RSS Feed Explained – Do I Need an RSS Feed and How Do I Use It?

In today’s Web 2.0 online environment, it’s almost impossible to land on a blog, newsletter or current website without seeing an invitation to get the webmaster’s information via RSS.

If you are one of the thousands of new Internet Marketers just dipping their toes in the fast-paced waters of the Internet, you might not understand the valuable uses for RSS (Really Simple Syndicaton) and how syndication can improve your sales and drive traffic to your offers. Believe me, you are not alone.

Every new process, or revamped old process, develops it own set of terminology and buzz words, so let’s take a look at some of the RSS terminology first.

  • Syndication:

Syndication, according to Wikipedia, means that you allow your website, or a portion of it, to be available for other sites to use. This usually means “…making web feeds available from your site, or blog, in order to provide other people with a summary of your website’s recently added content (for example, the latest news or forum posts).”

Different types of syndicated content can be found all over the Web, including newspapers, commercial websites, blogs or product offers from Internet Marketers. It has become a free and easy form of advertisement that increases targeted traffic and expands your site’s exposure across normally unreachable online platforms.

Web syndication by online marketers is removing the hesitancy web surfers have with providing personal information to invisible marketers, like name and email address for signing up to receive a newsletter. Those surfers expecting to subscribe to an RSS feed instead are growing in numbers and will soon be in the majority. Don’t ignore them!

RSS and Atom are the two main syndication formats.

  • RSS Feed:

To start with, an RSS feed notifies you when a web site or blog you are interested in has been updated. There are two kinds of RSS feeds, static and dynamic.

When you see the latest scores for your favorite team or are continually checking for bargain airline tickets for your vacation to Disney World, that information would be a static feed from a sports news media or an airline/ticket site.

Info from a dynamic feed would depend on your search terms to provide specific information to add to your data stream. A dynamic feed would be one from a website you are watching for new content or notices abou new products. It would give you notice of the change on the website.

  • Feed Reader or News Aggregator:

Those two terms are merely names for the software that allows you to get the RSS feeds from websites or blogs that interest you and have it displayed so you can read it and use the information the way you want to use it.

At the moment I use Googe Feedreader and you can find an article about how to use it on my blog but you can find 12 or 15 feed reader options at: blogspace.com/rss/readers

  • The Big Question…What is RSS?

RSS, or Really Simple Syndication, is a format for delivering regularly changing web content and is making it easier for you to stay informed by receiving the lastest content from your sites of interest. You don’t have to visit each site individually and do not have to join each site’s newsletter by providing your private information.

More than several big name sites, like Yahoo News, the BBC News in the UK, the US government and more newspapers and other news media than you can shake a stick at, are providing free RSS news feeds for delivery to anyone. They are not doing that for no reason, but because they recognize the extended reach their message will have and the benefits that reach will return to them. Copy success!

Internet Marketers are starting to add an RSS feed to their websites and blogs. Look for a button or link that says “XML,” “RSS” or an invitation to “Syndicate This Site” if you want to start receiving their information via an RSS news feed.

Almost any information can be used to publicize updates to your website or blog… photos, summaries of your latest update or simply the title of your update with a link back to the original source.

RSS benefits both the readers and the publishers of the feed. When you update your blog post, add new content to your website or want to announce a new sales price or special bonus for your readers, they all wil know immediately about the change or special offer and can decide if they want to visit your site or not.

Internet Marketers can reach a much wider audience for their products or services because web browsers are becoming much more likely to subscribe to an RSS feed and avoid the email clutter that clogs their inbox after subscribing to a few newsletters.

All the benefits of RSS feeds are not restricted to your subscribers, but have some powerful results when used as a marketing tool. When you use an RSS feed to market your products, you are attracting visitors and customers who are interested in your products and want to receive your information. This Win-Win process protects you from a spamming accusation.

The new techniques and requirements of using RSS to get your message circulating may still intimidate or confuse some of your customers. It is a good idea, for customer service, to offer both the RSS feed and emai notification of your website, blog or product updates. You do not want to immediately exclude a set of customers who prefer one method over the other, regardless of the reason.

As a tool to increase targeted and focused traffic to your site, RSS feeds work great for this top-of-the-list marketing need. If the content update interests your reader, many will want to read the complete story on your website and will click the link to do just that. When that happens, they arrive at your website already interested in your product… marketing gold!

Getting comfortable with this vibrant and ever-changing Web 2.0 tool will expand your reach and increase your conversions. More and more people are switching to RSS feeds everyday to make their lives less cluttered and to put the information they receive in their own hands and not those of random marketers. Don’t ignore this grass roots movement… join it!

Why not try it out by subscribing to my feed? 😉

Seven Reasons to Use RSS

The first reason to use RSS for internet users is that it keeps you up to date with the current news or favorite topics. As soon as a new post is added to a website or a news story is posted, it immediately goes to the RSS feed and is sent out to subscribers. This means readers can stay on top of the New York Stock Market, local weather, or animal rights, whatever they want to stay up with all the time.

For webmasters, if you have an RSS feed you will want to ensure your feed is listed in as many directories under the proper category so you can obtain as many subscribers as possible.

The next reason is it saves time. Instead of searching through all your favorite websites several times per day to learn if new posts have been uploaded, the feed will automatically update, which will save you time.

Readers have the decision in what they want to read. When you find a topic of interest you can subscribe to the RSS feed. The feed only displays titles and short blurbs about the article, this way readers can choose if they want to read more and then click the link to read the entire article.

No more emails. By subscribing to RSS feeds, you will not have to subscribe to newsletters to get the latest news. As a matter of fact, when you subscribe to an RSS feed, the only time you need to use your email address to sign up. You will not receive any emails except for the first one confirming your subscription to the feed. You will read the feed using an RSS aggregator.

