Many visitors to blogs are turning to feed readers for consuming their favorite content. Are we looking at a change in how we should judge the traffic of a Website? We are already seeing advertisements appear in feeds which helps solve the issue of monetizing feeds, which is especially beneficial to bloggers who prefer to give full feeds.
This issue is similar in symptom to decreased traffic associated with Websites that make extensive use of AJAX. They appear to have less traffic than Websites that do not because of the asynchronous nature of AJAX which does not require an additional page load per request. While both issues make it appear as though you are receiving less visitors, it is feed-only consumption that is an actual decrease in the number of actual visitors your Website is receiving.
At this point in time I prefer publishing full content feeds. I do this because I know that when I am reading a feed I want the complete story. After all, if you're using a feed reader you probably don't want to have to open another Website each time you want to continue reading an entry. Because I do this I essentially have two readerships — one for the Website and one for the feeds.
For anyone worried that they may be leaking their regular visitors to their feed I have written a few simple ways to make the most of feed-only consumers:
- Advertise within your feeds
- If you are advertising on your blog then more than likely you do so to generate some money. If your visitors have eliminated the ads from their sight by enjoying your content from a feed reader then you will never receive any clicks. Companies such as FeedBurner and the like are starting to offer advertising options to their users. Google AdSense for feeds is currently in beta right now and will offer its users the ability to add AdSense to their feeds.
- Challenge your readers to take action
- Make your feed subscribers want to go to the Website. Offer links to the comment section of each entry and try to engage your readers with questions they will want to take the time to respond to. Easier said than done and certainly a topic for a more qualified blogger.
- Help your readers refer new readers
- Providing your readers with links to add your entry to news and link aggregators allows you to leverage your current readership to generate an even larger one. The addition of something as simple as an "Email this entry" or "Digg this" link gives you the opportunity to send new visitors to your Website, which will give you the opportunity to gain a larger audience.
As long as content developers are able to monetize their content I don't think we will see this become too large of an issue. Perhaps we should be more concerned with the traffic of our content rather than the traffic going to our Websites, or we may simply continue to read both sets of statistics separately. I won't be surprised if there is already someone working on merging site and feed stats into one set.
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