How To Get RSS Readers To Visit Your Blog

Most readers read John Chow dot Com by visiting the blog. However, an average of 1,261 read the blog via the full feed RSS. This can create a problem when it comes to monetization because there are far fewer ways to monetize a RSS feed than a blog.

If you look at the blog of Guy Kawasaki, you’ll find that over 22,000 of this 30,000 daily readers read his blog from RSS only. It is any wonder why Guy cannot make money from Google AdSense? Another example is Tech Crunch. They have 30,000+ blog readers and 130,000+ RSS readers. Fortunately for them, their ad sales team takes the RSS readership into account when selling ad space – that’s why a 125×125 button cost $10,000 a month.

Having a large RSS readership is great and it is something every blogmaster should try to build. Your RSS represents a loyal reader base and seeing that number increase is a good representation of real growth. However, because many RSS reader won’t visit your blog, making money off them is very limited. FeedBurner Ad Network and Text Link Ads Feedvertising (aff) are two ways to monetize a RSS feed, but the best way to make money off RSS readers is to encourage them to visit the blog. Here are some ways to do that.

Turn On FeedBurner FeedFlare

I run my RSS feeds through FeedBurner. Their FeedFlare feature allows me to add a comment count to the end of each posts. This lets the RSS readers know how many comments the posts have generated.

Unless a reader subscribes to the comment RSS, comments cannot be read from the post RSS. This mean a RSS reader must visit the blog in order to read the comments. If a RSS reader is interested in the post, the chances are good that he or she will click on the comment link to see what other readers have to say.

Encourage Comments

Having the FeedBurner FeedFlare showing zero comments on all your posts doesn’t help you much. This is why I try to encourage comments as much as possible. A blog is a communication tool between its author and readers, and should be taken advantage of.

The easiest way to encourage comments is to ask for feedback on your posts. A RSS reader has to go to your blog in order to comment so this is a great way to get them to visit. You can also install the two WordPress Plugins I use to increase blog comments.

In the beginning, you may even try to “seed” your blog with comments to get the ball rolling. Make up a few names and enter some comments in your posts. It’s sneaky, but there’s really nothing wrong with it. Many forums are built this way.

Embed Some Videos

Embedded video cannot be played with a RSS feed. If a RSS reader wishes to view the video, he or she must visit the blog. For example, RSS readers who wanted to see the bathroom of the MGM Skylofts had to visit the blog because I did the post with a video instead of pictures.

Having a good description on what the video is about will encourage more RSS readers to visit. Don’t post a video without a description. Your RSS readers will just see a blank post if you do that.

Link To Old Posts

This is a great way to get RSS readers (and blog readers) to check out the blog. Whenever possible, I try to find old posts that are related to my current post and link to it. This type of linking has several benefits – it helps search engines find your older articles, it helps your blog readers discover articles they may have missed, and it encourages RSS readers to click on the links and visit your blog.

Remind Readers That RSS Is Not Real Time

A new blog post won’t show up in the RSS feed until the feed updates. This updating can take as long as 6 hours (sometimes longer). Therefore, readers who want to read the latest posts will still click through to the blog to see if the post on the RSS feed is the current top post.

A way to remind readers of this is by using the Text Link Ads Feedversting feature. You can place a notice in your feed stating something like, “This may not be the latest post! Check out John Chow dot Com to see if you’re missing anything.”

Note – this only works if your blog is updated multiple times per day.

Turn Off the Full Feed

I don’t really recommend doing this but it is an option. If you don’t run a full feed, RSS readers have to click through to the blog to read the rest of the post. The problem with this is many RSS readers will unsubscribe from your feed if it is not full. You want your RSS number to go up, not down.

Since turning on full feed RSS, my RSS readership has steadily increased. Luckily, this has not resulted in any drop to blog traffic. I think one of the reasons for this is because many RSS readers do visit the blog. If you’re one of the few who read this blog from RSS only, I would love to find out how often (if ever) you visit the blog? Please let me know in the comments.

55 thoughts on “How To Get RSS Readers To Visit Your Blog”

  1. Bryce says:

    I can’t see FeedFlare in my reader 🙁

  2. John Chow says:

    What reader are you using? FeedFlare works great with Google Reader.

  3. Leftblank says:

    I’m always reading the articles in my newreader (Thunderbird) together with my email, but usually theres plenty to comment, or I just want to state what I think. Like the person above here; I don’t see any comment count either, just ‘Add comment’ at the bottom.

  4. Hawaii SEO says:

    Post something worth bookmarking.

    I’m sure this list of tips will be useful to me later on but I can’t bookmark individual blog posts from my RSS reader. I need to visit the page to bookmark it.

    I’ll likely come back again because I’ll check the box to be notified of followup comments via e-mail.

  5. Some great tips throughout that post John. Some of the more common sense things such as linking to previous posts are especially helpful in my opinion, and can have even SEO benefits via internal links, beyond that of making it easier for engines to find content.


