Whats all the buzz about RSS feeds? To some webmasters its their knight in shining armor when it comes to adding relevant content to their web site. If your are considering adding a RSS feed to your site, get some background information first so you will know what to expect.
Lets start off by explaining exactly what a RSS feed is.
If youve been hanging around the internet lately, then youve seen these 3 letters in many of the websites youve visited. It has become all the rave and its popularity is on a steady uphill climb. I predict that the day will come when 95% of all websites will incorporate a RSS feed of some sort into their site.
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary; syndicating means republishing an article that comes from another source such as a website.
An RSS is a means of publicizing updates about websites. It may or may not include a summary and photos of the latest posting. But those that provide summaries (thus Rich Site Summary) allow users to skim through the article so that they could decide later on if they want to access the website source. The RSS feed usually contains the title of the update originating from the website. It is also usually the link to the website source.
What are the benefits of RSS?
RSS gives benefits to both readers and web publishers alike with its ease and simplicity of use.
1. It gives you the latest updates. Whether its about the weather, music, software upgrades, or local news. You can obtain a feed on an unlimited number of subjects and as its popularity continue to increase, so will the many different subjects you will be able to retrieve from a feed.
2. If youre looking for a quick method of surfing the web, RSS feeds can meet that demand. Because it pulls information from outside sources and compile that data into a single feed, it saves on surfing time. Some feeds provides a summary of related articles, this saves the users time by helping him/her decide on which items to prioritize when reading or browsing the net.
3. It gives freedom of choice to the user. Users are given a free-hand on which websites to include in their RSS aggregators which they have the freedom to change at any time. This puts pressure on the RSS feed provider to maintain an up-to-date data base of current and relevant articles.
4. It lessens the clutter in your inbox. Although your email address will be required to enjoy the services of online RSS feed aggregators, RSS does not use your email address to send the updates. Everything is done from their servers. This makes it virtually hassle free.
5. RSS feeds are completely spam free. Unlike email subscriptions, RSS does not make use of your email address to send updates thus your privacy is kept safe from spam mails.
6. Unsubscribing is also hassle-free. When you no longer want to post an RSS feed from a provider on your website, all you have to do is delete the html code or the RSS feeds URL from your site.
7. It can be used as an advertising or marketing tool. Users who subscribe receive the latest news on products and services from your site without it being viewed as spam mail by the receiver. This is an advantage to both the web user and the website owner since advertising becomes targeted to people who are actually interested in your products. As for the web user, he/she receives current, up-to-date articles about topics that interest them.
What are the drawbacks of RSS Feeds?
The biggest drawback to the use of RSS feeds is the fact that its a relatively new technology and it has been known to have some user-preference concerns such as:
1. Some users prefer receiving email updates over an RSS feed.
2. Graphics and photos do not appear in all RSS feeds.
3. The identity of the source website can be confusing. Since RSS feeds do not display the actual URL or name of the website, it can sometimes get confusing on what feed a user is actually reading.
4. Publishers cannot determine how many users are subscribed to their feed and the frequency of their visits. Moreover, they would not know the reasons why users unsubscribe which could be important in improving their advertising.
5. RSS feeds create higher traffic and demands on the website owners server.
6. Since it is a new technology, many website hosting companies do not currently support RSS feeds.
O.K. Im Interested: How do I start using RSS feeds on my website?
There are two things needed: an RSS feed and an RSS aggregator or reader. The RSS feed comes from an RSS supported website. There are also websites that provide a list of RSS feeds of different websites. An RSS aggregator is used to read the RSS feed from the source website. It scans and collects data on the latest RSS feeds from the worldwide web.
An aggregator comes in two forms: a downloadable program also known as desktop aggregator and an online or web-based aggregator. Downloadable aggregators may require payment before they can be acquired, while internet-based aggregators are usually free of charge. All you need to do is to register an account then you are ready to use their services. Both versions allow you to customize or choose which RSS feeds to enter. Paid aggregators are usually chosen by more experienced users and they usually allow more freedom in customizing feeds.
1. Choose an RSS aggregator to use. For beginners, web-based aggregators are recommended since they are usually user-friendly.
2. Scan the homepage of your target website for the RSS or XML button. It contains the RSS code you need to enter in the aggregator. Copy this code. Syndic8 provides a directory of websites that support RSS.
3. Paste the code (which contains the URL of the website) in your aggregator. There is a space provided for pasting the code.
After you have done these three easy steps, you can start reading the RSS feeds coming from the website. New postings appear as they are published real time at the source website.
As RSS feeds increase in popularity, no doubt the number of websites that employ this method of Internet web site marketing will increase along with it. If you are looking for a quick and efficient way to provide relevant content to your web site, then consider incorporating a RSS feed.
Dont give up! If at first you dont succeed, TRY, TRY, AGAIN! There is a lot to learn when trying to figure out what works best for your online business. Give yourself a break and dont set unrealistic goals. Dont be afraid to learn from others and keep at it until you get it just how you want it.
So, Good Luck, Make Money and Have Fun Doing It