So, here is a pictorial walkthru of what my settings look like. I’ll explain a bit as well my decision making process.
Ready? Here we gooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!
As you can see from the above picture there’s not much to do in the “Analyze” section. Just make sure you’ve clicked all the “Configure Stats” options to capture as much data as possible:
I personally do not use any of the Headline Animator Stats because I think the options are pretty lame looking. Personal opinion here. You can always calculate hits on links from other sites to your feed through one of your analytics packages.
As you can see, the first setting that you should definitely enable is the BroswerFriendly option and then max it out.
One thing that I know a few people do is have a little nice message to their readers every once in a while. I currently do not have this active, but I’ve heard of people using this area for RSS Subscriber-specific initiatives and marketing programs.
For example, you could run a contest that would only be visible to those that actually subscribed, perhaps to thank them for subscribing, etc.
I haven’t done anything like that (but have thought about it) but have not implemented anything. But my bottom line is that I’d rather have them read the blog post content and not my pithy statements all the time. Again, personal preference.
The next area is Smart Feed which is an obvious no brainer. I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t have this active at all.
Feed Flare is something that can get wildly out of control very quickly. As you can see, I’ve chosen only 6, and this is because of a few things.
First, I don’t want the “flare” at the end of the post to look all nasty with 1,000 different options. Two, there’s a good chance that someone may be viewing the feed in a reader that doesn’t have much screen width, so I want to make sure it doesn’t jump down a line and look “cramped.” Thirdly, clickthrus on these have been so poor that it’s best to keep it reasonable here and not consider it a big deal. Finally, I don’t have it on my site because I don’t want it to break my styling: Feedburner is great at feeds, not on blog styling. Keeping it real here.
As you can see, I don’t do Link, Photo, or Geotagging because I simply do not want to “bloat” my RSS Subscribers experience. Also, I want them ultimately to click through to comment or interact with my post, and not distract them with “other alternatives” like photos or other links.
Keep them on the post and you’ll streamline the experience (and the clicks).
Feed Image Burner is a great addition because it adds personality and my brand feel to the feed.
As you can see, I’ve added one of the little 125×125 pixel squares as the link and added the link title accordingly. Here are the settings and also what it looks like.
Make sure it’s not bigger than 144 pixels tall or wide.
The Title/Description Burner is also pretty basic and is another no-brainer. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen RSS Feeds that have no title, no description, and no author. That’s bogus!
I do not use Convert Format Burner because it would interfere with Smart Feed and the biggest pet peeve I have is people who actually use the Summary Burner.
I think this is the lamest idea ever. Please give your readers the FULL CONTENT FEED and not just an excerpt. That is inconsiderate and super lame. By forcing users to click-thru you do a disservice to them. Stop the hate.
As you can see I use a lot of these settings, and so should you.
BuzzBoost is an simple RSS Widget that I’ve deployed on some other properties to drive extra traffic. This is especially useful for sites that don’t have a built in RSS Widget (like WordPress) and are more static in nature.
Email Subscriptions are also very valuable and I have a number of daily email subscribers that enjoy reading my content in email fashion. I couldn’t imagine why you wouldn’t offer this to your readers.
So, you should definitely either have the copy-and-paste widget code or build the link yourself.
I also have checked the box to get notified when someone unsubscribes. I always email them personally, thanking them for their original subscription as well as ask if they have any advice to discover their reasoning behind the unsubscription. I’ve gotten some great responses and answers by doing this.
In addition, I’ve customized the Communication Preferences with a message that is specific to my blog, instead of the standard copy. Personalization works, trust me.
I’ve also spent a few minutes doing some Email Branding with the same logo that I drop into the RSS Feed.
It’s easy to do and is a “visual cue” so that when the see the logo in their Email Subscription they know that what they are about to read is sheer blog post genius and pure awesomeness.
My Email Delivery Options have changed over time as I’ve adjust my blogging schedule and pattern.
The reason I deliver it at the time that I do is because I’m on the East Coast and typically try to get the first blog post of the new day out by 8:00 am.
By sending out the email in that time window I can make sure that I have at least one new blog post that’ll go out with the Email Subscription, because there’s a chance that they already had read all of the posts of the previous day (either by visiting the site directly or through RSS).
I want to guarantee that they have at least something new to read, which will remind them how awesome ChurchCrunch is.
PingShot simply adds an additional level of “instantaneous” to your blog post syndication.
By letting PingShot “ping” the services, it enables quicker notification that you do, in fact, have a new blog post ready to be consumed by the masses.
There’s really no reason why you wouldn’t have this enabled.
FeedCount, I feel, is pretty important.
You can actually read more of my thoughts here on whether or not you should show this chicklet on your blog.
Make sure you color coordinate to make it pretty!
I have the Awareness API turned on so that other services can take advantage of my feed and use it. This doesn’t mean that I’ve given content-scrappers permission because they can just grab my feed with a few clicks of the mouse. This enables developers who are building applications to utilize my feed for typically useful purposes.
Just like I’m doing with YahooPipes! on the Community Blog Feed. If I wanted to do some really cool stuff with your feed, first thing that you’d do is thank me for using it (and syndicating your content) and secondly you’d get more traffic and yummy goodness (more thanks are welcome).
I used to have Creative Commons active on my feeds until I realized that it broke some of the feed readers out there as well as messed with some of the formatting and text.
I’ve since turned it off to maximize content delivery. You are more than welcome to have this on, but for me I’m leaving it off until they update their delivery system.
The NoIndex setting is not so important anymore as many of the major search engines do not index your feeds now. But, I keep this active just in case some old legacy engines are being used and for the newer ones that may change as protocol changes.
I also turn on YahooPipes! usage, because that’s just cool.
Finally, I do not currently Monetize my RSS Feed through Google Ads.
Check and Validate Often
One final note that cannot be taken lightly is that you need to check and validate your feed weekly (if not daily). I’m super anal about my feed being syndicated and content being published effectively.
If your feed doesn’t validate it can often mean that you’re feed isn’t being delivered. That’s a terrible problem to have.
New WordPress themes, plugins, change in content (media) can all do “wierd” and “fantastically interesting” things to your RSS feed, so get to know your feed as best as you can.
Thankfully, I’ve had an amazing community that has helped me become aware when my feed does not serve up the content. I love that about the ChurchCrunch Community!
I’ve had to go nuclear on more than one occasion… hopefully you won’t have to…!
Do you have any additional tips, tricks, or experience that I should know to increase my RSS Feedburner Ninja Skills?