5 Reasons Why Your Site Needs to Publish a News Feed.

It seems like everyone is talking about RSS Feeds. They’ve been around for years but the buzz is up about them as the technology continues to go mainstream. Some people are reportedly abandoning their browsers and viewing the web through their readers – but they hardly represent the general public yet.

So does your site need one?

This question is somewhat like asking if your site needs a newsletter. Sure, the sky won’t fall tomorrow if you don’t get one today, but once you realize the benefits of having a news feed for your site, and try it for yourself, you may become an addict like the rest of us.

Reason #1: More free traffic to your site

I’m not exaggerating when I say that a frequently updated feed can bring you massive amounts of traffic in a short time period. This won’t be true forever.

Here’s a snapshot in PDF format, of just the feed-originating traffic to a new page of my site for the first 24 hours it opened. http://www.freetrafficdirectory.com/2-rss-marketing/screenshot.pdf

Not exactly a stampede, but here’s the good part. On the fourth day, the feed traffic doubled, and all other traffic continued to rise at the same rate. That’s my fifth active feed of the twenty I have spread out over four sites, and I get similar results each time. In thirty days, that would be at least 5,000 new targeted visitors – again, this is not counting my present traffic, or those who try my feed and stay subscribed, nor does it factor in what happens when the traffic doubles again.

I can’t promise you the exact same results, no one can. But you should know that my feed is targeted towards a crowed market – if you know how to set up your feed properly and correctly apply your keyword research, you could have better results.

Those visitors, from the first hour of traffic to today, resulted just from submitting my feed to the list of directories I compiled from many sources and studied. Some bring great free traffic to new feeds, some are better for once your feed has matured.

You can often get better placement in feed directories and in Yahoo’s RSS Directory than you could from your results in a regular search engine, and often, inclusion is instant.

Reason #2: It’s a hands-off way to update your audience

What if you could run your newsletter without the hassles of maintaining your list, removing bounced addresses, finding new subscribers, formatting the content you find, altering your content to keep from being blacklisted, and after all that, wondering if all the various blockers mistakenly kept your message from getting through?

If that sounds like heaven, you can be one of the angels as soon as an hour from now.

When you supplement your current newsletter with more frequent updates via feed, you will be able to push out updates to subscribers to your news channel or feed more frequently and more efficiently.

With all the new free tools available, even if you’re all thumbs when it comes to making a web page, if you can fill out a form, you can create a feed.

Reason #3: Get visitors to click through to your site whenever you update

If you haven’t used a feed reader before, you might be confused about the connection between the feed and your site and why it can result in an increase in traffic. I’ll attempt to explain this to you in words, but I suggest downloading a news aggregator (also known as a feed reader), and looking at the results of your favorite site’s feed through a reader after you read this for the full effect..

You can use my main feed here if you don’t have one to view: http://feeds.feedburner.com/FreeTrafficTips

If you don’t want to have another application up while you’re surfing, you can try Pluck , a free application you can use for more than just feeds that integrates with Internet Explorer – get it at http://freetrafficdirectory.com/pluck – it will take you right to the downloads page.

You can also do this from My Yahoo!, by changing your page to include their RSS Headlines console, still in Beta testing at http://my.yahoo.com .

To summarize, a visitor sees the headlines they want to read, view the summary, and click through to your site to read the rest of the news, either in a new window, or without having to leave the application they are in.

And when you update again, the reader will notify them that you have new headlines, and/or populate the list of items you have available. This can keep your audience coming back.

If you had trouble following that, come to this page for a one minute tutorial: http://www.freetrafficdirectory.com/members/postt95.html

Reason #4: Recycle old content.

If you have a list of your older articles, some older product reviews, site suggestions, or archived newsletters, you can use those to build content to populate your feed with information. As long as this news is still relevant, you can recycle this content to attract new visitors

Reason #5: Its so easy it’s crazy not to do it.

