RSS Focuses Site Readership

The French information service XiTi released results of a study exploring the effect RSS feeds have on site readership. They summarize their findings in Web 2.0 : impact des flux RSS sur les visites des sites Web (also available in an English version, Web 2.0:
Impact of RSS feeds on the visits of Websites
). The study reviewed 53 websites audited by XiTi’s web analytics software from May 1-31, 2007. The list of sites is not provided.
They report that the impact of RSS feeds on site readership is mixed. Among the sites they reviewed, 1.8% of site visitors came to the site from an RSS feed. Users who came via RSS feeds accounted for fewer multi-page visits than those who came in from other sources (43% of site visitors who came from an RSS feed viewed two or more pages, while 51% of visitors from other sources visited two or more pages). The study also found that visitors who start with RSS feeds view slightly fewer pages overall (7.1 vs. 8.5 for those arriving from other sources), spend slightly less time on each page (50 seconds vs. 52 seconds), and somewhat less time on the site overall (5 minutes 53 seconds vs. 7 minutes 19 seconds).
The study suggests that RSS readers are more focused — they know what they are looking for and access those pages directly, from a feed — and visit more routinely than other users. They have perhaps already reviewed the site’s existing content and only want or need the new materials. The study does not draw any conclusions, but suggests that these figures bear watching as RSS becomes more prevalent.
The time spent on a page and the number of pages visits has significance primarily for commercial sites (especially those that sell advertising and who want to maximize both the number and duration of site visits). Libraries have a different focus, of course — we are, generally, more interested in getting the user to the single (or few) best resources to meet their specific needs — and not to have them spend time poking around the site. The sites included in XiTi’s survey are not named, but are presumably commercial in nature. A similar study for RSS feeds in academic/public libraries would be interesting.

Via Vtech.

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