Using RSS Feeds for More Than Just Syndication

Thanks to WordPress RSS widgets, you can easily syndicate your blog to as many people as you can get to subscribe. But did you know that you can also use the RSS feed widgets to display a feed on the side of your blog?

What good is that, you ask? Why would you want people to see other blogs when you want them to subscribe to yours? Here are three reasons.

  • Visual Impact. Anything that gives the eye a break from large blocks of text is a welcome graphic design element. A sidebar can give depth and variety to your page, making it far more visually appealing than a relentless stream of words, regardless of how many paragraphs you break it into. And a sidebar will also narrow your page width, which will mean the eye of the reader will not have to travel as far from the end of one line to the beginning of another, which makes for a much easier read.
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  • Self Promotion. Who says you have to use the sidebar to link to the blogs of other people? Post a list of your ten most recent blogs. Post a list of previous entries having to do with the current topic. Or a feed link to a completely different blog that you also write. The RSS feed widgets make a wonderful self promotion tool, and a great way to have readers spend more time on your page.
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  • Cross Pollination. Face it, you simply cannot be an expert on everything. If your blog requires any sort of elaboration in a field with which you are not fluent, you will add enormous value to your blog by using the RSS feed widgets to provide links to other blogs or articles that can supplement your own. Sending a reader to another blog does not mean you have lost them. By providing them with more information, and showing them that you care more about giving them value than simply keeping them on your site, you are actually engendering their trust.

RSS feed widgets can be a two way street. Learning how to use them not just to syndicate your blog, but to enhance it as well, can be a great way to cement your readership. Visual impact, self promotion, and cross pollination are just a few of the ways RSS feeds should be a staple of your sidebar. Have any other suggestions? Leave them below in the comments.