Before the last few months, there weren’t as many free tools online that made the process of starting and publicizing a feed so effective and user-friendly. The bottom line is, now that you can get all those benefits from filling out a form, saving the file, uploading to your server, promoting it once, and updating it from time to time, it’s insane not to do so. You already have to update your site from time to time. You might as well get all the benefits of having a news feed too.

Benefits to RSS Feeds…

RSS streamlines communication between publishers and readers. Since RSS has had a popularity surge, webmasters have been experimenting and using RSS feeds to deliver content in new and innovative ways. Typically, RSS feeds contain news headlines and content summaries. The content summaries contain just enough information without overwhelming the reader with superfluous details. If the reader is interested and wants additional information they can click on the item in the feed, accessing the website which contains additional details. RSS readers aggregate multiple feeds, making it easy for individuals to quickly scan information contained within each feed. Feeds are generally themed, allowing users to opt-in to feeds that are of interest. How to Protect Yourself in Lease Options?

The big benefit to RSS is that individuals opt-in to content of interest, totally controlling the flow of information that they receive. If the quality of the content in the feed declines, users simply remove the feed from their RSS reader and they will not receive any additional updates from that source. The RSS reader acts as an aggregator, allowing users to view and scan multiple content streams in a timely fashion.

RSS is a great supplemental communication method that does not burden the publisher with maintaining lists or following strict privacy guidelines. RSS feeds are compiled according to the user’s choices, removing any burden that is placed on publishers of email newsletters. Publishers no longer need to be concerned with spam, privacy policies, and age guidelines.

Publishers using RSS as a communication vehicle are able to create keyword-rich, themed content, establishing trust, reputation, and ongoing communication with current and prospective customers.

What Kind of Information Can be Delivered in RSS Feeds?

Blogs Feed
Many blogs are catalogued in an RSS feed, with each blog entry summarized as a feed item. This makes it easy for visitors to scan blog posts for items of interest.

Article Feed
Articles are often placed into feeds to alert readers when new articles and content are available. The feed entry is typically an article summary or introduction. Readers can then ascertain if the article is of interest and read further.

Forum Feed
Many forums now have add-ons that allow participants to receive forum posts via RSS. The RSS feeds often will show the latest discussion topics; if users are interested they simply click to enter the forum to participate in the discussion. As the topic is updated they will see new entries in the RSS feed.

Schedule Feed
Schools, clubs and organizations will often use feeds to communicate meeting times, places and events that might be occurring. The RSS feeds are often used to publicize events, notify the community of schedule changes or meeting agendas.

Discounts / Specials Feed
Retail and online stores have begun using RSS feeds to deliver their latest specials and discounted offers. Some online retailers have taken this a step further, allowing users to create their own feeds based on keywords or phrases.

For example, this service will generate a URL than can be entered into a news reader. The feed is updated each time an item is added to Amazon that meets the specified criteria or keywords – Amazon Search Feed – http://www.oxus.net/amazon/

Ego / News Monitoring
Companies or individuals interested in receiving headline news based on a specific brand or keyword can use RSS feeds to monitor news sources.

For example, users can use the following tool to create a feed that will allow them to receive filtered news from Google News. They will only receive items related to a specific keyword or phrase they setup – http://www.justinpfister.com/gnewsfeed.php

Industry-Specific RSS Feed Uses Include:
Technical professionals in specific industries have also developed RSS feeds as way to market, promote or communicate within their specific industries. In many cases, this has expanded their reach and increased communication with current and prospective customers and clients.

RSS feeds can be used by realtors to communicate the time and location for open houses, announce new property listings or promote decreased mortgage rates. Content feeds can also be used by universities to communicate sports scores or event schedules. Computer service professionals can create feeds to notify clients of potential security breaches, virus risks or outbreaks. Ultimately, RSS is molded to meet the communication needs of many sectors. Consider how RSS can benefit your business and supplement your communication needs.

RSS feed creation tool for publishers interested in creating fresh content – FeedForAll – http://www.feedforall.com

RSS Feeds.

