Creating an RSS feed
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary (or Really Simple Syndication), and it is one of the most effective ways to promote the content that you add to your Web site. Basically, an RSS feed sends brief summaries of newly posted content to people who subscribe to the feed, providing a link in each summary to the full content on your site. Here's how to create an RSS feed...
How to Create an RSS Feed
RSS feeds make it easy for people to find and read content that meets their criteria. Subscribers receive RSS feeds in RSS reader applications, and NewsGator and Google Reader are two popular examples. Many email clients now have RSS readers built into them, and will sort RSS feed messages into folders just like regular email.
Creating an RSS feed can be done in several ways. You can do it manually; use software to help manage the coding and content of RSS feeds; or add applications to your website that create RSS feeds automatically.
Hard-core programmers can create RSS feeds with text editors. They create a text file using XML (eXtended Markup Language) tags that tell a Web server what brief summary to send to RSS subscribers. The technical specs and procedures for creating an RSS feed manually can be found at http://rss-specifications.com.
Desktop applications that help you create RSS feeds rapidly and professionally include FeedForAll (for Mac) and RSS Submit (for all versions of Windows). These apps are more than just XML editors. They will also submit your RSS feeds to hundreds of distribution sites that RSS "news junkies" patronize. They can track your RSS subscriber stats, and do a lot more too.
The most common situation where an RSS feed is required is a website or blog which publishes articles on a regular basis, like this site. Blog hosting sites and content mangement systems generally include the ability create RSS feeds automatically. Wordpress and Moveable Type, for example, let you create a summary of each post you write that will be distributed via RSS to subscribers. Your blogging software will simply take the first 50 words of your post, or the first paragraph, and use that as the RSS summary. If you don't have an automated way to create and update your RSS feeds, doing it manually will be a tedious and error-prone task.
Other Benefits of Having an RSS Feed
Online stores can also benefit by having one or more RSS feeds that list their current inventory of items for sale. If these feeds contain information such as item name, SKU, price and category, then shopping search engines like Google Product Search and price comparison sites can easily parse that data, allowing consumers to search, sort and compare across multiple online stores.
Web browsers can detect when an RSS feed is available on a site, and display a distinctive icon in the address bar to notify viewers. Clicking on the RSS icon activates a pop-up window that allows a reader to subscribe to an RSS feed with one or two clicks. There may be more than one type of RSS format to choose from.
The original RSS protocol and markup language is used almost everywhere. The Atom format is also used for RSS feeds. Atom's differences from the RSS protocol are less important than the fact that two competing standards keeps both constantly improving. You can use Atom, RSS, or both on your Web site.
The greatest boost that you can give your Web exposure is to syndicate your site's RSS feed to the many "news aggregators" out there. See the RSS Submit Web site for a list of 130 aggregators and RSS search engines. Many people search these aggregators like book store newsstands, seeking feeds that match their interests.
The power of RSS is that it lets you reach out to people who have never heard of your Web site and get samples of your content in front of them. Then you can reel them in to your site.
Do you have something to say about creating an RSS feed? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 6 Aug 2010
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Creating an RSS feed (Posted: 6 Aug 2010)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved