You know that icon, the one that is basically synonymous with representing a feed? Yeah, the one that we all see on a daily basis whenever we traverse the ever-growing blogosphere. Well, its placement is more important than we all give credit for, and if you want people to subscribe to your content, then you should be willing to optimize the placement of your feed links and images. Unsurprisingly, many people opt for the obvious and sometimes ridiculous locations instead. I made the same mistakes when I began my blogging career, but now I will share some insight that I have gained with experience.
Why It Matters
Why does the location matter so much? People have a natural tendency to leave a page after getting to the end of an article. The end of the article is essentially the gateway to spur those users onto something else. That, or the back button is pushed on the browser. Even I have the same tendencies when it comes to browsing blogs.
Suggestions On Feed Placement
Why do so many blogs have the feed located on the upper right portion of the page? The sidebar is understandable, but if you think of it from a logical standpoint, the most used browser controls are on the top left portion of the screen. However, I have never subscribed to a blog without reading some of the content first, and if there is any scrolling that needs to be done, I would likely not see the feed icon anyways. Point is, you can have a feed on the top of your page, and it might be effective for users that have arrived to your page naturally, but it is not good for those that are in a hurry.
Around the sides and near the end of your content is where your feed placement should be. The eyes naturally progress downwards, and once the content is over, users are likely going to take the opportunity to glance down a little bit further just to make sure that they are not missing anything else or are looking for the comments section. These locations are optimal places for feeds.
Browsers are starting to get more creative at detecting feeds, and that is great, but if you have to use the browser to subscribe to the content on a site, then the site in question obviously didn’t do a good job with their feed placement.
Text or Image Link?
Should you use a text link or image to represent the link to your subscription feed? Text has the benefit of being able to be rendered in any browser available today, but images stand-out and make an impression. Why not use both?
I believe that there should always be a text link to your subscription feed at the end of each of your blog entries. If you make a good impression with your content, when the eyes come to the end, you want them to go directly to your feed. You could make an attempt to integrate it with your content, but you could also distance it. However, try to draw the attention of the reader to your feed.
With an image link, the image itself should be the drawing point, and it should be unique and recognizable. Some of you might believe sticking to plain and simple designs will be sufficient enough, but I think that innovation will win a subscription more often than not. Don’t get me wrong, the content needs to be great, but there are certainly things you can do to help users make their way to your content feed.
Feed Image Resources
Is it Really a Big Deal?
Is it really a big deal, you might be asking yourself. It made a difference on one of my blogs. While I went on the front page of Digg for the first time on my smaller blog, I only had an icon for my feed on the extreme top-right portion of the page. The aftermath was that I only ended up gaining about 30 subscribers out of the 13,000 unique visitors.
Now, if I had properly set up the location of my feed at the end of my article in question, I might have ended up an impressive amount of new subscribers, but now I will never know. Don’t make the same mistake I did.