What is a RSS Feed? How are they used?

By Misty McIntosh on 03/15/2012  

RSS ("Really Simple Syndication") feeds have been around as early as 1995 and have grown in popularity, but web users are still somewhat confused as to what these feeds are and how they can be used to benefit your website or blog.  

The Basics
RSS feeds allow you to syndicate your website by offering up site content  for subscription.  This means that fans who enjoy your content can "subscribe" to new information and receive daily, weekly or even monthly update summaries via email.

Update frequency is controlled by the subscriber through a "feedburner" service, which is an application interface that allows users to manage multiple feeds from various sites under one account.  It's a lot like subscribing to physical magazines, but instead of receiving published content on a monthly/bi-monthly/semi-annual basis, users can receive the new information on the day it's released.  Pretty handy.

The Benefits
There are many benefits to hosting your own RSS feed.  The top three benefits, in my opinion, include:

  1. Keep in contact with your reader base on a frequent basis
  2. Improved search engine optimization - RSS feeds are quickly picked up by Google and other major search engines
  3. Reach new audiences, as many users subscribe to feeds to get a feel for the site's content, or to stay in touch with topics of interest

Setting it Up
Incorporating a RSS feed is a lot easier than one might think.  Because RSS feeds are extremely popular for content publishers, platforms such as WordPress and Blogger offer up simple do-it-yourself plugin tools to instantly create the feed and display a nifty well-known RSS icon on the homepage.

Custom websites can also create RSS feeds for their content.  Experienced developers will know how to incorporate XML to run a proper RSS feed that can work with an existing content management system for dynamic purposes, or be modified and duplicated for new feeds in the future.  For the less experienced, free services are available to convert content into a subscription format. 

Our Integration Style
Here at WebLift, we believe in giving our clients the ability to monitor the subscription rate and settings of their website's RSS feeds themselves.

To do this, we utilize the dynamic properties of our Enterprise Content Management System (ECMS) DriveCMS, to instantly create XML feeds for any content on the client's website.  We then run those feeds through Google's popular Feedburner service, which can be managed, tracked and monitored by the client through their already established Google Analytics account.

For more information on creating your own RSS feeds, or on the useful tools contained within Google's Feedburner service, vist Google Feedburner.

If you would like to learn more about how WebLift can help you create RSS feeds for your site, feel free to contact us.

Categories: Web Tips & Advice  Search Engine Optimization 


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