Lets face it as much as we all rely on email communications it is not really a reliable technology.

Why Should I care about RSS Feeds
SPAM and viruses have wreaked havoc with a communication medium and reduced its value. Users have become admittedly paranoid about privacy issues and have begun “tuning out” and mentally filtering mail. What this means is that vendors really ought to begin exploring alternatives means of communciation in order to be heard. One of these alternatives is RSS or Really Simple Syndication. Five Ways to Profit from Every Meeting with a Seller.

While I’m not suggesting that you abandon email I think that many might want to consider RSS feeds as well. Because RSS Feeds are selected by the end user spam is not an issue. RSS is created using XML, a very basic markup language. One that does not contain the risks inherent to email.

Endusers select the feeds they wish to view. Content providers select the feeds they wish to display. By providing a RSS feed another site may pick up “news” about your software and post it. If email continues on a self destruct course RSS will become a new standard and an accepted viable alternative or more likely an email supplement. For now if you have a “technical” customer base RSS might be a “cool” thing to add.

What are RSS Feeds –
In very simple non-technical terms RSS is an XML file containing a directory of web pages with related news or information. The RSS is contained in an XML file and referred to as a “feed”. RSS format is very simple, in fact even I was able to create a feed with little effort.

The XML file basically contains what would be commonly used as a title and description in an html document, along with the url of a web page containing the actual content. Personal Property Trusts.

Sample feeds can be seen at:
http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/feed.xml http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/marketing-feed.xml http://www.notepage.net/feed.xml

Once uploaded to a website the feed should be validated (to make sure you did not use any invalid characters). The feed can then be submitted to engines. Individuals can view your content in a reader. Individuals can also add news feed to their websites by using an aggregator and tapping the feed of news vendors or others.

For convenience I’ve created a webpage with RSS resources at http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com/rss-feeds.html

Basics of RSS.

RSS is the element that makes a blog different from the old-style static website. The initials stand for ‘Really Simple Syndication’ (also Rich Site Summary – pick the one you like). What it does is announce changes to the website by creating a “feed” that can be read by the spider from an aggregator such as Bloglines or NewsGator.

An aggregator keeps track of your links to favorite blogs, much like the bookmarks section of your browser. It’s different than a bookmarks section, because the aggregator can alert you to the frequent updates to blogs, which your browser can’t do.

A spider is an automated program that seeks out RSS feeds available on the Internet.

Your blog content can be read (in plain English by people) in the aggregator, or they can choose to visit your site. Your feed is available to anyone who uses an aggregator, so your readership can be alerted automatically each time you update. There are already a few million people using aggregators (nobody knows the exact number), and those who are actively looking for new blogs will already have one. So when you establish a new blog, all you need to do is tell your friends who don’t have aggregators to start using one.

Making RSS Work for You

When choosing a blog host, it’s important to make sure an RSS feed is available. There are some hosts that market their offering as a blog when in fact, with no RSS feed, all you’ve got is a static website that can be easily updated.

What a ping does is announce to the aggregator that there’s new material in your blog. That gets your update alert to your readers much faster than waiting for a spider to work.

You need to know if your host automatically pings the aggregators when you create a new post, and which ones, if they do. For example, you can configure a blog to automatically ping weblogs.com and blo.gs.com. TBlogs pings blo.gs.com automatically, with no effort on your part, while Blog-City leaves the issue entirely up to the individual, whether they want to ping or not.

Some aggregators require prior registration with their directory to accept your ping, so it’s a good idea to register your blog with as many of the your blog will qualify for.

When you ping an aggregator, you’re placing your feed ahead of the others who don’t ping. So in order to get the widest exposure, pinging a variety of aggregators is right now the best way to go. You can do this easily and quickly at Dougal Campbell’s Blog Service Pinger. You enter your site’s URL and check the aggregators you want from several on the list. You need to do this each time you update if your blog doesn’t ping automatically. Note: Once you’ve clicked submit at the BSP, resist the impulse to click again if it doesn’t respond immediately. Another click sends another ping and you’ll end up with an error message.

