Reading this article from SEW: How Search Engines Index RSS & Why It Doesn’t Necessarily Matter has got me thinking about RSS feed discovery.
RSS feed engines seem to only index content in the feed and not from the blog/website itself.
So if the feed is only showing summaries instead of full-text, then the RSS engine is only indexing virtually the first paragraph of the blog post.
In turn this also effects your link stats, as you may have links to other sites in the later part of your post which isn’t being read by the RSS engine…vice versa, people could be linking to you in the later part of their posts, but since the RSS engine doesn’t pick this up, then you won’t know about it (unless they trackback you).
So in observing this it seems full-text versions of your feed seem important from an:
- indexing point of view
so when you search an RSS engine you are searching every word in the blog/website not just a portion of it – otherwise this doesn’t make for good discovery or findability.
….you want to think you are searching all that is available to search, that’s the convenience of a search engine, people aren’t going to assume that with some sites you are only getting results at the abstract/summaries level, they assume you are searching every word on every webpage/blog post
- statistics point of view
as discussed above, is not a complete picture unless full-text of feeds are exposed to RSS engines
- convenience point of view
I know I find it more convenient reading the whole blog post or feed entry in my reader, without having to click to the native site to read the complete entry
…but we have to understand that people make a living out of the web and blogs, so click thru’s are of monetary importance
Now to my understanding if you don’t like reading full-text feeds in your reader, if you use Bloglines, you can set (per feed) to only read the title or a summary.
But if the feed is sent as a summary, and you choose to read it as full-text, it won’t work as the feed owner has the power.
Now to my understanding when you write a blog post you can choose to write the post in the body section ignoring the excerpt section. All this means is that the version of the blog post on the home page is the complete version, as it is on the blog entry (permalink).
You can also choose to write a little excerpt.
In this case your blog home page, will have a read more link on each blog post which takes you to the complete version of the blog entry (permalink).
This is handy for some people, as you can scroll through the home page, or a category page kind of like scrolling through a title index, well really it’s an abstract index.
But some people may prefer to read the blog posts in their entirety from the home page, instead of having to click to read the complete entries.
…you can’t please everyone!
Anyway regardless of whether you use an excerpt or not, this only effects the presentation of the content on your blog (at the actual blog site), it doesn’t effect the content of the RSS version of your blog.
Ie. If you publish full-text RSS feeds, but use an excerpt in your posts, you will still get the full-text version in your RSS reader.
I’m glad I worked that one out…I hope!
I must say, that I don’t use excerpts in my posts, which makes it slower for me to browse my posts, as I have to scroll through these long posts.
Although sometimes what I’m looking for is in the body of a post and I won’t know it’s there by reading the title or the excerpt, so reading the whole post from the home page saves me from clicking on every post to view it’s body.
…by the way my search isn’t very effective
…maybe I should put in a search box from an RSS engine
(I publish full-text RSS feeds, so I know when I search my blog I’ll be searching the full-text)
Anyway, since I prefer not to use excerpts as mentioned above, I still would like the best of both worlds if I could.
That’s what this blog has done (well sort of done)
…Dave uses excerpts in his posts, so it’s quicker than scrolling through full-text posts, but there is even a quicker option, that is, to browse via a title index (next to each category and next to each month there is a little grid box icon – this is to view just the title list in a particular category or month)
I’m yet to find a Wordpress plugin that can generate a title index (at the date level and/or category level)
The way I get around this at the moment is indexing every post in del.icio.us/library clips (this way I have a title index)
…I could make this an excerpt index, but I leave the extended field blank when I post in del.icio.us.
Coming back to the post from SEW blog, I have to finish with this quote that I found quite interesting:
”…what happens when it’s not just all the “cool kids” doing feeds but everyone doing feeds? What does feed search mean then? It means relatively nothing. It means, umm, searching the web! So banging on about search engines not indexing feeds sort of misses the point. As feeds encompass everything, the major search engines are already there.
Meanwhile, what happens when everyone is running a blog? Will blog search suddenly be so unique? Or will it be more the case that people will want “news blogs” in a news blog search, while “shopping blogs” might be in a shopping blog search and so on. Or even more likely, as search continues to go vertical, blogs of a vertical nature will be integrated within those types of results.”