  6. Leo Paiva says:

    You can have your feed in Real Time just by pinging FeedBurner at

    I don’t know if a lot of people use it, but I do.

  7. soj says:

    i just use the firefox live bookmark feature, and click on new posts as they are posted, i have never seen the benefits of a feed reader

  8. David Beroff says:

    “Make up a few names and enter some comments in your posts. It’s sneaky, but there’s really nothing wrong with it.”

    Um, yes, there is; it’s lying.

  9. Nomar says:

    great post, I only have 5 to 10 subscribers, so no worry for me yet.

    but i know what to do now when i have more 🙂

  10. I also use the Firefox live bookmarks tool. Very convenient.


  11. Kiltak says:

    Embed Some Videos

    Embedded video cannot be played with a RSS feed.


  12. Dave says:

    I read your posts through Google Reader. If there is an interesting post, I will normally click into the post to read the comments or watch the video.

  13. HMTKSteve says:

    Good tips.

    RSS subscribers is a very good indicator of how popular your blog is. Monetizing those readers can also be done by inserting affiliate links in your blog post.

  14. In Google Reader, all it says at the bottom is Add a comment. This is because the RSS entry is created as soon as you post, which at that time means there will be no comments.

    I click to the site when you embed movies or if you link to an old article. Sometimes I just get bored of GR, though, so I visit the site to change the scenery.

  15. Kip says:

    Good comments. My answer to “how often do you click through to the site” is “as little as possible”. You’ve given some very good reasons, legitimate ones, for clicking through. I wish there was a better representation for videos in rss, I don’t mind clicking through, but it’s somewhat bothersome to just have blank space where the video would go. Some way to “click here to watch this youtube/soapbox/google video” would be nice.

  16. I read the blog from RSS mainly and i visit the blog very seldomly, this is the first time in a month or so. And that’s only because im not on my usual computer. 😉

  17. Ryan says:

    Have you tried using FeedBurner’s e-mail delivery?

  18. Tyler says:

    I do partial feeds. My thoughts are if the first few sentances are enough to get their attention then hopefully they will come visit the site to read more.

    I might increase my feed’s length but still not do a full feed. But then again, yesturday I only have 5 people pull my feed 😉

  19. Allen.H says:

    Very nice tips there John. These little hacks will surely help me with blogs that have hundreds of subscribers, not getting them to visit my blog everyday is a net-loss.


  20. Nick says:

    John where do publishers sign up for FeedBurner Ad Network ?

  21. David Mackey says:

    Another thing I’d recommend is not setting nofollow on your comments. If people know they can get a linkback from posting they are more likely to do so – even if it means you have to watch for spammy comments.

  22. John Chow says:

    Kiltak – Embedded videos normally don’t work in RSS but I’m sure there are Plugins to make them work.

    David Beroff – Lying is when you tell something that is false. Making a comment in your own post is not lying. Not using your own name is not lying either, but it maybe a mis-representation. However, most would use their nick or internet handle name.

    Nick – You can apply to the FeedBurner Ad Network by clicking the Monetize tab in your FeedBurner control panel.

    David – I reward top commentators with a link in the side bar. Those links do not have a nofollow tag.

  23. Nik Agarwal says:

    John: I’m not sure I agree with making up your own comments to drive more readers to comment on the post. However, I do think it can work since I am guessing some people are not comfortable with being the comment starter. Rather than simply asking users to comment, what is a better way to appeal to readers to write comments?

    David Mackey: I think the nofollow tag on comments is appropriate because if it wasn’t there, many comments would just be useless words and comments that would not add to the creativity of the post and the health of the discussion.

  24. Jane says:

    Great advice.

    I heard about your site about 8 months ago through our web architect at the company I work for. I’ve been following you ever since. I have never signed up for the RSS feed here because I always prefered seeing the actual site. Not sure, but i’m probably the minority in not signing up for it.

  25. Alex Becker says:

    Yea like to visit the site not the feed. And I am yet to decide if I want a feed or not for my blog.

  26. Michael Kwan says:

    I only really use my RSS to see which sites I frequent are being updated, but I do actually visit the sites if a headline or two catches my eye. I wonder if I’m in a minority…

  27. Aris says:


    Thanks for this explanation. It’s good for us — the newbies in the blogsphere. 🙂

  28. RSS Allan says:

    John, it’s nice to see other bloggers writing about RSS every now and then. You make a really good point about losing potential revenue although this tends to be more pronounced for technically orientated bloggers as there readers are more savvy.

    As for embedded video, it depends on the reader. Most of the popular readers will play video.

  29. Jeff says:

    I personally have you on my Firefox bookmark RSS, so it only shows me the recent entry titles on the top and then I have to click on a title, and that brings me to your site.

    Not to mention, out of curiousity, I have clicked on your ad sense links to the logitech mx revolution mouse, and I now know about it and I’m thinking of getting one. I guess that was money well spent for Logitech and Google to pop that ad in here eh?

