Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Changes to my RSS feed

Just hacked my Movable Type template for my RSS feed, and changed things over at FeedBurner to boot. What I did:

  • turned off AdSense for Feeds. I originally tried it out to make sure I understood what the process was for our users (we make implementing AdSense for Feeds pretty easy), but that’s done and I wanted to replace the real estate the ads were using for something else (see below).

  • Added a chunk of code below the items in my feed that link to articles written on this day in years past. I already do this on my home page, it seemed a good idea to throw into the feed.

A related note for the second item: my feed circulation is up almost 66% over the past three months, while page views and visitors to the site have been flat. FeedBurner tells me about 800 people are subscribed to my feed, while just 300 read it through a browser each day. (see graphs)

Feed stats from May, 2004 to July, 2005.

Site stats for July, 2004 to July, 2005.

Couple thoughts. My site traffic is wildly inconsistent thanks to some popular bloggers (Kos and Josh in particular) linking to me, which didn’t have a sustained impact but certainly led to some spikes in traffic. It’s the feed growth is particularly interesting to me, as it is steady — and the growth rate has accelerated rather dramatically over the past three months. (Note: it took from May, 2004 to March, 2005 for feed circulation to double, then it doubled again between March and July, 2005.) Meanwhile, site traffic is holding pretty steady at 250-300 visitors and 400-500 page views per day.

Presumably this means that a lot of recent subscribers haven’t read stuff I’ve written in the past, so this is an opportunity to easily expose RSS readers to past articles. Will be interesting to see if this boosts site visitors and page views.

Note — I realize this caused your aggregator to re-load all items in my feed (and/or change all items from read to unread); sorry about that, it’s a necessary by-product of monkeying with the feed.

Update: sheepishly Eric just pointed out that I forgot to close the bold tag in the feed template, causing everything in the “On this day” nugget to be bolded, and, in some aggregators, to render the rest of the page in boldface. Um, sorry. This is still cool though, right? ;)

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