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Full or Partial RSS Feeds?

Speed-Posting@SeanBannister asks – “on Problogger your RSS shows the entire post but on DPS it only shows a teaser”

Whether to post excerpts or full feeds is something I’ve grappled with on and off for years now. I used on only do excerpts here on ProBlogger too but in the end decided to switch. The main thing that held me back from switching to full feeds on ProBlogger was the issue of duplicate content. I see a new blog scraping my content every day or two so there must be many sites with the same content as ProBlogger out there. This is frustrating and while I try to track down those who do so without any acknowledgement of source I can’t possibly stop them all.

The good thing now is that ProBlogger has authority in the eyes of Google as it’s been around for a few years and I’m pretty confident that Google ranks us as the original source of all the duplicate pages. I’m a little less confident of this with DPS so have kept it as an excerpt feed. Having said this – I’ll probably switch DPS to full feeds at sometime soonish as it’s got a fair ranking in Google now.

Further Reading on Full vs Partial RSS feeds:

About Darren Rowse

Darren Rowse is the founder and editor of ProBlogger Blog Tips and Digital Photography School. Learn more about him here and connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Well, please let us know in the future how that turns out with DPS. I will tell you this much Darren. Since I’ve discovered your blog and also Jack Humphrey’s I sure have been learning a ton about blogging. Thanx for all the great info you provide.

    Cheers
    Davin

  2. Aren’t full feeds somewhat defeating the original concept behind RSS feeds of sending a synopsis of the content?

  3. Farfield says:

    Thanks, that’s a lot of great advice in one weekend! I’ve been playing around with this for a while.
    As an RSS user I like it to be able to read the whole post in my RSS reader, but on the other hand as a blog writer I like people to visit my page and have them look around (and hopefully read some more posts or add some comments).

  4. Siddharth says:

    One should go for a full RSS feed, because the main intention behind subscribing to a blog RSS feed is to get the new content as soon as it got posted in your own convenience – in your own place. When we opt for partial updates it hurt some users feelings.

  5. Regarding dupe / stolen content: Judging from browsing Digital Point and a few other forums from time to time, it seems that running 30 blogs with dupe content is a well established way for a lot of ‘bloggers’ to try and make three bucks a day (or whatever it is they’re making) on AdSense. It’s a sad state of affairs, and while I certainly don’t think anyone is even thinking about stealing my content at this point in time, I wish something would be done about this. I can only imagine how I’d feel about a bunch of dimwits trying to steal my stuff and pass it on as their own, and I’d hate to see one of my favourite bloggers get distracted by this to the point of losing enthusiasm for what they do. I think this issue should be addressed more, and I also think it’s up to each and every one of us to keep an eye out for this stuff and do something when we come across it. No community is ever going to prosper by having a bunch of thieves and parasites trying to make a living off others, so it’s definitely in our own best self interest to roll up our sleeves and give this some attention, I think. Stuff like this is a bit like cancer: It should be dealt with as early and swiftly as possible, before it spreads and gets out of hand.

  6. Michael says:

    Darren,

    Happy Birthday! I know I am a day early, but I am not always online on Sundays.

    Have a good one.

    Michael

  7. Fabien says:

    At the end of the day, duplicate content will always be an issue and we cannot be expected to be able to stop it all. The sites that scrape your content usually shut down as a result of a bad business model and venture altogether, and yes, many new ones comes up, but the cycle continues and you soon start to discover it’s no point wasting any breath or energy over these kinds of sites.

    On the point of the feed, I don’t think Google penalize harshly for having duplicate content in that manner, common sense should tell Google spiders that if you are linking to your feed, then obviously you are doing it for a reason – there is probably an algorithm somewhere in there that recognizes that an RSS feed is meant for people to be able to subscribe to content…so I don’t think anyone should be worrying about this…it is just not worth it.

    My tips: Do as much as you can to prevent your site from duplicate content, install three or more spam prevention plugins to prevent linkbacks to these malicious sites (indicating to Google that you do not condone them). Then it’s out of your hands, keep on blogging and build your readership…It’s like something Darren posted a while back, – ‘STOP WORRYING ABOUT PAGERANK AND BUILD A BETTER BLOG!’ – in this instance it would be, stop worrying so much about duplicate content and build a better blog.

  8. Katy Castro says:

    I have to advocate for full feeds. It makes it easier to keep up with many blogs, is efficient with limited time, and makes me feel as though the blogger is interested in how I receive their information.

    To me, using excerpts feels like it’s not an issue with duplicate content but click through rate. Excepts draw people back to your site for better page views and ad clicks. However, having good content will produce the same result.

  9. boostranks says:

    If you find a scraper, and they have adsense, report them to google for copyright infringement (click the ads by google link, then down the bottom of the page, click the send google your thoughts link)

  10. Neil Kelty says:

    Unless I really like a blog, I won’t read it unless the RSS feed is a full post. Your (a general you – not ProBlogger) content just isn’t that important to me to make a special case of opening my browser for everything I want to read.

  11. Leon says:

    I believe it would be wiser to display full content in your RSS feed. There may be a section of your post that capture the attention of a potential reader. Then again, a partial feed may act as a teaser.

  12. Daniel Bates says:

    I have about 75 subscribers to my site (small town newsletter/ real estate info) and over 50 of those are email subscribers. I chose full feed to simplify their lives, but I have a very low click through rate (because they can read it all on their email) which hurts my traffic (around 100/day). I don’t want to anger my email subscribers but I would like to see who is interested enough in the articles to click for the whole feed and see if it raises my traffic. Not that I do things to please Google, but which do think is better for SEO – more subscribers or more traffic?