  30. Tyler says:

    Michael Kwan: I do what you do. I keep tabs on the blogs/sites that I frequent and then I will goto the site to read up on things and check comments etc.

    John: I noticed that the Top Commentators do not have the rel=”nofollow” link which is nice. It makes me try and keep my name up there 😉 I was reading Google’s blog about why they say bloggers should impliment the nofollow tag and it’s because people can post bogus links as their URL and it is hidden behind their name. The web crawlers would see that as a legitimate hyperlink and follow it.

    Having the rel=”nofollow” tells the bot not to crawl it because it is not worthy of being index/scored etc.

    I recently added the nofollow to my site’s comments and I don’t think I will turn it off. When my PR becomes higher (it just recently hit 2) I will do someting similar to the top commentators or something.

  31. I would like to put a feedburner counter on my site but at this point I think it would be embarassing. I probably have fewer than 10 people subscribing to it. But hopefully I could use it as motivation to set goals and get more readers.

  32. derrich says:

    Good advice. I’ve recently increased my video posts, and my traffic has increased quite a bit. I’m still low on the Feedburner subscriber count, but according to my Google Analytics my returning visitors is up significantly from about 10% to 31.4%. I’m still having trouble getting folks to leave comments, but those have increased as well…just not as much as I’d like.

  33. Stephen says:

    I visit when John IM’s me and says “Hey! My Latest Post! …” Seems to work. I’m here aren’t I? 😆

  34. Nik Agarwal says:

    Nick Witkoski: I have a feedburner counter on my site and I consistently have fewer than 10 readers. However, I do use it as a motivating tool and a great way to, like you said, “set goals and get more readers”. The way I look at it is, its not the number of readers that matters, but the dedication you put into the content. As long as you work hard to create and post content and manage your site (e.g. SEO, original content, etc.), you should not worry about the number of readers. Just keep at it and have a positive outlook and never be afraid to try something new.

  35. Pingback: Soj
  36. soj says:

    if you want a free link from a pr4 website, i have just added the top commentators plugin to my blog, its a great idea for more comments

  37. I actually just recently changed my feed from partial posts to the full deal, so I’ll have to monitor the impact. Although my site isn’t really making any money yet, so maybe it will change the reader stats.

    John, I’d like to thank you and your site because I have a larger amount of traffic coming into me from your site and have actually started receiving a few more comments on posts, which is always a nice thing.

  38. Michael Kwan says:

    Tyler: Do you use an actual RSS reader? Cause I rely completely on the Google personalized homepage, both for personal pages that I keep up with (John Chow, for example) and pages that I keep track of for work.

  39. Raghu says:


    Until sometime back I used to visit many many blogs everyday. But yes after subscribing to their feeds I hardly visit their blogs – very rarely even if I do so.

    Particularly liked your top commentators idea – any inputs on how to do this on blogspot ?

  40. Pallab says:

    I don’t really recommend doing this but it is an option. If you don’t run a full feed, RSS readers have to click through to the blog to read the rest of the post

    The point of having RSS is that you wont have to visit the website to read the article instead you can just read it in your feed reader. I only visit the website if I feel like posting a comment and I feel that’s how things should be.

    Embedded video cannot be played with a RSS feed.

    I dont know what RSS feed reader you use, I use the one integrated with Opera ( ) and I have no problem in viewing embedded videos.

  41. Hawaii SEO says:

    I hate partial feeds. Unless the title and intro text are spectacular, that’s as far as I go. I’ve stopped reading several decent blogs because of this.

    If you spend the time and effort to click through… and then the blog post lets you down somehow, I learn quickly to not click through anymore and then sometimes loose interest completely.

  42. Chris says:

    These are some great tip. I installed both plugins, and people have gone crazy for the top commentators spot – they’ve even blogged about on their blogs!

    Thanks John!

  43. Ryan says:

    Yup, as everyone else points out it seems full feeds are the way to go. If someone isn’t going to take the time to visit the site at least give them a full feed so they might sometime in the future. I’d rather have them reading anywhere than not reading at all.

  44. Raghu says:

    Your idea of putting in the first few comments to start a discussion around your post looks like a little cheeky. I am not sure if I will do it myself but will give it a thought for sure.

  45. Raghu says:

    A humble suggestion from me would be – please get over your CES visit and get back to more meaningful posts that I would come back to your site for.

  46. Ryan says:

    I suggest you post more picks of booties.

  47. So is it YOU John, that is the mysterious Anon that always says something crazy near the beginning of the comments? Maybe trying to stir up a little strife and discussion maybe? 😉

    Thanks a lot for the tips, they are very helpful.

  48. Andy says:

    I wish they just displayed how many people in total had come instead of how many people read it yesterday

  49. Leftblank says:

    Interesting blog trackback above here.

    @John C, I doubt it’s him, but it’s a nice tactic though, post something will respond to and you’ll get success 😉

  50. Ramanathan says:

    I use to switch to blog site from google reader for good posts. i dont have the habit of reading within google reader itself. i dont use any other readers.

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