Is One RSS Subscriber Worth 1000 Links?

Aaron Wall thinks so and I tend to agree.

The type of people who subscribe to sites are also the type of people who write about that topic. If you have built up trust and a following your ideas spread faster than the competition.

Now I’m not sure if Aaron’s got the numbers right. Links differ a lot in value and if you let me hand pick those 1000 links I think I could place 1000 of them on sites that would end up leading to more than one new RSS subscriber. Not all RSS subscribers are equal either. I know I’m subscribed to some blogs where my last visit was the one where I subscribed. Aaron may be off in the math, but he’s dead on with his main point.

The typical person who subscribes to a feed writes and links back to that feed. The typical person who subscribes to a feed tells others and helps spread your ideas and your brand.

Links are valuable for the direct traffic they send and the indirect traffic they send through search engines. But traffic is meaningless until it does something. When that traffic arrives at your site you hope to convert it into loyal customers and loyal visitors who’ll come back to your site again and again. Isn’t that what a subscriber is? Someone who’s indicated they want to come back to your site again and again. Someone who does interact with your content over and over.

Aren’t you trying to turn the traffic you get from links into the people that subscribe to your site’s content? How many people do you think subscribed to SEO Book before they purchased the SEO Book? I know of at least one. Me. Why would you choose the starting point over the end goal? Are you looking for the person who visits your site once or are you looking for the person who comes back? Wouldn’t you rather have the person who’ll market for you and the person who might even purchase from you not just once, but many times.

RSS subscribers:

  • Write about you and link to you
  • Tell others about you and recommend you
  • Are an instant source to seed your linkbait
  • Are the sneezers who help your ideas go viral
  • Are one step closer to becoming customers
  • Give you more credibility and authority
  • Provide feedback when you ask
  • Create content for you
  • Extend your sphere of influence
  • Do your marketing for you

Is one RSS subscriber worth 1000 links? Some are worth more, some less. The point of Aaron’s post isn’t the absolute worth of each. The point is that it’s better to get people to subscribe to your content than it is to get links. You want both, but the people who come back to your site day after day are worth more than new points of access to your site. One customer inside the store is worth more than many roads leading to your front door. One person who will lead another to you is worth more than many maps with directions.

How many links do you think a subscriber is worth?

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  1. Very interesting point! But could you explain how RSS subscribers “Give you more credibility and authority?” Can you look up a list of a blog’s subscribers when you visit it? If so, I just learned something!

    But I totally agree, the point of links is to bring people, and if they come directly, all the better.

  2. John you might not be able to see every subscriber, but you can get some info on how many subscribers some blogs have. One way is to go to bloglines and search for a blog. The results will show how many bloglines subscribers the site has. Also have you noticed the feedburner feedcount widgets on some sites? I’m sure you’ve seen them.

    Check CopyBlogger as an example. Look in the upper left just below the word ‘subscribe’ and you’ll see the widget. As I’m writing Brian has a little over 19,000 readers. I think the widget displays how many subscribers viewed the feed that day so he probably has more subscribers. So close to 20,000 people are visiting the site each day and that doesn’t include traffic from search engines or direct traffic from links or the people who’ve bookmarked the site, etc. That’s some authority I’d say. And there are blogs that show many more subscribers.

    Not everyone is going to show that widget, but most people who’ve reached a certain point certainly will. It’s like having 20,000 testimonials in a small little box.

    Thanks Khalid. I assume the 1000 was meant as a way to make the post title more interesting and get us all to click and read. I can think of a few choice links I’d like that could be worth more than a single subscriber, but in general subscribers are worth quite a lot.

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