There’s a good piece by Doc Searls here for further reading and another by Dave Pollard here.

If you aren’t looking for a wide readership.

Some people don’t care to promote their sites, although if the RSS feed is there, the spiders from various aggregators will find these sites eventually. If you’re serious about not wanting anyone else to see your material, don’t put it online in a blog. You can limit access to a blog using a password protection mechanism, when there are a few people with whom you want to share the material. But, that is not 100% secure.

Promotion aspects of RSS

The RSS feed is a helpful component of weblog promotion. If you only want a limited readership, it can be all you need to alert a small group of readers of your blog updates. If you are looking to have your blog read by as many people as possible, however, you need to do more than just provide RSS feeds if you’re looking to be the next Instapundit.

RSS: Grassroots Support Leads to Mass Appeal.

Rich Site Summary, or RSS, is an XML format originally designed to list the changing contents of a news Website. Originally released by Netscape in 1997, it was used to allow readers to customize their personal Netscape Webpage and to create content indices inside the Netscape browser. Abandoned by Netscape, the format lived on through a grassroots content syndication movement and has evolved through several versions. Today, RSS is widely used by news Websites and Weblog authors.

Simplicity leads to popularity

The major attraction of RSS for Web developers is its simplicity. (In fact, RSS is often known by an alternative name, Really Simple Syndication). An RSS file can be created from scratch using nothing more than a simple text editor and sample file as a template, posted to a Web server as though it were a Webpage, and retrieved and read by a wide variety of applications. Additionally, and this probably accounts for its recent burst of popularity, numerous content management tools now create RSS files automatically and applications called headline readers enable users to view the contents.

A single RSS file, commonly known as a feed, consists of two major types of elements:

  • a channel element, which describes the feed as a whole
  • one or more item elements, which provide a summary of new content on the Website.

The channel element describes the Website title and base URL. Each item element contains an item title, URL, and a short description. Optional elements in an RSS file include a channel image and a form submission description. (See a sample RSS file at http://www.downes.ca/news/OLDaily.rss. )

Though originally designed for news content, and currently widely used by the news media, the most common use of RSS is to list Weblog contents. This became possible when the major blogging software applications—specifically, Blogger, Moveable Type, and Userland Radio—began to create RSS files automatically when bloggers entered and published a new submission. The structure of an RSS file mirrors the structure of a blog entry, so the user need not enter any additional information over and above the blog entry.

An RSS file will typically display the most recent content of a Website, usually ten items or so, updated whenever a new item is added. RSS files are therefore read on a regular basis by software applications known as harvesters or aggregators that scan for new entries and retrieve the data. An aggregator will check a large number of individual RSS files, returning to a given site once an hour or so. Consequently, when new material is published to a news site or Weblog, it is very quickly picked up and distributed.

Because RSS files are structured data, and because they are updated so frequently, they support content syndication much more easily than a Webpage. Popular aggregators, such as Blogdex, Daypop, Popdex, Technorati, Blogstreet and Feedster, are able to represent new content in a more user-friendly format than a regular search engine, including Yahoo! or Google. Because Weblog entries and news stories link to each other, these aggregators can quickly find the most popular new items. For many readers, a site such as the DayPop Top 40 is as useful a source of news as any online newspaper or portal—it’s far more current and not reflective of any editorial influence or control.

Though most readers use RSS by turning to an aggregator Website, many others use applications known as headline readers. A headline reader performs the same function as an aggregator, but is a stand-alone application that usually resides on the readers own computer (though some, such as Bloglines, are stand-alone Websites). Desktop readers, such as AmphetaDesk, FeedDemon and NewsGator, divide the screen into three panes:

  • a list of RSS feeds to which a reader subscribes
  • a list of titles from the currently selected feed
  • the text of the currently selected item.

