An RSS feed (also know as Really Simple Syndication) is a form of web feed formats that are used to publish works that are frequently updated. These may be in the form of news, weather updates, blog posts, images or even videos. An RSS includes summarized text and metadata (date it was published and author). RSS feeds allow publishers to quickly and easily syndicate content instantly and automatically. The format itself is XML which makes for a wide variety of programs to be able to open it. Feeds benefit readers as well, allowing automatic updates on favorite sites or to allow feeds to be displayed in one place. These feeds may come from different websites.
RSS feeds are read by RSS readers. These can be web-based, desktop-based or even mobile device-based. In order to receive RSS feeds, the reader must be installed on the device and then have the RSS feed URL entered into the reader. Alternatively, some websites provide a subscription RSS feed option with the little orange icon. The RSS reader’s job is to check any updates from the subscribed feeds. Once it detects updates, it displays it on a user interface of the device it is installed. The beauty of the RSS reader is that it can be set to specifically show updates from the favorite websites first or customize the times it will display the updates. Lastly, all this happens automatically and can be reviewed if the feed was written over by other updates.
Setting up an RSS Feed
The RSS file itself is XML format and can commonly displayed and read on the Notepad application. The first part to setting up is to prepare the RSS feed. The same way it can be read via Notepad or Word, it can also be created by the same programs and saved as an XML file. The last part mentioned is important as if it is saved in any other format (other than plain text), it breaks the RSS feed. The server at which this feed will be broadcast from is the website itself, in this case, the business website. The RSS feed format can be found all over the web and the easiest way to format the feed is to copy others’ and replacing the necessary content.
The channel at which the RSS will be broadcast must be defined. Necessary site information such as keywords and content summary should be included. General information of the website must be included. Images or videos can be added to an RSS feed. The image or video must be placed in the same location as the feed itself and placed into coded form on the RSS file. Links can also be included and must be defined as well. This is the part that changes because it updates along with the site itself. Note that the codes for putting these objects into the feed can be copied from other RSS feed sources.
The RSS can be validated (though optional) online by validating software and websites. This is just to ensure that the feed works. The last and most important step is to advertise the feed. What point is there for the RSS feed to be available if it is not spread to the intended target audience? Adding the XML option (the little orange icon) to the site helps to this and even better when it is advertised on Google along with the search result for the website itself.
The importance of RSS feeds cannot be stressed enough. It can be optional to other website especially those with regular visitors but for those who do not, it is especially important. Or even to those websites with regular hits, the RSS feed allows them to get updated on changes to the site without having to go the site itself. It gives the visitor convenience by informing them beforehand that there is an update rather than them constantly checking on the website.
The RSS feed provide a way to keep in touch with the visitors and potential customers. It is similar to email marketing but a little bit less tiresome. What’s more, a properly setup RSS feed can boost the site’s PageRank. Potential customers are more likely to look and subscribe at an RSS feed than from receiving newsletters. The RSS feed can deliver content faster than any other means save for emails. At least with the RSS feed, the content is delivered to the subscriber that can be read instantly on the desktop or device by a widget. Despite the advantage of the RSS feed, it is still a good idea to not put too much information to the customers as this can potentially put them off.