What are RSS feeds all about?

15Aug08

An RSS feed is a type of web feedRSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.  In a way it’s like the Associated Press.  One person writes an article, let’s call him the blogger. The bloggers article is then sent to the Associated Press for syndication, or in this case to an RSS feed.  The newspapers that are interested in the story re-print the original article.  Think of other bloggers as the newpapers and the RSS system as the Associated Press.  You submit an article via RSS to a busy blogger or reader who has subscribed so they can read what you have to say.  Now if they like what they read, maybe they will link/repost your article on their website, possibly save it to del.icio.us or pingback/trackback to their blog.  Maybe the subscriber will buy something from you if your posts are about something you are selling.  The latest this or the latest that.  By subscribing to your feed they are demonstrating a willingness to hear what you have to say.  So don’t waste RSS subscribers time with fluff since they are a great potential client.

Using RSS feeds is really simple with the latest version of Mozilla FirefoxMozilla Firefox 3.0.1 will show the RSS button at the end of the address bar. It looks like an orange square with three parentheses pointing up and to the right. Single left-click on that orange button to bring up the subscription window.  I choose Google from the drop-down list and the selected feed is automatically added in a section of my iGoogle home page.

I use iGoogle to view my feeds, I only track a few.  Google also offers the Google Reader application that provides even more functionality for tracking many RSS feeds.

RSS feeds can be used by businesses for many things.  A pastor may podcast his sermons and by using RSS feeds so he can distribute the podcasts automatically to his parishioners instead of using more traditional methods such as e-mail or a phone call.

A website designer might use RSS feeds to let people know about his latest design accomplishments.  A non-profit organization might use an RSS feed so the people donating money can easily see where the money is going or be notified of upcoming events, without spending money on e-mail campaigns.  Anything newsworthy or unique is a prime candidate for RSS technology.

A share holder might even use an RSS feed to monitor the blog of the companies he has a stake in. A sports fan might want the latest information about a certain team or just scores and highlights.  RSS feeds provide customized content delivery to your desktop.  You don’t have to search manually, you can setup an RSS feed on a search term as well.  If you want to make sure noone is using your business name or imposing on your brand, setup an RSS feed to monitor yourself based on selected search terms.

The easiest way to start an RSS feed is to start a blogFantastico can be used to add a WordPress blog to a website.  Check the control panel on your hosting providers website to see if the Fantastico option is available.

Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox for receiving RSS feedsMozilla Firefox is far easier to setup and use for inbound RSS feeds.

WordPress or Blogger?  We techie guys went with WordPressWordPress gives me results from Google quickly. It generally takes less than an hour before I start getting search hits from Google each time I post an article.

Frequent updates to your blog help a lot to keep the Google search hits coming.  It doesn’t always have to be an essay.

We talked some more about MyBlogLog and began to look online at MyBlogLog communities to join related to what our own blogs are about.  MyBlogLog is a great way to find other people with similar interests and related blogs.

del.icio.us is a great way to organize your favorites and bookmarks so you can share them with other people.  You can add your del.icio.us account links to your blogs and social networking sites by using widgets. The tags are used to help del.icio.us users to find the information they are seeking.  Tags are slightly different than keywords in that there are times when people are browsing del.icio.us and not searching.  The tags help guide del.icio.us users to the sites and other users that share similar interests. Keywords are used more for search engine searches.  Tags are set manually.  Keywords are found.

A signature file is a powerful e-mail based tool to get more visitors and business.  Your custom signature file can be set to automatically insert each time you send an e-mail.  You can use your signature file to reach people you already know with links to your blog or LinkedIn.  Add HTML code snippets to your signature file to make it real fancy.  The LinkedIn Outlook Toolbar for Microsoft Outlook has a real nice signature generator if you need help creating one.

dmoz.org is a pain in the butt. It’s that simple but don’t give up.

We covered a lot today.  It was a great meeting. Thank you to all that attended.

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2 Responses to “What are RSS feeds all about?”

  1. very helpful. thanks. I was beginning to think these RSS were are little mysterious!

  2. Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!


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