If you’re only interested in increasing traffic and you’re not thinking about converting that traffic into leads (and eventually customers), then all your efforts are going to waste.
There are a million blog posts out there on converting traffic (actually 12,800,000 at the time of writing this for the search query of “converting blog traffic”), so if you’re new to conversion traffic there are a lot of resources at your disposal.
The goal of this article isn’t to teach you about conversion and its value, it’s to help you implement one very easy tactic that can not only help you start down your conversion journey but also help you avoid 404 errors on your blog.
If you’re a newbie to WordPress, blogging or Web development, a 404 error occurs when your users search for a page that does not exist on your site. While 404s don’t necessarily hurt your search rankings, they create a bad user experience and you should do everything you can do avoid them.
So, what’s the magic tip? Stay tuned, we’re getting there.
Step 1 – Understand How RSS Can Help
Before we get to the tactic, I want to make sure you understand the value of an RSS feed.
RSS, also known as real simple syndication, is a web format that allows users receive your content in a variety of formats. They can subscribe to your RSS feed and receive updates of new articles via email, via mobile apps like FlipBoard or via popular RSS readers like NewsBlur.
Visitors who are interested in finding your RSS feed and subscribing to it are raising their hands and saying “I like your content, please give me more in the future!” These folks can essentially be considered pre-sales leads who might become your customers in the future.
Without an RSS feed, and very easy access to it, you’re missing out on an opportunity. If you are running WordPress and don’t know if you have an RSS feed the easiest way to check it is to navigate to yourdomain.com/feed. If you see a bunch of code or a listing of your blog articles, then your RSS feed is active.
If, however, you see a 404 page, then you need to create a RSS feed for your site. If you see a 404 error, instead, then you need to resolve that as soon as possible. This article gives some tips on resolving RSS feed issues.
If you’re seeing your RSS feed just fine, then you’re ready to move on to the next step.
Converting 404 Errors Into Potential Customers
So, here are the steps you need to take to start converting your traffic to pre-sales inquiries and avoid 404 errors:
Step 1 – Give your visitors a way to subscribe to your RSS feed
While most blogs already have an RSS feed configured, what a lot of bloggers miss out on is giving people the easy ability to subscribe to their blog and receive email updates. Using a tool like FeedBurner or the WordPress MailPoet plugin, you can add a form to your blog that easily allows your visitors to subscribe. As an example just take a look at the SocMedSean.com homepage and you’ll see that I have a form at the top of my blog that encourages folks to subscribe. If you don’t have an RSS feed configured, create one and allow your visitors to receive updates to your content. [tweetthis]If you don’t have an RSS feed configured, create one and allow your visitors to receive updates to your content.[/tweetthis]
2) Some folks, however, aren’t going to want to give you their email address. Either they’re protective of their email (as we all should be) or they choose to consumer content via a RSS reader or an app. For these folks, you need to give them an easy way to find the URL of your RSS feed. The easiest way is to add an icon or a link to your site that is easily identifiable as your RSS feed.
[tweetthis]Be sure that your site or blog has a visible icon or link to your RSS feed. [/tweetthis]
3) Now that you have a form that allows visitors to subscribe and you have a link for those who want to add it to their reader or mobile app, the next step is to make sure that users who are looking for your feed aren’t getting 404 errors. For those who have been leveraging RSS feeds for a long time, we expect for a site to have their feed located at either http://thesite.com/feed or http://thesite.com/rss. If the site owner hasn’t configure their site, however, to locate the feed at one of those addresses, the result is a 404 error. If you’re using Feedburner (or any other third party service), you need to make sure that those URLs are redirecting to the location of your feed on that third party platform.
So here are the steps you need to take to make sure your site or blog is avoiding the 404s
- If you’re using WordPress, you’re in great shape. WordPress will automatically locate your RSS feed at http://yoursite.com/feed=rss or, if you’re using custom permalinks at http://yoursite.com/feed.
- For WordPress users, you can also leverage the Redirection plugin to send traffic from http://yoursite.com/rss to http://yoursite.com/feed
- If you’re using another CMS or have built your site from scratch, just be sure that you are redirecting any specific requests from http://yoursite.com/feed or http://yoursite.com/rss to the correct feed for your site. You’ll need to likely add a piece of code to your .htaccess file to implement this, but here’s an article that can help you get it done.
There you have it. Quick, easy tips to convert your visitor traffic into actual blog subscribers. As always, would love to hear thoughts and experiences so share them in comments.