Truncated RSS Feeds Kill Conversations and Long Term Traffic

Dear media sites:

I am so tired of truncated RSS feeds.

Why do you continue to work under the assumption that you’re better off forcing
people to click through to read blog posts or news stories rather than allowing
them to read content within their feed readers?

This is wrong.

Why?

Because you’re making life difficult for your most loyal and vocal readers.
People subscribing to your RSS feed are reading everything you publish.
Everything. That is, if you don’t truncate your feed.

They’re also the people who are most likely to have blogs, which means they’re
the most likely to link to or embed your content in their site after reading it.

Do you really want to make life difficult for them?

Below is an example of a truncated feed from the Minneapolis StarTribune
newspaper for their Dining + Nightlife coverage. This is exactly the type of
content that local food bloggers love, since they can riff on the reviews and
recommendations made by the Minneapolis daily.

A Horribly Truncated Feed

Luckily for Minneapolis food junkies, there are plenty of other non-truncated
RSS sources covering the local food scene, so this content – as good as it is –
can be passed over.

As I understand it, the mindset leading to RSS feed truncation is, “we get more
hits if we force people to click through.” And this is absolutely true . . . in
the short term. If I truncated Technology Evangelist’s feed today, I’d surely
see a spike in traffic from our feed tomorrow.

This mindset needs to change. Focusing on short term hits over longer term
benefits that come from links and embeds is a foolish move. If your online
content isn’t easily consumable, sharable, and conversational, it’s something
close to dead.

Backing up for a second, this all assumes that the content being created is
WORTH consuming, sharing, and talking about. If not, you have bigger problems
that need to be addressed.

Longer term, easily consumable content will generate more links to your site,
which will each generate click through visitors to the ads you’re trying to
serve.

Which will lead to more people hopping on your RSS feeds.

Which will lead to more people reading and sharing your content.

Which will lead to more links to your site.

Which will lead to higher search engine rankings.

Which will lead to more unique visitors stumbling upon your site to see your
ads.

And we’ll all live happily ever after.

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