As you’ve no doubt heard, Google Reader is closing down as of July 31st and blog readers around the world are seeking new alternatives. One of the most popular alternatives, which has seen over 500,000 new users since Google announced their news, is Feedly.
But for all the good points about Feedly – it’s ease of use, it’s interface with Google Reader and it’s impressive range of social sharing options – it is a rather different beast.
And, as anyone who has monitored their RSS subscribers through Feedburner will tell you, getting your readers to subscribe to your RSS feed is one thing, but getting them to read and engage with your content is something totally different.
Understanding Feedly’s Default Settings
When users first log into Feedly they’re presented with a “magazine style” interface showing their latest posts. This consists of the blog name, your article title, an image and some introductory text from your post.
While it is possible to change this layout to a more typical “Google Reader” appearance, many users either won’t do this (because of the extra mouse clicks) or won’t even be aware it’s possible.
It’s therefore essential to optimize your RSS feed so that it stands out in the magazine-style interface to ensure that your latest post gains as much visibility and interaction as possible.
After some serious tinkering and experimentation with a number of blogs we run, here are some of our best tips for optimizing your blog for Feedly and ensuring maximum engagement from your readers…
Encourage “Must Read” Status
5 Ways To Optimize Your Blog For FeedlyIf you’re a Facebook user then I’m sure you’re aware that one way to get around the annoying Edgerank algorithm is to encourage your fans to get notifications on updates. In this way, even if your status updates don’t specifically appear in their news feed, they’ll see a small red icon letting them know you’ve posted something new.
Feedly offers a similar feature known as “must read” whereby they give your blog better placement among your readers and ensuring that more of your readers actually see your latest blog posts.
Setting a specific RSS feed to “must read” status is simple enough. Simply click on the “organize” option from the menu, then “edit” any feed you want to change the status of. Here you’ll see a little check-box for “must read” status.
So let your blog readers know about this option on social media, by email and on your own blog and encourage them to “whitelist” you.
Generally-speaking the more recent posts in Feedly appear closer to the top of the feed. They also include a small piece of text reading “fresh” that indicates the post has only just been published which helps posts stand out from the crowd.
Anyone who has experimented with advertising on their blog will know that the “above the fold” area gets far more engagement than adverts placed further down the page.
One way to leverage this concept on Feedly is to use the scheduling feature in WordPress to publish your posts when your readers are most likely to be online. In this way it will still be at the top of their feeds when your readers log in.
But how do you know when the ideal time to publish actually is? An easy solution is to examine your Google Analytics reports. Rather than the default “daily” chart that Analytics provides, instead use the option of an “hourly” breakdown.
From here there are certain periods of time that should stand out as ideal targets because of the obvious traffic spikes at these times. These are when you should be publishing your content.
5 Ways To Optimize Your Blog For Feedly
Do you remember the “good old days” of Google Adsense when we figured out that adding an image by your adverts significantly boosted click-throughs? These days, of course, the concept is against Google’s terms of service but the lesson here is that images draw the eye.
Feedly’s magazine-style layout tries to pull an image from each blog post to display with the post content but surprisingly a number of well-known blogs have no image showing by their listing.
Many custom WordPress-themes these days include a “featured image” option as standard however if this featured image is absent then Feedly may struggle to display any kind of image to your readers.
Fortunately there are a number of free WordPress plugins that will automatically generate featured images for your posts so if in doubt consider installing a plugin like Simple Auto Featured Image to resolve the problem.
You know the importance of a strong headline – but with Feedly this is more important than ever before. Depending on the layout that your readers use in Feedly they may see only your headline or they may see this plus a little text from your post.
Either way, that attention-grabbing headline is essential for encouraging readers browsing through hundreds of posts in their feed reader to actually click on your post.
Some classic ways to make a strong headline include using the phrase “how to” (How I Just Got Published In A Print Book), promising a benefit for reading (Where To Get The Most Targeted Blog Traffic Ever) and using specific numbers and examples to add credibility to your content (10 Tools For Finding The Perfect Domain Name).
5 Ways To Optimize Your Blog For FeedlyOne final feature that is unique to Feedly is that they actively display positive social signals in the form of a heart followed by the number of people who have “liked” a post on Facebook or +1′d it on Google Plus. Interestingly, note that the number published doesn’t include retweets at the time of writing.
This social proof is a double-edged sword. Popular blogs that get lots of shares will stand out from their competitors because their social approval scores are so high. Equally, if your blog receives little traffic or has no social presence then it’s going to be an embarrassing experience for you.
As a result, it’s a smart idea to use the demise of Google Reader as a catalyst to kick up your social activity on Facebook and Google Plus. Get more followers. Keep them engaged. And share your latest blog post with them as soon as you publish it so that those social signals help to draw your readers eyes toward your post rather than someone else’s.
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