The Joy Of RSS, Part 1: Introducing RSS
I was originally going to call this series ???The Mountains Come To Mohammed???, because that???s what RSS is in a nutshell. Let???s say you have 10 websites that you check regularly for updates. Wouldn???t it be nice if websites told you when they had new content? With RSS they can.
This is the first of three articles about RSS. I???ll try not to confuse you with mumbo-jumbo, because RSS can be quite technical. Instead, let???s focus on the benefits of RSS to you. This article will introduce and explain RSS to you and identify some sites which use RSS. If you’re a site owner, we’ll also look at some of the advantages of providing RSS on your website.
In Part 2, we’ll be looking at RSS readers that you can use and ways of finding out if a site provides an RSS feed. In Part 3, we’ll tackle the history and technology of RSS (this one’s optional!). Anyway, let’s begin:
What Is RSS?
RSS is an Internet technology that makes it easier for you to stay up-to-date with your favourite websites! Just imagine???.
- Your favourite websites update you whenever they have new articles or content.
- Subscribing for updates without ever sacrificing your email address or having to ???click a link to verify your subscription???.
- Saving time checking websites individually for updates.
- Only getting the content you asked for. No sales emails, or risk of ending up on a spam list.
- You can read RSS in a reader program, separate from the website it originated on.
I can???t emphasise enough the convenience of using RSS. Here???s a personal example:
I used to regularly check the 4guysfromrolla.com website for updates, but was always frustrated to find nothing new had been posted.
After subscribing to the RSS feed on their website, I am notified whenever a new article is available and I can choose to read it in Bloglines (the RSS reader I use) of I can visit the site through a handy link.
Who???s Using RSS?
Until recently, RSS was almost exclusively used by bloggers as a means of keeping up to date with new entries on websites.
However, some big names are starting to realise the potential of RSS. The BBC news website, the Guardian newspaper, New York Times and CNN are all popular websites that are using RSS to provide information to their visitors.
Online services, such as Flickr and del.icio.us use RSS to allow users to share photographs and personal bookmarks respectively. For instance, you can sign up to the Scribble Designs photostream at Flickr. Scroll to the bottom of the page and you will see the options to subscribe to our photostream.
Benefits Of RSS To Site Owners
Do you have your own personal or business website? If you use it to publish regular articles, then you can benefit from providing RSS feeds.
- Loyalty! Visitors who sign up to your RSS feed are likely to become regular readers of your content.
I mentioned earlier about the convenience of RSS feeds. I tend to stick with the sites I???m subscribed to unless I need something outside of their specialisms, then I go to Google.
Bear in mind, traffic isn???t guaranteed. If your style of writing is a turn-off, people just won???t return.
- Less hassle. Because you???re not collecting email addresses and contact information, you don???t have any privacy issues to worry about.
- You can share and syndicate content with other websites as a way to get your message across. This can bring in more links to your website and help build traffic.
- Search engines will love you! Search engines are becoming more sensitive to RSS feeds as a way of determining how frequently updated a site is.
- Some professional bloggers gain notoriety through their articles, which establishes them as experts in their field and attracts new business. As a result, their websites are hit regularly and their ???disciples??? hang on their every word!
Anyway, keep an eye out for the next post in this series which explains RSS software and how to subscribe to RSS feeds. The more adventurous among you will hopefully have subscribed to the Scribble Designs RSS feed by then!