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Learning The Basics Of RSS

What is RSS?

By now, you've at least heard of RSS as you've made your way around the Internet. What is it, though?

RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication or Rich Site Summary; syndicating means republishing an article that comes from another source such as a website. There is a wide variety or content, including video and audio, that is being pushed and pulled around thanks to RSS.


An RSS is a means of publicizing updates about websites. It may or may not include a summary and photos of the latest posting. But those that provide summaries (thus Rich Site Summary) allow users to skim through the article so that they could decide later on if they want to access the website source. The RSS feed usually contains the title of the update originating from the website. It is also usually the link to the website source.


What Are The Benefits Of RSS?
Both readers and publishers benefit from RSS technology.

1. It gives you the latest updates.
Whether it is about the weather, new music, software upgrade, local news, or a new posting from a rarely-updated website, you'll know when there an update, instantly. No more surfing to sites to see if there is anything new. At least from the publishers smart enough to use RSS.

2. It saves on surfing time.
Since an RSS feed provides a summary of the related article, it saves the user’s time by helping them decide on which items they feel are most important to get to.


3. It gives the power of subscription to the user.
Users have total control over which sites to subscribe to, when to read it and if they want to unsubscribe. Users love when you give them the power to decide.

4. It is spam free.
Unlike email subscriptions, RSS does not use your email address to send updates. This way, your email box is totally safe from spam mail.

5. Unsubscribing isn't a hassle.
When unsubcribing from an email list, you always need to click a link and then confirm whether you want to unsubscribe. Often, it's followed by a page asking why. With RSS feeds, you simply delete the feed! No muss, no fuss.

6. It can be used as an advertising or marketing tool.
This is a gem for online markers because someone opting to give you their email address is like a wonderful Christmas gift. Users who subscribe or opt-in to product websites receive the latest news on products and services without the website sending them a single email. It's pulled directly from their feed. This is advantageous to both the web user and the website owner since advertising becomes targeted; those who are actually interested in their products are kept posted.


How Do I Start Using RSS?

There are two things needed: an RSS feed and an RSS aggregator or reader. The RSS feed comes from an RSS-supported website. You can usually tell a site that offers a feed by the orange RSS button that they tend to display. There are also websites that provide a list of RSS feeds of different websites.


An RSS aggregator is used to read the RSS feed from the source website. It scans and collects data on latest RSS feeds from the worldwide web. Google Reader is a very popular reader thanks to it's ease of use.


An aggregator comes in two forms: a downloadable program also known as a desktop aggregator and an online or web-based aggregator. Downloadable aggregators may require payment before they can be acquired, while internet-based aggregators are usually free of charge, making them much more popular among Web users. All you need to do is to register an account then you are ready to use their services. Both versions allow you to customize or choose which RSS feeds to enter.


1. Choose an RSS aggregator to use. For beginners, web-based aggregators are recommended since they are usually user-friendly

2. Scan the homepage of your target website for the RSS or XML button, such as this: . It contains the RSS code you need to enter in the aggregator. Copy this code. This can be done by simply right-clicking the RSS button or link and saving the link location to your system clipboard.

3. Paste the code (which contains the URL of the website) into your RSS reader. There will be a space provided for pasting the code.

After you have done these three easy steps, you can start reading the RSS feeds coming from the website. New postings appear as they are published, in real-time at the source website.


RSS and Internet Marketing

As I said, RSS is a beautiful media for the online marketer.


The original idea of RSS came from Netscape, where their intention was to provide a means for users to customize their personal homepage to contain links to websites that interested them, very similar to bookmarking websites.


The application of RSS to internet marketing was an unforeseen but inevitable development to RSS technology developers. Since users are given the freedom to add RSS feeds to their aggregators, those who are interested in particular products and services available on the Internet are able to be notified in real-time. Marketing becomes much more targeted since the user is the one who chose to subscribe to your site's feed.


The creation of an RSS feed, whether it be text, audio or video can be a tad complicated unless you speak the language and know the code. One of the best pieces of software to hit the market, making feed creation, editing and publishing (including podcasting) very easy for anyone is FeedForAll. I use it myself and it's make my RSS life much simpler and more productive.


Those who intend to use RSS for marketing their products and services should consider linking up with email account providers, (e.g. Yahoo, MSN, GMail); networking websites (e.g. StumbeUpon, Digg, Facebook, MySpace); websites of newspapers and TV network websites (e.g. New York Times, CNN) for medium to big-scale companies. Small-time industries can also look into networking websites as well as personal blog websites (e.g. Blogspot and WordPress) and websites of clubs and organizations that would probably make use of their products or services e.g. a fishing supplies store can look for the website of their local fishing club for possible RSS marketing.


In the search for fresh content, there are many sites out there who may choose to select your particular RSS feed to display on their web site and offer to their visitors. These niche sites are making your own site more viral and you aren't having to life a finger.


Obviously, RSS is an innovation in information management across the Internet as well as in online marketing. As the popularity of RSS continues to grow, we can expect technology to keep advancing more and more. All the better for us, right?




Tony Thomas