Utility leads to praise

For readers, the most commonly expressed benefit is convenience. RSS headline readers automatically flag new items, so readers need not search through a number of Websites looking for new content. Additionally, content is displayed first as a summary description, allowing readers to browse quickly through numerous items. RSS readers also provide readers with more choice and control because they can determine whether or not to subscribe to a given feed. And unlike email newsletters, which RSS feeds most resemble, the feeds do not contain spam or viruses.

The benefits of RSS have not been lost on educational technologists, with the result that some early work has been done to adapt the format to educational use. In their widely regarded paper and presentation, What’s the Fuss, Alan Levine, Brian Lamb and D’Arcy Norman demonstrate the use of RSS and a feature called trackback to facilitate the distribution of learning resources to novel audiences. Trackback allows the owner of a resource to know when it has been linked to by another user, and thus helps in the propagation of learning resources through a potential audience.

RSS is also being used to support the use of Weblogs in the classroom. In the weeks preceding this article, for example, staff and students at Centre d’Apprentissage du Haut-Madawaska posted 538 public and private blog entries among them. Rather than search each student’s page individually, a teacher or administrator simply uses an RSS aggregator to capture and display the day’s most recent posts. (See http://cahm.elg.ca.)

Additionally, an RSS aggregator can be used to create a specialized community of interest. The first example of this is my own Edu_RSS, which collects about 300 feeds related to learning technology and displays them in a single location, updating the results hourly. For educational technologists with more specialized interests, Edu_RSS also organizes the incoming items into a set of about 100 specific topics. Each topic generates its own RSS feed, so a person can keep track of all developments in the field of, say, learning objects, by subscribing to this single feed. (See Edu_RSS at http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/edu_rss/edu_rss.cgi.)

The operators of learning object repositories have also started to experiment with RSS feeds listing recently added or topical learning resources; collections providing feeds now include the Maricopa Learning Exchange, Merlot, EdNA, CAREO, and the UK Centre for Materials Education. These feeds may be read in any RSS headline reader. In addition, such software as the Distributed Learning Object Repository Network (DLORN) harvests the feeds from these repositories and displays the results in a centrally accessible site, which greatly eases the search for learning objects from a wide range of sources.

Flexibility leads to compatibility

Operating parallel to RSS, and using a slightly different format, the Open Archives Initiative (OAI) operates on the same principle. Instead of using RSS, OAI feeds list resources using (typically) Dublin Core, which while providing the same type of information as may be found in an RSS channel, offers more detailed information about authorship and publication data. An OAI site typically requires the installation of an OAI server, which in addition to supporting plain harvesting allows for a site-specific search (though recently OAI has released a harvest-only version of the format.

The OAI initiative has been widely embraced by the academic community and has supported several spin-offs, the most notable being MIT’s DSpace open archiving service. The Institutional Archives Registry now lists about 180 feeds containing many thousands of academic articles. Another aggregation service, OAIster reports as of this writing to have collected 3,063,884 records from 277 institutions.

It is only a matter of time before the RSS and OAI worlds merge. Authors of RSS software are by now used to working with different formats. In the seven years since the format was released, there have been nine different flavors of RSS, the most popular being the original RSS 0.91 format used by Netscape, the RDF-flavoured RSS 1.0 format, and the most recent RSS 2.0 format. An alternative format, called Atom, is now being supported by the major blogging software suppliers. And though not widely used, specialized formats such as NewsML are being used by specific communities.

Most aggregators and headline readers are indifferent to the original format provided by an RSS feed. Transformations between types of XML may be accomplished by software engines or through the use of XSLT files. These transformation files make the different types of RSS and similar formats essentially interchangeable. Regardless of what version the original RSS feed uses, the result looks more or less the same when displayed to a reader. Indeed, one of the reasons RSS has become so popular is that for the vast majority of content producers and consumers, the RSS encoding remains completely behind the scenes, used only by the applications to communicate with each other.