RSS feeds are as close to spam free as you can get. Since you only have to click on titles that are interesting and the only thing displayed is the title and short blurb then you will not have to worry about spam.

You can choose to unsubscribe any time. You do not have to do much at all to unsubscribe except hit a button. When you try to unsubscribe from a newsletter, there is always several steps, which can be a huge hassle.

The last reason to use RSS is that you can find products you want to purchase and webmasters can use the feed to advertise their products. When you see a review or a sale on the feed, you can easily click the link to purchase the products.

Whether you are a publisher or reader, now you know the best reasons to use RSS and stay on top of the latest news as well as keep your readers up to date.

How to Install an RSS Feed in WordPress

Obtaining and adding fresh new content to your website or blog is one of the most valuable tasks every webmaster must complete on a regular basis or at the very least, see to it that it is added one way or another. RSS feeds can be a great way to get a steady stream of fresh valuable content added to your site regularly. This is not to say that you shouldn’t also publish your own unique content, you should do that on a regular basis as well. You can turn your visitors into returning customers by making sure that there is always fresh, relative content available for them to enjoy.

There are many different add-ons, widgets, and plugins available free across the internet that make installing an RSS feed into your website or blog extremely simple. If you are using a WordPress blog as your CMS then adding a RSS plugin to automate the process of importing feeds to your blog is a snap. There are several available, free of charge right from the WordPress Plugin Directory.

Your first step to getting your plugin is to login to your WordPress admin panel and click on Plugins and then Add New. To find a plugin simply search RSS and a whole list of them will appear. I have tried a couple different ones and prefer the KB Advanced RSS Widget. Although I have in the past and do currently still use others. When making your selection, keep your site in mind and try to choose one that will fully meet your needs. Most are the same as far as operation, but there are variances in appearance.

Once you have chosen a plugin to install simply click on Install to the left of its description and then Install again on the page that pops up. Next you will need to click to Activate the plugin.

From here you will need to go to your Widgets that you can find under Appearance. All you have to do from here is place your new RSS widget where you would like it in your sidebar and enter your RSS feed URL and any other options that your specific version offers. Viola, Your plugin is installed and showing a new RSS feed working on your blog.

As wonderfully easy as it is to ensure your website or blog is continually being updated you should never rely on this, or any other source, as your sole source of providing updates to your site. Remember that the content from these feeds are used by many, many people deeming it not original. It is very important that you understand that every site needs unique, original content added regularly. Without your own unique content, your site is not truly yours and the traffic that may across your path most likely will not return.

A Brief Guide To RSS

Before proceeding to other parts of the article, please take your

time to read the following definitions:

RSS:

RSS, rich site summary, or really simple syndication, is an XML format for sharing contents (such as news items) among different Web sites.

Feed:

It is an xml file containing headlines and descriptions also called news feed, content feed, xml feed or web feed.

Web Syndication:

Web syndication is a form of syndication in which a section of a website is made available for other sites to use. This could be simply by licensing the content so other people can use it, but more commonly these days web syndication refers to making Web feeds available

XML:

Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a W3C-recommended general-purpose markup language for creating special-purpose markup languages, capable of describing many different kinds of data. Its primary purpose is to facilitate the sharing of data

across different systems, particularly systems connected via the Internet.

Atom:

atom is a really small particle or an XML-based document format and HTTP-based protocol designed for the syndication of Web content such as weblogs (or blogs) and news headlines to Web sites as well as directly to user agents. It is based on experience gained in using the various versions of RSS.

Now let move to other parts of this article.

How does RSS work?

A website can allow other sites to publish its content by creating an RSS document and register the document with an RSS publisher.

Some Benefits of Using RSS:

1)Alternative To Email

Although you subscribed for email newsletter but you may be tired of all the junk mail you receive. By subscribing to RSS feed, you don’t need to worry about receiving any email.

2)Faster Than Browsing Web Page

RSS feeds are loosely coded and thus reading RSS feed is faster.

3)Search Engine Friendly

Being rich in contents and keywords and also constantly updating, major search engines like google, yahoo and alexa love them.

4)More Exposure For Your Site

Unless regular messages, RSS feeds are picked up and monitored by feed reader and blog sites such as weblog.com. This is similar to getting more targeted search engine traffic.

5)Content Is Delivered Instantly

With RSS, contents are delivered instantly to the reader over their choices of feed reader. RSS is a content delivery system that does not get filtered. All RSS articles are sent straight through your subscriber.

6)Can Get Listed Within Hours

You can get your site indexed in yahoo and msn within hours, using RSS.

7) Easily Remove Yourself From The Subscription

All RSS articles are also instantly delivered. You can easily remove yourself from the RSS feed subscription and it is as simple to hitting the delete key.

8) Different Media Type Support

RSS can support many media types including audio and video.

9) Easy Handling Options For Publishers

There are no subscription or removal links that RSS publishers need to take care of.

What Does It Require To Read A RSS Feed?

1)Internet connection

2) A Feed reader, to read the RSS feed from the RSS

channel (browser like opera has inbuilt feed reader)

3)If you are a publisher, then you need a way to publish your article.

For creating an RSS feed, you need to create an RSS file.

For creating an RSS file, read some tutorial by searching at google.

After creating the rss file you need to save it with either of the two extensions .xml or .rss. After saving you need to validate the RSS file, which you can do at

http://www.feedvalidator.org

After validating your RSS file, you need to syndicate it. For this you should have a code that other webmasters can place on their websites that will display your headlines. This code is usually a java script that the webmaster places on his site.

When anybody click on the XML or RSS link, the RSS feeds (or XML feeds) are instantly downloaded to his computer.