular fancy. Once I see a title that makes me think I might want to read on, well, then I start skimming through the post. I might read a few of the first sentences and then start skipping down to link text, headings, boldings, and use those to create a judgment of whether I should take time to actually read the full post.

Summaries don't have eye appeal

What? Your summary feed doesn't have headings, boldings, bullets or anything else that catches my eye? Well, you better hope that your first few sentences really grab me. And I mean I really have to be convinced to click through. It's a mental thing really. I don't mind clicking if I know I want to read something, but not if I just think I might want to read it. The summary may be partially convincing, but not totally. I'm then forced to move away from my primary screen to another screen because I think I might be interested. You're making me think to hard.

Countless times, after reading a summary, I've been on the edge. I think I'm interested, but not entirely sure. Do I click or do I keep scanning available blog posts. Sometimes I opt for the former, wishing I opted for the latter. Now, more times than not, now, I opt for the latter. If the summary isn't entirely convincing I won't click.

It's a shame really because there are probably some decent insights in there somewhere. But you hid them all behind a not-so-telling summary. Or heck, maybe your summary was dead on and your information just isn't my cup of tea... if you had a full feed I still might have gleaned a little something of value from your insight.

Are you missing anything by providing a full feed? Sure, you got the click, right? Your traffic numbers go up and maybe you can sell your ad space for a few cents more this month from last... but there is not always value in it for me, which means there is often no real value in it for you.

Do you want to be read or do you want to be visited? Do you want people to hear what you have to say or do you just want your page numbers to go up? Do your yourself a favor, provide a full feed. You'll be less likely to lose subscribers and you'll definitely gain more readers.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.


November 9, 2007





Stoney deGeyter is the President of Pole Position Marketing, a leading search engine optimization and marketing firm helping businesses grow since 1998. Stoney is a frequent speaker at website marketing conferences and has published hundreds of helpful SEO, SEM and small business articles.

If you'd like Stoney deGeyter to speak at your conference, seminar, workshop or provide in-house training to your team, contact him via his site or by phone at 866-685-3374.

Stoney pioneered the concept of Destination Search Engine Marketing which is the driving philosophy of how Pole Position Marketing helps clients expand their online presence and grow their businesses. Stoney is Associate Editor at Search Engine Guide and has written several SEO and SEM e-books including E-Marketing Performance; The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!; Keyword Research and Selection, Destination Search Engine Marketing, and more.

Stoney has five wonderful children and spends his free time reviewing restaurants and other things to do in Canton, Ohio.





Comments(13)

Wow, this post is interesting. I was just about to use Summary Feed on my blog, but after reading this, I'm going to stay with FULL RSS. Thanks!

-Mike

I very much so dislike summary feeds. It actually gives me less of a reason to subscribe to blog posts from certain sites. Give me all the content, baby!

While I agree with everything you said, I do think there's a case to be made for using just the summary.

It all depends on the ultimate goal of the business writing the article.

If you can make your summary compelling and there's a good call to action on your blog post, or another reason you would want the actual traffic, then feeding the entire text is just shooting yourself in the foot. (PS - I do run my entire feed)

Stoney - please pass this along...

I selected the box for "subscribe to comments" and while I was a little surprised that it wasn't checked by default, I was really surprised when I got an e-mail later, requiring me to verify my subscription to the comments.

Seems like a pain in the neck to me, and having to jump through extra hoops and get an additional e-mail, then visit another link (which by the way was plain text, and required a copy/paste) just to subscribe to a single blog thread isn't something most users would be thrilled about, IMO.

just my 2 cents ;)

Scott, thanks for the feedback. I'll see if there isn't a better way to handle this.

Hi Stoney

I agree. I am subscribed to 30+ active feeds and if they are not full I do not bother.

I found out to my horror that one of my feeds was in summary only and to view the full version of the feed, required logging in. Naturally I opted out of that feed.

Thanks for all the comments. Of course all of this is just my personal opinion but I know there are many that have the same thoughts as me. I subsribe to very few feeds that are summary and I realize that after a few months I tend to unsubscribe. I just don't have the time to click over just to see if it's a post I'll be fully interested in.

And since integrating ads into your feeds is pretty easy then there really is no reason to force readers to click into the site.

hi,

I actually have the same thought with you, but what worried me are those scrapper out there. If I provide full feed those scrapper got full article.

have you ever considered about this?

That's one of the primary arguments against using a full RSS feed and it certainly is a valid one. But keep in mind, they can just as easily scrape the content from your site.

I say, let 'em scrape me all they want... When my scraped content ends up elsewhere, so do my text links that I insert in the posts. and if it's a post I happen to not have link in, this plug in helps too...

ya I know and use that rss-footer plugin. But still I feel uncomfortable for knowing people get money scrapping my blog.

look at what zimbio do, they scrap the entire blog post and all link don't go directly to our site,instead they go to their internal page.

I was subscribed to zimbio by a curriousness, that time I see a "delete your blog" button which I thought would make me able to delete my blog content from them later.

Now they remove that blog deletion button.

I agree. In this fast moving world, unless a headline grabs me within a second. Im gone

It really doesn't matter if websites display full RSS feeds or not. With WizardRSS.com you can type in the URL of the partial feeds and they will forward you to a new URL where you can get the link to the full RSS feeds.

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