RSS also supports compatibility with additional XML formats through the use of extensions or modules. (See http://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/modules.) These are formally supported by RSS 1.0 and RSS 2.0, but they are sometimes used in other formats as well. Major extensions include Dublic Core, Syndication, and Content modules, allowing for a more precise description of individual items. Another widely used, though unofficial, module is the Creative Commons module, which allows a feed provider to refer to a Creative Commons license from within the RSS feed. Additional proposed modules include annotation, DC Terms, event, and email. (See http://web.resource.org/rss/1.0/modules/proposed.html.)

The more detailed description of learning resources may also be supported using RSS modules. Though not formally accepted or implemented, my own RSS_LOM is an RSS 1.0 module designed to allow the inclusion of IEEE-LOM metadata in an RSS file. This allows RSS feed items to include such learning-specific metadata as TypicalAgeRange or InteractionLevel. The use of modules in RSS files describing learning resources will allow resource owners and users to add a wide range of information not envisioned in the original LOM specification, including evaluation and peer review information, event metadata, and digital rights information. (See http://www.downes.ca/files/resource_profiles.htm.)

Another change likely to spread through the RSS world over the next few months is the integration of social networking metadata with RSS content metadata. The popularity of such social networking sites as Friendster and Orkut has shown that there is a need for individuals to describe themselves and their relations with other individuals. These descriptions, most commonly found in a Friend of a Friend (FOAF) file, may be referred to by an RSS file using a social networking module. A FOAF file is another form of XML file, and so may be created read by many of the same tools now creating and reading RSS files. Adding social networking information to RSS allows for even more finely grained filtering and searching, as author information may now also be included in the search parameters. (See http://www.downes.ca/cgi-bin/Website/view.cgi?dbs=Article&key=1076791198.)

The future leads to…

To be sure, RSS will evolve rapidly over the next few years. It’s poised to be exposed to a great deal of rhetoric, and is on the verge of being widely commercialized, with the inevitable cycle of hype and disappointment that will follow. That said, RSS is a technology with a strong future, strong because of its simplicity, flexibility, and utility. Although RSS is not the semantic Web originally dreamed of in the laboratory, with finely grained and standardized element descriptions and canonical vocabularies, it is a technology that has proved itself, and evolved roughshod, though the much grittier practice of grassroots development. There is, I think, a lesson in that.

Things You Need To Know About RSS Feeds

Like many others you may also want to know what RSS feeds are all about and how exactly do such feeds help out websites. Well, basically the RSS or Real Simple Syndication feeds are a way of increasing targeted website traffic by distributing content through the Internet. The RSS feeds help open up avenues of email marketing. This is the new marketing procedure making use of emails while avoiding Spam filters. The RSS feeds find particular usage with email newsletters, Blogs and certain websites. SIXTY DAYS TO YOUR FIRST BARGAIN PURCHASE.

Via the RSS feeds provided to the user’s browser or desktop the user can stay updated on content/info from one and more sources. With RSS feeds the web authors and publishers can rest assured that the updated information provided by them is very soon efficiently transferred to their readers.

Programmers find it easy to use RSS feeds. Many of the popular website hosting and building sites permit quick implementation of the code involved. Blogger and such other sites and the major blogging software companies permit RSS feeds to be built from within their programs without needing the use of coding or any other technical know-how. No need to learn up a complete new set of codes- bloggers can very simply use this technology to their advantage. Five Tips for Successful Negotiating.

There are various ways of getting the RSS feeds readied. You may be buying sophisticated programs that will help you out in creating, maintaining and fine-tuning your feeds. Again, you may simply be turning the content created into feeds. Making use of blogger.com is a rather easy way of preparing the feeds. However, the feeds thus created are good enough for all purposes.

Normally the feeds are provided in three ways- headlines only, headlines with excerpts and full text feeds. You may suitably choose any of these. It all depends on the approach you wish to take up.

So, go ahead with advantageously using the RSS feeds and ensure that your readers, followers or fans always stay abreast with the updates that you make on your website.