This topic will discuss a few best practices that you can implement to best use Brightcove's Simple Feeds feature for increasing repeat traffic, optimizing visitor flows and reaping some benefits with the search engines. For more information see the document Publishing RSS Feeds.
RSS feeds are an important tool to provide your site visitors to help drive traffic and site stickiness. After all, RSS stands for "Really Simple Syndication." The feeds that are available to Video Cloud publishers are more flexible than what was provided in previous versions of Video Cloud, and it's worth taking a moment to highlight the benefits. Here's a short list of the most significant improvements to the feeds implemented in Video Cloud version 3:
Links to the new feeds are not yet exposed in the Video Cloud Player menu, so one consequence of this new flexibility, for the time being, is that some work is required to expose these to your visitors by adding links to the feeds from pages on your site. However, the result of having an implementation that is specific to your site rather than one-size-fits-all will be better control over your flows and better search ranking for your video content.
RSS feeds, especially those that give consumers the most viewed and most recent videos in your system, are very valuable. These feeds always reflect what's new and popular, key things that attract consumers back to your site and that differentiate your content from other sites' content. Consumers that grab feeds are more likely to return to your site in the future.
More links aren't always better, though. The sledgehammer approach to implementing feeds won't always result in improvements – and if it does, you might not be able to determine which of the changes you made was most effective.
Below is a list of some important places to consider placing links to your feeds. Evaluate the benefits of each one in the context of your site and what works.
Links should almost always be in the form of the standard and highly-recognizable bright orange RSS button. In addition, you'll get additional clicks by offering buttons for the specific feedreaders and aggregators. These buttons use app-specific protocols that the browser will follow to ensure that the right application is launched on the visitor's machine to add the feed.
Here are images of the standard buttons to use. The images themselves are available from the vendors:
RSS is a standard format on the web and enjoys the support of many different applications, not just feed readers. Browsers have some awareness of feeds too, varying by browser, but you first need to give them some hints to where they are.
Wherever you provide a link to a feed using the <a> tag, be sure to use the type attribute to indicate that the link leads to an RSS document. Here's how:
<a type="application/rss+xml" href="myFeed.rss">RSS feed for this page</a>
Additionally, some programs look for a link element in the <head> section of your HTML. This is best used when the content of the page is directly related to the content of the feeds. For example, on a page whose topic is focused on videos of tigers you would certainly want to link the page to the RSS feed of tiger videos, in addition to displaying the feed buttons on the page. Some browsers will offer the visitor additional notification of the related feed when encountering this tag.
To support this, include the tag like this:
<head> <title>My Page</title> <link rel="alternate" type="application/rss+xml" href="feed.rss" title="RSS feed for My Page"> </head>
The different types of feeds available to you in Video Cloud are well-suited to different contexts on a website, and are directly related to how you're presenting video.
Let's look at a few examples of different "patterns" of video architecture and how to leverage feeds appropriately.
News articles and blog posts with an illustrative video are good examples of this pattern. Typically the video is not the only focus of the page, but is used to illustrate a specific subject, event or topic.
A complement to this pattern, the related videos feed provides videos about the same or similar topics. Similarly, the tag-based feeds can be used to surface related videos based on a tag search, which gives you more precise control over the criteria.
Many sites have a page that focuses exclusively on providing video content, usually accessible from the main navigation. This is most common when video is either your main content type or one of a few.
This situation is most flexible - all of the feeds are appropriate and present a different way of allowing the consumer to subscribe to the content. This is largely because the video destination contains all of your content.
Consider providing feeds for each playlist, if multiple playlists are exposed. Consumers are more likely to be interested in a specific category or topic (often represented by a playlist) than by all of the content in a particular player.
The most important aspect of an RSS feed is the URL that a reader of a feed would follow to view the item in its original context. In the case of Video Cloud feeds, this URL is contained within the <media:player> element. You control this URL by providing a player ID when requesting the feed. The generated feed will take the baseURL that you have specified for that player (set within the Player settings dialog) and append the videoID to it. Each video in the feed will have the same player baseURL and its own video ID.
This means that you can control where viewers return to view the video on a per-feed basis. You can customize the entry point based on any number of factors, lke feed type or where the visitor grabbed the feed. For example, you may want a user who grabbed a topic feed from an article page to be directed back to a video player on a topic page, or perhaps to the primary video destination page.
One drawback of providing URLs for videos in arbitrary players is that if video was not programmed to that player, it may not play by default. This is also true if visitors try to view videos that are no longer in a player they once were in, either because they were deleted or removed from the programming.