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RSS is Really Simple Syndication. Learn what it is all about and how to make it work for you in this Free RSS Guide



RSS for beginners

Use this free RSS guide to gain an advantage over your competition online. RSS is short for Really Simple Syndication, an online process that has been around for a long time but has only recently come under the spotlight as its use is becoming more prevalent. I think it is mainly because no one really took the time to understand what RSS really is and how it can be incorporated within a business to enhance the business’ performance.

I didn’t know what RSS was for the longest time. Actually it’s funny because I used to see a little rectangular box on some websites that read RSS but I never bothered to click on it or learn about it. Little did I know the power of this online marketing and branding strategy? Of course, now I use it effectively to benefit my websites.



So what really is RSS? What is an RSS reader?

In very simplistic terms RSS is your personal courier that brings you back items of interest to you. Items which you have specifically instructed the RSS feed to bring you back. The best analogy I have heard about RSS is thinking about it like emails. Think about your email account. You may have Hotmail, Yahoo, Outlook, Gmail or whatever, and imagine instructing your email reader to fetch certain emails (emails that are sent to your address).

An RSS feed reader is just like an email reader, except instead of fetching emails it fetches articles of interest (Blog posts, Podcasts, etc.) by using RSS feeds through multiple resources. Did that help?



RSS Benefits

In order to benefit from the RSS process you need to have something to offer to your website visitors. The choice of offerings varies based on your activities online. For example, if you are in the Podcast production business, chances are that you will have Podcasts sent to your visitors via RSS feeds. If you maintain a Blog on love life matters, then your RSS feeds might contain relationship advice for couples. Just like that there are many other possible contents that an RSS feed can contain (i.e. advertisements, announcement, articles, product reviews, interviews, etc)

There are two ways you can begin sending your RSS feeds to your subscribers. You can either code the RSS feed yourself and upload it to your website so that your visitors can access it, or you can use software that generates feeds automatically (recommended). Here is an excellent comprehensive tutorial on RSS feeds that you can use to search for the software that best meets your need. You will be able to test most of them before implementing them. Also, check this out for a good read on RSS syndication feeds.

If you are thinking how you can do all this by yourself, do not worry! I did everything all by myself too and you know that I am not a computer programmer. Setting up RSS feeds and adding content to them can be a fairly easy process and most RSS software will allow you to simply enter the basics before you can start sending them to your visitors.

FeedForAll.com is very good software that requires as little as the title of your feed, a brief description and a URL address before you can upload it to your web server. The program is automated as your subscribers will automatically receive your feeds each time you make an update to your website or Blog.

Because RSS feeds can be gathered through various means (web browser, music software, etc), this ensures that your visitors receive your updates whether they have been to your website or Blog recently or not. I get most of my feeds from various sources I have subscribed to regularly and I have not visited their websites or Blogs in ages. It is simply very convenient for the subscriber and extremely effective for the business owner. Alternatively, you can also try FeedBurner. I like FeedBurner a lot myself although I recommend looking for a more sophisticated software like FeedForAll.com once you get comfortable with RSS feeds and are serious about implementing the process as part of your marketing and branding strategy. I highly recommend you do this!



RSS Directory / RSS Distributors

RSS directories & distributors are libraries that aggregate websites that offer RSS feeds. These can either be electronic/automated or human-created and maintained. Websites are often organized in various different categories so that a potential subscriber can navigate to what they are searching for.

Web content providers love directories because through them they can easily create and distribute various kinds of feeds linking back to their websites. However, inclusion in any directory is not guaranteed. Some directories are manually managed. This means that a human editor reviews each site that applies for inclusion into the directory and evaluates whether or not to list the site. For automated directories, certain business logic is built into the system’s algorithm which determine whether or not to approve a website that applies for inclusion.

Directories are often free to access for the end-user. Directories make their money by either charging the website they feature or through advertisement related revenues.



RSS Aggregators

The most common way to subscribe/receive RSS feeds is through using RSS Aggregators. These are programs that collect, update, and display RSS feeds on your computer. RSS Aggregators will fetch and aggregate the RSS feeds you subscribe to on a regular basis (you can determine the frequency of updates). Several free RSS Aggregators are available for download (see links below). However, two of the most popular RSS Aggregators (these are paid services) include are Mozzila’s Thunderbird and Radio Userland



As Versatile as it can be

As you can tell RSS feeds service multiple purposes and you can transport almost anything (text, images, videos, podcasts, sound clips) but physical goods to your loyal readers. It is a very low cost low maintenance method of establishing your brand and continuing to market your business (and that may be a Blog) to your existing visitor base. Implementing RSS feeds to your website or Blog can automate the “customer” relation aspect of your business and save you a lot of the leg work so that you can focus more on your core business.

Below are some of the biggest benefits of implementing the RSS feed process to your website:
  • • No bounce-backs – since RSS is a voluntary feed your readers will have had to ask for you to send them content by subscribing to it. Therefore unlike email, it doesn’t have a chance of being blocked by a filter. Think about this as instructing your email account to specifically accept emails from a certain address at all times.


  • • Easy to implement and use – The RSS feature can be implemented with relative ease and it is fairly easy to use. Most set up auto feeds where the system sends any updates/changes performed on the website or Blog. Definitely incorporate RSS in your overall marketing and customer relationship management strategy.


  • • Continuously stay in touch – RSS is a great way to stay in touch with your existing readership base; ensuring that you stay fresh on their minds


  • • Maintain your readership – If you are frequently adding good content, your readers will continue to patronize your website or Blog as long as they find the discussions appealing


  • • Maintain an ever-growing traffic – With RSS you can focus on growing your readership base while maintaining your existing one through the above mentioned benefits
In conclusion, RSS is an all purpose communication tool that many businesses are increasingly using in their marketing, branding and customer relationship management strategies. Online visibility is the key to any website’s success and is possible only if search engines find you credible enough to rank you high in their search results. A big component of how high you are indexed or ranked by search engines depends on the amount and quality of content you generate on your website.

With RSS, you can easily load your website with content from other websites. For example, if you have a Blog that discuss electronics, you may subscribe to certain Blogs and websites that provide free product reviews so that your readers can access this information on your Blog. Just remember not to plagiarize and give credit where due. Always reference your resources.

Another measure of your credibility is the number of viewers that visit your website and the time they spend in browsing the many webpages within. With RSS you can ensure that you always stay in front of your viewers’ eyes and provide them with content so that they can continuously be in touch with you and keep patronizing your business.

I hope that this free RSS guide has been informative and valuable for you to use this technology to gain a competitive advantage online. I wish you a lot of success with RSS!



Below are some expert resources on How to set up RSS Feeds

PC Stats

Wilson Web

Dev X



Check out this list for free RSS aggregator programs and some of the best RSS readers out there.

Feed Reader

From Download.com






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