Friday, September 15, 2006

Syndication

As a new blogger, I thrive on feedback and encouragement from my readers. I love to see all the different countries people visit my blog from, and simply adore receiving comments on my blog. It interests me to see that I'm on google's first page for people searching on bamboo handled grapefruit spoons and that a japanese chat room has been clicking through to my 'divintiy' post! The silly things that thrill new food bloggers! But all of you must have been there at one time. Do you remember the thrill as you watched your readership grow? Hey, I'm there right now!

I have taken the time in the past few days to get a picture of what people see of my blog through the feed services, and I'd like to share what I've found. It would be a good idea for other new food bloggers to learn the steps to take to make sure your blog looks as good as possible in the syndicated feeds.

For example, I've noticed that many of the feed services cut out most or all formatting. That means that your subsccribers don't see the banner you have designed, your blog's page layout or the formatting of your photos. Your page width may change, italics inserted for emphasis or clarity when using foreign terms might not show up, and recipe formatting might appear to be askew. Embedded instructional photos might float in some random area of the reader screen and your typeface is sometimes changed. What does it mean?

This means that the appearance of your content can really go haywire in the syndicated feed readers if you don't take into consideration a few simple formatting principles like line breaks after photos. I know I am going to be putting some time into making a list of little things I can do to make sure my posts look better in the feeders in the weeks to come.

A friendly note to my fellow foodbloggers: I hope that those of you who subscribe to my full feed from the various services will be kind and click through to my blog if they like what I'm doing that day, at least as a symbolic gesture of support. I know I always do. Hey, if a person clicks on my blog name in their reader to read what I'm putting up, how much more difficult is it to just click through once to my blog? You might even consider leaving a comment. You see, to a new blogger, these visits can mean a world of difference. Thanks!

This Post was written by Lucy Vanel from Lucy's Kitchen Notebook

17 comments:

Alice Q said...

Hi Lucy! I just looked at your blog, and I love your banner headline - I'm looking forward to checking it out.

I'm not an expert, as I am fairly new myself, but I went through these confusing issues fairly recently so I think I know what you are talking about.

Feeds are not meant to be read directly - but through a service, like Google Feedfetcher - My Yahoo, etc. If you just click on the feed - you'll get the unformatted plain language - but if your readers subscribe through a feed reader, they get a link to your blog to click on through the service. I subscribe to several blogs through my yahoo, which is super quick and easy to set up (you can customize your own homepage with links, etc.)

If you haven't already, go to feedburner and burn your feed - then people can simply click on the link on your blog - and it will allow them to select whatever service they want to use to subscribe. Good luck!

Alice Q said...

Not sure why that link doesn't work, but it's www.feedburner.com!

Alice Q said...

Maybe I'm a little off base here - I guess there are some services that just show summaries - newsreaders like Bloglines, etc.? I don't use these because I wouldn't want to read a blog without formatting - that's half the fun to me!

Sarah said...

Hi Lucy--

A newbie blogger myself, I just "burned" my feed through Feedburner a couple of days ago (though I'm still rather fuzzy on what the point of it all is). I have noticed that in some of the summaries html language for the photos shows up--are you saying this can be avoided by adding an extra line break after the photo?

Now I'm off to check out your blog!

--Thanks, Sarah

drbiggles said...

Hi!

I don't think I'm a newbie blogger anymore. I signed up for feedburner and it might be working, not sure.
Right now, am noticing my readership drop. Ah well, it's all about time and patience, eh? I've been a little quiet over the last 6 months. So, that might have something to do with it.

Meathenge ranks super high on google for the caja china roasting box, was #2 not too terribly long ago. Also ranks #2 for Andreas Viestad, Tina Nordstrom and New Scandinavian Cooking (favoratist cooking show EVER) and adjusting old gas ranges. Neat.

Hope you're all doing well,

Biggles

cybele said...

I like to think of my feed readers in two ways. There are some people who pull the whole feed and read my blog every day/week through whatever their preferred method is (thunderbird, bloglines, googledesktop, etc.). That's cool - if they're pulling the full feed, I have some little ads in there. They know if they want to comment and see extra content they have to come to the site.

The other feed customer is the person who uses it for notification of a new post. I have blogs set up on my Yahoo home page. It just shows me that title of the post and the first line or two of it (if I want). This is a great way to keep readers who may have stumbled on your site - it's better than a bookmark because it's active and notifies them that there's something new.

Yes, my blog looks a little funky in a full feed, some of my photo alignment is missing and the "specs box" for all of my reviwed items is missing. Some of my feed readers complain, but I have to remind them that a feed is not a replacement for the website, simply a supplement.

While it's nice to have visitors to your blog, readers of the feed (in my mind) are just as good, even if they're not getting the full experience. Using a service like feedburner allows you to track how many are reading and you can add that to your site stats to know how you're doing.

Rachael said...

I am SUCH a dolt when it comes to understanding RSS and whatnot. Its all Greek to me. BUT I did go on and sign up for feedburn (burnfeed? ech. EVS.) so THANK YOU, so much for the info!

xoxox,
Rachael

The Culinary Chase said...

Hi Lucy. I like your header format....nice one. How did you do that?

Thanks so much for your post. I agree, getting comments, page hits etc. are very rewarding to bloggers. I recently started my food blog & am still finding my way. I still don't see my site on google even when I type in 'food blogs hong kong' mine doesn't show up at all. :(
I've tried feedburner, ping-o-matic even adding my url to Googles search (perhaps the crawlers are sleeping!).

Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Cheers,
Heather

L Vanel said...

I guess in a perfect world the feed readers are supposed to be sort of a tool for monitoring who's posting, and the idea is that people will click through to the blog, but I'm not sure it's that way in reality.

There are many people who have mentioned more than once that they won't bother reading a blog that is not on full feed, i.e. where they can read the full post on the reader. Although I don't think that's ideal as someone who works hard to get things just right on my page, I still accept it because it's turning out to be more and more people, and I need exposure.

I'm new. People don't know me from Adam. I am just a little blip swimming in a massive scool of foodblogs. My photos will hopefully draw new readers in and hopefully they'll get to know me and like my theme and my style and what my subject is. I'm at that stage now, so I keep it on full feed.

Drbiggles, I was also curious about my blog stats changing recently and notice that as a counterbalance to this, where the subscriber rates are available for the feed readers, bloglines, etc., subscriber numbers are increasing. Only occasionally do I see someone come through from a reader on my stats. I assume the rest are people who don't think the layout and presentation is important or don't want to click through.

What exactly does feedburner do? Does it allow me more control over the final product going out, with the ability to choose an image, for instance, or is it another feed reader service?

About hosting and blog software: Right now my blog is hosted on Blogger. I would like to know if there are other blog services that allow me to have more control over the formatting of what goes out in the feed I'd probably pay to use them. This is something I have to research.

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