  13. Brad V. says:

    I used to prefer only partial feeds, so I could get a “taste” of the post and, if interested, click and read the full post. However, now I prefer full feeds because I realized that even if the beginning of a blog post doesn’t hold my attention, there might be something further down that I want to read.

  14. Cuckoo says:

    I have given full feeds for all my blogs for two main reasons.

    1. Giving full feeds is like facilitating your readers. They can read all the posts without really going to the site (which saves their time & effort) and after reading the post if they want to comment, they come anyway. So, the comments would be genuine, to the point, related to post etc and of course lesser in no.

    Since I am in the habit of replying to all the comments, now I have lesser no. of comments to reply which in turn saves my time & effort.

    Only disadvantage is that the hit counter not increasing that fast.

  15. Rob O. says:

    Definitely full feeds. Partial feeds are aggravating to me, so I can reasonably assume that they would be to my readers. Last thing I want to do is cause a subscriber to bail for something as trivial as this…

  16. Once again I need to state what should be obvious: you should provide BOTH.

    Bloggers seem certain that readers prefer full feeds, but I offer both and know that there are many, many people who want partial.

    I’ve been tracking folk’s preferences at http://aplawrence.com/Web/fullorpartial.html for six months now. In that period I’ve gained 300 subscribers, and 80 of them went out of their way to specifically choose the “excerpt” feed.

    I think that’s very telling, because if you just hit “Subscribe” you’ll get the Full feed – it takes effort to go for the partial, yet almost a third of them did so.

    Don’t fall for the malarkey that people don’t want partial feeds – they obviously do. Give them both, and don’t tick off anyone.

  17. Kelvin Kao says:

    I like full feeds. In the case of partial feeds, if I might be interested in a post, I’d have to click on it, go to the site, and decide again if I want to read it. With full feeds, I can make the decision of to read it or not in my feed reader.

    In terms of people scraping the feeds, I say that it’s good if you can put some links to other posts of yours in the post. That way you establish that you are the original source to the search engine.

  18. If you use a partial rss feed then you better have a killer, drop dead right on opening sentence. And I mean every single time.

    Because if you don’t then I’m gone.

    I think it is risky. With a full rss feed at least the reader can skim a little before they decide to stay or go.

    Live From Las Vegas
    The Masked Millionaire

  19. Ryan McLean says:

    I am slowly building my RSS readership and I am giving them full feeds not partial…we will see how this strategy goes in the coming months

  20. kristarella says:

    I didn’t recognise that reason for using partial feeds. I always thought it was because people were selfish and wanted their ads to be seen and clicked on. Building the authority of a site is a reasonable one though. I wouldn’t want people to scrape the excellent information on DPS, it would be an injustice to steal the blog information because you would also be depriving readers of the opportunity to join the excellent community there. Looking forward to full feeds though!

  21. It was really interesting to hear your reason for using partial (teaser) feeds, I had never considered that using partial feeds could be an SEO issue. I however do believe that ones fear of big brother Google shouldn’t influence the userability of a website. I know DPS is one of only 2 blogs I subscribe to that use partial RSS feeds as I unsubscribed to the others. So I think it comes down to how good your content is and if people really want it versus the ammount of time wasted in a readers day. I recently unsubribed to a number of blogs because their feeds were just taking up to much time in my day and adding no real value.

  22. I like my full feed. I have unsubscribed from all partial feeds even from the more ‘popular’ blogs because they annoy me so much. I will visit the site if I want to comment and to have a look around.

  23. Syed Balkhi says:

    When you tell your users that you have full feeds the chances of them subscribing to your blog is higher because they can just read your blog at the night in the email, but when it is partial feed most won’t subscribe, and those who do only do it for notification purposes.

    One major disadvantage other than the duplicate content issue that Darren mentioned is, that you might end up loosing traffic to your site because more people will now begin to read your blog through the full feeds, so you would have to figure out how to get your users interacting.

  24. redwall_hp says:

    Offer a full feed. Many people will only subscribe to a full feed. Some RSS readers, for the smaller amount of people who prefer summaries, offer the ability to truncate feed items, so you needn’t clutter your template with partial feed links. To combat scrapers, use the Feed Footer plugin for WordPress to add a copyright notice and a link back to your blog. That way the feed scrapers will grab the notice as well. Readers will see the notice, and Technorati will hopefully pick-up on the link, so the scraper site will show on your Dashboard.

  25. Tom Stine says:

    Just an FYI: if I subscribe to a feed and find that it is partial, I unsubscribe immediately. It’s called a feed READER, and I read blog posts in it. :-)

  26. kristarella says:

    That’s a cool idea to put a notice at the bottom of your feed – definitely worth while to offer full feeds.

  27. redwall_hp says:

    @Tom Shine, technically they were called feed aggregators first, but I won’t argue with your logic.

    @kristarella, A lot of bloggers put copyright notices in their feeds. I do, and Lorelle Van Fossen does, for example.

    The plugin I mentioned in my last comment (Feed Footer) can be found here, by the way: http://www.blogclout.com/blog/goodies/feed-footer-plugin/ There are other plugins that work similarly, but I haven’t looked actively.

  28. Ventibate says:

    It seems to me that everyone that replied that they prefer full feeds was speaking as a reader and not a blogger. I realize that some people have an aversion to anyone making money on the Internet but for most of us serious bloggers, we do hope to make some money at this. If we provide the full feed, sure it makes it nice for you readers, but we lose money if enough of you read everything in a feed reader and if we lose enough money we stop blogging and then you will have less to read.

    Speaking as a blogger, I don’t care about scraping, I make my decision to offer partial feeds because I want visitors to my site. I don’t need to feed my ego with a huge reader count, I need to feed my family.