How do you keep on track of all your favourite blogs? Email? RSS feed? Chances are, most blog fans will be reading them in something like Google Reader, which gathers together all the updates from your subscribed blogs. It’s quicker, easier and simpler to read that way. It should look something like the image above.

If you’re a blogger, you can choose how your blogs displays in someone’s reader. Some people prefer to show the entire post, while others prefer a short teaser, to entice the reader into visiting the blog for the full content.

Personally I read blogs through Flipboard (which you can see an example of on the left, with a lovely post from Temporary Secretary), which allows me to read a full post, comment and share without leaving the app. But when I solely used Google Reader, post summaries were a little annoying. I rarely clicked through, unless the content was particularly interesting or I wanted to leave a comment.

But I see the benefits of only using a summary too. It can encourage more people to visit your site, meaning page views should rise along with comments.

I’d love to know what you think though, in the poll below.


[poll id=”2″]

I’d also love to hear from those who use summary RSS feeds. Do you find you get a good click through rate? Is it better than when you display the full RSS feed?

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11 Comments on Summary RSS feeds: Do you click through? (Poll)

  1. I have a slightly different perspective on this from most people, as I’m a commercial blogger who is constantly having posts (Sometimes hundreds at a time) copied by other sites, so truncated feeds are more or less essential for me: I don’t use them so people will click through, I use them because full feeds make it so much easier for people to steal from me!

    Because I know people hate truncated feeds, we’ve experimented a few times with full ones: when we’ve used full feeds, yes, the number of visitors has dropped and, more importantly, within a few days I’ll start finding entire posts appearing on splogger sites and anywhere else that’s publishing full feeds, so we always end up having to move back. 
    For myself, I use Google reader, but I really use it just to notify me that the sites  like have updated. For some reason I just prefer to read the posts the way the blogger intended them to be seen, and I also like to read the comments, which I would miss out on if I never left my reader! I think I am by far in the minority here, though – I know a lot of people will not even consider subscribing to a truncated feed, and I always think it’s a shame they don’t realise there are can be good reasons for it, which don’t have anything to do with increasing pageviews!

    • That’s really interesting about it being easier for some to copy from a feed. Looking at my reader again, I notice it is a lot of the bigger blogs that use short feeds, who presumably have more problems with copied content. Most of them are blogs with strong communities, so I’d assume dedicated readers will usually click-through.

      As a side note, I do wonder though whether the addition of an image to the short feeds might increase click-through even more.  

      (p.s, at risk of sounding like an ass kiss, your personal blog is one of the few I actually click through to, as the content is engaging from the first paragraph. That’s the key really with using short feeds, isn’t it?)

  2. If a blogger does this for every post then I will rarely bother subscribing to the blog. If it is a great blog that I want to keep in touch with I will see if they are on twitter or will visit their site every once in a while to catch up on posts.  If a blogger uses it occassionaly for very long posts then I will click through if the summary was interesting. 

    In short I hate it when bloggers use it all the time or when their blog doesn’t show up properly in my Google reader!

    • That’s a good point actually, if they use it all the time I tend to follow them on FB or Twitter for updates instead. 

      JJ from also pointed out that shortened posts mean you don’t get too much info at once, which can be overwhelming if you haven’t caught up on your reader in a while! 

  3. What surprises me about this debate is the vast assumption that people ONLY use RSS to follow blogs, something that simply isn’t the case. Domestic Sluttery has a truncated feed, and I’ve been slammed for it (in public, at an event where I was speaking, it wasn’t fun). But it’s not like I woke up one day and decided that we didn’t want people to read our posts. We know where our traffic comes from, we know how a lot of our readers read our posts. As Amber says, when you’re a commercial blog you have certain compromises. 

    People who want a full RSS feed always say “put ads in the RSS” without really understanding what that means, or understanding that small companies and designers (who advertise with us more than larger ones) don’t necessarily understand the workings or RSS. Google isn’t know for it’s swanky advertising option in RSS feeds. And let’s be honest, what you’ll then get is MORE advertising in your face – website owners won’t sell advertising on RSS instead of the website. I try and get a balance on Domestic Sluttery so readers aren’t bombarded (I think we manage it), but there’s a bit of give and take.

    I *wish* Blogger would add an image to the truncated feed (I’ve tried to get it to do that, to no avail yet). But what’s strange is that people don’t always realise that it’s a business decision. When they get uppity (a small amount of people do and I hate it), I think it’s pretty rude. I don’t walk up to another blogger and demand to know why they run sponsored posts and I certainly wouldn’t do it in public. There will likely be something that you don’t like about every blog you read, I’m not sure reading good free content should be one of them.Our traffic went up by 34% when we stopped using a truncated feed. Our traffic still goes up each month – people are still reading even though we have a truncated feed. We don’t always rely on our RSS. I tend to rely on it for blogs that I don’t visit every single day, but like Amber I prefer to visit blogs. If we didn’t, we might as well all be writing on ugly Live Journals.I know I’m late to the party on this, but I’ve got a whole load of things in my RSS feed that I haven’t read – there’s 1000 websites in there to sift through to find the good stuff.

    • Thanks for the comment,. It’s good to hear things from the POV of people like you and Amber, especially when it brings to light things like content copying

      Thinking about it, I tend to read different blogs in different ways. I tend to keep up-to-date with DS using the Facebook feed, while I keep up to date with Mashable through their daily newsletters as there’s just too much otherwise. 

      I guess that’s the benefit of giving people multiple ways to follow content – there’s a method that suits everyone (well, almost everyone). I would love to see pictures in truncated feeds though, along with a little notification at the bottom of each truncated post indicated how many comments have been left. 

  4. Hi Emma,

    There are some who think publishing summaries via RSS rather than the full article somewhat curtails content scraping sites which tend to steal blog content via RSS feeds.

    Last week I wrote up a detailed article based on extensive research in how to stop blog content stealing / scraping and, as your article indicates, there are widely varying views on summary vs. full article.

    My article is here, and I’d love your input:

  5. I understand why people do it but I still find it annoying which is why I selected ‘rarely’ in the poll – I have to really like the blog to make the effort and even then, only if the blog post title grabs me. It is even less likely to happen if you choose to use obscure blog titles. 

    I do have a folder in my Google Reader called Extracts where I put all the blogs I follow using truncated feeds and I use the bookmarklet offered by Google Reader to browse through those blogs.

    In fact I use 4 different bookmarklets for four different folders as I prefer to read blogs on the original page but I like the way GR manages what I have and haven’t read – using the bookmarkets is an excellent compromise. These can be set up in Reader Settings>Goodies for all your feeds or for a particular folder.

    I think as a Reader user, I used to assume most people who read blogs must use an RSS reader because how tiresome must it be to go through bookmarks but I guess with Facebook, Twitter etc publishing new posts, more and more people are accessing posts that way so truncated feeds don’t bother them.

    To sum up: it’s annoying but understandable. Make your titles pop. Make your content worth the effort. Only do it if you are a business / your content is worth scraping – if you are just being coy, it’s v annoying!!!

    • Thanks for your comment Kate! Great points about focussing on titles and creating readable content. I often find I open links for new blog posts before I get to GR, so I can see why people are focussing more now on their Facebook and Twitter pages.

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